If you’ve made the decision to divorce your first priority should be creating a process that is beneficial to all parties involved. According to the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, divorce is far and away the most stressful life event, other than loss of a loved one to death, that we can experience.
No matter your status…thinking about divorce, going through a divorce or moving on after a divorce, there will be work to be done on your part. Whether you end up in tears or with a satisfying post-divorce life depends on countless factors. Your own words, actions and thoughts undoubtedly play a role.
One thing that will give you an advantage when it comes to divorce is soaking up all the wisdom you can from those who are experts in the divorce field. That’s why DivorcedMoms.com has taken the time to distil it down to the very best 22 experts and what they’ve learned and think you should know about divorce. We hope their words help you uncover the key to navigating divorce and creating a fantastic post-divorce life.
22 Divorce Tips from Divorce Experts
1. There is a Light at the End of the Tunnel.
You move on socially and romantically while your kids become more independent. You have two weekends a month to do what YOU want to do. Just remember, divorce only hurts for a little while and you have complete control over how much someone can hurt you.
~ Karen R. Guthrie, Esq.
2. Civil Communication Between Parents is Imperative
The best thing any family facing divorce is to assure open communication about the children. It is essential to make sure that both parents have equal access to both the schedule as well as to information. I used the iCal app and created a schedule that would allow my ex-husband to subscribe. Google Calendar works just as well. This allowed us all to be connected without having unnecessary conversations. It also allows invitations to be accepted or declined. You didn’t get my invitation? Well, here is proof that it was sent. This leaves the obligation on the receiving party to always check their email. My favorite method of sharing and saving information has been through Evernote. It is a free application, and you can create shared notebooks to exchange and store information.
~ Virginia Masters, DivorcedMoms blogger
3. Co-Parting is a Business
The one piece of advice that I always return to, and that I feel puts my situation into perspective time and time again is this: co-parent like business partners instead of like exes. When you parent as business partners, parents shift their focus on what is most important; the kids. So, if parenting is a business, the children are the product of the enterprise. The goal, then, is to produce happy, healthy, and well-adjusted “products”, which requires pooling resources in the most effective way possible and letting go of the petty things that get in the way of success.
~ Audrey Cade, DivorcedMoms blogger
4. Remain Sensitive to Your Children’s Needs
It is not uncommon for divorcing parents to switch their focus from being a conscious parent to becoming a distracted one. So, remember to remain sensitive to your children's needs as well as your own as they are also learning to cope with your divorce too!
~ Reiki Rita, Spiritual Life Coach and Parent Educator
5. Prioritize Finances
One way to prepare for your divorce is to create a list of all your assets and debts before you contact any financial or legal expert. Preparation can save you time and money. Make a list of all debts, and their interest rates. Know the equity of the home (appraisal if needed). Know what is marital property, premarital property, and second properties. List all retirement accounts and any undisclosed monies. Prioritize what is important to you. Do as much work on your own as you can prior to meeting with your legal counsel or going to any of your network of experts.
~ Kathey Batey, Divorce Support Anonymous
6. Be Certain it is a Divorce You Want
Be certain it is a divorce you want or are you feeling unloved and unappreciated? Over time behaviors become automatic consequently the response to a situation also becomes automatic, i.e. anger and frustration.
Do you find yourself arguing, and saying things, that are repetitive such as “you never listen.” “Why do I bother, you are never happy with what I do.”
Instead of continuing with the same behavior, make a conscious decision to change how you react in doing so you can change your relationship for the better.
~ Karen Bashford, Inner Child Connector and Guide, Hypnotherapist, Money Mindset and Abundance Coach, Financial Educator.
7. Focus on Building the Life You Want
Divorce your spouse, not your life: if you are at the point of divorcing, there was a part of you, hidden or not, that new it was the next step for the life you wanted to create. Focus on building your life even when you are in the process of divorcing, it will give you the headspace to make choices that work for you instead of choices that are a result of your divorce.
