Even writing the phrase ‘about the ex’ sends people scurrying for the exits, fearing expletive riddled diatribes and raging self-pity. But what about your kids, when they aren’t really kids anymore. As your sons and daughters head into their own adult lives, is there a point where it becomes okay to tell your kids about the ex?
There must have been some incredibly important reasons for you to go through the harrowing process of separation and ultimately divorce. But are there things that your kids need to know about their mum?
Young Kids vs Young Adults
You separated when your kids were younger, and honest discussions with them in those years reached the level of why they couldn’t have two packets of chips in their lunchbox like they did when mum packed it. Now that they are late teenagers, with boyfriends and girlfriends and part time work and all the things that makes up life pre-marriage, is there a time when it is okay to simply talk to them about the things that led to your separation?
Most professionals advise about the damage that we can do as parents if we fall into the trap of disparaging the ex in front of our kids. There is absolutely no doubt that one of the most important things we can do for your kids as they go through the divorce process with us is to bite our tongue and simply encourage them to have feelings of respect and admiration for their mother. Remember, they are already dealing with trying to find their feet in the lives of separated parents, two homes and readjustments.
There are a lot of things to be aware of as your young kids grow through the divorce and challenges that come with their age. There are many articles that provide good guides for what to do and what to say up to the age of 14. But, at that age your kids are beginning to desire more independence, they’re questioning parental authority, and they’re developing relationships outside the home which are even more important than their relationship with us. It is next to impossible to find advice on talking to your kids beyond the early teenage years.
But as they age they are no longer kids needing to be shared and managed between two separated parents. They are now young adults who are exposed to many adults in differing settings, and you and your ex are becoming less unique to them.
They are becoming young men, like you, and young ladies, like their mum. They are adults in secondary and post-secondary education and they are taught to think broadly, apply their understanding and their moral code to develop their own personal impressions and opinions on situations and events they experience. They will be developing opinions about the people who make up their lives, the things they like and dislike, and the things they need and detest.
You have very strong opinions about their mother which are undoubtedly a big part of why you are not together anymore.
Naturally, you want the best for your kids as they build their own lives. Don’t you need to tell your kids about the ex and what led to the divorce?
If you have a daughter would it be okay for her to never know anything of what it was that brought your love for her mother to end? Would you be happy for your son to choose the partner he will spend the rest of his life with without knowing anything of what it was that broke down the mrriage with his mother?
Tell Your Kids About the Ex
The kids probably spend a lot of their teenage years living with their mum. If anyone knows mum well, they do. They are now far more resilient and self assured than when they were the 7 or 8 years old when they just wished mum and dad still lived together. They now have seen many of their friends go through divorces with their parents, and discussing mom and dad’s divorce with these trusted friends is easier than with anyone else. These discussions likely have been going on for years, thus helping to forge their ‘critique’ of you as their dad and your ex as their mum.
So, if your son or daughter at 17 or 18 asks why you and your new partner don’t seem to argue as you did with their mum, or they raise an issue they have had with their mother, is it okay to be honest about their mum? Whenever there is an elephant in the room it is better to simply confront it than trying to beat around the bush?
So long as the discussion remains objective and has the right mix of honesty about yourself as well as about their mum then aren’t you arming your kids with knowledge that you likely didn’t have as you grew up in a generation when divorce was more rare?
Many articles point out that you may anger your children if you try to describe the process of separating as something like ‘mummy and I still love each other, just not in that way’. That’s because it minimizes your child’s maturity to form their own opinion.
Honesty is Always the Best Policy.
We have always been told that it’s best to tell the truth. It has always been drummed into us not to lie. In fact it is almost impossible to think of another area where telling the truth to your child is seen as anything but the best parenting practice.
It has become more acceptable to discuss sexuality with our kids. Thank goodness. And in the process we reinforce the importance of intimacy and feelings with the people that we choose to love and cherish in our lives.
