What does one do after a divorce? This is a common concern and a valid one. Of course, you’re probably drained from the divorce proceedings and may be feeling overwhelmed. This is completely normal. However, you should know that divorce can be a powerful first step to an exciting new chapter in your life. We know this from speaking with and helping countless people who’ve found success after divorce.
Let’s take a look at 3 major areas that you should focus on including money, dating, and legal matters.
1. Plan Your Finances
Money was most likely a major issue then. It’s just as, if not more important, now. You’re in a great position to take steps in the right direction. Your plan should consist of tying up loose ends, taking fiscal responsibility, and establishing goals.
Break Ties with Your Ex
Start with some basic financial housekeeping (if you didn’t button up these issues during the divorce already). First, once your divorce judgment is entered, close any joint accounts with your former spouse. Open new accounts under your name and disclose this to your attorney, so your money is protected from here on out. If you have credit cards under both your names, call the issuing bank and disallow any future charges. You definitely don’t want to be on the hook for any expenses that you’re not incurring. In a similar vein, change the beneficiary (from your ex-spouse to a loved one) on your retirement accounts or any other assets that get transferred upon death once your judgment is entered.
It’s also important to list out what assets you own that are covered by insurance policies. Remove any items that are no longer in your possession, so you’re not paying for coverage on things that don’t belong to you. Policies to consider are homeowner’s, auto, and umbrella liability insurance. It’s cleaning up these details that help you start with a fresh state for your successful financial future.
Take Control of Your Credit
It’s also time for an honest assessment of where you are now. The first step is as straightforward as checking your credit score. You can get a free copy every 12 months or go through the major credit bureaus like Equifax, Transunion, or Experian. Most likely, your credit will have taken a hit—but that’s ok. By finding out where you are now, you can build a plan to recover your credit health.
If you’ve been majorly impacted, start slow with a small line of credit and make payments on time—every month. This can be a rewarding and uplifting experience by seeing your credit score climb as you responsibly borrow and pay back money. To help visualize your credit journey, track your progress using a free app like Credit Karma.
Set Financials Goals and Stay Focused
How much money do you want to save in one year? In two years? In five? List out these high level goals and write down smaller goals that help you achieve the larger ones. For example, if you want to save $10,000 in one year, develop a monthly budget to help you attain this goal.
Look out for expenses and spending habits that may carry over from your previous marriage. Remember, you’re caring for yourself now, so stay accountable. If you’re planning to buy a house in 2 years, then keep to this plan by developing a mindset that doesn’t compromise your chances at home ownership. If you’re used to traveling every summer, you may need to hold off for a couple seasons, so you’re in a position to reach your real estate goals. For this and all aspects of money after divorce, consider working with a financial planner who can walk you through this process in great detail.
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2. Balance Your Single and Dating Life
It may be tempting to jump back in the dating game again, but it may be best to take it slow. Divorce can take an emotional toll, so spend some time taking care of yourself before fully signing on to take care of someone else again, especially if you have kids.
It Starts With You
Healthy relationships are born from the union of two people who are strong as individuals and, therefore, even stronger together. It’s not to say that you’re not a strong person for going through a divorce. Of course you are! Rather, you’ve spent some time now building a life with a partner. So now that they’re out of the picture, you’ll benefit from investing time in learning how to thrive as a single person. Here are some ways you can continue to build yourself up after your divorce:
- Take classes on topics or career paths you’ve always wanted to explore
- Read self-help books or listen to inspirations podcasts or rooms on Clubhouse
- Stay physically active and eat nutritiously
- Spend quality time with friends and family
- Work with a therapist or divorce coach
To succeed in life after divorce, you’ll need to be resourceful and comfortable being single. This way, you create a foundation of autonomy, accountability, and health that contributes to making others around you feel good as well. This way, when you meet the right partner, you’ll both benefit from the personal work you’ve done.
Prioritize Your Children
Along with your mind and body, your children also need ample love and care. They just went through a confusing and, often, traumatizing experience. Your priority here is to balance your time between spending quality time with them and all the other demands of life. For example, if your ex is moving to a different city, think through who your kids will spend major holidays and long weekends with and communicate this clearly with everyone involved.
It’s also crucial to assess who’s available to support you during this time as well. Can your parents or siblings help care for the children while you’re at work? Can you afford to hire a babysitter from time to time? Are you able to pair your child with a therapist to help cope with the divorce? Can other parents take your kid to sports practices if you can’t make it? Can you return the favor? The realities of life are sure to come up, so know who’s there in your corner.
3. Resolve Legal Issues
Problems may arise with your ex, especially when it comes to caring for the children. Keep in mind that if you’re looking to modify your divorce agreement, both parties must agree to the changes. Having said that, here are a few topics that come up.
Child Custody & Visitation
It’s vital to consider both legal and physical custody in your post-divorce situation. For reference, legal custody refers to you or your ex-spouse’s right to make important life decisions on your child’s behalf. Physical custody refers to where the child will primarily live on a regular basis.
On the other hand, perhaps visitation is feeling one-sided. Or maybe you’re feeling like you’re taking on too much responsibility and need your ex-spouse to step up.
If you feel that your children’s lives can be improved with a change in custody and visitation, then you have two options:
- If both you and your ex agree, work with your respective attorneys to draft a new agreement that details the new arrangement and submit it to the Court for approval.
- (In California) If one of you doesn’t agree, the party who wants the change needs to complete Form FL-300 and the appropriate attachments. Then, they must bring it before the Court and prove that there have been substantial changes warranting this change.
If you’re in a situation where your financial picture has changed significantly after divorce, you may be able to seek a modification to the spousal support order. Understand that if your divorce settlement explicitly prohibits any changes under any circumstances, then you may have a tougher time with the modification.
A modifiable spousal support order can be subject to change for various reasons for either the paying or receiving party:
- The receiving party no longer needs support
- The paying party can no longer afford to pay support because of a change in income
- The receiving party is not making an effort to support themselves
- The receiving party remarries or cohabitating with a partner
- The receiving party loses a job or a significant amount of hours
It’s absolutely imperative that if any of these situations apply to you that you contact your attorney immediately. Don’t wait to see if your situation is temporary or look for a better time because the Court will not retroactively account for any losses prior to you submitting the paperwork.
Reach out to experts to help you, now that your divorce is final. With money matters, a financial planner or analyst is a great resource to help you achieve your goals with exactness. A divorce coach will be a great person to have by your side as you navigate the world as a single person before you start dating seriously again. For legal issues, a divorce consulting attorney can walk you through modification options related to your children or spousal support. As always, you can reach out to us for family law matters or dependable referrals to professionals within our expansive network.