~ Sophie Mihalko, Divorce Empowerment Coach
8. Self-Care and Support
With divorce comes loneliness. You may feel that the only cure for loneliness is either get back the life you lost (which you can’t) or find a replacement (which won’t work). But there is a different way and one that does work. It starts with understanding that loneliness is within you, and that means that you have the power to heal it, just like you have the power to feel loved, appreciated and supported again. It’s a journey and it starts with two essential steps: self-care and reaching out for support.
~ Halina Goldstein, Loneliness To Love Mentor
9. Mediate, Mediate, Mediate!!
Don't run out and hire an attorney, mediate! Attorneys only make the divorce process last longer than it should. I am over three years into a divorce and at our court appointed date we will play "let's make a deal" with my life, listening to an offer from my almost ex. All the time and money and pounds of paperwork and it comes down to something as simple as this. If someone had warned me that it would end up this way I would have insisted on mediation.
~ Carol Johnson, Featured DM Blogger
10. Try to See Things From Their Perspective
Get curious about why your ex is saying what he is saying or doing what he is doing. So often we only see things through our own lens, especially when we're hurting. So, ask, try to see if from their perspective. Ask questions without anger or judgment about what it is they want, or why they are doing something, or how they want to do it or have it done. Then the most important thing is to keep quiet for at least 30 seconds, giving them a chance to think, pause, and respond. Then repeat. Ask if there is anything they want to add. Then wait 30 seconds more while they think, pause and respond. RESIST the urge to interrupt. I have been amazed at how this type of communication is transforming my relationship with my ex. Maybe if I had done this years ago, things would be different now. Who knows? Try it.
~ Esther Litchfield-Fink, Life Coach, and Writer
11. Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row
If you are planning on getting divorced, preparation is everything. Don't run to the courthouse to file a Complaint for Divorce. Make copies of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements. Make a list of all your joint and individual assets/debts. Create a "divorce" file and stay organized. If you prepare now, the process will be smoother later.
~ Jason Levoy a/k/a The Divorce Resource Guy
12. Never Play the Victim Role
Don’t play the role of victim and begin to make decisions that reflect your strengths. The first step is to examine your divorce experience and self-defeating messages derived from it. Develop a mindset that relationships are our teachers. Divorce can be viewed as a catalyst for personal growth. Counseling, blogging, and reading can aid you in this process. It’s important to develop a healthy response to mistakes and failing. Give yourself permission to “think big” and want more. It’s an exciting time with all sorts of possibilities.
~ Terry Gaspard MSW, LICSW, Therapist, Author, College Instructor
13. Before You File, Get Legal Advice
Get legal advice. Before you file for a divorce, whether or not you want a full representation and to hire a lawyer for the final process, you still need legal advice. If you have to pay for a consultation, do it. It’s wise to talk to a lawyer before you attempt to handle the divorce yourself without much knowledge. Laws change constantly and there may be new laws passed that you are not aware of. Sometimes the internet doesn’t have all the answers because YOUR case is YOURS and no other person has had the same exact situation.
~ Vania Silva, Family Law Attorney
14. Separate Your Emotions from the Process
The best advice I have for women going through a divorce is to separate your emotions from the process. It's tempting for both parties to use divorce for revenge, which can lead to costly legal bills and aggravation over who gets the flat-screen or a statue in the yard. Alternatively, many women approach divorce through fear of conflict which hands over the control to your husband. Divorce is a business negotiation and it's best to handle it as such.
~ Beth Cone Kramer is a journalist and co-founder of Divorce.ly, a seven-step program to help women develop skills and knowledge for a successful divorce and life after.
15. Do a Bit of Advanced Financial Planning
Before leaving the marital home or announcing your intention to divorce, ensure you have your own bank account set up. Deposit some of the joint account funds into your new account but don’t take more than half. Also, investigate your financial status as a married couple so you don’t face big surprises during the divorce process.
