You’ve survived the break-up, the children are finally settling into their new routines and it looks as though life might be on an even keel at last. Then, suddenly the bombshell drops. Your ex has a new bow. And now you’re going to be dealing with your ex and her new partner. In an instant everything changes. You thought things were on the up and up, but suddenly you fell back to rock bottom.
This guy won’t just be in your ex’s life, he’ll be in your children’s lives, in your marital home and sleeping in your old bed. He’ll take over everything you used to own. He’ll be relaxing in your chair, cooking in your kitchen, eating food from your cupboard, smiling at your ex and listening to your children tell him about their day. Not surprisingly, dealing with your ex and her new partner will likely stir one of the most common emotions in life after divorce – anger.
Initially, it will be a huge shock. Even if you thought you were prepared for it, when your ex announces she has a new man in her life, you’re likely going to be consumed by the news. You’ll be resentful, jealous, or angry. And, you’ll be worried about the impact this guy will have on your kids.
Take A Deep Breath
Take some much needed time to adjust to the news. Don’t lose your cool. And don’t say the first thing that comes into your head. The truth of the matter is, no matter hard it is to accept, your ex was inevitably going to find someone new and start a new relationship. Keep calm. Focus on your own wellbeing and that of your kids as much as you can.
Think things through and make a list of your priorities, then you have a better chance of having a calm and productive conversation with your ex. You’ll want to know whether your children know about the new man, when they’ll be meeting him, if they haven’t already, how they are feeling, whether he’ll be moving in, or how often they’ll be in his company and a little about him. Try to push aside that image of him enjoying breakfast at your table and crawling between the sheets with your ex. Stick to practical matters. Remember, your ex loves your children and will most likely be looking out for them and doing what she believes is best for them. Even if you vehemently disagree, try to be realistic. You’re all in the process of moving on and creating news lives, and a certain amount of flexibility will be needed to keep peace. One day, it will be her turn to deal with the new woman in your life and handing her children over to you and some other woman.
Look After Your Mental Health
Be kind but firm with yourself. After the first few days of rage and self-pity, or obsessing about the injustice of it all, you’ll need to start to bury those feelings. It won’t be easy, but you need to understand that negative emotions can have a powerful effect on you physically and psycholgically.
Likewise positive emotions can affect you deeply too, so concentrate on promoting positive thoughts. If you find yourself regularly drawn to dwelling on the changes, purposely steer your thoughts to something happier. Distract yourself. Pour yourself into something you’ve been thinking about doing, or a meeting with friends or even a work project. Distract yourself from these cyclical anxious thoughts. Tell yourself, I’m not going to think about that right now, and then don’t. Focus, focus, focus – on you, and your kids.
This will be hard and you’ll keep dwelling and worrying about the same things, over and over again. But as time goes by you’ll find it easier to push negative thoughts aside. Try not to imagine his new place in your family’s life.
Don’t let anxieties about your relationship with your kids take over. Being anxious about your place in their lives is natural. You’ll wonder if they’ll like him more. He’ll no doubt spend more time with them than you if he lives with them. They’ll tell him things and he’ll give them advice. They’ll have fantastic trips together. He’ll get to do all the things that you thought you’d be doing as they grow up. Stop.
Remind yourself, they love you. You’re their dad and however big a presence he is in their lives, he cannot replace you. If they love him, that’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean they love you any less. It means they’re comfortable and happy with the people in their lives, which is how it should be. If you’re honest, you know that you wouldn’t want them going home to someone whom they don’t want to be around.
If things get too much for you, find someone to talk to. This could be a sympathetic friend, a family member or, if you’re really struggling, a trained counsellor. Just make sure that the person you’re talking to is giving you good advice. Friends are great for sounding off at, but it won’t be helpful to spend time with someone who is ready to label your ex as toxic. You’re looking for kindness but honesty. Sympathy is great, but a good friend will help you accept what you cannot change and won’t let you wallow in bitterness.
