How to Deal With the Realities of Divorce
A divorce can be an expensive and drawn-out process, but it doesn't have to be. It's possible for both parties to work together amicably, and the process can be fairly simple depending on your location and circumstances.
Put children first
Wellness and self-care should be paramount as you guide your family through the transition of divorce. If children are involved, their reactions and perceptions can be magnified, either positively or negatively. Never use your children as pawns during a divorce. They will have enough feelings of their own as they begin accepting the decision, and children tend to blame themselves for circumstances they do not understand. Experts recommend parents talk calmly and clearly about the situation while avoiding blame and working toward a happy future for all.
Understand the timing
Fortunately, divorces move much faster today in all states than they did 20 or 30 years ago, primarily because of the "no-fault divorce" rubric. Nonetheless, there is a logic behind mandates such as waiting periods. In most divorce cases, something has transpired to damage the relationship, and the state hopes to protect the family. Waiting periods are intended to allow the situation to cool down and in cases with children, give separated couples a real sense of what it's like to parent from different households.
The length of time it will take to finalize a divorce will depend on the state in which you live. California has a cooling-off period of six months to provide couples the opportunity to dismiss the divorce should they wish to reconcile and continue the marriage. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska has a mere 30-day cooling-off period.
Mandated separations, waiting periods and residency requirements can make the road to divorce bumpy, but they are safeguards intended to prevent rash decisions. Parenting classes are also required in some states. Another factor that can delay the process is inefficient or backlogged court systems.
Friends and family members who have experienced divorce may offer advice with good intentions, but their experience may not apply to your situation. Let them be there for you emotionally, but when it comes to financial or legal concerns, it is best to hire an impartial professional.
Some couples aren't aware of or don't have access to time-saving options such as an out-of-court settlement. Even in a "friendly" divorce, an experienced family law attorney is recommended to help file paperwork and guide you through the court system. In more contentious divorces, an attorney can make sure your interests are represented in court. Either way, legal representation is important if the couple has a large amount of assets, property or other complicated financial matters.
Hiring a financial professional is also a good idea if you need help assessing and dividing property and savings. As soon as you begin thinking about divorce, you should start setting aside money for expenses and making copies of all your financial documents and legal records. These documents should include bank and investment statements, wills, trusts, tax returns, property deeds, insurance policies and vehicle titles. Keep the copies in a secure location that is not accessible by your ex.
Contemplate your sexuality
Divorce is a complicated and emotional time, and you want to avoid making mistakes you might regret. While some newly free people want to pursue fresh relationships or casual sex, especially if there was a lack of intimacy leading up to the divorce, it's important to process your emotions first.
Psychological experts agree that avoiding any type of romantic relationship is best for your emotional health. Many studies have cited infidelity as the most common factor in divorce, which means people are often entering the dating world with psychological scars and trauma, perhaps more than before marriage.
Fear of intimacy is another common reaction to divorce, so taking baby steps is often the best approach. Masturbation is encouraged because many married people have been so caught up caring for their families that they have neglected their own desires. This is a time to rebuild clarity about your sexual needs so when you reenter the dating landscape, you are more relaxed and self-assured.
You may want to seek a therapist specializing in divorce-related grief to help you regain your bearings and confidence. When you are ready, and an opportunity comes along for a healthy, functional and overall happy relationship, intimacy will likely return.