We know we will have to comfort our kids hearts when their boyfriends and girlfriends have broken their hearts. Is it really so bad to admit that that was something missing from your marriage with their mother? Is it preferable to lie? Or won’t that go the same way as trying to tell them that you still love mummy? Your kids know you and they know when you are lying.
You have spent a lot of time talking about times past through rose-colored glasses only for the benefit of your young kids. If you have a strong relationship with your grown kids where you can speak openly and honestly about things such as your work relationships, your thoughts about the future, and your thoughts about the world, then speaking honestly about what wasn’t right about your marriage to their mum shouldn’t be taboo.
You can discuss how people change over time. It may have been a process of falling out of love with the woman you married as you discovered she was turning into someone you didn’t like. You can discuss the need to continue to develop as a person. You can talk about what it is like when someone stops listening. The kids would have similar stories in their lives already.
Part of parenting is helping your kids find the best parts of both yourself and your ex for them to emulate. In a strong marriage that endures, both partners are reinforced by the other such that pointing out each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a very normal part of life. Separation and divorce is oft times about two people who are no longer being reinforced by one another. And, as they go through the process they lose the opportunity to tell their kids the truth.
One minute you’re leading a blissful married life (not!), and the next you’re officially “separated.” What the hell is that supposed to mean, exactly? Is it like a Ross and Rachael break where anything goes, but not really? What are the rules to being separated? More importantly, what are the pitfalls? You need to learn the Separation Skills Every Guy Needs to know.
Every Couple Does Separation Differently
Separation means different things to different people. If you’re like most men, though, most of the rules of your separation will be dictated by your spouse, even if the separation was originally your idea. So, the first order of business, after collecting your things from off the front lawn, is to sit down with her and figure out how you’re going to do this. There’s no right way or wrong way to do a separation, so technically everything’s on the table.
Respect Her Privacy
Separation skills every guy needs include respecting your spouse’s privacy. That means no skulking in your car down the street, staking out the house to see what she’s up to. If she wants to have guests over, that’s her prerogative, even if you are still paying the mortgage. If she wants to have “adult sleepovers,” that’s her choice, too, as much as that might pain you to realize.
- Respecting her privacy means no checking the call log on the landline account or cell phone bill. (Really, you’ll be a lot happier if you don’t do that, anyway.)
- Don’t drive past her work to see if her car’s in the parking lot.
- Don’t interrogate her co-workers and friends when you “accidentally” bump into them at the grocery store.
If you question whether something you’re thinking of doing is an invasion of her privacy, the answer is likely YES. Consider how you would feel if she did that same thing to you.
Don’t Use Your House Keys
Assuming you’re the one who got kicked out of the family home, try to retain a set of the house keys. If you promise not to use them unless it’s an emergency, you’ll probably be able to negotiate this for yourself. Once you’ve made the agreement, don’t renege on it. Ringing the doorbell to be allowed entry into your own house is going to take some getting used to. But if you go barging in using your keys, you may find them taken away. Worse, your spouse may change the locks or decide she needs to take out a restraining order on you, which you’ll want to avoid at all costs. The more space you give your spouse during your separation, the better things will turn out for you.
Until your divorce is finalized (and really, after that, too), avoid badmouthing your spouse. The less you talk to people about your relationship, the better. That includes your drinking buddies, your coworkers and that cute little number who lives next door in your new apartment building. The thing is, whatever you say could be used against you in the divorce proceedings. And what you say is likely to be inflammatory and possibly libelous. Yes, chances are slim that her lawyer will be able to dig up witnesses that say you made drunken threats. But play it safe. If you need to let out some steam, confide in your paid therapist, who is sworn to confidentiality.
Lay Off Social Media
Speaking of comments, you might want to disable your social media accounts, at least until the divorce is final. Social media becomes a torture platform when you’re separated. Do you really want to see pictures of your estranged spouse with another guy? Or read all the sympathetic comments from her friends (that used to be your friends), telling her she’s better off? You’ve got better things to do than check her relationship status. The best part of disabling your social media accounts is that you won’t be able to leave comments on her page that you’ll regret later.