Dealing With Your Ex and Her New Partner
After you’ve got over the initial shock, make sure that you keep the channels of communication open so you can deal with your ex and her new partner. You’ll want a certain amount of information about her new partner if he’s going to be spending time with your children. You’ll need to know whether he’s moving in or how often he’ll be seeing them. Keep it civil. If things get heated you’ll miss the opportunity to find out what you want to know. And your input is more likely to be heard if you make your case calmly.
Stick to your existing routines and implement any changes cautiously. Everyone’s priority should be the kids and how they’re coping with the new situation. This article gives an idea of how to sensitively introduce a new partner into your children’s lives – and how not to.
First, know that you don’t have to meet this new guy if you really can’t face it. But, getting to know someone a little can help stop your imagination from running wild. And, it would be useful if you can pick up the children from him if your ex can’t make it or have a phone conversation with him to make arrangements for the weekend.
If you do decide to meet him, make it somewhere neutral at first. Try hard to be polite and approachable. If you find him aloof or less than friendly, stick to your guns and be the better man. Don’t steam in and start trying to lay down rules as soon as you meet him. Start with more general terms; you should at least both be able to agree that you want your children to feel happy and settled. It would be more appropriate to leave detailed rules to a meeting with your ex at another time. Then at least you can say that you have met him and given him a chance.
Over time, things should ease up and become a little more comfortable between you and he. Keep the tone of any meeting professional and try and let the children see that you are able to speak to him without animosity. If you can be civil to each other, as well as easy going and helpful it will make everyone’s lives easier.
How You Can Help Your Kids
Your children will be going through a major change in their lives when your ex finds a new partner. They will suddenly be having to share their mother with someone else and may well have to adjust to a new person living in their home.
Make sure you’re not dismissive when you speak to them about him, however hard it is. Younger children in particular may look to see how you respond to him and pick up on your feelings. It won’t help if you manoeuvre them into feeling negative about him, it will simply give them anxiety and make their lives less happy. And if they do get on well with him, they may feel guilty about it.
Your role is to be a rock for them. Reassure them that nothing will change their relationship with you, he won’t be replacing you and you will always be there for them. And then make sure you are, as often as you can be. Don’t be tempted to indulge them with treats and gifts; what they really need is quality time with you. This doesn’t have to be trips out or vacations, quality time is simply time when you are connecting with each other, over meals, shared books, games or movies for example. Concentrate on giving them a relaxed, pleasant time with you. Let them talk about him if they want to, and try and put your own feelings aside for their sakes. It won’t be easy, but if you manage it you really will be a great dad.
Throughout this difficult time, remember to look after yourself. Remind yourself that there are still good things ahead for you and that this will pass. Focus on building strong, healthy and happy relationships with your children and on creating a good life for yourself instead of focusing on dealing with your ex and her new partner. These are your priorities now, and negative emotions have no place with you.
This is without a doubt one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Seeing your children accepting a new man into their lives and reacting with good grace can feel impossible at times. But persevere. You may be filled with negative emotions, but put every ounce of effort into putting the negativity aside while you’re with your children. In the end, this will help you too; by getting into the habit of behaving in a positive and easy going manner, you have a good chance of raising your own mood and being able to cope well with the change. As time goes by, the new situation will become easier and more comfortable for everyone and you’ll feel happier about the future as it becomes clearer that although your ex has a new man in her life, your place in your children’s lives will never be in doubt.
Are you divorced or separated and exhausted by the interactions with your former or soon-to-be former spouse? Does it feel, some days, like you get no respite from the crazy? Do you respond in kind to her rants in an attempt to stop it? Do your kids get caught in the verbal cross-fire or notice when you are angry or upset with their mother? Are you at your wit’s end about how to manage? You have learned that no matter what you do you cannot change your former spouse. She rants, she raves, she tries to control what and how you do things no matter what. Getting outraged with her has made no difference. In fact, the only result is that you may feel depleted after you’ve expended energy to attempt to put her in her place.
