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Divorce Advice for Men: 32 Survival Tips You’re Going to Need

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According to our cultural stereotype, men never ask for directions or advice. Yet when it comes to divorce, men are just as upset and overwhelmed as women. They have just as much at stake. Therefore, like divorcing women, divorcing men need all the help they can get! Because of that, this blogpost is dedicated to providing divorce advice for men.

Of course, many of the divorce tips in this article will help you no matter who you are. They’re good to know, whether you are a man or a woman.

But if you are a man, these 33 pieces of divorce advice can be absolutely invaluable to you.*

Here is what guys who are facing divorce need to know.

[*NOTE: This article is written with the traditional, and very stereotypical, family in mind. It assumes that the man has been the primary breadwinner for the family and the woman has been the primary caretaker of the children. This stereotype obviously isn’t true for everyone!

Many men are stay-at-home dads. Many women are the primary breadwinners for their family. If your family doesn’t adhere to traditional stereotypes, you would probably benefit from reading BOTH this article and its companion article, divorce advice for women.]

Profile of a handsome man: divorce advice for men.

32 Critical Pieces of Divorce Advice for Men

1. Take Care Of Yourself. 

Divorce takes a toll on your body as well as on your life. Eating and sleeping either become incredibly hard to do, or they’re all you want to do. You may feel like nothing makes sense anymore - like nothing matters. Taking care of yourself suddenly falls to the bottom of your “To Do” list.

While you may be tempted to just “tough it out,” here’s the problem with doing that. When your body feels like garbage, you can’t think clearly. When you can’t think clearly, you make mistakes. You make bad decisions.

What you may not realize is that when you’re going through a divorce, you’re going to have to make more important life decisions than you will at almost any other time in your life.

You have to be able to think!

That means that if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting the result you want in your divorce, you need to take care of yourself.

Treat your divorce as if it was a sport and you were an Olympic athlete going for the gold. Eat right. Exercise. Get as much sleep as you can. Not only will you feel better, but you will be able to cope with what’s going on a lot better, too. (Plus, as a bonus, you’ll even be able to think more clearly, as well!)

2. Get A Therapist.

Going through a divorce puts you on an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you’re angry and the next minute you’re depressed. You go from feeling so sad that you can barely function to being so frustrated you want to throw the furniture across the room.

All of that is completely normal.

Yet, as a man, you’ve probably been taught not to show your emotions. Or worse yet, you may believe you’re not supposed to have any emotions. After all, you’re a guy. That’s not what guys do.

The problem is that, contrary to what some people might have you believe, even men are human! (… although you might not want to ask your soon-to-be-ex wife about that right now!)

The bottom line is that just because you’re a guy that doesn’t mean that you don’t need help.

Going through a divorce is rough on everyone. It’s emotional and confusing no matter what your gender is.

Having a good therapist by your side as you go through your divorce can make an enormous difference in your mental and emotional health. (Plus, therapists are often covered by your insurance, so it shouldn’t add too much to your divorce expenses.)

3. Learn How Divorce Works ASAP.

No one wants to have to learn about divorce. But if you’re facing divorce, NOT KNOWING how it works can lead you to make stupid – and incredibly expensive – mistakes.

Of course, if you’re like most people, you may assume that getting a divorce lawyer will solve all of your problems. After all, understanding how divorce works is THEIR job. Your job is just to hire a decent divorce lawyer and then let them do their thing.

That assumption is wrong.

Yes, hiring a divorce lawyer who’s got your back is important. But that’s only going to get you so far.

Your divorce lawyer isn’t going to help you talk to your spouse, maintain a good relationship with your kids, or figure out your finances. Your divorce lawyer also isn’t going to make all of your divorce decisions for you.

A good divorce lawyer will tell you what decisions you’re going to have to make - hopefully well BEFORE you have to make them! S/he will also give you advice as to the potential cost and ramifications of each decision.

But making the actual decision?

That’s on you.

So, if you don’t understand how divorce works, what decisions you’re going to have to make, and WHEN you’re going to have to make them, your chances of screwing them up increases exponentially.

(… and if you DON’T happen to have a good divorce lawyer, your divorce may end up being a series of unpleasant surprises and last-minute decisions. That’s because many lawyers don’t bother to tell you what you’ll be facing far enough in advance for you to get properly prepared!)

4. Figure Out What Matters To You From The Start.

If you’re like most men, in business and at work you have no trouble making decisions and knowing what you want. You understand how to focus on what’s important. You know how to get a job done.

But in your personal life? … things aren’t always so clear.

And going through a divorce makes you feel like you’re in a fog even more.

Here’s the truth.

Most people can list everything they DON’T want in their divorce without hesitating. (They DON’T want to be taken advantage of. They DON’T want to lose time with their kids. Some DON’T want their soon-to-be-ex to get a thing!)

But ask them what they DO want, and they look at you like a deer in headlights. Or they mutter something vague like, “I just want everything to be fair.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be fair. It’s how you DEFINE “fair” that gets sticky. (… because I promise you that what YOU think is fair is probably very different right now from what your wife thinks is fair!)

The bottom line is that, unless you can state, simply and clearly, what you want in your divorce, your chances of getting it fall faster than a hot air balloon with a hole in it.

So, ask yourself: What is the most important thing you want to have once your divorce is over? What matters to you the most?

Is it getting time with your kids? Is it making sure you can make ends meet after your divorce?

What is the ONE (or at most two) main things that you care about?

Figure that out. Focus on that.

Doing that will give you the best chance of getting it.

Colorful ape looking into the camera.