Put Your Ducks in a Row
During a separation, there’s a chance that you and your estranged spouse will get back together. That would be great. Maybe. But on the off chance that things continue to go south, this is a great time to put your ducks in a row. You’re in your own place (or in your parent’s basement), and have the time and privacy to make arrangements for a worst case scenario. Don’t think of this as setting things in stone. You’re just putting things in place to make it easier if the relationship moves on to divorce. Here’s a list of what you should plan, depending on your situation:
- Make a shortlist of divorce attorney candidates, based on reputation and known abilities
- Research how to do a DIY divorce in your state
- Organize your finances
- Gather tax records
- Gather business records if you own a business
- Start thinking about how you’d take care of your kids for sole or joint custody (babysitter, sleeping area, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
- Review ownership records (bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, etc.)
- Think about the family pet situation. Would you want the pets? Shared custody?
- Organize contacts (school, sports coaches, in-laws, accountant, spouse’s work, etc.)
- Redo your will, Medical Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney
- Review and or change your life insurance beneficiaries
Get on With Your Life
Surprisingly, separation skills every guy needs include learning how to get on with your life. For whatever reason, guys often take separation and divorce harder than women. If you aren’t careful, you could let your life stall while you’re in this sort of limbo state, wondering how the rest of your relationships are going to pan out. Don’t let that happen. It’s more important now than ever to keep things moving along in your life. Keep in motion whatever projects and plans you had going on before the separation. If you can’t continue with a certain plan because it involved your estranged spouse, come up with an alternate plan. Don’t go into “waiting mode.” Keep moving forward. If you do that, you’ll be in a much healthier position to deal with whatever comes next as far as your relationship.
No one expects you to be a perfect angel if you and your wife have separated and are legitimately on the road to divorce. The temptation to date might be too strong to resist. You’ll have to decide for yourself if dating is something you should do while you’re technically still married, but also technically separated. But the separation skills every guy needs to know include understanding the dangers of dating while separated. Carefully consider the potential ramifications of your actions. You could accidentally impregnate the other woman. You could jeopardize any chances you ever had for reconciliation with your estranged spouse. Your dating activities could be used against you during the divorce if you live in a ‘Divorce Fault’ state. Your spouse might resent you exposing your kids to your girlfriend. You might develop deep feelings for another, which would cloud your feelings about your marriage. Your girlfriend could develop a dangerous jealousy of your estranged spouse. Any number of scenarios are possible. If you must date, be cautious about it. Consider the risks as well as the rewards.
Learn to Take Care of Yourself
Marriage can be a comfortable place. You may have become used to having many things done for you, like laundry, cooking, cleaning or social obligations. If so, you’ll have to learn to take care of yourself. Even if you end up getting back together with your estranged spouse, you’ll be better off in the long run learning more basic life skills. If you do, you’ll be a lot less inclined to rush into another marriage for all the wrong reasons, just so you’ll have someone to take care of you.
Separation Skills Every Guy Needs
These separation skills every guy needs will help you to navigate the rocky road of separation. Occasionally, you may find yourself in a very dark place emotionally. Remind yourself that this situation is temporary. Being separated is trying for anyone, so give yourself credit for getting through it as best as you can.
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.
Divorce lawyers are paid big bucks to help divide the assets between husband and wife during a divorce, but one of the most valuable assets is left out of the mix. Who gets to keep the mutual friends? Many couples often find it difficult or nearly impossible to maintain mutual friends following a divorce. The good news is that by setting boundaries with friends, it may be possible to minimize the damage to your close friendships and hold onto the ones that really matter. Divorces are overwhelmingly challenging, and losing your friends is just another loss that’s difficult to deal with. While it may be easier part ways with some friends, there may be others that could turn into a very tough tug-of-war. Creating boundaries with friends may seem like yet another relentless task in the divorce process, but it is essential part of the process if your friendships are to survive.
