Some Challenges That A Divorce Presents
How Your Divorce Can Take You by Surprise
The Homes-Rahe Stress Scale is a measure of the impact life events have on people, and it indicates that only the loss of a loved one has a greater negative effect on a person’s mental and physical health than divorce. Leading divorce therapists assert that people can minimize the negative toll by being aware of the challenges that may lie ahead and preparing for them. This sentiment is echoed by numerous divorce attorneys who suggest that as many as 80% of people getting divorced do not have a divorce plan and that helping their clients navigate what is a stressful process is among their greatest responsibilities.
Most adults recognize that getting divorced will be stressful, but many people are simply not prepared for the sheer degree of stress and the potentially overwhelming nature of it. It is understandable. Perception is based on life experiences, and many people enter the divorce process not having undergone anything similar. This is why experts in the field recommend divorce therapy for all people even if you expect your divorce to be amicable and relatively stress-free.
Therapists advise starting sessions as soon as you know you will divorce, maintaining them throughout the divorce process, and continuing after the divorce has been finalized and until you are leading a happy, stable, and independent life. Studies suggest that this healing process takes 18 months on average. Prior to, during, and after your divorce, your therapist can help by providing you with:
- Someone who will listen
- Tools to cope with the stress
- Honest feedback that friends and family will not
- Advice on your judgments and decisions
Current U.S. statistics indicate that the average divorce cost ranges from $15,000 to $20,000. These are significant amounts for most people. However, costs are highest when a divorce is contested, and estranged couples can minimize their expenses through an amicable divorce in which the negotiations and settlements are mediated. The mediator does not represent either person, and you can both still have your own divorce attorney who protect your personal interests and provide you with individualized advice. Common divorce expenses include:
- Divorce attorney fees
- Mediation fees
- Courtroom expenses
- Document and filing expenses
Soft costs refer to all of your other additional expenses that are a result of the divorce but are distinct from the legal process and thus usually not included in the divorce terms. As soon as you know you are getting divorced, it is advised that you establish a budget. Minimize your unnecessary expenses and provide yourself with more discretionary cash to cover additional expenses related to:
- Dining out
Living on Your Own
There are financial advantages to being married, such as sharing overhead, and one of the rudest awakenings that divorced people often experience is the cost of living alone. All of your costs go up as there is no one else to share in the utilities, smartphone plan, groceries, and other expenses. These problems are often exacerbated for people who were not involved in the day-to-day budgeting of the household.
It is a good idea to meet with a divorce financial advisor. These professionals are not just for the wealthy, and your advisor can help you plan for the future but also establish a budget now that accounts for your divorce expenses, your soft costs, and the daily expenses of running a household. Your new budget will need to account fully for your living expenses, including:
- Mortgage or rent
- Car payment, insurance, and maintenance
- Food and clothing
- Health care
- Miscellaneous and discretionary expenditures
Running a Household
Any household duties that your former spouse took care of will now be your responsibility along will all of the other ones for which you were responsible. Already being under a considerable amount of stress and then having to find a way to squeeze all of these other responsibilities into an already tight schedule is difficult for anyone.
This increase in responsibilities is even more substantial if there is a child involved of whom you have primary custody. This is another area where therapy can be a big help. Many therapists recommend making a prioritized list of the things you need to do and creating a schedule that covers:
- Meal prep
- Daily household cleaning
- Shopping and errands
- Helping the child with their extracurricular activities or homework
- Precious me time
Children of divorced parents now have to live in two households, and ideally, these households will be similar enough that children do not have to acclimate each time they go back and forth. Of course, this can be difficult to achieve and is a good reason to consider co-parenting therapy.
Often in a marriage with children, one parent is more hands-on than the other. If you are the hands-on parent, you will likely need to be a resource to the other parent who will certainly struggle more. If, on the other hand, you are the hands-off parent, experts recommend being open to advice and working with your former spouse to provide a consistent household experience for your children, which may include:
- Regular bedtimes
- Chore schedules
- Clean clothes
- Prepared lunches
- School and after-school activities
Not everyone will want a partner after a divorce. Therapists recommend not being hard on yourself and putting your own personal needs first. Perhaps you are enjoying your individuality or are simply not up to the emotional demands of a relationship. That is normal, and don’t let anyone pressure you into something you aren’t ready for, no matter how well-meaning their intentions may be. While a blind date set up by a close friend or family member may seem like a good idea to that person who wants to help, it can be awkward and embarrassing for both parties if one of the participants isn’t ready to engage openly.
When you have moved on from your divorce and are ready to begin dating, you may be in for a culture shock depending on how long you have been married. Online dating services are a powerful and convenient tool for people returning to the dating scene, and general advice with online dating is to:
- Find the dating app that suits your personality
- Know what you want and aim for that
- Take it slow
- Be confident
- Take all safety precautions, like meeting in a public place and not providing your personal information too quickly
- Do not talk about your marriage or divorce
- Avoid the rush to take it to the next level
Navigating Your Divorce as Stress-free as Possible
If you are preparing for divorce or the process is already underway and you need assistance, the Law Offices of Kelly Berton Rocco is here to help. Our New Jersey law firm has handled many different types of divorce cases. We understand the process well and are well-positioned to prepare our clients for what is to come. If you would like to schedule a consultation, you can call our Hackensack office at 201-343-0078 or contact us online.