Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest difference. When you are going through a divorce, getting a few good divorce tips can save you a ton of time and money, not to mention untold amounts of grief and aggravation.
The problem is, the best divorce tips are likely to come from divorce professionals – and getting their advice costs money!
Plus, it’s not like you can just casually ask your divorce lawyer, “Hey, what are your best divorce tips?” I mean, maybe you can ask that. But, it just seems like a very non-specific question. (And, when you are paying $300+ per hour for answers, you quickly learn to ask very specific questions!)
To help you out, I’ve put together a list of 27 of the best divorce tips to help you navigate through your divorce with less pain and problems.
1. Stay out of court. No matter how much you might want to “tell the judge your story,” you do NOT want a total stranger in a black robe deciding what will happen to your kids, your finances, and your future. Unless you have absolutely no choice at all, settle your case outside of court.
2. Get a therapist. When you are going through a divorce you will be making decisions that will affect your life, and your kids’ lives, for years to come. You can’t make good decisions when you can’t think. You can’t think when you are an emotional basket case. Working with a therapist will help you deal with how you feel, so that you can think more clearly.
3. Decide HOW you want to divorce first, THEN hire a divorce lawyer. If you want to use mediation to resolve your divorce, but you hire a shark divorce attorney, your mediation will fail. If you need to litigate because your spouse is being a jerk, and you hire an attorney who is more comfortable in a conference room than a court room, you are going to get hammered. You have to decide which divorce process you want to use, then hire an attorney who is comfortable using that kind of process.
4. Be careful which lawyer you hire. This is not the time to hire your grade school friend who is now a real estate lawyer. You need to get a lawyer who is experienced in handling family law cases, and who is familiar with the judges and the court system in your area.
5. Take care of yourself. Divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are going to make it through your divorce without having a breakdown, you need to take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Exercise. Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep a night. The better you feel physically, the sharper you will be mentally.
6. Do your best not to overindulge in anything. Sure, it feels good to numb the pain with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, or whatever your vice of choice is. But, in the long run, all of those behaviors only bring you down more. Right now you need to engage in activities that build you up, not tear you down.
7. Circle the wagons. Do not try to go through your divorce alone. This is no time to try to be a super hero or a martyr. That doesn’t mean you need to publicly announce your divorce to everyone you know. It does mean you should put together a tight group of family and friends who can support you and pick you up when you are feeling really down.
8. Take ownership of your divorce. Don’t think you can offload all of your divorce issues on your lawyer. Yes, your lawyer will try to protect you. But, this is your life! You need to pay attention to what is going on, ask questions, and actively participate in your divorce if you want to get the best result
9. Ditch the drama. As the old saying goes, “it takes two to tango.” If you want to have a more peaceful divorce, you need to consciously walk away when your spouse wants to fight. Don’t engage. It may take every ounce of energy you have, but when your spouse starts pushing your buttons, resist the urge to take the bait.
10. Decide from the start whether you would rather be right or happy. If you are waiting for your spouse to apologize for his/her horrible behavior during the marriage, you are going to be waiting a long, long time. Your spouse is not likely to wake up one morning with a burning desire to admit that you were right and s/he was wrong. You may never get an apology, or even an explanation, for what has gone on in the past. You can either fight for years for something that you are not going to get, or you can just let it go.
11. Stop trying to control your spouse. You can not control what your spouse does, where your spouse lives, who your spouse associates with, or even how s/he parents your kids. You couldn’t control your spouse while you were married. What makes you think you are going to do it now that you are getting divorced?
12. Keep your kids out of the middle. Do not use your children to deliver messages or money to your former spouse. Do not interrogate them about what your former spouse is doing, who s/he is dating, or what his/her new home is like. It is none of your business, and that kind of behavior puts your kids right in the middle of your mess.
13. Don’t discuss the issues you have with your ex with your kids. Don’t rob your children of their chance to have a great relationship with both of their parents. Your kids love both you and your spouse. They are a part of both of you. When you badmouth your ex in front of the kids, the kids feel like you are badmouthing them.
14. Set boundaries. Once you and your spouse start living in separate houses, it’s not okay for either of you to invade the other person’s space anymore. It doesn’t matter if you both still own the marital home. If you don’t live there, you can’t just walk in whenever you want.
15. Don’t have sex with your (soon to be) ex. Talk about blurring the lines of your relationship! Having sex with your spouse while you are going through a divorce will only confuse everything even more! Resist the urge to have “one last fling,” and don’t kid yourself that one night of hot sex will fix all of the problems in your marriage. It won’t.