Setting Boundaries with Friends
While you may rely on your best buds for a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, it isn’t fair to your friends to bash your ex if they are still friends with her. Doing so can quickly create an awkward situation that may prevent your friendship from continuing. Setting boundaries with friends following a divorce should include an agreement from both parties that no ill words will be spoken about the other partner. Let your friends know that it is okay for them to stop you if you start going down that path. While it is okay to discuss what you are going through, don’t attempt to force your friends to take sides.
Speaking About the Divorce
Divorces can be messy and emotional. You may discover some less than pleasant truths about your wife or things may happen during the divorce that are uncharacteristic of your wife. Just because you are hurt or angry, it doesn’t give you the right to spread personal information around. Setting limits with friends helps to create rules on what can be shared about the divorce. Sharing too much can be hurtful to your ex and hurtful to your friends who still love and care for her. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t have shared the information before the divorce or in front of your ex, don’t share it with them after the divorce. You will want the same curtesy from your ex.
Who gets to go to Dave and Sally’s wedding? Who can still attend Wednesday happy hour? It can be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for divorced couples to end up at the same social event, especially in the early stages after splitting. While it may have been a no brainer to invite both of you before the divorce, mutual friends need to know how it is going to work following the split. Discuss this with both your ex and your friends and come up with some guidelines. Whether it comes down to taking turns or giving both you and your Ex the option to attend knowing the other may be present or leaving the decision in the hands of you and your Ex, the key is communication. The last thing you want to do is show up to the wedding and see your Ex with another man if you aren’t ready to witness that. And if you know that the two of you cannot get along, it is best for everyone involved to not put yourself into that situation if you can avoid it.
Know that it will get easier over time, and perhaps there will be a future time where you do feel comfortable in social settings with your Ex. This doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement.
No matter how clear the communication was in the beginning, emotions are a big part of any divorce and will likely pop up at some point. You may feel hurt that your friends are spending more time with your Ex than you. Or you may resent them for inviting her to a particular event instead of you. Whatever the case may be, there may be some backlash, and your friends might find themselves on the brunt end of it.
Setting boundaries with your buds and others up front will help prevent these negative feelings or at least help you deal with them when they come up. Let your friends know that both parties will try their best not to drag them into any negativity towards the new friendship arrangements.
Accepting Lost Friendships
The truth is that some of your friendships will naturally end after a divorce, and that’s okay. Don’t try to maintain them all. Perhaps your Ex was closer to certain friends or had friendships long before your marriage. Perhaps some of the friends began through your Ex’s family. These friendships are sometimes better off left with your Ex.
On the other hand, some of your friends may find it too uncomfortable to be friends with both parties after a divorce. Remember that this is awkward for them too. They may naturally pick one side or perhaps both friendships will fade following a divorce. Lost friendships are expected and aren’t a reflection on you.
Recognize When Enough is Enough
No matter how hard you try or how much you want to make it work, sometimes sharing mutual friends creates more stress and tension than is worthwhile. You may feel more negative emotions and experience more unpleasant memories than you wanted to by being around people who used to be a part of your marriage or you may find it difficult to follow the boundaries you set up.
You have to be real with yourself and recognize when enough is enough, at least for awhile. You may need to distance yourself in order to heal for some amount of time before coming back into a friendship. If this happens to you, be honest and open with your friends. You aren’t abandoning your friendship, but you need to prioritize yourself during this trying time in your life.
Make New Friends
Just because you and your Ex have agreed to continue your relationship with mutual friends, do not close yourself off to new friendships. While your mutual friends are important, your life is changing and new friendships may help you adapt to your new lifestyle. Talk to new people, put yourself out there and accept invitations as they come along. New and different people can breathe new life into you and help accelerate the process of starting new.