What then, can you do? The answer may be simpler than you imagine is possible. You may want to sit down for this because it will surprise you. You may need to shift what you do in response to her to change the way things are going. You may need to change. Now, let’s be very clear: we aren’t talking about blaming you. In fact, let’s set aside the idea that you play any role in the unreasonable behavior of your former spouse. It’s surely true our exes know just how to “push those reactive buttons” that make us roar but what if you mostly don’t take the bait? I recommend three techniques that I have found both useful and productive for my clients. It is important to give them a little time to work. It took you and your former spouse a long time to develop the pattern you have now. Shifting the manner in which you interact now will take time too. But it may preserve your sanity and, most importantly, allow you to co-parent your children for many years to come and allow your children to flourish. What’s better than that?
1. Stay Calm No Matter The Outrageous Behavior
Have you ever noticed that once someone escalates a situation, with their voice or behavior, everyone else tends to get worked up too? What if you don’t do that? What happens, if you are screamed at—in person or by text or email—but you don’t respond in kind? You may be surprised to learn than escalation responded to with additional escalation is not very good for you or anyone else. In fact, it’s also true that the most successful people learn how to manage their emotions even when situations are very heightened. http://bit.ly/2HLVOyf Otherwise, your ability to focus and avoid anxiety is diminished. So, even if she tells you (or worse yet, your kids) that you have done something wrong, do not take the bait. If a response is required, deal with the underlying issue and none of the other stuff. Also, and this may be most important, take a break before responding. This is, perhaps, the single most important way to keep calm when under attack. If no one is on fire and there is no immediate logistical issue to be addressed, wait to respond, and only do that if it’s necessary
2. Know When To Hold ‘Em And When To Fold ‘Em
As Kenny Rogers, the country crooner once soulfully said in a song written in 1976 by Don Schlitz:
You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
These sage words, written for a gambler, are just as important to someone who is divorced. In fact, in divorce communications it’s always better to check your ego at the door permanently. Just because something inaccurate is said to or about you does not mean a response is necessary. Explaining a falsehood or misrepresentation is mostly a misguided and time-wasting exercise.
In the event you are worried about what others will think if you don’t make it right, remember this: people may enjoy the gossip around your divorce but, honestly, they don’t really care about the details. Sure, juicy tidbits are fun for most people to hear, especially those who don’t want to focus on the mess of their own lives, but they don’t really have the time, energy or inclination to sort out the truth of the matter. In fact, if they are so interested in you, they likely already know. If they don’t, why should they? One of the most painful parts of divorce is letting go of people you supposed were friends. In fact, they may have been friendly, school acquaintances of your kids or just people in your life who love good gossip (and who like to avoid their own mess at home). Whoever they are, take a deep breath and let it go. Fighting to win the friend or convincing anyone of anything (unless you are in a court of law, god forbid) is likely not worth it. Deal with your co-parent as needed on issues important for your kids. And let the rest go.
When you need to communicate, choose email or text except when a communication is urgent. Be direct, kind and include any important deadlines for a response. Don’t badger after sending an email and only follow up if no response arrives timely according to the issue at hand. Keep your opinions to yourself and include only what’s needed to move the ball forward for your kids. Straightforward honest and kind communication, without extraneous details, goes a long way to improving your relationship with your former spouse. Or, at least, keeping you sane while dealing with a difficult personality who may never change.
3. Give It Time
The only certainty is change. If you can hold this idea high in your mind during and post-divorce, you can recognize that the high conflict dynamic, if you have one, can shift. Sometimes it has nothing to do with how people behave, although it certainly can, but it can simply be a matter of time. People calm down, heal or get their attention diverted to something else. Whatever occurs, you do not need to think that because things are bad now, they will always be this way. So, instead of trying to “fix” the problem, just do what’s needed and give it time. In fact, it’s preferable to do what’s needed, and no more, in order to avoid additional escalation. It may seem counterintuitive, as many believe more is always better but, sometimes, less is just right. Communicate only when needed about what’s needed.