5. Don’t Do Stupid Things.

Yes, this should go without saying. Unfortunately, in divorce, people need to be reminded not to do stupid things … a lot.

The reason is simple. When you’re full of emotion and your wife pushes your buttons, you act before you think. That’s a problem.

Acting out of emotion jacks up the conflict in your divorce. It makes an already miserable situation 1000 times worse. It also tends to get you in trouble, and land you in divorce court trying to explain to a judge why s/he shouldn’t throw you in jail or make you pay a huge amount of money for doing whatever it was that you did.

That’s NOT where you want to be.

For example, cancelling your wife’s health insurance while you’re going through a divorce might make perfect sense to you. Since she’s ultimately going to have to get her own health insurance anyway, why should you have to keep paying for her insurance yourself now?

The problem is that if your wife gets sick or injured, and she needs medical care, she IS going to get it. And the bill that comes along with that care is likely going to be a MARITAL expense. Or, maybe a judge would decide it’s YOUR expense. After all, if you hadn’t cancelled the insurance, there wouldn’t be such a big bill.

The bottom line is that while cancelling the insurance may make you feel good in the moment, and might save you a few dollars in premiums, in the long run it could cost you ten times more than what you saved.

(NOTE: NONE of the things you do in anger, or for revenge, or just to make your spouse suffer are EVER a good idea. Ever. )

6. Get Your Financial Documents Together As Soon As You Can.

It doesn’t matter whether you know where your important financial documents are or not. Documents have a way of mysteriously “going missing” during a divorce.

While men are usually the ones who get accused of hiding financial documents during a divorce, women can play fast and loose with financial information, too.

To avoid problems later, make copies of all of the financial documents you are going to need as soon as you know that divorce is a possibility. Then keep those documents in a safe place, preferably somewhere that is NOT in your home or anywhere else that your wife can access them.)

(NOTE: Just because you’re making a copy of your financial documents that does NOT mean that you should destroy the original documents or hide them from your spouse! You’re BOTH entitled to have full financial information! The only thing you need to do by making copies is to make sure that YOU have a copy of the documents just in case SHE decides to try to hide information from you.)

7. Know Your Numbers.

Having copies of your financial documents is one thing. Putting the information in those documents into a usable form is another.

If you want to truly understand your finances and be able to predict what your post-divorce financial situation will be, you need at least two documents that most people rarely compile: a budget and a balance sheet.

Even if you’ve been in charge of the family finances for decades, if you’ve never actually made a written budget and a written balance sheet, you’re going to want to do that now. Having the rough numbers in your head isn’t going to be good enough. You need written documents.

(… and if you weren’t the one who was in charge of the finances while you were married or you didn’t want to look at them because they were so bad, that’s even MORE reason why you need a written budget and balance sheet now!)

Of course, putting together a budget and balance sheet is no one’s idea of a good time. But seeing your numbers in writing will give you a clarity that you simply can’t get any other way. (Plus, most courts are going to require you to file a financial affidavit which is, in essence, a budget and a balance sheet. That’s another reason why you want to start working on this sooner rather than later.)

Once you know your numbers – and you can see them – you will be much better equipped to negotiate a final divorce settlement later.

8. Figure Out Your Finances, But Don’t Obsess!

If you’re a “numbers guy,” then figuring out your finances may come naturally to you. You may already have a budget, balance sheet, cash flow projection, and a personal profit and loss statement nestled neatly into an Excel spreadsheet or a Google doc.

If that describes you … awesome! You’re not going to have to worry about putting all those documents together. You already have them.

Unfortunately, if “knowing your numbers” has always been important to you, NOT knowing them may very well drive you crazy! Sadly, while you’re going through a divorce, there will be some period of time (maybe even a LONG period of time) when you DON’T know your numbers, and CAN’T know your numbers.

That’s because while your divorce is going on, there will always be unexpected expenses. Your spouse WILL spend money without telling you. And until you're finally divorced, your budget will be up-in-the-air.

That’s just the nature of divorce. It’s full of financial uncertainty. And, if you’re a “numbers guy,” that financial uncertainty is going to raise your anxiety WAY past your comfort zone.

But here's what you need to know.

The more you obsess over your finances, the more anxiety you will feel. The more anxiety you feel about money, the more you’re going to obsess over it. And on and on it goes.

To get yourself off the merry-go-round stop, take a deep breath, and decide to make peace with your uncertainty for as long as it lasts.

9. Don’t Bury Your Wife In Spreadsheets Before She’s Even Ready To Talk.

For whatever reason, most men love spreadsheets.

Most women do not.

Your wife is not going to appreciate it when you hand her a spreadsheet showing how you’re going to divide all of your marital assets ten minutes after you told her you want a divorce. Doing that will not make you look like you cared enough to put a ton of work into your divorce in order to save her the trouble.

It will make you look like an insensitive louse.

It will also likely send your wife skyrocketing to Pluto and make any further conversation that evening completely impossible.

Your wife is also not likely to be impressed if, later on during your divorce, you email her twenty-five different spreadsheets demonstrating why YOUR proposed settlement makes the most sense. I promise you that doing that will NOT make sense to her. It will also likely make her dig in her heels and insist that HER divorce settlement proposal is actually the best one to go with.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone.

If your wife is an accountant, a statistician, a financial planner, or a numbers nerd, then definitely share your Excel file with her. But, if she’s not, sending her spreadsheets will likely only piss her off.

Container with file folders, post its and pencils.

10. Get Organized.

Divorce is a document-driven process. Yet documents are only useful if they’re organized.

What matters in court is not what you did but what you can PROVE you did.

