The topic of divorce gets a lot of press, but what often gets overlooked is what you should and shouldn’t do after your divorce papers are signed.
Here are the emotional and legal post-divorce do’s and don’ts from divorcees themselves.
Things To Do After Your Divorce Is Finalized
1. Get your finances in order
Change your power of medical attorney, power of legal attorney, and beneficiaries to your retirement accounts, life insurance, etc. Contact your financial advisor as a starting point on how to execute all of this.
2. Create or tweak your will
Update your will so that your ex is no longer the beneficiary (if you don’t have a will, now would be a good time to get one!).
3. Take care of your Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
Make sure you executed everything that needs to be done in Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). Many people think their attorney handles these things; they do not. It’s up to you and you alone to ensure everything mapped out in your MSA is properly executed.
4. Stay in therapy
You may think no more divorce process equals no therapy but that isn’t the case! You will still have thoughts and emotions that deserve attention and guidance from a professional, not just your margarita friends.
Making sure your children also check in the with a therapist every so often is also an excellent idea. Even the kids who appear to be fine probably have some thoughts and feelings about the divorce that deserve some attention from a professional and neutral third party.
5. Build community and routine
Children thrive on community and routine, and so will you! Set up weekly/bi-weekly dinners or events with some of your friends. Better yet, if your friends have kids, let everyone hang out together. Your kids will likely welcome the community and it will help them during the difficult transitions that occur after divorce.
If possible, make sure your kids are involved in activities outside of school (ex. sports, music, theater, etc.). Extracurriculars to fill their time give them outlets and other adults to look up to.
6. Get a life
I mean this in the nicest way possible. Your divorce does NOT define who you are. Don’t let it become your identity. Try a new activity. Discover a passion for something, anything (ex. writing, painting, singing, jewelry-making, cosplay, learning a new language, etc.).
Finding something NEW that interests you is healthy and will help you greatly as you begin this next chapter of your life.
Things To NOT Do After Your Divorce Is Finalized
1. Break divorce agreements
Don’t do anything that goes against the terms of your divorce decree. Make you fully understand your MSA agreement. If you don’t, have your attorney explain to you.
2. Talk poorly about your former spouse on social media
As tempting as this may be, just don’t. We get that Chad may be a butthead, but be mindful of what you write publicly about your divorce and your ex.
3. Engage in tense interactions with your ex
Tense interactions with your ex are stressful and unhealthy for your children to witness. Even the small, yet snide email exchanges or text messages can become toxic. We recommend the BIFF system: brief, informative, friendly, and firm. By keepings your interactions to this acronym, you can bypass unnecessary conflict and stress!
4. Take unsolicited advice from friends
Look, I get that all of your friends are going to want to help you and offer you their support, but that does not mean all of your friends are going to have helpful insight as to what you’re going through and what you might need. Even your friends who have “been through it” might have guidance to offer that isn’t right for your specific situation.
5. Get on all dating apps
If you’re ready to date, get on an app and go for it. Just don’t get on ALL the apps. You will go down the dating app rabbit hole, which can become just as unhealthy as your divorce process was!
6. Pretend you’re okay when you’re not
Getting divorced is hard, and it sucks. It’s a long, draining, and isolating process. It’s not the kind of thing where once your papers are signed, poof, it’s over. The pain, anger, and sadness can linger for a while and that’s completely normal.
Just because your friend, Allison, moved on right away doesn’t mean you have to or are ready to. It’s okay to feel sad and tired after your divorce, even if you’re the one who wanted it
The unknowns that come with divorce can feel scary. You’re bound to make mistakes, and that’s totally okay. We hope the action steps mapped out above help make a daunting situation seem just a little bit easier.
This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Andrea Rappaport and Morgan Stogsdill of How NOT To Suck At Divorce. You can follow them on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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