If you can make your focus your work, kids and social life, including your family and friends, you may just find that you don’t need the conflict to sustain you. A connection, even with conflict, is just that. Whether it’s you or your spouse, staying escalated with each other is way more energy than required to co-parent your kids. Try to think of your former spouse as a business contact with whom you need to have a long and productive relationship for the most important product of all: your child(ren). Even if you have nothing in common, and active distaste for each other, you did manage to have a family at one point and time. So, now, create whatever boundaries you need to keep an arm’s length, child focused view of your former spouse.
In sum, although you can never change your former spouse, and she may be wrong and driving you crazy, you can decide what about her behavior is intolerable for you. When you know, do what it takes to acknowledge it, to yourself, and then let it go. Don’t harass, rant, rave or otherwise create additional escalation for yourself or your child(ren). By doing everything you can to contain and take care of yourself and your children, you will do far better for you and them in the long run. In the meantime, make sure you have the support you need and that your children do too. It can get better and you can be a part of the plan to make that happen.
Divorce is like an emotional hurricane. It’s hard to think straight in the middle of the emotional storm, and it’s normal for your financial frame of mind to blur when going through a divorce. But no matter your stress level or your fuzzy frame of mind, it’s extremely important to prepare yourself for the financial side of divorce.
Your divorce is going to result in decisions that will have a huge impact on your finances both now and in the future. Don’t wait until you’re mid or post-divorce to figure out the costs. This can lead to unwanted surprises. But being prepared ensures you won’t be financially devastated as you move forward.
8 Tips To Help Handle the Financial Side of Divorce
- Get Educated about the Financial Side of Divorce
Your finances is an important element that you naturally think about in the break-up of your marriage. Divorce is stressful and traumatic, and with emotions running rampant, you’re likely not going to be thinking clearly during your divorce. But you need to be educated about the costs that come along with your divorce, and get yourself ready to deal with them.
From lawyers and experts, to real estate agents, financial planning, and therapy, costs can range between $10,000 to $20,000. If managed properly, the cost can be considerably lower. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re prepared for the cost of your divorce by educating yourself.
- Know Your Financial Obligations
If you have children, you’re likely the one who’s going to pay child support. If child support is part of your divorce agreement, you are legally obligated to pay it. Some guys who are supposed to pay child support don’t pay it or don’t pay it in full, which is a legal no-no. The well-being of your children should come first, and the amount of child support that’s decided by the court or mandated by the state is what you’re obligated to pay.
Always pay your child support in full. If there’s a significant change in your financial situation or in your custody agreement it can be adjusted. But, until then, you should pay what is required. Child support pays for everything from the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and housing, and may include child care, education fees, medical expenses and extra curricular activities. If you’re concerned about the money not going to your children, try to find alternate solutions where you can pay service providers directly.
- Be Open to Alimony
Whether you chose to be a stay-at-home dad, or your ex chose to be a stay at home mom, be open to the possibility of alimony. Lots of guys are closed-off to the idea of alimony, not wanting to give the Ex a free ride. But, paying alimony for some short duration of time should also reduce your child support obligation.
Keep in mind, when you’re the one writing the alimony check, the alimony payments are tax deductible, whereas child support is not. Try offsetting child support, dollar for dollar, with alimony so a to take advantage of the tax savings.
- Do Not Hide Your Assets
Divorce can be scary, but the last thing you want to do is panic and move money out of your bank account and into hiding. If the money is found (which it likely will be), you’ll lose your credibility in court and won’t be trusted in any asset discussions. Worse, you may be penalized by the court for your deceit.
Revealing your assets is a legal requirement of all divorcing couples, so disclose everything that belongs to you and don’t hide anything. On top of not being trusted in court, you could be ordered to pay your ex’s attorney fees or the court may even award her all of your undisclosed assets.
