We forget that divorce is a family-affair. It’s between you and your immediate family. You don’t divorce your neighborhood. So stand your ground, hold your head high and step off the porch. You can do this.
IT’S YOUR STREET TOO – LOOK THEM IN THE EYE
Granted, many of the initial contacts in your neighborhood may have been initiated by your spouse, or your children. They may have provided the buffer, or they may have provided the reason you got to know the guy two doors down, but now it’s up to you to carry your part of the load to keep that friendship going. You’ll have to leave your comfort zone. That doesn’t mean you need to knock on his door and share your story. Your business is your business.
Get out there. When your neighbor is working outside, raking leaves, washing his car or changing the oil, walk on over. Starting a conversation is much easier to do when something else is happening at the same time. Gives us something to do with our hands and look at while we talk. The first time you get outside the house, just talk about general stuff; weather for the upcoming weekend, local sports teams, rush hour traffic. Establish a sense of normalcy. It will make everyone feel more comfortable, and your next conversation will be that much easier.
THE AWKWARD QUESTION
“So, I heard about you and Karen…”
An open statement, not really a question, just a little bit of fishing. It’s your turn to set the tone.
“If you don’t mind, we’re keeping that between ourselves. No harm, no foul. I just want to maintain ties here in the neighborhood. There’s a lot of good people here.”
And that tells your neighbor it’s okay that he sort of asked, but he also knows that conversation is finished. Short and sweet, you also convey that he’s a good guy, you’re a good guy, and we can still be friends. Done.
DEFY THE STEREOTYPE
We can’t help it. In the back our heads we have this picture of a swinging, totally uninhibited divorced person, planted by countless sitcoms over decades. You are not the crazy divorced dude on TV. Your circumstances have changed, but your values and manhood are most still intact, even if you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut.
There’s more to you than meets the eye, talents and interests that the local folks have never seen. An interest in photography, places you’ve traveled, where you grew up, childhood experiences, your work, volunteerism. Your entire life is not defined by your marriage.
Haul out the parts of you that haven’t seen the light of day recently and jump into the conversation. If that seems too hard to do standing in the neighbor’s driveway, start slowly. Ask them questions. Most people are more than happy to talk about themselves, and in the end, they view you as a fascinating conversationalist. It’s a win-win, and no one is swinging from a chandelier.
STAND YOUR GROUND WITH THE OLD GANG
Yes. Most friends can deal with both of you. We’re not talking conjoined twins here. Naturally, your ex’s best friend is probably not going to be in your corner, but then again, yours won’t be rooting for her either. That leaves everyone else.
Some divorced couples choose to lay their thoughts out in the beginning, writing letters to all their friends, stating the game rules from here on out. And that can work really well for some, but it may not be a palatable option for you, even if your ex goes down that road. No one expects you to go the touchy-feely route.
Rely on your past history. If you had friends during your marriage that you personally connected with, and were genuinely glad to see, cultivate those. If, on the other hand, there’s a “friend” that you only put up with for your wife’s sake, or annoys the crap out of you, take a pass. You aren’t obligated to do everything you did before, that’s the cool thing about life after divorce.
SOCCER DAD? SCOUT DAD? DAMN STRAIGHT.
Absolutely. Your children are your treasures. You can’t let a divorce push you out of the picture. Believe it or not, all those soccer moms and scout leaders will silently award you bonus points for showing up, offering to help and just being interested in what your kids are doing.
Regardless of the sport or hobby your kids are in, volunteers are always in short supply. Get on an email list, choose something that appeals and arrive with the goods in tow. Not only will you garner goodwill with the organizers, you’ll be strengthening those oh-so-important ties with your kids.
Parenting is in the details and those countless car rides back and forth from practice are the perfect opportunity for short conversations that matter to your kids. Remember that having something to do with your hands? Works here too.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED AT THE GROCERY STORE
It’s the perfect brief opportunity to connect with folks in your community. Smile, say hello, ask about the kids, the job, the upcoming holiday, and you’re done. Talk about a perfect venue! These small conversations are enough to connect, and there’s a ripple effect as well. That encounter will be shared several times over, and while there might be some speculation, the end result that’s shared is that you’re a decent guy, you engaged in conversation and you’re still part of the community. And they’ll spread the word about you. A good word.
