So you’re getting a divorce? Now what? Well, only about a billion things. Divorce, whether it’s amicable or ugly, is difficult as it is. Instead of letting your mind wander on a bunch of “What If’s,” get set on tackling the most important matters first in order to move your life ahead into a happier you post-divorce.
Don’t Forget These 8 Things When Divorcing
1. How to Make a Parenting Plan
Figuring out a fair parenting plan is the most essential step towards moving on after divorce for the whole family. If you have a deadbeat dad situation or perhaps you don’t feel your children are safe with your future ex, you’re going to have a different set of challenges than the average divorcees, otherwise, you and your ex will be sharing custody.
First, if you’re amicable, you and your ex can sit down to create a parenting plan or go to a mediator to arrange a plan that is best for all involved. Many couples use their lawyers to battle this part out but in my opinion if you two can work together, mediate as much as possible without gearing up for a divorce war. If you can’t mediate, you need to seek legal help.
Secondly, as hard as it is to share your kids, remember that if your children have two willing parents, don’t keep them from their other parent. Sometimes people get angry over the divorce and use their kids as pawns and this is not okay! As hard as it is to split my time in half with my daughter, I am grateful she has time with a father who loves her so much. She deserves time with him and vice versa. Don’t let your personal feeling about your ex get involved in parenting.
2. Create a Visitation Schedule that Works in Real Life
Consider limiting the back and forth between homes and set up a visitation schedule that’s easy for everyone to remember if possible. When I separated from my ex my daughter was very young so there was more back and forth between the homes, which ended up being too much for her, so we adjusted our visitation schedule. Pay attention to how the schedule plays out in reality because it will be different in real life as opposed to on paper. Be willing to renegotiate if things are not working as smooth as you both hoped.
For children who are too little to understand the concept of time, give them a calendar with “Daddy Days” colored in one shade and “Mommy Days” in another to help them understand and feel less stressed about where they will be sleeping.
3. Get Your Children Some Support for the Transition
Your kids may take this pretty easily… or not. A teenager may rebel, or a young toddler may regress on potty training. Allow for some trouble and adjustments ahead for your children and discuss with your ex how you two will help them move forward. Our daughter took it very hard and it has taken her a long time to adjust, so don’t expect kids to up and heal from divorce quickly or as fast as you might. Each person, adult or child, is different.
We put our daughter in play therapy, which has worked out beautifully for us and it may help your children too. You may want to reach out to guidance counselors and teachers to discuss the situation so your child’s teachers can be prepared in case he or she starts to act out or his or her grades drop. You want the teacher to understand the cause of this change. It may be hard to share what is going on, but it is necessary. Revealing our home situation to my daughter’s teacher was embarrassing but it allowed everyone to assist her through the rough road of divorce adjustment.
4. Speak to a Financial Advisor
Obviously a lawyer or mediator can give you a good idea of what the financial situation will be once you are divorced, but going to a financial advisor to decide what your best chances are to keep your credit and accounts in order is very smart idea. Perhaps you have a lot of debt and would like to pay it off but maybe saving money is a better plan for now. This is what a financial advisor is for.
For me, I was financially dependent on my ex and while I had lived on my own, it had been awhile since I was the sole person in charge of the bills. I decided to seek free financial advice from a non-profit organization called SavvyLadies that “provides personal finance education and resources for women to inspire them to plan for the future.” The organization introduced me to a financial advisor who discussed my finances post-divorce, as well as provided me with a budget worksheet. This was incredibly useful to me!
5. Getting Back into the Workforce or Switching Jobs
If you’re a stay-at-home mom who’s about to go back into the workforce due to divorce or a working mom who needs a better job situation in order to make single parent life smoother, try these few things:
- Get someone to look at your resume and tweak it. Yes, even a stay-at-home mom can work old employment or community service into her resume to spruce it up.
- Consider finding a job with telecommuting potential or that’s close to home in order to make life a bit easier.
- Buff up your skills: take free online tutorials and add these skills to your resume.
- Speak to a career counselor: if you’re changing fields or starting over.
- Volunteer or do pro-bono work in the meantime: it will spruce up your resume.
- Hire a headhunter.
6. Sell Your Wedding & Engagement Rings
Do you need extra money? Oh yes you do! Even women in “cushier” divorce situations can use an extra buck or two. Selling your wedding and diamond rings is not only a great way to set aside cash for emergencies as an almost single mother, but it’s also a good way to get a fresh start. Would you keep a bunch of dead roses or melted chocolates? Would you tell your friends to keep up a photo of an ex-boyfriend in their room? No!
So why are you hanging onto dead rotting reminders of the past? What do you gain by keeping your rings? Your marriage is done and holding onto sentiment will only keep you from healing and you don’t want to end up a bitter angry woman five years from now. Divorce is so tough—you can’t afford to go through all of these changes and heartaches only to be submerged by sadness. You must resurface glorious!
7. Don’t Be Up in Your Ex’s Business
Don’t worry about what your ex is doing or who your ex is dating! Focus on you and what you need to move on and stop fretting over your ex!
8. Focus On Healing & Moving On
Talk to trusted friends and keep your divorce drama off social media. Join divorced mom virtual support groups and pages and if you have the time, try joining an in-person group in order to make new friends and have some shoulders to cry on when you need it.
Starting a new exercise routine or taking a yoga class can be a great way to release stress and meet new people. Even better? Exercise your mind and work out your heart through therapy during the divorce process if you can afford it. Getting perspective on why your marriage didn’t work out, who you want to be going forward, and how your behavior played a role in the marriage’s demise is a smart way to get a fresh start to moving on.
No matter what, it will take some time to heal from divorce. Don’t rush into a new relationship, don’t beat yourself up, and most importantly, be easy on yourself. You deserve a little TLC and who better for it to come from than yourself?
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