- Track the Money
You should locate all of your marital financial resources to help ensure your future. This includes everything from your bank accounts and assets to incomes, properties, retirement plan, vehicles, furniture, brokerage accounts, and insurance policies – everything that’s owned jointly and/or separately by the two of you. Then organize everything into 401(k) and IRA statements, employment retirement accounts, employment bonuses and stock options/awards, real estate holdings, insurance policies (those that have cash values), mortgages, house and vacation home appraisals, brokerage accounts, money market accounts and tax returns. Tracking your monetary assets now can help stabilize your financial situation in the future.
- Protect Yourself
There are many ways to protect yourself, your finances and your assets during the divorce process. Separate your non-marital assets – property belonging to you, such as gifts you were given, that are not subject to equitable distribution. Also, make sure to cancel any joint bank accounts and open individual accounts, but, be careful not to disproportionately take more than what is rightfully yours in the process. Check your credit reports from all three credit agencies (Equifax, Transunion, Experian) and double check that all credit cards in your report are accounted for an/or cancelled. Get new credit cards in your name and close all unused credit accounts. You don’t want your Ex racking additional debt during the divorce process for which you may be held responsible
And don’t be afraid to talk to your spouse to get the information you need. It’s important you’re both aware of your complete financial situation and understand the debts you share as a couple and individually. To avoid unforeseen surprises, with the help of your attorney, ask for a full disclosure of all financial records and accounts and be prepared to share yours. Don’t forget to change your will (and beneficiaries), medical proxy, living will, and your brokerage account beneficiaries too.
- Create a Post-Divorce Budget
Your post-divorce life is going to look much different than your life did when you were married, and it’s important you prepare a budget to account for everything that may come your way. Every day expenses are going to change when you’re single, and if you have kids, you’re going to want to make sure you have everything they need to feel at home and comfortable in your new place.
It’s easy to just focus on divorce-related expenses like child support and alimony, but it’s key to recognize your new reality. Talk to a financial planner if you need to, and create a realistic and meaningful budget for your new single lifestyle.
- Resist the Urge to Impulse Buy
It’d likely you did not initiate the divorce, but divorce always results in a sense of loss. You’re losing a big part of your life and it’s likely very devastating. People deal with loss in different ways, and sometimes we think, albeit illogically, that making a big purchase, like an expensive new car or a big new house will make us feel better.
Divorce is expensive. Your post-divorce life is going to come with new costs you won’t be accustomed to or prepared for. Resist the urge to purchase expensive items on impulse, especially within the first twelve to twenty four months of your divorce.
If you’re about to go through a split, don’t neglect the financial side of divorce. It may be the last thing you want to think about, but it’s crucial for your financial well-being.
What are your biggest questions or concerns when it comes to divorce financials? Write us and let us know in your comments below.
If you are newly divorced or about to be, and faced with moving you of the marital home, you’re probably weighing deciding to buy or rent after divorce. It’s a major consideration with the potential for significant emotional and financial implications either way. Check out the list of questions to ask, factors to consider, and a nifty tool to weigh the costs before making your decision to buy or rent.
In 2011, I found myself in the buy or rent dilemma. Because I could not afford our 3,000 square foot marital home on my income, I was the one to move. At the time my ego won out over everything else, and I ultimately purchased a home in another town.
While I didn’t immediately regret my decision, I soon realized the shortsightedness of it. In these past seven years, I’ve moved two additional times and learned much more about real estate, personal finance, and myself. I hope to help you learn from my experience.
Deciding To Buy or Rent After Divorce – Each Hold Pros and Cons
Buying a home has typically been a plus factor in evaluations of financial success while leasing has often been perceived as “throwing your money away.” However, with the housing crisis not yet a forgotten memory, and younger generations on the move, opinions are changing. Now, thoughts of a dream home are not so dreamy, and the benefits of renting are proving popular.