BLOCK PARTIES, SCHOOL PLAYS AND SPORTING EVENTS
Most of the time, your new single status will have you going to community events on your own. But what about the block party? Everyone goes, the street is blocked off, it’s a must-do. Or, the school play where your daughter debuts as a singing daisy, or the soccer game where your son plays varsity? What then?
In the case of school plays and sporting events, it’s a no-brainer. They’re your children too, and they deserve to have Dad show up and cheer them on. Same is true for Mom. You don’t have to like each other, but you both played a role in bringing these children into the world. You don’t have to be best friends, let’s face it, you wouldn’t be here if you were, but civil is doable and expected. You can both do that for the kids.
Conversations will continue to occur as before, between you and whoever you choose to talk to at the event. Do your own thing, but be there for your kids. Stand your ground, you deserve to be there too.
Block parties are different, obviously you don’t have to go. But why not? The street is blocked off, there’s plenty of room, plenty of tables, take your pick. An annual block party is a neighborhood’s way of coming together to celebrate the sense of community in your little corner of the world. And, even though you may no longer be part of a couple, you are still an intrinsic part of the community.
If your ex attends, no worries, there’s plenty of room for everybody. When you hold your head high and deposit your potluck offering on the food table, you are reinforcing your position. And people will respond in kind. Most people want to do the right thing, and you’ll find that they take their cues from your behavior. So bake a cake, whip up some of your killer bar-b-que, grab chips and dip from the market, or drag your grill down to the party and start roasting hotdogs. It’s your party, too.
YOU’RE DIVORCED – NOT CONTAGIOUS
Your normal is a lot different now than what it used to be, but that doesn’t mean that you have to leave every part of your old life behind. Stand your ground. Your neighbors, next door or three streets away, are part of your crew. If you have children, that’s doubly true. Don’t give up your turf simply because you and your wife are individuals now. It’s more work, but most things worth having are. Open the door and head outside. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Your neighborhood.
Are you still in your old stomping grounds? Tell us what changed after your divorce in the comments below.
Turf wars aren’t just in the neighborhood! Read Winning Strategies for the Battle of the Exes. Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guyvorce Guide to Life After Divorce.
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I get about three responses a week from my online dating profiles. While this may not sound like much, I have been meeting women online for nearing two decades now, so it adds up to a tremendous number of “suitable” matches. Mind you, these are not women I have pursued; these are women who have decided to take a chance and say hello to me in hopes I will respond. All I did was put up a few profiles on free dating sites.
The result from my online dating efforts? More than a few dozen dates with women and four relationships lasting over a year. So, while I may remain hopelessly single, it certainly isn’t that I can’t get women interested in me. (Obviously, I just can’t keep them interested. Alas.) I’ve learned that online dating success boils down to some pretty simple things.
The 3 Online Dating Keys That Will Bring Women to You
- Good Pictures. Women want to know what you look like (and not down there, contrary to some persistent male Neanderthal members of our tribe). Show them. Don’t take stupid selfies, though; take the time to find pictures of yourself actually out enjoying life. Pay attention to the image you portray. That first look at you can make or break her decision to trust you. Nothing is going to turn a woman off faster than a picture of you smoking in your wife beater or making an ass of yourself with your friends.
Still, you can’t go overboard with pictures of you at suit and tie events if that really isn’t your bag. Try to mix it up a little. Always put up at least four to six, and I would honestly recommend even more. Just make sure they are mostly current, and do your best not to promote images that really don’t accurately reflect your lifestyle.
If you took a vacation once three years ago, don’t make every picture be from that one time you went ballooning or snorkeling. It looks fake. Women want to see some authenticity, without your being crass or juvenile. You can do that, right?
- Authenticity. I said it about the photos and it really stands true for everything in your profile. Think of it as doing a favor to your prospective mate. After all, you don’t want to discover that her “two story bungalow” really means she sleeps in the attic above a convenience store. Ok, sure, we don’t want to come right out with our flaws, but I can assure you that working to be deceptive in your profile will only make attracting equally deceptive people more likely (or maybe that’s your bag. OK, lie away, but don’t say you weren’t warned). No, what really works over time is to just be yourself, clichéd as it is. Be honest, don’t candycoat it all. If you have a kid, say so. If you’re a homebody, don’t talk about how you love clubbing. If you’re fresh from a divorce, don’t be afraid to say that you haven’t been in the dating pool for some time.