For example, if you took $10,000 from your joint bank account in order to pay your property taxes, you need to be able to show the judge the paperwork that PROVES that’s what you did with that $10,000! That “proof” can be digital or on paper. What matters is that you can provide objective evidence to the court that you did what you said you did.

In order to provide that proof, you need to be able to give your lawyer, your spouse and the judge the documents that back up your story. If you can’t find those documents because you’re so disorganized, you can’t prove squat.

Being organized will also save you a TON of money in your divorce!

For example, if you can hand your lawyer a neatly organized stack of financial documents (or a nicely organized set of digital document folders) your lawyer will be able to easily access the information s/he needs. On the other hand, if you drop an enormous pile of random documents in no particular order on your lawyer’s desk, you will pay your lawyer $500 per hour to put them in order.

That’s expensive!

Organizing those documents yourself, or paying a secretary or clerk $20 an hour to organize them for you, is much smarter!

11. Don’t Think That Just Because You’re A Guy You’ve Got To Keep It Together All The Time.

Divorce is hard. It’s emotional. Letting yourself feel your emotions has nothing to do you’re your masculinity. It has everything to do with being human.

While you certainly don’t need to have a public breakdown, allowing yourself to fall apart privately can do you a world of good. Not only will it make you feel better in the moment, but it will prevent you from exploding over some seemingly trivial thing later on.

Emotions are energy. They don’t just “go away” because you don’t like them or don’t want to deal with them.

If you stuff down your anger because you’re trying to be a “good guy” or because you just want to get your divorce over with, don’t be surprised if you blow up in the middle of your divorce negotiations over something you don’t even really care about. That’s your emotions “coming out sideways!”

They’re leaking out at the most inappropriate times because you didn’t deal with them when they first came up.

If you want to get through your divorce in the most productive way possible, you’ve got to DEAL with your emotions. If you don’t know how to do that, see tip #2 and get yourself a good therapist.

(And, no, it’s not going to feel good while you’re going dealing with your emotions. Unfortunately, feeling the negative emotions now is the only way for you to start dealing with them long term and ultimately to heal.)

12. Don’t Hide Money.

Yes, this is a stereotype. Not all men hide money in divorce. I apologize in advance if this offends you.

But, because men tend to make more money than women (again, a stereotype!), they often have more of a motive to hide money in divorce than women. (Of course, there are also plenty of women who are stashing dough on the side, too. So, this is definitely not just a man’s issue!)

No matter what your gender is, hiding money is a risky game.

If you get away with it – Score! You win ... at least financially.

But if you don’t and you get caught (which happens more than you may think) you will be branded as a liar and a cheat. That can end up costing you more in your divorce than whatever you were trying to hide.

Even if you think there is NO WAY your wife could ever discover what you’ve hidden, you might be surprised at what gets found. Mail gets mis-routed more often than you might think. Your wife could hire a forensic accountant, or a lawyer who is good at financial sleuthing. Or someone you know makes a comment about something to someone your wife knows and before you know it, your wife has been turned on to the fact that you’ve got money stashed somewhere.

The bottom line is that the universe has a strange way of tipping people off to their spouse’s financial dishonesty.

There’s also the issue of your personal integrity to consider.

Maybe that matters to you. Maybe it doesn’t.

Just remember, though: You may be divorcing your wife, but you can never divorce yourself.

(P.S. Karma happens!

13. Ask For Help.

Going through a divorce is not the time when you want to be a hero or to “go it alone.”

You need support. You need to rally your family and friends around you. Resist the temptation to become a hermit and stay in your cave.

Sure, you’re going to need some “alone time” to figure life out. But, at the same time, being Stoic and trying to do everything yourself is a sure way of driving yourself into having the public breakdown that you’re trying so desperately to avoid.

If it makes it easier to ask for help, consider this. Going through a divorce is like having a second full time job! And, if you have kids, then taking care of them half the time, on top of working and on top of going through a divorce is a LOT!

There is no shame in asking for help.

That help can be personal, professional, or both. It can consist of your family and friends as well as a lawyer, therapist, and coach.

If you have the budget for it, it can also consist of help doing things like housekeeping and yardwork. Right now you need to spend your time doing the things that matter most. Paying someone to do simple but time-consuming tasks can help ease your stress level and increase your capacity to focus on what’s really important.

Finally you may want to consider joining a support group. While finding a support group specifically for divorcing men might be like trying to find a unicorn, there are general men’s support groups out there that can help you a lot.

14. Get Your Own Divorce Lawyer – But Don’t Hire A Gladiator Unless You Truly Need To.

If you’re trying to divorce amicably, and your situation is fairly simple and straightforward, you may be tempted to only “use one lawyer.” The problem is that, contrary to what you might believe, no ONE lawyer can represent both you and your spouse.

When people say that they “used the same lawyer” what that really means is that one of them had a lawyer and the other did not.

Usually, the lawyer represents the person who is in the weaker financial position. Most of the time, that means the lawyer will represent your wife.

Going without legal representation isn’t necessarily a bad idea. (That is, as long as your case is pretty simple!) It will reduce your cost and probably your conflict.

BUT just because you don’t have a lawyer representing you in your divorce, that doesn’t mean that you should totally go without legal advice!

These days you can hire a lawyer to simply give you legal advice. You can hire a lawyer to review your divorce paperwork and make sure there’s nothing hidden in the language of it that could come back and bite you later. It’s called “unbundled legal services” and it’s a great alternative to full on representation in easy cases.

If your case is more complicated though, you would do well to hire a lawyer to actually represent you in your divorce. That lawyer doesn’t have to be aggressive. S/he doesn’t have to force you into battle or cause unnecessary conflict.

