A new year brings out the idealist in many of us — hoping and dreaming of doing things differently (or better, somehow) over the next 12 months. But the prospect of a new year can also focus our attention on big things that need to change. Perhaps because of this, the divorce rate spikes every January. If a relationship is no longer working, a new year can represent the chance for a fresh start.
If you or your partner recently filed for divorce (or are headed in that direction), consider making some New Year’s resolutions this year that focus on keeping the peace. These eight resolutions might help foster a healthier divorce and improve relations with your former partner.
1. Organize Your Finances
One of the best things you can do before you and your partner start negotiating finances is to get organized. Collect your most recent tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements, mortgage information, retirement accounts, car loan statements, and any other financial records you might need in order to understand your shared assets and debt.
If you don’t already do this, put together a loose budget to assess your current monthly expenses as a joint household. Then, do some research on what your post-divorce living expenses might look like. The more organized and educated you are regarding your financial situation, the better you’ll be able to negotiate an equitable divorce.
2. Write it Down
Remembering everything you want to say during an emotional or heated conversation can be difficult. So you should resolve to make a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) your best friend. As you think about the things you want to discuss with your partner, write it down. When it comes time to meet with them and your mediator or lawyer, this list will ensure you stay on topic and don’t miss anything you wanted to talk about. Writing these items down can also help remove emotion from the conversation. (You might want to handle some details via email if you find this to be the case.) And when you’re ready to come to specific decisions on things like parenting or financial details, continue writing things down in order to hold both sides accountable.
3. Expect Your Relationship to Change
For the sake of any sort of relationship with your partner in the future, acknowledge that divorce will change both of you. Moving forward, you’ll be living two separate lives as separate individuals with different needs. You might need to set boundaries to keep yourself from falling into old habits and expectations.
4. Expect Your Life to Change
Divorce comes with a lot of upheaval — and not just to personal relationships. Your living situation will change; your financial situation will change; and your responsibilities will change. The sooner you come to terms with this, the better. Try to keep resentment out of it. Even if you weren’t the one who initiated this change, the transition will be healthier if you can avoid finger-pointing. Focus on the future and on making good decisions that will set you up well for the next phase in life.
5. Be a Team in Front of the Kids
As hard as it will be, your children should hear about the divorce from their parents together at the same time. Discuss the key messages with your partner ahead of time and present a united and supportive front during the conversation. It’s going to be one of the most important discussions you’ll have as a family, and it’s important for your kids to know their parents still love them. For the sake of future family harmony, stick to the same key messages in the future — even (and especially) when you’re alone with your kids.
6. Rise Above
Divorce might take a lot from you, but it can only take your integrity if you let it. No matter how wronged you may feel, commit to being the better person. Stay away from social media pettiness. Save the majority of your venting for your therapist. Take deep breaths. Unless there’s an emergency or time-sensitive issue, follow the 24-hour rule: wait 24 hours before responding to emails or texts that could lead to arguments. This allows you to think things through instead of escalating the dituation with a heat-of-the-moment response. Avoid gossiping. And never badmouth your partner to your kids — even if your partner doesn’t afford you the same courtesy.
7. Take Care of Yourself
It can be easy to overlook your mental health during a divorce, but don’t lose sight of who you are in this process. A good therapist can help you navigate the pain, fear, and anger you’re likely feeling. If you’re not already part of a support group relative to your specific circumstances, you should consider seeking one out. Resolve to do something at least once each week that is just for you, like a new hobby or some exercise to boost endorphins. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to lean on your family and friends for extra support. It can be reassuring to know you’re not alone.
8. Keep Others Out of It
Your divorce proceedings should involve your original nuclear family and only those adults and children. If the divorce is happening because of another individual, or if a new significant other enters the picture during the process, that person’s only role in the divorce should be to observe. All negotiations and decisions made during the divorce should be done with the best interests of the nuclear family in mind and not be influenced by a third-party opinion.
Myers Law Firm: Experienced North Carolina Divorce Attorneys
If you find yourself in need of divorce-related legal help — such as child custody, child support, or separation of assets — the experienced team at Myers Law is here to help. Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience handling property division cases and custody battles, and we’re ready to advocate for you if you need us.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.