The typical pros for buying sound like this:
- A home is yours, and you can paint, remodel, and decorate any way you want
- Once your mortgage is paid off, you own it completely, with only maintenance, property taxes, and insurance costs remaining
- Homes generally appreciate in value
- Improvements to the home may allow you to ‘earn’ money when you sell
- Tax credits may help to reduce some of the ownership costs
On the flip side, here are common renting pros (or buying cons):
- Renting is not throwing your money away, it’s simply securing a temporary place to live
- With renting you aren’t on the hook for emergency repairs or maintenance costs for the property
- Costs for insurance, and often utilities too, are lower
- There’s no personal financial concern if the property increases or decreases in value
- Purchasing a home ties up a large sum of money while also tying you down more permanently
- Owning property comes with the additional monthly costs of taxes and mortgage interest
All these factors do not weight equally, however. To effectively compare renting to buying after divorce you need to know the whole story.
Start With These 6 Questions When Deciding To Buy or Rent After Divorce
- What do you need? First list out what you need in a home before you start on your list of wants. Consider who will be spending overnights in the house and what space is required. Sure you may want room for a home office, gym, play area, and your car restoration project, but is it a bona fide need? It is entirely possible to meet all your needs with a rental property, and maybe even a few of your wants. Attempting to purchase them all, however, may cause you to overextend yourself financially.
- How long are you planning to stay in your next home? Buying and selling a home involves costs, far beyond the purchase price. Realtor and attorney fees, inspection fees, appraisal fees, mortgage origination fees, and title insurance costs are among those to consider.These additional costs may make owning a home far less practical unless you remain in the property more than a couple of years. Selling within the first few years, might not give the home time to appreciate enough to balance out the additional costs.
- What’s the likelihood of house prices rising? In recent years the housing market showed us it falls and stagnates as well as it grows. How would your overall financial life look if your house’s value increases slower than the market, does not increase at all, or decreased suddenly? Your home may not be an investment at all, only an expense.
- Will you be eligible to save on taxes by buying? While it’s true some buyers can balance additional costs of homeownership with tax savings via the mortgage interest deduction, not all do.You must be able to itemize tax deductions to receive the benefit. With your new marital status, your tax-filing situation will be different, and your deductions may change. Speak with a tax expert to understand your potential tax savings if any.
- Are you financially stable right now? Divorce usually impacts your financial life dramatically. If you currently hold any debt, face alimony or child support payments, and are behind on your retirement savings, now may not be the best time to make a significant purchase.
- Are you emotionally stable right now? This may indeed be the hardest question to answer while also being the most important. Divorce is stressful. In fact, it is number two on this list of the 10 most stressful events of life. While you may know that logically, you may not fully understand yet how it’s affecting you.
Rushing into a decision to purchase a home may only lead to more stress down the road. Speak with a close friend, family member, or a professional if you need help sorting through your emotions.
To Buy or Rent, the Financial Comparison
Accurately comparing the financial difference of renting or buying requires you to factor in the entire cost of home ownership —not merely the monthly mortgage payment versus rent payment Additionally, you want to look at the overall money picture.
For example, consider if finances not tied up in a home could earn you more through investing in a diversified index portfolio, thereby improving your overall net worth and financial security.
“Rather than simply focusing on monthly or annual costs of the buy versus rent decision, consider which option would have a greater positive impact on your overall wealth at the end of your stay. For example, let’s say your total costs of ownership were $2,000 a month and you could rent a similar property for $1,800 a month. You might consider how that additional $200 a month could grow if you were to invest it in a diversified portfolio and compare it with all the home equity you will build up during the same time through your mortgage payments.” – Fidelity Investments
You can run a simple rent vs. buy comparison by looking at the price-to-rent ratio. Taking the home value and dividing it by the annual rent amount calculates this. In general, when the price-to-rent ratio is higher than 20, renting looks to be the better option. If the ration is less than 20, buying may be the better way to go. Any comparison, however, is only beneficial when you are comparing similar properties.
A sophisticated, yet easy to use online tool that requires a few additional inputs does the calculations for you – found here.
It’s Not Just About the Money
When weighing the differences between the homes you’re considering, take into account the non-monetary benefits of each as well. Does one offer the outdoor space or ideal location you desire? Will one keep you closer to your children or ease your daily commute?