(NOTE: If your spouse “lawyers up” and hires a shark then the lawyer that you choose has to be able to go toe-to-toe with your spouse’s lawyer, hopefully without creating a bloodbath!)

Lawyer advising client.

15. Don’t Expect Your Lawyer To Figure Everything Out For You.

The only thing your divorce lawyer is going to do is to get you legally divorced. That includes drafting the appropriate paperwork you’ll need in your divorce, getting you through whichever divorce process you use (litigation, mediation, or Collaborative Divorce) and helping you negotiate a divorce settlement.

That’s definitely a lot. But it isn’t everything.

Your lawyer is not going to find you a new place to live, plug the holes in your post-divorce budget or figure out how you should parent your kids. S/he is not going to help you communicate with your ex about the kids or teach you how you can resolve future conflicts so that you don’t just end up back in court fighting again after your divorce is over.

All of that (and more!) is on you.

That’s why you need to learn as much as you can on your own right now. You’ll need to learn “hard” information like how the divorce process works and what you can expect regarding custody, kid issues, and finances. But you’re also going to need to learn the “softer” stuff like communication skills, negotiation strategies, and possibly parenting tips.

So, while getting a lawyer is really important, know that it’s not enough to JUST get a divorce lawyer.  You’re also going to need to level up your own knowledge and skills in all kinds of different areas too.

16. Spend As Much Time With Your Kids As You Possibly Can.

If you want to minimize the chances that you will lose your kids, or damage your relationship with them, you need to spend as much time with them as you can.

That means doing a few things, including:

  • Negotiating for as much time with your kids as you can get;
  • Using ALL of the parenting time you have YOURSELF! That means not pawning off your kids with your parents, grandparents, babysitter or anyone else when they’re with you; and
  • If your soon-to-be-ex isn’t “letting” you see your kids or is playing games with your parenting time, you need to address that with your lawyer sooner rather than later.

The more time you spend with your kids, and the better relationship you have with them, the better your chances will be of getting a parenting schedule that’s as close to 50/50 as you can get.

Also, think about how you can spend time with your kids in addition to the parenting time you will get after your divorce. For example, maybe you could start coaching their teams, or chaperoning school field trips. Maybe you could re-arrange your work schedule on certain days so that you can pick them up from school. In short, think out of the box. Get creative.

Even if you only add a couple of hours a week to the time you have with your kids, it will be worth it.

17. Stay As Involved In Your Kids’ Lives As Much As You Can.

If your wife was the primary caretaker for the kids, she was probably the one taking the kids to the doctor, attending parent/teacher conferences and organizing play dates. Now, that needs to change.

While your work schedule still may not allow you to do things with your kids during the day, you still can pay attention to what’s going on in their lives. If they’re involved in sports or activities, you can still attend their games or events … maybe even some of their practices.

It’s also important to stay involved in the “less fun” parts of your kids’ lives.

You should KNOW their doctors, their teachers, and their friends. You should know how your kids think and feel, and what matters to them.

If you put in the effort to know what’s going on with your kids, and if you learn to pay attention about what they care about, your relationship with them will grow enormously – even if you don’t get to spend as much time with them as you’d like.

(Let’s face it. No matter what, you WILL lose time with your kids! When you’re married, you can see them 24/7. Once you’re divorced, you probably won’t have them any more – and maybe less – than 50% of the time.)

18. Don’t Become Purposely Unemployed Just So You Don’t Have To Pay Support.

No one WANTS to pay support – especially spousal support! Some people don’t even want to pay child support.

But quitting your job just to lower your alimony and child support payments is scummy.

It’s irresponsible.

It doesn’t matter what you think of your wife, or whether you believe she needs the money or not. You married her. You stayed married long enough to create a support obligation. Shirking that obligation right now is wrong.

The same thing is true of child support.

It doesn’t matter whether you think the child support laws are fair or not. It doesn’t matter whether you believe your soon to-be-ex wife is using the child support money for the kids or for herself.

You have kids. It’s your responsibility to support them. Period.

Becoming purposely unemployed or underemployed is not an honorable divorce strategy. It can also backfire on you.

If a judge decides that you COULD earn more, but that you’re not earning more just to avoid paying support, the judge can “impute” income to you. That means s/he can order you to pay the support that you SHOULD have had to pay if you were making as money as you could be making.

If that happens, you could watch your entire paycheck (and more) going out the door before you ever see a dime.

19. Run Your Credit Report

Whether you were the one who paid the bills in the family or not, pulling a credit report when you are going through a divorce is essential.

You can pull a credit report for free once a year from three different services: 

Transunion, Equifax and Experian.

(NOTE: You can access your free credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Don't just Google “free credit report.”  That will just bring up a lot of ads for places that will charge you to pull your credit report.)

If there are credit cards bills or other debts you forgot about, your credit report will refresh your memory about them. If there are debts you didn’t know existed, or that you didn’t know were in your name, you’ll find that out now.

While discovering that kind of information is never fun, it’s much better to know now than later.

If you discover unknown debts years after your divorce is already over, there may be nothing you can do but pay those debts - whether they were really yours or not.

(NOTE: It’s also good to know your credit score. Sometimes you can get your credit score through one of your credit card companies. If not, you may have to pay a few dollars extra to get your score. But it’s worth it!)

Man with exasperated smile holding a dozen roses. Don't date during divorce!

20. Don’t Start Dating Until AFTER You’re Divorced.

There’s a reason people say, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned!”

It doesn’t matter whether your wife left you, or if she was the one who wanted the divorce. It doesn’t even matter if your wife had an affair first!