- Stay Positive. No one gives a damn about your drama. Showing even the slightest sign of drama in your profile is going to cause women to click away faster than cute kittens chase laser lights. While you may have drama in your life, don’t make your profile about anything negative in your life, or be sure to express any negativity as just part of the “shit happens” rule.
Women will be very forgiving of past errors if you are sincere and forthright about them. If you have an issue that can’t be avoided (like being broke or sleeping on your brother’s couch, or not having a car, etc…), make light of it or talk about how it’s teaching you new things. Of course, don’t say you’re sleeping on your brother’s couch. (Though, frankly, if you are, what the hell are you wasting time on dating sites for? Get your shit together first, Holmes. Geez. Players like you need to learn that putting your priorities straight is what keeps you off that couch. Go read something else on this site. You’re not ready to date yet.)
Go For Honest, Not for Pathetic
If you’re really trying to be honest without looking pathetic you might say, “I am in a transitional period right now and though my resources are meager, my principles are solid.” Women get the hint without being given the full picture much better than we numbskulls. While I really do encourage honesty, positivity may be even more important. You attract what you put out. If you want to meet great women, you need to be a great guy, and you need to make that shine through in your profile.
In the Online Dating Game, Put Yourself Out There
Listen, we’re not all great guys. We all carry around some crap, some baggage, some things that make us undesirable. What you need to do is accentuate the positive while making certain to be honest about your faults. Women on dating sites know that some guys are lying dirtbags. The closer your personal profiles reflect who you really are, what you look like and your values, the more successful you’ll be.
What do you have to say about online dating after divorce? Let us know in the comments below.
Here are some more Dating Tips for the Newly Single Man.
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This year, instead of buying tons of presents, give your kids experiences this Christmas. The kids will have a blast, and you’ll be able to maximize your visitation time.
It’s so tempting to go for the big, expensive gifts. You don’t see your kids often, so you want to spoil them at Christmas. What’s so bad about that? Maybe nothing.
Ask yourself, do your kids need more crap? Do you want to run up your credit cards on gifts that will be broken or forgotten soon after the holidays? Do your kids want more of you?
Here are the top five reasons to give your kids experiences this Christmas:
What You and the Kids Get From Experiences
- Less Clutter
This is a pretty obvious benefit of giving experiences. Anybody who has ever moved house knows that you already have way more stuff than you think you do. And probably way more crap than you really need. During the holidays, stuff seems to multiply and take over the whole house. Avoid all of that by giving experiences.
This is the most important reason to give your kids experiences this Christmas. If your kids are young, by January they will have forgotten about half of their toys. What kids hold on to are memories. Particularly if you have a shared custody agreement, it’s important to create memories and build relationships with your children. Gifting experiences is the perfect way to do that. You could buy your son the latest video game he will play alone, or you could take him to a live soccer game. Which do you think he’ll remember more?
- Spreading the cost
Giving an experience can be a great way to spread the spending when money is tight. Some experiences (sports tickets) you’ll have to pay for upfront. Other experiences (Date Night with Dad) you can pay for as the event approaches. To give your kids something to unwrap on Christmas morning, create a little gift card on the computer or explain your gift in a Christmas card.
- Building the excitement
The best part of experiences for kids? It makes Christmas last longer. Kids can unwrap something on Christmas day and then have weeks of excitedly looking forward to the scheduled event.
- It’s a gift for you
Giving experiences is also a gift for you. What dad wouldn’t love to spend a day watching his children smiling, laughing and loving every minute?
Experiences Will Teach You About Your Child
The options for gifting experiences are truly endless. Giving an experience is a great opportunity for you to learn more about your child’s hobbies and passions. Choose an activity or experience that your kids will enjoy. Use this gift to get involved in your child’s life and to learn more about his or her interests. Of course, the experiences you choose will depend on how old your kids are.