I failed to do any of the above when deciding to buy or rent after divorce and jumped into buying a home quickly. Fortunately, it ended up being a positive financial move even though I sold it two years later, but it was the wrong move on an emotional level. Just a few months in I realized I should have listened to my brother and best friend and leased a property first.
When you are coming out of a divorce, you’ve no idea what your life will be like even one year later. Give yourself some time to get accustomed to your new life. And your kids will do just fine in an apartment or rented home.
The Bottom Line
Renting or buying can each work in your favor. Yes, owning a home may be beneficial over an extended period but renting may be the best option today.Ask and answer the hard questions and crunch the numbers. Then make the best financial and emotional decision you can for you and your family, with all the information in hand.
Why Divorce Advice For Men?
Because while some of the issues related to divorce are not different based on your gender, several are. And even those that are not specific to men still need answered from a guy’s perspective to make sense. In the end, it is just that; advice, which is like opinions and body parts: we all have them. But we know guys and we know divorce. And with hundreds of men daily walking freshly onto the path of divorce, combined with the huge community of men here who have traveled that road before, the advice is pretty sound.
The key issues relating to divorce advice for men are what we call the pain points. As our community has grown over the years, we’ve observed and helped in a number of areas, but the majority of the topics fall into these pain points. These pain points are our cornerstones. In these sections on Guyvorce.com, you will find greater details about each, as well as numerous articles about specific areas. Collectively, they provide the best divorce advice specifically for men, so let’s focus there.
Save your Marriage
Seems like an odd point, but the fact is most of our guys didn’t initiate the divorce. Many are blindsided by a wife that surprises them one day with a demand for divorce, money, and the kids. Round one for these guys is searching for ways to save their marriage. For these men, avoiding divorce is a major part of divorce. Like it or not, this is where you are. Fixing the problems that brought you and your spouse here may sit at the very top of your list. If saving your marriage is your goal, then know that divorce does not require both to agree. But, it does not have to happen swiftly, and you do not have to agree to anything. Take time, delay, and give yourself time to think and direct attention to your wife and your marriage. Observe and try to understand what went wrong and if there is a way for you to save it. In the end, you can’t stop her if she wants a divorce. Marriage is an odd contract. It requires both parties to agree, but either one can break it. You can work to save it, and you take the time you need to try.
Choosing a Divorce Lawyer
Even if you are on the road trying to save your marriage, you need to find a qualified divorce attorney. When your car breaks, you get a mechanic. When your plumbing goes bad, you call a plumber. Sure, some of us can fix either or both, but not as well as a qualified one. Here’s the deal, though. Goon up your car or your plumbing and you can call a professional to fix what you did. Goon up the start of your divorce, sign something you shouldn’t have, and a good attorney can’t undo what you did. And the damage costs are far higher than a messed up bathroom sink. Family law attorneys can advise you as you go, even if your end goal is not divorce. Get their advice right up front!
Fathers’ Rights Attorneys
If you are a dad, you need to think even harder about who you pick as your attorney. According to the Census Bureau, only 1 in 6 custodial parents are the father. You can find many theories all over the map about why that is, but the why really isn’t important, because for you it just is the state of the system today. Attorneys that specialize in Fathers’ Rights are the ones that understand the why, and not just a nationwide why, but your region. The laws and trends in the family court system today are not standard, and you will find they are not standard even in the same state. The liberal courts in Austin, Texas do not rule the same as the conservative courts in Dallas as an example. You are going to be challenged as a man in the courts for the normal issues of property and alimony. With kids, though, your rights as their father are going to be challenged. Your time with them, your influence over their growth and learning is all at risk. Don’t trust this vital aspect of your life with anyone!
Tied in with being a father is a solid understanding of your child support obligations mean as well as projecting what they are. Child support is designed to balance the households so that there is less disparity between each parent’s home in order to offer the children a similar quality of life in either household. How child support is determined varies across the nation. Some have intricate models based on cost of raising children, supported by Government researched models. The Department of Agriculture, as an example, has extensive models available to everyone to determine the cost of children in various parts of the country.