If you start openly dating someone else while you are going through a divorce, you risk having your wife go completely postal on you. Or, even if she doesn’t outwardly say a word, she may suddenly be unwilling to agree to ANYTHING in your divorce.

That in turn drives up the cost of your divorce, as well as the length of time it goes on.

Dating during your divorce can also create more issues in your divorce. Your wife may file a claim for dissipation. That’s a legal claim that says that you are spending marital money on a non-marital expense. (ie your girlfriend!) If a court finds that to be true, you may have to reimburse the marital estate for whatever you spent on your girlfriend.

While that might not amount to a ton of money, it CAN amount to an unnecessary headache and expense in your divorce. It can cost you in legal fees.

The bottom line is, when it comes to dating, do yourself a favor. Don’t date until AFTER your divorce is over!

21. If You Are Seeing Someone Else, Don’t Flaunt It!

Even though you now KNOW you shouldn’t date before you’re divorced, let’s be real. Some of you will do it anyway. (After all, you’re human, right?!)

If – for whatever reason – you find yourself in a new relationship before your divorce is over, DON’T FLAUNT IT!

Don’t buy your new sweetie expensive things or take her on lavish vacations (unless you’re prepared to pay for it all from your separate money.) Don’t take your new sweetie to your family events or to parties where you might run into your wife.

And, for heaven’s sake, DON’T introduce your new sweetie to your kids before you’re divorced!

NOTHING will infuriate your wife more! While you may think that infuriating your wife is exactly what you WANT to do right now (or you may think you don’t care) if you care about your kids you won’t do it!

The last thing you need is to get embroiled in a battle over custody or parenting time simply because your wife is angry that your kids have met the “other woman!” Remember, no matter how those battles ultimately turn out, dragging your kids through them hurts.

Children don’t want to see their parents’ fight. They hate it even more when they’re caught in the middle. So, if you care about your kids, wait until after your divorce to start dating again.

22. Keep A Calendar So You Can Keep Track Of Your Kids’ Activities, As Well As Your Court Appearances And Important Deadlines.

If you have young children, keeping track of their schedules can be a full-time job. The only way to keep everything straight is by using a calendar.

The trouble is that, once you divorce, keeping a joint calendar that’s always current can be a challenge. (Taping a paper calendar to the refrigerator just isn’t going to cut it anymore!)

If you and your wife get along okay, you can use a shared Google Calendar. Problem solved.

But, if you don’t get along, staying on top of your kids’ activities can become really complicated, really fast.

Parenting Apps solve that problem.

Parenting Apps are specifically designed for divorced parents. They contain joint calendars that both parents can access. They also have email platforms which preserve emails in exactly the same condition as they were when they were sent. (i.e. No one can delete or change an email after it was sent!)

Many Parenting Apps also give you the ability to keep track of your kids’ expenses and allow you to see at a glance who paid for which expense. Some of the apps, like Our Family Wizard  even contain a “Tone-o-Meter” that notifies you if an email you are about to send is a bit more aggressive than it should be!

No matter how you do it, keeping a joint calendar of your kids’ activities after your divorce is a MUST if you want to keep your kids happy and retain your sanity.

23. Resist The Temptation To Be a “Disney Dad.”

When you’ve only got a limited amount of time with your kids, it’s normal to want to maximize it. You want to make sure your kids know that you love them. You want to “spoil them” a little bit.

So you take them to expensive places and buy them expensive things. You get them the things that your wife can’t (or won’t) get them. Doing that makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you’re connected to your kids – like maybe you’re not losing them. It shows that you care.

All of that makes sense. Unfortunately, no matter how much money you spend, you can’t buy your kids’ love. (… not that that’s what you’re trying to do. But that’s what it ends up being.)

Spending extraordinary amounts of money on your kids just to “make them happy” almost always backfires. You go from being the “Disney Dad” into becoming a forced “Sugar Daddy.” You start to feel like your kids only want to be with you because of what you buy them or where you take them. (... which may be partially true.)

Not only does that feel horrible to you, but it devalues your position as a father. 

Being a “Disney Dad” also sends all the wrong messages to your kids, not only about you but about fathers in general. What’s more, if all you do is pile money and stuff on your kids, you’re going to end up with some seriously spoiled children. 

The bottom line is that, while you SHOULD spend money on your kids, you also need to be smart about it. 

24. Establish A Way To Talk With Your Wife About The Kids – Even When It’s Hard.

As the saying goes, “Spouses divorce but parents are parents forever.”

If you and your wife have kids, you MUST find a way to talk with her about your kids after your divorce. Otherwise, your kids WILL suffer. They’ll be caught in the middle of your fights. They’ll bear the brunt of your conflicts and miscommunication.

So, if you truly love your kids, you’re going to have to suck up your pride and find a way to communicate your ex.

If face to face communication is impossible, you can agree to communicate only through texts or emails. You can also use one of the parenting apps mentioned in tip #22.

It will also help to purposely devise ways that the two of you can stay informed about the kids even if you DON’T communicate. For example, make sure that both you and your wife are listed as emergency contacts on your kids’ school and sports forms. Make sure the school is instructed to send duplicate notices of everything to each of you.

Take every opportunity to get information directly. That will eliminate a TON of arguments in the future.

Another thing you may want to consider is going to counseling together with your wife to establish a communication process that works for you. This kind of counseling is NOT  designed to create a relationship (or rekindle a romance!) between you.

All it’s designed to do is to establish a method by which the two of you can communicate about the kids moving forward.

HOW you manage to communicate with your ex is up to you. What matters most is that you find a way to do it. Otherwise, your kids will be forced to take up the slack.

Construction hat, gloves and blueprint on a table with the saying "Divorce is Like Construction" over them.

