January is a great time to change habits and make a new beginning. It’s also a time when people take a hard look at their lives and make decisions about what they want their future to look like. If you have taken a hard look at your marriage and determined that a future together is not possible, I’d like to offer the following resolutions to help guide you as you prepare for a divorce.
Resolution #1: Educate Yourself
If you are thinking about a divorce, make an appointment to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney about your rights and obligations. This includes custody, child support, spousal support, protection orders (if necessary), and division of assets and debts. Avoid relying on the advice of friends, colleagues, or law enforcement. These people are well-meaning, but the outcome of your divorce is very fact-specific. What happened in their divorce may or may not be applicable to your family. An attorney can review your specific situation and help set expectations for your case.
Resolution #2: Get Active
Divorce can be very stressful. If you don’t already have a fitness routine, find a physical activity that makes you happy. Regular exercise releases endorphins and will greatly help manage your stress and emotions.
Resolution #3: Get Acquainted with Your Finances
Much of the outcome of divorce depends on your financial situation. All too often, however, one spouse leaves all the “money stuff” to the other spouse. Being unaware or uninformed can have devastating consequences if you are divorcing. If your spouse knows all the ins and outs of your finances, there’s little to keep him/her from hiding assets and setting things up to his/her advantage. Start by identifying the absolute basics: each of your incomes and your regular household expenses. What do you earn and spend? In addition, identify your assets and liabilities. What do you own and owe?
Resolution #4: Avoid Disparaging Your Spouse to Others
It’s easy to badmouth your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to others, but speaking ill of them won’t help your situation. In fact, it can possibly backfire. Accusations and disparaging comments can inflame an already tense situation. This can lead to retaliation, postponement of the resolution of your case, and additional legal fees. Your children – who love both of you – will also likely feel confused and frustrated by negative comments. They will feel caught in the middle and resent you for it.
Resolution #5: Have Fun & Be Social
Getting a divorce can be isolating and lonely. Take time to enjoy life outside of your family problems. Connect with friends and be social. Escaping the stresses surrounding your case will help make it less overwhelming.
Resolution #6: Seek Counseling or Therapy
Even though you’ve already resolved to avoid voicing your negative feelings about your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to your friends and family (see Resolution #4), you may still need to vent. A therapist or counselor can help you emotionally cope with the feelings you will experience.