Other states, sadly, just do a blanket percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. With most fathers assuming the role of non-custodial parent, the issue of child support is a huge issue for men. The states treat this issue with departments of “enforcement.” Too many men before you have been committed beyond their means to unaffordable payments resulting in delinquency brandishing many men with the horrible term “deadbeat dads”. It’s important for you to fully understand your obligations and how they will impact your life ahead.
Alimony is another major pain point for men. According to the last Census bureau’s data, of all the people in the States living off of some form of spousal support, only 3% were men. That means the other 97% were women being paid by the guys. Take a look at your current living conditions and budget. After a divorce, there are two payments you could end up paying to your spouse; child support and alimony. Child support is only possible if you have children. But alimony doesn’t care. Instead, its intent is to allow your spouse to have a reasonable standard of living, near the stand enjoyed while married, to allow her to transition back into the workforce. That’s true unless you live in a state that still considers alimony-for-life, in which case there could be no end to the flow of your money over to her account. If there is some glimmer of a bright light in this tunnel it is that many states are undergoing alimony reform in their legislature. It is important that you understand what to realistically expect in your region based on the conditions of your divorce. For alimony the main factors are the employment state of your wife, income differences between you two, age, length of marriage, and if any at-fault conditions on your part played into the divorce, such as infidelity.
With the vast majority of fathers facing a non-custodial parent status with their kids after divorce, so many before you struggle with understanding and enforcing their visitation rights with their children. Too many are given endless excuses about why they can’t see the kids during their time. Others face a constant struggle against a bitter ex focused on breaking down the relationship between the father and the children. Decades ago the standard for custody was the tender years doctrine, which assumed children were best cared for by the mother. Since that time, the courts are shifting their standard to the best-interests-of-the-kids standard. This allows for more opportunity for dads to see their kids, but as the stats show, the custody awarding record is still not in the fathers’ favor. Some systems are starting to recognize the vital role fathers play in their children’s lives, and are recognizing the need for more time and even 50/50 split. Another great step is the shift from the term visitation to the term parenting time, because they are after all still your children. You aren’t just visiting them, you are performing your role as their parent. It is important for you to fully understand your role as their father, its importance, and the trends in your region for recognizing this role and granting you the proper time to serve this function.
PTSD and Divorce
Some divorces are simple and not contentious. Two people realize they need to go their separate ways, they come to an agreement about all the issues, and present the court with their determination. Simple. Most people, though, can’t agree on everything. They seek the help and advice of legal counsel, and enter into the stressful part of divorce that is ranked on the Holmes-Rahe scale as the second worst life stress, only second to death of the spouse.
Even with the number that go into some form of litigation. Only about 5% of divorces are actually settled with a full trial. The rest reach their limit from the stress and struggle from the system and settle.
The stress and trauma from divorce can overwhelm anyone. The symptoms experienced by those going through a horrible marriage and divorce are very similar to the well-known condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. To be formally called PTSD, the symptoms must result from a single, traumatic event. However, that requirement is under debate today within the medical community. To those suffering from the symptoms, whatever you call it, it really doesn’t matter. They need help. There’s no shame in suffering, and there’s no honor fighting it on your own. With the right help, those suffering can move past the pain and get on with their lives.
Life after Divorce
As you work through all the pain points of divorce, your end goal is to come out of the other end of this struggle quickly and as the man you want to be so that you can get on with your life. There is life after divorce. You can recreate yourself as the best single man you can be, the best father, and move forward with the activities that may have defined you or could define you in the future. As you conquer each of the pain points, you will find yourself closer the man you want to be in the future. It is more than just online dating and one-nighters. How you live, where you live, your job, your life with your children, and then yes the chance to meet someone that rekindles love, that is life, real life after divorce.
Divorce is a horrible experience. Anyone who has gone through it will forever remember it as one of the worst experiences of their life. If there is a bright side, it is that you don’t have to travel this road blindly. Many men have traveled it before you and we stand ready to help our brothers avoid the pitfalls we found.