25. Understand From The Start That Your Divorce Will Take Longer And Cost More Than You Think.

Divorce is almost never easy or quick. Even people who tell you that they got divorced in a few weeks, or a few months aren’t telling you the whole truth.

Yes, the legal process may have only taken a few weeks or months. But the reality is that they were probably already starting to separate, divide their property, do their paperwork and workout how they would parent their kids, for much longer than that.

Divorce also tends to be significantly more expensive than anyone thinks it will be when they start. That’s because every part of divorce costs money.

Court fees, attorney’s fees, and therapy costs are just the tip of the iceberg of expenses. You also have to deal with a host of “hidden” expenses, like realtor’s fees, moving costs, new health insurance premiums, and more.

Plus, as everyone knows, the more you and your spouse fight, the more time and money your divorce will consume. So doing everything you can to create an amicable divorce is definitely wise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.

Some people just want to fight. If your spouse (or you!) are one of those people, then your divorce is almost guaranteed to take longer and cost more than you ever dreamed possible. (Sorry!)

While that definitely sucks, at least knowing that in advance will help you get your expectations in line from the start. That, in turn, will help reduce the amount of frustration you feel while going through the divorce process.

26. Don’t Badmouth Your Wife To Your Kids.

Whatever ugly things your wife did or didn’t do to you during your marriage is NOT something you need to share with your children.

It doesn’t matter if your wife had an affair or drained your bank account dry. It doesn’t matter if your kids are 6 years old or 26 years old.

Your kids don’t need to know about every bad thing your wife ever did to you.

They don’t. What’s more – you don’t need to tell them.

Even if they ask you for details, all you need to tell them (politely of course) is that it’s not their business and you don’t want to share the details with them.

Will some things come out? … probably1

For example, if your wife took off with your best friend and left you and your young children high and dry, you’re going to have to tell your kids something! You’re going to have to come up with some explanation of where mommy went and why she’s not there anymore.

But there’s a big difference between saying “Mommy loves you very much, but she decided to go and stay somewhere else for a while,” and saying “Your mother left to be with someone else – and she cares about him more than she cares about you!”

Children (even adult children! NEED to have a relationship with their parents. They need to feel secure, loved and not abandoned. Your job as a parent, is to help them do that.

That means that when it comes to your wife’s behavior, take the high road. Do NOT badmouth her no matter how badly you want to do so!

Remember, if your (ex)wife is really that bad, at some point your kids will figure it out for themselves. It’s not your job to bring their mother down.

27. Manage Your Emotions – Especially Your Anger.

Divorce is emotionally devastating for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female. Unless you’re a robot, you WILL get angry and upset during your divorce. 

The key is not to push those emotions away or pretend that they don’t exist. The key is to learn to DEAL with those emotions productively and effectively.

How?

Get a therapist. Start exercising more. Learn to meditate. Take a stress management course. Do whatever it takes to provide yourself with the tools you need to deal with your emotions so that they don’t jack up the conflict and cost of your divorce.

That’s especially true because you’re a man.

As a man, you’re probably bigger and stronger than your wife. If you let your emotions take over when she pushes your buttons, and you’re already upset to begin with, it’s too easy to lose control. When you do, things can get physical.

That’s NEVER okay.

Plus, even if you never physically touch your wife, she can still feel threatened. Just your looming presence in a heated argument can make her feel unsafe. It can make her call the police or go get a Protective Order.

That’s not what you want.

That will add a lot of extra complexity and cost to your divorce.

If you really want to keep your divorce amicable (or at least manageable!) find a way to deal with your own emotions so they don’t turn an already bad situation into your worst nightmare.

28. Take Up Yoga or Mediation.

Yes, real men do yoga.

Yoga is a great way to calm yourself down and manage your emotions. It helps you release stress and builds muscle in the process. (You’d be surprised at how strong you can get just by doing yoga!)

Don’t believe me? Check out DDP Yoga. Developed by former wrestling champion Diamond Dallas Page, DDP Yoga has totally transformed people’s bodies and their lives.

What’s more, yoga and meditation are scientifically proven ways to clear your mind and lower your blood pressure. Both have a range of health benefits including reducing stress, controlling anxiety and promoting your physical and emotional health.

It doesn’t matter whether you feel as flexible as an oak tree, or you have the attention span of a fruit fly. Just trying these practices can help you calm down and clear your mind.

Both of those things can be superpowers when you’re going through something as stressful and gut-wrenching as a divorce.

29. Stay Off Social Media!

Social media is designed to keep you engaged and keep you using it. While browsing through your social media news feed can be entertaining and distracting, it can also be devastating when you’re going through a divorce.

As of 2009, Facebook was cited in one out of five U.S. divorces. By now, that number is probably much higher. Thinking that it doesn’t matter whether you continue to use social media during your divorce is naïve.

Everything you post on social media can and will be used against you in your divorce. What’s more, every post you’re tagged in can potentially hurt you. So even if YOU aren’t posting questionable things on social media while you’re going through your divorce, if one of your friends posts something without thinking, it can hurt you.

If you’re a real social media junkie you might be tempted to believe that if you just “unfriend” your ex-wife, you’ll be fine. She won’t see any of your posts.

Wrong!

Anyone who sees your post can take a screen shot and share it with your wife. So, whether your spouse has access to your social media accounts or not, is largely irrelevant.

What’s more, when you’re going through a divorce, surfing on social media can be like rubbing salt into your open wounds.

Seeing pictures of your soon-to-be-ex-wife laughing at a party can be worse than having a flaming dagger driven into your heart. Seeing other happy couples will also make you feel like yesterday’s garbage.