Easy Ways to Give Your Kids Experiences This Christmas
- Date Night with Dad
- Children of any age will love spending time alone with you – especially if they have siblings. Giving each of your children a voucher for “Date Night with Dad” is a great way for you to maximize the time you get with the kids. They will love having your undivided attention and you will enjoy getting to know them as individuals.
- Sports games
- Tickets to professional games can get pricey so why not consider a local college or minor league team? Younger kids don’t care about the quality of the team, they just want to savour every moment of having a “grown up” experience with their dad.
- Ice skating
- Most cities have ice skating rinks at Christmas but roller skating is equally as fun (and probably a little less dangerous!). It might take the kids a little while to find their feet but once they do, they’re sure to love the experience. Take them for ice cream or dinner afterward and they’ll be in heaven.
- Midnight Frisbee
- Ok, maybe not midnight but certainly night-time. For kids, there is something magical about going out at night. All you need is a glow in the dark Frisbee and some warm coats to make this experience unforgettable. We did it about three years ago and the kids are still raving about it.
- Movie Night
- The movie theater can get expensive so you can always opt for a movie night at home. Put a DVD under the tree with a little note saying it’s a movie night experience. Let the kids build a fort, make some popcorn, climb into your PJs and prepare for a great night. Again, it’s not what you’re doing that counts, it’s who you’re doing it with. If you make it an occasion, the kids will feel special and treasure their time with you.
- Concert Tickets
- Concert tickets are a great gift for older kids. Teenagers might want to bring a friend but they will still love it and will always remember you gave them that gift. Younger kids are much more likely to go with dear old dad. A pop concert might not seem like a great day out for you, but when you see your daughter’s face, it will all be worth it!
- Mini Golf or Go Karts
- Mini golf and go karts are kid always a good bet. Like ice skating, adding lunch or ice cream can turn these into a Dad Date or an all-day gift experience.
- Picnics Inside and Out
- Indoors or out, young kids love picnics. Why not organize a winter picnic with sleeping bags, hot chocolate in a thermos, and smores?
- This one is great for Dads who are outdoor guys. Maybe not when there’s feet of snow on the ground, but in warmer climates you could take a Christmas camping trip. If giving experiences is a great way to maximize your time with the kids, taking off on a camping trip takes that to a whole new level. Imagine several days when it’s just you and the kids. No phones. No video games. Just a ton of fun!
- A lot of photography companies have special offers around the holidays. A photoshoot is a great idea for girls in particular. Regardless of how old they are, most girls love dressing up. The best thing you can do is dress up, go with your daughter and take a few shots together. Not only will she have the photo, she’ll remember the whole process forever.
- Board game
- This isn’t strictly an experience but kids love playing board games with their parents. Whether it’s Monopoly, dominoes or Uno, games give you the opportunity to laugh, talk and enjoy an evening away from technology. A board game also gives the kids something to unwrap on Christmas day.
There are so many experiences you can give your kids for Christmas this year. And they don’t have to break the bank. The only limit is your imagination.
It’s Not All Or Nothing Under the Tree
You might not be ready to limit yourself to experience giving but still want to cut down on all the crap in your life. That’s completely reasonable. There’s a new thing on social media called the Rule of Four that you can use for gift giving.
Basically it says that you buy your kids four things: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.
Even if you don’t stick to it perfectly, the handy rhyme at least gives you an idea of where to start.
Ultimately, as long as the kids have something under the tree to open they’ll be happy. If they can make memories with you along with those gifts, even better.
Get Your Ex On Board Before Making Promises to the Kids
Holidays can be a very stressful time for divorced parents. You and your ex may disagree over what the children should and shouldn’t be getting, and who will be giving what.
If you’re planning to give your kids experiences for Christmas, cover all your bases and tell your ex in advance. If there are sports or concert tickets involved, she might need to know that you’ll want the kids that day. If there’s a camping trip involved, she’ll probably want to know you’re taking the kids out of town.
Experiences are fabulous gifts so don’t let yours be ruined by an angry ex.
Do you arrange special events with your kids to maximize visitation? Share your divorce advice for Dads in the comments below!
For more shared custody tips, check out 5 Secrets to Cooperative Co-parenting on Holidays by Brian Weiss. Melissa Ricker shares how to maximize visiting with how to Use Google Calendar for Effective Co-parenting.