Uncover all assets, your spouse annual income, any debt and liquid cash before announcing to your husband that you intend to leave him. This bit of advance planning will get you set up for independence with much needed financial knowledge.”
~ Lisa Thomson, Writer, Author, Blogger
16. Align Yourself with a Financial Advocate
Most “non-financial” spouses often find themselves out in the cold, as the advisor, they intended to lean on was retained by their ex-spouse. Because of this very common dilemma, The Wall Street Journal suggests divorcing your pre-divorce financial advisor as the best way to achieve post-divorce financial success.
Just as you smartly obtained a competent legal advocate, you should now align in similar fashion with a financial advocate. Specifically, a board Certified Financial Planner. From properly structuring your settlement so it last as long as you do to selecting the correct social security option, knowledge in this instance is power.
~ Mark Kinney, Certified Financial Planner
17. Believe in Yourself
The thing that will hold you back from telling your spouse you want a divorce or calling an attorney is the overwhelming fear that you can't do this. You can. Millions of other women have managed it, and so will you. It won't be easy at first, but if you can take the first leap of faith (in yourself), the next one will be easier. You don't have to stay in a miserable marriage. You can have a better life - on your terms. You deserve better and you're worth it. There will come a day when you won’t question that.
~ Michaela Mitchell, Freelance Writer, Divorced Mom
18. Help Getting Through the Dark Days of Divorce
My best tip consists of four musts to get you through the dark days.
- Self-Care.Taking care of YOU emotionally and physically is a must. If you feel better you will do better!
- Accept and Surrender to Change. Change is a constant. Embrace it.
It may be scary to let go of control but it will often lead you where you need to be.
- Be Fearless.Think of yourself as a warrior goddess. Have great strength
with a feminine heart. Believe and take a leap of faith.
- Be grateful.Your yesterday does not dictate your today. Give thanks for all you
do have. Sometimes the small things in life are priceless. Look forward to the future.
~ Laney Zukerman, Author, Lessons for an Urban Goddess & The Urban Goddess Lesson
19. Don't Treat Divorce as a Failure, But as an Experience
You should stop thinking of a divorce as a failure—period.
Women who struggle with low self-esteem often blame themselves for the end of their marriage and treat it as kind of a failure in their lives.
Divorce is the end of your marriage, not the end of your life. It should be perceived as another experience on our path; a closure of one thing to make a space for another one. Many new wonderful experiences will come, as soon as you genuinely open your heart for them!
~ Sarah Williams, Freelance Writer, WingmanMagazine
20. Protect Your Retirement with a QDRO
If you find yourself at divorce’s door, do not assume that your divorce settlement will protect your rights to your portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement account. This is especially important if you are a mom and have spent time away from a career taking care of your family while your spouse has earned all or a majority of the income. Be sure to work with your attorney to enact a QDRO. A QDRO is a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order,” which provides a legal mechanism for dividing the retirement benefits of private pension and/or 401K plans earned by your spouse during the years of your marriage.
~ Cathy DeWitt Dunn, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and Founder of Women Money & Power
21. Never Fight Around the Children or Badmouth Their Other Parent
Studies show that conflict creates the most pain and turmoil for children of divorce. Keep parental battles away from your kids – even when you’re on the phone or in another room. They deserve the peace of mind. Speaking disrespectfully about your former spouse hurts your kids with anger, guilt, and confusion. They think, “If there’s something wrong with Dad or Mom, there must also be something wrong with me for loving them.” This can result in a damaged relationship with your children and resentment when they are grown.
~ Rosalind Sed ACCA, CDC, Divorce & Parenting Coach & Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network
22. Don’t Bicker Over the Little Things
Never sweat the small stuff, especially when it’s on your dime. The antique clock passed down from your great-grandmother might be worth it, but if it’s a rug you bought from IKEA, let it go. It’s all just “stuff” in the end. Draw a line around it and let it go. Bickering about the little things just takes years away from your life and dollars out of your wallet.
~ Liv, Divorced Mom, Blogger at Live By Surprise