The bottom line is that, when you’re going through a divorce, you will do yourself a world of good if you just stay off social media completely.

Parenting after divorce: Overwhelmed father sits among children playing

30. Before You Move Out, Make Sure Your New Place Is Appropriate For Your Kids.

A lot of men make the mistake of moving out of the marital home and into a studio apartment or their parent’s basement. Even though that may be a practical move from a financial standpoint, it can be a disastrous move from a parenting standpoint.

If you want your kids to spend the night with you, you MUST have an appropriate place for them to stay.

Sure, if your kids are young, you may be able to convince them that “camping” at dad’s apartment is fun. But if you don’t have space for them to play (or electronics for them to play with) it’s not going to be “fun” for very long!)

If money is an issue, know that it’s okay if your kids share a bedroom when they’re at your place.  But they MUST have their own beds! And sharing an apartment or a house with a stranger isn’t the best idea either.

Obviously, having a roommate can help make getting your own place much more affordable. But it also makes things weird for your kids. They’re probably not used to living with a stranger and may not feel comfortable around your new roommate.

Even living  with your parents can raise issues.

If your parents don’t have room for your kids you still may not be able to have overnights with your kids until you get a better place.

The bottom line is that you need to consider your kids’ needs when you’re finding a new place to stay. Living alone in at least a two bedroom place will be your best choice.

31. Find Something to Do That Isn’t Work or Parenting.

It’s easy to lose yourself in your divorce.

Men in particular have a tendency to throw themselves into their work when other areas of their lives aren’t going well. While that can be a boon for your business or employer, it can totally bust you emotionally and physically.

What’s more, if the only thing you have to focus on right now is your divorce, you can start to become obsessive about it without even realizing it.

Suddenly, your divorce is the only thing you can think about or talk about. You analyze  and re-analyze every little thing that your wife says or does. Your work starts going down the toilet because the only thing that you can focus on is your divorce.

While putting time and energy into your divorce is necessary right now, letting your divorce consume you will make you crazy. It also won’t help your divorce.

To create a healthy balance in your life, you need to do something that’s just for you … even if you don’t totally feel like it right now!

Maybe you get involved again in sports, or you take up yoga! Or maybe you pursue that woodworking idea that you had so long ago, but never made time for.

It really doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you do something to give yourself the time and space to relax and enjoy life a little.

32. Don’t Have Sex With Your Wife … But If You Do – Be Careful!

In a perfect world, once you and your wife decide to divorce, the two of you will move smoothly along that path until your divorce is over. You will separate yourselves from each other physically and sexually.

But the world isn’t perfect.

It’s normal to wonder whether having one last fling with your wife could change everything. That’s especially true if you’re not totally committed to the idea of getting a divorce – or if getting a divorce wasn’t your idea to begin with!

While all of that makes sense on some level, having sex with your wife while you’re going through a divorce is a bad idea for a lot of reasons.

First, if you don’t want to divorce, and you think that having sex again will change your wife’s mind, and it DOESN’T you’re going to feel even worse! You will feel even doubly rejected.

Second, if you happen to get your wife pregnant (accidents happen!) you will delay your divorce for probably another year AND you will have to deal with getting divorced with a brand new baby. That’s not good for you or your wife and it’s totally unfair to your child.

So, if you are considering having one last fling with your wife before your divorce is final, think long and hard about WHY you want to do that. Think about what you hope to accomplish.  Unless BOTH of you seriously want to get back together and are willing to give your marriage one more try, it’s best not to have sex with your soon-to-be-ex.

33. Don’t Expect to Be Friends Right Away.

It’s great to strive to have an amicable divorce. It’s wonderful that you want to be friends with your ex after your divorce. Doing those things will make life easier for you, your soon-to-be-ex, and your kids. But being friends with your ex RARELY happens right away.

Divorce changes your relationship with your wife. It changes it legally, physically and emotionally. Getting used to the new contours of your relationship will take time. Putting aside the pain of divorce will take time.

Meanwhile, if you’re like most people, you and your ex are going to go through a time when you hate each other. You’re going to go through a time when every interaction you have feels awkward and weird.

That’s normal.

In time, if you try, you WILL get over the awkwardness. You will get past the pain. But if you try to force yourself (or your ex) to do all that before you’re both ready, you will only make your relationship strained and uncomfortable.

You have to let things between you evolve naturally and organically.

Don’t push yourself (or your wife) to build a friendship before you’re ready.

Instead, focus on keeping the lines of communication open at all times. When you have issues, talk them out. If you do that, after a while, your relationship with your wife may deepen again. You may become friends in the way that you’d like to be friends now.

But you’ve got to give your relationship the time and space it needs for a true friendship to develop.

_______

This article was originally published in September, 2018 and updated on August 19, 2021.

Robin Williams divorce quote: Ah, yes, divorce: to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet.

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dealing with divorce, divorce blog, divorce tips


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  • I’m not going thru D but she mention it. She accused me of cheating but I’ve never cheated. She can’t get that out of her head. So now I sleep on the couch and I leave the bed room to her and the baby. Now I buy or make my own food but I still pay all the bills always have. But she works. It’s my way of showing my love cause I’m not about flowers and chocolate.

    • My wife says she loves me very much but is not in love with me. I can’t do anything to try to get it back because she won’t let me so I’m am thinking we are headed for divorce. The house is and has always been in my name, I know the right thing to do is sell the house and split the equity, I have some money in my retirement account and I can take a loan for half of it and give that to her as well. I am in protect mode and I have seen so many women take advantage of a man at his weak point so I am not going to let that happen. That is why I am trying to prepare for it.