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There’s no shortage of advice on how to recover from life after divorce. Even with all the information available, the experts often overlook one crucial thing—divorce offers positive opportunities and aspects. As with anything, you have to take the bad with the good, but make no mistake, there is plenty of good!
Here are 15 ways life after divorce can be better than ever:
1. Taking Care of Yourself
Post-divorce you can focus on things that fell by the wayside when your marriage took priority. Whether it’s sinking hoops a couple nights a week at the gym or heading to the golf course every Saturday, you now have time for taking care of you. So, go ahead, treat yourself!
2. A Good Divorce is Better for the Kids than a Bad Marriage
Constant tension gets to kids. Maybe you think you’re doing a fair job of keeping marital strife under wraps, but kids pick up on things.
When parents make a decision, and explain the situation in age appropriate way, kids are able to come to terms with the result and stop worrying about what is happening behind their backs. It’s much healthier for kids to see mom and dad dealing maturely with conflict, than to witness the ugliness of parents mired in misery and bitterness. When your kids see you and your ex as individuals, they will realize that while their own futures may bring challenges and pain, they too can overcome them and be happy again.
3. Find Out Who Are Your Real Friends
Divorce reveals those “friends” who were never real friends to begin with. Some friends may ditch you to side with your ex. Fair-weather friends disappear for fear you will be a downer. Married friends worry they won’t have as much in common with you. Good riddance!
4. Take Control of your Happiness
You no longer need to check with someone else before you do the things or hang with the folks you enjoy. You don’t have to listen to anyone put you down or treat you disrespectfully. From today on out, for the rest of your life after divorce, you can give a huge “See ya!” to anyone who drags you down with their negativity and sucks the joy out of your life.
5. Permission to Reinvent Yourself
Ever wondered what you would be like, and what your life would look like, if you never married? No need to regret over the road not taken, you can be that guy! The trips you never took, the people you never met, the adventures that passed you by, are all within your reach.
6. Be a Better Parent
When you are less stressed and demoralized over your failing marriage, you will have more energy to be present when spending time with your kids. You will be able to model the type of positivity you want your kids to experience, instead of the downtrodden, resentful example you were projecting in your bad marriage.
7. Clear the Way for A Woman Who Will Respect and Admire You
Letting go of a relationship that no longer serves you makes room for a compatible, loving partner who cherishes what you have to offer to come into your life. Life after divorce gives you the chance to replace conflict with the happiness that comes from having the right life partner.
8. Living in Truth
Few experiences are as liberating as the day you stop living for others’ approval. No more faking that you are in a perfect marriage, covering up your pain out of shame. You can stop lying about why you showed up alone to the Holiday party or are not making it to your in-laws annual Thanksgiving feast. Nothing makes you as happy as being authentically who you are, without apology.
10. Revive Neglected Passions
Remember those hobbies and sports you gave up because your spouse didn’t like them? She couldn’t handle spicy food and you love it? Order some Thai and tell them not to hold back on the spices. She hated your sports addiction? Now you’re free to obsess over your fantasy football picks and feast on nachos and beer on Sundays.
11. Hang Out with The Guys Again
No need to miss your single bros that stopped inviting you on Vegas road trips and out to ball games once you were hitched. Put their numbers back on your speed dial. You’re one of the guys again.
12. Renewed Sense of Adventure
Stability and partnership have their advantages, but they have their disadvantages too. One thing you give up is the ability to let loose and try new things. Remember how cool it was to head out for a night with no destination in mind and see where you’d end up? Imagine all the great stories and adventures that await you in your life after divorce.
13. Permission to Ask for Help
If you typically have trouble asking for help, you now have a good reason. Family, friends, heck, even co-workers will likely offer to lend an ear, or a hand, during your difficult time. It may even bring you closer to them, as these types of major life changes often do.
14. Rediscover the Pleasure of Solitude
Sometimes the best feeling in the world is sitting in your sweats, streaming your favorite show, ordering take-out, with the sweet knowledge that you have no where you have to be and no one to answer to at all. We all need time to chill. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. In fact, sometimes it means the freedom to relax after a long day, or a busy week, and renew your energy reserves so you’re ready to kick ass Monday morning.
