Read Moving Forward After Divorce -Part 1 if you haven’t already.
There is no cure-all or one-size-fits-all approach to managing feelings associated with the end of a marriage. Smooth divorces are not the norm, so it is likely you have been in a state of flux and uncertainty for some time. However, there are ways to make the transition smoother. It just takes commitment to your new goals, as well as the motivation and compassion to ensure the transition works for you.
As attorneys, Staack, Reighard & Simms PLLC has years of practical experience working with our clients to help them navigate the stages of divorce. We understand divorce can be difficult and are happy to share a few ideas regarding coparenting and new relationships. These recommendations which can help make the transition more effective for you and everyone involved.
If you have children, remember that while you are now “single,” you are not alone. You may feel a new sense of freedom but you still have strings! As a parent, your decisions can’t just be about you, regardless of whether you have custody or not. Your children will be central to most of your life decisions until they are adults. As they become increasingly independent, prioritizing your decisions based on the children does get less over time. However, always be cognizant of how your personal decisions and social life activities might impact your child custody, visitation, or financial support arrangements.
Divorce affects children just as much as it does adults. Depending upon the age of the children and the circumstances, they may act out or express their feelings in a way that is inappropriate or difficult to understand. Always let your children know that although living arrangements have changed, both parents still love them very much.
You and your ex should create healthy and respectful ways of communicating with each other right from the start for the sake of the children. Plan ahead so you can minimize disagreements over who gets the children on holiday weekends, summer vacation, and special family events. Always be proactive about what is in your children’s best interests.
Develop and stick to an effective coparenting plan, as this will play an important role in healthy child development and the overall well-being of the family. Focus on what is best for your children, not on which parent “wins” or gets a “better deal.” Keep any conflict with your ex away from your children. Effective coparenting shows the children that both parents are in sync. Some tips for sticking to a healthy coparenting plan should include agreement with your ex on the following:
- Schedules for time with each parent
- Routines for homework and bedtime
- Parameters for screen time
- Expectations for chores and responsibilities
- Curfews and rules, as well as the consequences for breaking them
- How the children can stay in touch when with the other parent
Coparenting carves out the opportunity for designating quality time with your children. Make this time precious. Establish new rituals or traditions and introduce them to a hobby or sport you can enjoy together. This transition period gives you time to focus on your children’s emotional development and instill values. It will also help all of you develop a stronger sense of self-esteem and closeness during this post-divorce process.
New Relationships and Dating
You are probably not planning to stay single forever! However, it makes sense to take things slowly, despite the easy access to dating sites or social activities aimed at finding a new partner. Give yourself time to adjust to the finality of divorce and to all of the changes happening in your life. Doing this usually pays off in the end.
While romance might seem like a great way to fill lonely hours and soothe any wounds, if you jump in too soon and before you have had time to really know yourself and be on your own, starting a new relationship can just complicate things. You don’t want to end up comparing a new partner to your ex or finding it difficult to give the new relationship the emotional commitment it deserves. Now is not the time to set aside your own physical and mental health needs in favor of your new partner’s needs and that sometimes happens in a new relationship. Remember, you are still healing.
Without a doubt, time alone can feel terrifying, but this is really when you should be focusing on finding contentment and happiness within yourself. Of course, every divorce is different and you may feel you have a unique situation, but just be confident that the right person does come along at the right time.
Consider Counseling Services
As you start that new chapter, consider seeing a counselor as divorce can have a lasting impact on your emotional and mental well-being. Even if it is just for one or two visits, it is very helpful to talk through your feelings with an objective, professional who is trained in helping people with compassionate guidance and support post-divorce. A therapist can help you balance your perspectives and strengthen your confidence. Family counseling is a great option and will allow children to discuss and process their feelings about their parents’ divorce. A therapist can help you and your children find strategies to cope with any painful or difficult thoughts.
Look into a divorce support group as another way to gain insight and cope with this life change. You will find you are not alone, gain a new outlook, and possibly make friends in the process.
Look to the Future
Taking time to grieve, heal, and focus on yourself will help you make the most of what the future holds. Time eventually heals or at least puts things into a better perspective. If you have children, be a role model for a brighter future by actively enjoying every day you spend with them.
Time can also present the need for modifications in your divorce agreement as it relates to custody and parenting time. Even child support amounts can be addressed based on change in circumstance. If that is the case, please reach out to us at Staack, Simms & Reighard, PLLC. We will be happy to discuss any divorce issues that you feel need to be revisited. Above all, best of luck and make the most of this new, post-divorce life. Consider it an adventure!
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Staack, Simms & Reighard, PLLC