Setting Boundaries and Sticking to Them
Setting boundaries with friends is the easy part. The more difficult part is sticking to them. Your brain knows these boundaries are logical and necessary, but your emotions may get the better of you and make it difficult to maintain these boundaries. You may feel tempted to ask your friends about your Ex’s personal life or bash her for being late to pick up the kids. It is expected that you’ll slip up every now and then, but start building a healthy habit to respect these boundaries from day 1 … no matter what you feel or how tempting it may be.
Nearly every aspect of your life will look different following a divorce, and the friendships you once shared with your Ex are no different. Couples who’ve had a tight circle of friends may find it even more difficult. With the correct approach and mindset, you may be able to retain the friendships that you built during marriage. Setting boundaries with friends and sticking to them is essential. Be honest with your friends and yourself about your situation and your emotions, plan accordingly and, above all else, remain respectful of your Ex.
There was a time when family court judges automatically ruled in favor of the mother. While vestiges of this default primary custody bias may still be felt in some areas of the country, the tide is turning. More and more, courts of law no longer presume that mothers are more fit parents than fathers. In fact, the odds of a dad being able to prove that the child’s best bet for a full, safe and healthy life is for him to be the custodial parent is higher than ever. There are even states that have passed laws indicating that mothers will not be given preferential treatment in custodial disputes.
While times are changing, the reality is still that mothers are more likely to get custody of minor children. As a divorcing dad, your best bet in a custody hearing is to know some of the factors that judges commonly consider in making decisions. There are also steps you can take to outline why you are the better parent.
Factors in Awarding Custody
The first factor the courts look at is which parent is the primary caregiver. The term “primary caregiver” essentially refers to the parent who is best able to meet the child’s needs, who accepts the most parental responsibility and who has a history of primarily cared for the child. Which parent meets the child’s most basic needs? Who handles the feeding, doctor appointments, bedtime stories and bath time fun. Historically, women, even when they work full-time, are much more likely to take on the primary caregiver roles. So start taking on as many of these tasks as you’re able. The court will take into account your history of performing such tasks.
The second factor is the parent-child bond. What is your relationship with your child? Does your child miss you when you’re away? Have you spent time building a relationship with him or her.
They younger the child is the more strong the mother-child bond may be. This does not negate your effectiveness as a father, but it’s a result of more traditional parenting roles. Because mothers are conventionally the parent that primarily cares for the child from infancy to preschool, the closeness that develops is a different sort of bond than the one that is created between father and child. The more involved you have been in the rearing of a young child, the closer your overall bond will be.
In a lot of jurisdictions, many courts presume that kids will be kept emotionally whole and healthy by having a meaningful relationship with both parents. One of the primary factors taken under consideration is which parent is more likely to foster a healthy relationship between the children and the other parent. Any parent who has attempted to commit parental alienation — such as poisoning the child against the other parent, or refusing access to the child — will not fare well in any family court. And there are other extenuating circumstances, such as allegations of child abuse and instances of domestic violence, of course.
Try To Get Along With Your Ex
If there is any way that you can maintain a civil or even amiable relationship with your ex, it can only help your custody and visitation chances. Maintaining this type of relationship, especially in front of your children, will only help them in the long run. It’s a well-documented fact that kids who come from divorced homes fare much better if they are not used as weapons of manipulation. Allow your kids to maintain a positive, healthy relationship with both parents. Speak only positively of your ex. Not only will it help you in court, but it really is what’s best for your children.
Consider a Fathers Rights Attorney
If you’re hoping to be the custodial parent of your child, the best course of action is to first consult a family law attorney with experience in Fathers Rights. Because laws differ from state to state and family courts can be as unpredictable as the judges who preside over them, your attorney’s insight can become the most valuable tool you have at your disposal. He or she will have some insight into how certain judges will react in any given situation, and how they may lean in custody disputes. They can help you to build the strongest case possible.