- Divorce is a process not an event. It is a series of decisions made over a period of months, often about subjects in which neither party is an expert. During this time, stress, anger, resentment, sadness, and loss can lead to some hurried, misinformed, and poor decision making.
- A mediator or attorney may not inform you of all the options available. When two parties come to an agreement, it is logical that attorneys or mediators put that in writing and move forward. The long term consequences of this agreement are not always clear as parties struggle to find common ground and agreement. It is not reasonable to expect an attorney or mediator to be your counselor, accountant, and financial planner.
- The time and attention paid to writing a correct and comprehensive agreement will pay for itself several times over throughout the years following the divorce. A poorly written agreement can be the source of stress, disputes, and legal battles for years to come.
- There are some inherent difficulties in supporting two households from the same funds that previously supported one. Unless both parties make substantial individual incomes, there will have to be some prioritizing of costs and reduction of living expenses.
- You cannot surround yourself with negative or angry people during this time. Assigning blame, getting revenge, feeling like a victim are all negative and self-defeating behaviors. If divorce is a process, it must be tackled with a sense of optimism, fairness, and hope. Although this is often easier said than done, one thing is for sure, those who seek to assign blame and ”get even” through the process may end up prolonging and worsening the situation for both parties.
- While mourning the end of your former married self, it is easy to ignore the possibilities and hope of your new single life. A person who is informed and empowered will likely be more optimistic and less fearful about his or her future. Working with professionals for legal, accounting, and financial planning advice will be an important first step in laying the foundation for your new, independent, single life.
Just like Divorce is a process, the recovery afterwards is also a process. The signing of the agreement may be the end of the legal fees but it is just the beginning of the emotional healing process. Just like the divorce process was a difficult time to make financial decisions, the immediate aftermath of a divorce can be a challenging time to make crucial life decisions.
- Friends will likely take sides, perhaps not immediately, maybe not blatantly, but ultimately, people can often pick sides as everyone moves on. This may mean some hurt feelings, some bruised egos as you realize not everyone will pick your side.
- Do not make big, symbolic lifestyle changes immediately after the divorce. The phrase “don’t get mad, get even” has a place in popular culture, but, ultimately, it can just prolong the mistrust and unpleasantness for both parties. I’ve heard clients say that they are going to quit their job, move to a different state or foreign country, stop paying bills, etc. These are unfortunate things said under the stress of the situation; acting upon them could create a whole new set of problems.
- It will not be undone. A lot of times clients’ difficulty after divorce comes from denying the reality of the situation. In almost all cases it will not be undone. The family will likely not reunite, and things may never be the same for the parents or the children. This may be painful to grasp but it is reality and your new starting point. Many people find great happiness in the life that comes after, but one chapter cannot start until the previous one has finished.
- Jumping into a relationship immediately after divorce could be counterproductive. A new relationship may not make you whole again and can often create stress with the ex-spouse and confusion for the children.
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