16. Before you agree to refinance the house, make sure that it’s possible for you to get a mortgage. Do NOT assume that you will be able to refinance your home (now or in the future) until you have checked with a qualified mortgage lender first! You want to do that BEFORE you agree on a settlement. Otherwise, you may give up a lot just to get a house that you end up having to sell soon anyway.
17. Find a way to communicate with your spouse about the kids that doesn’t make you crazy. If you have kids, but every conversation you have with your spouse turns into a fight, you need to find a less destructive way to communicate. Limit yourself to text messaging. If that doesn’t work, use email. Use an online parenting program to coordinate schedules for the kids’ events. Don’t start talking face to face again until you both can control your emotions.
18. Don’t hide assets. You may think you are going to get away with something, but, you would be surprised at how much information is available in this digital age. Sure, you may “get away with it” and cheat your spouse a bit, but if you get discovered (and chances are that you will) your credibility in court will be completely blown, and you will very likely end up losing more than you expected to gain.
19. No matter how much time and money you expect to spend on your divorce, at least double it. Divorce always takes longer and costs more than you think. Period. Plus, on top of the expenses that you expect to incur – like legal fees and therapy bills – there are a ton of expenses that you don’t think about at first – like moving expenses, and the cost of having to re-purchase all the stuff your spouse got in your divorce.
20. Don’t settle your case until you have done a post-divorce budget. If you don’t know how much money you will be making and spending after your divorce, and your settlement doesn’t provide you with enough money to live on, you are going to be in a financial crisis almost immediately after your divorce. Even if money is super tight, and you and your spouse just don’t make enough to support two households, it’s far better that you at least have a budget so that you know what you are facing. That way you can find a way to make more money, or cut your expenses as soon as you can.
21. Don’t forget to figure out the effect taxes will have on your divorce settlement BEFORE you finalize your divorce. Money that you have in the house, is not the same as money in a retirement account. Money you pay or receive as child support is not the same as money you pay or receive as spousal support. If you don’t understand the tax consequences of your divorce, you may end up with a divorce settlement that is very different than the one you thought you were getting when you settled your case.
22. Resist the urge to act out of spite. Always take the high road. It doesn’t matter what your spouse did, who your spouse slept with, or what a miserable human being your spouse is. Don’t do something to your spouse just to cause him or her pain. Remember, what goes around comes around. It’s not your job to make sure your spouse pays for his or her despicable acts. Be the bigger person and let karma take care of the rest.
23. Stay away from your spouse’s new squeeze. If your spouse has moved on to a new relationship, resist the urge to call, stalk, harass, bother or bad mouth your spouse’s new “squeeze.” Yes, that means you will have to exercise a good amount of self-control. Trust me when I tell you that the few moments of pleasure you will get by aggravating the new squeeze will not be worth the extra grief and aggravation it causes in your divorce.
24. Don’t bet the farm on a new romantic relationship. It is never a good idea to give up your rights to money, property, or support from your spouse based on what you believe will happen in your new relationship. Assuming that you will find financial stability with your new romantic love is a risky bet. There are no guarantees that your new relationship will last. (Once upon a time you thought your marriage would last, too, remember?) Don’t shortchange yourself in your divorce because you are betting on something that may not pan out.
25. Watch what your kids do during and after your divorce, not just what they say. A lot of times, your kids will tell you what you want to hear. They may not want to burden you with their feelings, especially if they see that you are already in pain. But if your kids suddenly start doing poorly in school, or start acting out, pay attention! Often, your children’s behavior will give you a huge clue about what is really going on with them.
26. Make sure you get your maiden name back. Changing your name outside of a divorce is a big deal. It typically takes months and months to do, and costs hundreds of dollars in court fees, and even more in legal fees. Changing your name in a divorce is easy and free. Even if you don’t think you want your maiden name back, get the right to change your name anyway. That way, you can take it back any time.
27. Remember that your divorce doesn’t end the day that your judgment is signed. If your divorce judgment requires you to split up retirement accounts, or refinance the house, or take your spouse’s name off credit cards, all of that still has to be done after the judgment is entered. Your natural tendency will be to try to put your divorce behind you as fast as possible. That’s okay, as long as you make sure to actually divide your assets and debts according to what your divorce judgment says. Remember, “it ain’t over til its over.”
BONUS TIP: If you want to get through your divorce without missing anything, use a checklist! (It’s what the divorce attorneys do!) CLICK THE BUTTON below and get your FREE DIVORCE CHECKLIST.