January happens to be one of the most popular months of the year for divorce. As a Divorce Coach I often hear the words I’m getting a divorce. I just cannot stay in this unhappy marriage another year.
It is not uncommon for a client to wait until after the holidays to ask their spouse for a legal separation. They may want to have that last Christmas together for the children and the family. Or it could be for financial reasons. Perhaps an end of the year bonus check so they have the necessary funds to hire an attorney or to rent an apartment. Yet others may wait to save money on taxes so they can file one last joint tax return.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
The New Year is a time when people make their New Year’s resolutions and set their goals for the upcoming year. It is also the time when they reflect back on the past year to see what significant changes they need to make in their lives. The wedding vowels might have said until death do us part but times have changed and people are not willing to stay in an unhappy marriage.
The New Year brings an opportunity for making big life changes. However a divorce is a serious life change and should not be rushed into. For many people who are unsure about divorce a legal separation is sometimes the first step. This can give them time and space to think things through and to make any necessary lifestyle changes. If there are children and family involved it allows them time to slowly adjust to their parent’s divorce. Some may try to work on the marriage and seek marriage counseling during this time. Not everyone should get a divorce if there is hope to restore the relationship.
This is often when people seek the help of a qualified divorce coach to help them decide whether divorce is right for them and evaluate their options. There are several things to consider before making the final decision to divorce.
For women especially divorce can mean a change to the lifestyle they have been accustomed to. They may have been stay at home mothers and taken care of the children and the family home. Some may have been out of the workforce for many years. If alimony does not cover all their expenditures they will need to explore a new career or go back to school for more education. A lot of that depends on the current age the woman is.
After age fifty five career prospects diminish and learning new skills or returning to college can be mentally challenging. They may have had plans to retire and suddenly find themselves having to support themselves after all these years. There may not be enough money build up in retirement funds for them to even think about retiring. There is also the need for health insurance and premiums can be high for single adults unless you are covered by an employer group health insurance plan. The family home may no longer be affordable to live in. The family may need to sell it and relocate.
THINK OF THE CHILDREN
For couples with children there is the parental agreement and parenting considerations. Who will have custody or will it be joint custody? Where will the children live and how will summers and holidays be spent?
There is also the probability that you will lose some joint couple friends and your social network in the community may be disrupted.
However for many people the hardest decision has already been made once they have decided on a legal separation. At that point a client will usually tell me they have tried every possible option and I’m getting a divorce from my spouse.
If you are sure divorce is one of your New Year’s resolutions there are important action steps to take now to prepare for your divorce.
- Consult with an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities.
- Meet with a financial expert to get an objection analysis of your current financial situation.
- Copy documents that you are going to need for your attorney, accountant, financial planner, realtors, and other divorce professionals. Copy any financial data stored on your home computer. Then make copies of tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefit handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, wills, trusts, social security statements, automobile titles, etc. If your spouse is self-employed gather as much information as possible about the finances of the business.
- Figure out what your household expenses are and put together a budget. Make a detailed list of all your family expenditures.
- Determine all the family debts and how they will be managed. This is most often one of the hardest details to negotiate with a spouse.
- Take inventory of all household and family possessions. Make a list of all televisions, computers, appliances, furniture, jewelry, artwork, valuables, and automobiles, etc.
- Know the exact amount of your spouse’s salary. If your spouse is self-employed and owns a business you will want to make sure there are no hidden assets.
- Check your credit history to make sure it’s in good standing. Pay off any debt possible before the divorce.
Build a cash reserve in case your spouse moves out and stops paying the bills. You will need money until a temporary support order can be awarded or until the divorce is completed.
- Update your will, living will, trust, insurance policies, and estate plans.
During the divorce process your children should be your main priority. Try to keep your children’s schedules as normal as possible. Do not bad mouth or argue with your soon to be ex in front of the children. Schedule separate times for each of you to participate in the children’s school, sports, and social activities. Children adjust better when they have frequent contact with both parents.
Above all else your self-care at this time in your life is critical. Divorce is stressful so make sure you are also on your list of priorities. See your physician for an overall checkup and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it most. Work on showing up as your best-self every day for your children and your family.
Decide to take the high road in your divorce and work with a Certified Divorce Coach so you have the necessary support and guidance needed to retain your dignity and self-esteem. A divorce coach can give you an overall advantage by giving you the necessary tools to deal with the conflict, emotions, and overwhelm of divorce.
MAKE IT A CATALYST
If divorce is your New Year’s Resolution it can be a catalyst for a happier more abundant life. A chance to recreate your life and possibly start a new rewarding career. It can be a brand new start to a whole new life.
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”— Maya Angelou
Author Leslie Welch is a Certified Divorce and Law of Attraction Life Coach that specializes in supporting women through divorce and recreating their new beginning.