15. Life After Divorce Means FREEDOM
You are the one in control now. No need to go rounds with someone else for every major decision. No need to compromise on the big things that matter most…or even the little things. Go ahead and eat pizza for breakfast, drink out of then milk carton, and leave that toilet seat in the upright position!
Yes, divorce is difficult. Yes, transitions bring pain and uncertainty. But no, life after divorce is not the end to all the great things you will achieve and experience. Far from it! As much as divorce is the end of your married life, it is also the beginning of the next phase of your life. There are endless opportunities awaiting the newly divorced you. Shift your focus from what is ending to all the beginnings coming your way and you are guaranteed to open your life to a whole new world of pleasure, growth and adventure.
Enjoying your new freedom? Tell us how you’re crushing it in the comments below.
We’ve got even more info for you in The Ultimate Guyvorce Guide to Building a Life After Divorce.
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(c) Can Stock Photo / Ariec
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After another bitter battle with your soon-to-be ex, you jump on your roadster to get the hell away from her. Miles down the road, you’re broadsided by an idiot in a sedan, and now you’re knocked out cold in the hospital. Who they gonna call? If you haven’t changed your health care power of attorney, it may well be your spiteful ex who struts in and calls the shots for you.
You’re Stuck With Designated Contacts Until You Change Them
With all the forms and paperwork that go with divorce, your physical health might not be on your mind right now, but it’s vital that you realize the importance of such things as power of attorney, choice of health care proxy, and estate plans in general. For most of us, our spouse is listed as our emergency contact, our go-to person for any sort of emergency, and the one who holds the power to speak for us. When you were married, this was a huge convenience and safety net. Not anymore.
Now, you must remove all power your spouse holds and pass it on to someone else, someone with your best interests in mind, someone you trust to handle your personal matters in the event that you become incapable of handling them yourself.
Your health care power of attorney is not something you want to put off, because tomorrow is unpredictable and anything could happen.
The time to update your health information is now. It is important to have all your ducks in a row should an emergency occur during or after your divorce. Do you want your estranged or ex wife to make medical decisions for you? If that thought doesn’t scare you into action, you may just be a lost cause. But, if you’re not one to risk being kicked while he’s down, read on for more information about Power of Attorney and what you need to know to avoid your life turning into a complete nightmare.
Know The Difference Between Different Authorizing Documents
You may have heard of medical proxy before while others may have heard a different term that means the exact same thing. Laws are different for each state and so are the names and powers granted by certain types of the document. As such, a Medical Proxy may also be known as Medical Power of Attorney, Health Proxy, Health Care Agent, Health Care Surrogate, or Living Will, depending on your state of residence. So what does it all mean?
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document that allows you to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf now, and in the event that you incapacitated. A person with power of attorney may be able to sign your name, sell your property, pay your bills and make health care decisions on your behalf.
A more restrictive power of attorney allows you to specify what types of decisions the proxy can make on your behalf, for example handling a real estate transaction for you.
No power of attorney may legally allow the proxy to vote on your behalf in a general election, nor to enter into a marriage on your behalf.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Also called a Medical Proxy or Medical Power of Attorney, this document limits the appointed person to making medical decisions for you at such time you are unable to make informed health care decisions on your own.
Under medical privacy laws, you may choose to provide your medical providers with written permission to discuss your health status with specific individuals, but that does not equate to a legal health care power of attorney.
Legal Considerations for Designating an Agent
Before or during the divorce process, make sure you, and/or your attorney, review all the documents in which your spouse is named as your agent, such as a Power of Attorney. You may want to revoke the designation to avoid giving your soon to be ex-spouse decision making authority.
Some states will automatically terminate your spouse’s authority as agent once an action is filed for divorce, annulment or legal separation, unless the Power of Attorney specifically states otherwise. However, this may not be the case in every state so you are best advised to consult with your lawyer or revoke any earlier Power of Attorney. Execute another Power of attorney (or medical proxy, or health care agent, etc. depending on what it is referred to according to your state law) and name a trusted family member or friend as your agent.
This means you must complete the medical proxy form for your state, which includes the information required by the law in your state. In most cases, the document must be signed before two witnesses or a notary public in order to be legally recognized. The information on each form varies from state to state so the legal status of the Power of Attorney for Health Care signed in one state may not be fully valid in another. If you spend considerable time in more than one state you may want to file a medical proxy in each one of those states, just to be on the safe side.