  • No kids here…grown…I got married for the First time 12 years ago. My wife is bipolar, manic depressant who seems to live to argue and guilt trip me…we bought a farm 8 years ago whose value has rapidly increased….she has angerly ordered me to Divorce her a number of times and I am about ready to finally copitulate….two attorneys I have spoken to tell me that equity increase should net me enough to go on with my life…the title is in her name and she has made all payments but that should not matter in Oregon…I want to divorce her but am a bit afraid for my safety as I am 72 and she is 10 years younger with big manly daughters living here…and I have no where to go in the intrum……and More over I’m concerned about how long the process could take and the cost…it seems a relatively straightforward case……anyone with a similar experience?

    • I loved reading your words of advice! Thanks fellow person, you made a great difference in my world, and I am grateful & thank you for that!

  • Divorce is painful but all wounds heal if given time and attention. I am at the stage where I don’t think much about my ex-wife as I do about myself now and it is very liberating. You will eventually reach that stage but you have to allow all the negatives to process in your mind and soul first and let them slowly fall off your shoulders. And they will. I see myself as a former caged Lion, and all of a sudden the cage was taken away from me. I was out of sorts at first because I liked my cage- for 28 years it had shelter, food, emotional security and love then suddenly I found myself alone in the wilderness. But as any freed Lion will discover, you don’t really need that cage anymore and you are free to wander the earth and enjoy life as it comes. And it is truly wonderful. That former cage will always be in your memory and be a part of you but trying to recreate the same cage will only throw you off the real path of personal happiness. I am not looking to find another Lioness right now because I am having too much fun enjoying the freedom of my own spirit. Maybe one day perhaps but it’s now time for me and what I want to do in life. I would never have reached this stage unless I was willing to let go of my past. You may find it difficult but trust me, as each day passes it gets easier and less painful. It will always be part of your past but if you dwell in the past you cannot see the potential the future holds for you. You will gradually let go and once you finally do, it’s a big world out there to discover with nobody to stop you, judge you or criticize how you do it. That in itself is a feeling you have to experience yourself because it is a beautiful feeling. Peace out.

  • I am going through I separation. The thing is no one wants to move out. I think she is doing a bed or board divorce.. Do she need real proof to get that granted or will the judge or jury go off hearsay?

      • Only a spouse who has been harmed by the other spouse may file a petition for divorce from bed and board. It cannot be entered into by agreement. In the petition, the injured spouse must plead from a specific list of misconduct created by the North Carolina legislature. This includes that:
        •The spouse has abandoned his or her family.
        •The spouse has “Maliciously turn[ed] the other out of doors.” This means that one spouse has ejected the other spouse from the marital home.
        •The spouse engaged in “cruel or barbarous treatment [that] endangers the life of the other”. This includes domestic violence or physical abuse. Note that a protective order is also an appropriate option.
        •The spouse “Offers such indignities” “to render [the other spouse’s] condition intolerable and life burdensome.” This may include harassment, control, or emotional abuse.
        •The spouse has developed a drug or alcohol problem such that they make “the condition of the other spouse intolerable and the life of that spouse burdensome.” Or,
        •The spouse commits adultery.

  • im thinking about divorce……our kids are grown, she’s been working for the past 8 years and doesn’t help financially at all. we get along but we don’t really have a relationship.
    im not cheating and nor have I……cant say I don’t want too or that I don’t think about it….just being honest. I do believe she has cheated the signs are there . Yes I’ve been accused of horrible things but I’m the type that let you believe what you will. but really I’m just tired and really miss having true happiness, joy and appreciation in my life. I don’t look to others for happiness, so all days aren’t bad I still smile and laugh blessed…God has been good me. but dont want someone staying with me just because I’m a good provider….I want to be important and cared for by someone other than myself I’m tired of being the provider for everyone’s life. this experience has been such a whirlwind that I truly don’t think I would ever get married again.

    • I don’t know if you’ve tried marriage counseling, but if you haven’t, that might help. (Even if it doesn’t help, at this point it might be worth a try. What have you got to lose?)

      Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you. There are many ways you can work on your relationship – but in order for any of those ways to work, you both have to be willing to do the work and try. If that’s not happening, you might want to try a trial separation or a divorce. But I’m not sure if that’s an option for you.

      Hang in there.

      Karen

  • I am a dad that has been separated for 6 years. At the tail end of my family matter and now going for an appeal. I would like to help men going through a divorce with an unreasonable spouse. How do I go ahead doing so without becoming a lawyer or a social worker.

    • It’s wonderful for you to want to help others who are going through what you went through!

      The best way to do it is as a lawyer or therapist. You could also start a support group. There’s a huge need for that and you don’t need any special credentials to start one.

      Karen

  • You have given me such great advice and guidance. I’m a stay at home dad retired and have a pension. My son is my world and difficult not seeing him everyday. I’m very consistent and I don’t buy things just to make him want to be with me… she does. I do have a therapist. My next court date is Sept 28th please keep me in your thoughts. Thank you

  • Very good information and tips. What is your recommendation for a man who made a good salary and lost his job. His spouse has the huge home, does not work and not planning on it. He is in a small 2 br apt. There are three children that are loved. I definitely want this kept private.

    • I’m not sure what to tell you here, because this is on the internet and definitely NOT private! Because of that, all I’ll say is that you definitely need to talk to your lawyer about what may/may not happen from a legal perspective. If you’d like to consult with me as a coach CLICK HERE. One of the things I work with many people about when I coach them are navigating the practical realities of divorce – which is what most divorce lawyers don’t do!

      Best,

      Karen

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