Triggering a Power of Attorney for Health Care
The legal responsibilities of the person designated as your health care power of attorney to make decisions on your behalf go into effect only after a physician has determined that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This could be as a result of illness, severe injury, coma, or any other health-related issues that leave you unable to speak for yourself.
Once a doctor has determined that you are unable to make these decisions on your own, the power of attorney kicks in and your fate is now in the hands of the proxy. As you have probably figured out by now, this legal status only lasts for the duration of your incapacity. So, if/when you recover from previously mentioned illness, injury or medical procedure, and are able to communicate your own wishes for your healthcare, the Health Care Agent (proxy) will no longer have the authority to make those decisions for you.
Medical Directive Forms are Free and Readily Available
The forms for your state’s Health Care Power of Attorney are available from your doctor, from a local hospital, a nursing home, or online from your state government website. Many states have combined the health care directives with the Living Will, in which case they will often appear in the same document called Advanced Directives.
Be Aware of the Scope of Powers You Want To Grant
During the time you are unable to direct your own treatment the person acting as your Health Care Power of Attorney will grant the person of your choosing the legal power to speak on your behalf. This means that person would have full rights to be informed by your doctor (or doctors) of your medical condition and to decide the course of treatment. They will have full access to your medical records and the authority to make choices on everything your treatment will entail including tests, surgery, or medication. They will have the right to choose which doctors, specialists, hospitals or other agencies will provide your medical care. Since the scope of authority varies slightly from state to state, you should review your state’s medical power of attorney form to ascertain the specific rights and duties granted in your state. You are free to ad specific instructions to the Health Care Power of Attorney document tailor it to your wishes.
Divorced Parenting and Medical Directives For Your Children
Check with your attorney before designating a third party to act as the health care proxy for your children. It may be void unless both living parents fill out and sign the document individually. The laws for witnesses are different depending on the state of residence. If you and your ex-spouse live in different states it is wise to complete a Power of Attorney for Health Care in both states. If you complete both states’ forms at the same time you will ensure the information remains consistent. If you change your mind later and decide to revise the document be sure to revise the forms for both states simultaneously to preserve consistency.
Divorce May Impact Your Estate When You Die
The laws in each state will vary regarding divorce and probate, but generally your spouse is no longer your spouse for purposes of your Living Will once the judgment for divorce or annulment has been entered into the court records. Many states revoke any provisions under your Will that name your spouse as executor, trustee and guardian, or medical proxy or which give property to your spouse. The exception would be if the document specifically declares otherwise. Don’t guess, have your legal documents reviewed by competent counsel.
If you and your spouse divorce, your children have claim to inherit your estate. In the event your children are minors, the court would appoint a guardian to manage their inheritance and that guardian would most likely be your former spouse. To avoid this potential legal complication, you should update your estate plan and consider leaving your assets in a trust for the benefit of your children, managed by a trustee of your choosing.
Be aware that being physically separated does not terminate the spousal relationship. While separated, your spouse will retain certain spousal rights, referred to as the “elective share” that entitle your spouse to a portion of your estate. To avoid this potential problem, a legal separation should be executed by the parties agreeing to waive such rights.
Act Now To Protect Yourself and Your Kids
Whether you are considering a divorce or have received a final judgment of divorce, it is wise to review and update the provisions you had in place prior to divorce, including advance medical directives, any power of attorney and your will.
To be certain your estate plan protects you and your loved ones – both during and after your divorce – it is important to communicate your exact wishes and execute the documents according to the laws governing your state. Seek legal counsel as needed. Leaving the future of your medical care, children’s care, assets and business to anything less than certainty is an invitation to a potential legal battle or a miscarriage of your intentions. For the safety and well-being of your family, it is important to make sure you know exactly what will happen to them and you in the event of an accident, emergency, or any other unexpected and unpredictable situation.
Tell us your experiences with health care or other authorizations during separation and divorce in the comments below!
For more related information, see what A. Baker has to say about Defining Beneficiaries in Your Post-Divorce Will and Estate and what Debra Giuliano shares about What To Do When Your Spouse Dies Before the Divorce is Final.
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