Family & Relationships

14 Tips to Regain Control After a Divorce

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Recovering from a divorce is difficult. You have to learn how to be yourself again. You have to deal with finances in a different way. You have to learn how to move forward emotionally and mentally.

It may seem impossible, but you can start a new life after divorce. Begin with these 14 tips to regain control of your life and get back to living.

1. Don't drag out the legalities of a divorce.

In order to be able to truly start that next phase of your life after divorce, you need to make sure all the paperwork is finalized. It might seem easier to avoid it. Or maybe you’re afraid of losing your belongings or afraid of acknowledging that this is really happening.

No matter the reason you are avoiding the documents, it’s probably only making things worse for you. Dragging things out unnecessarily can cost you — financially and emotionally.

So, if you still have paperwork in front of you or loose strings to tie up, get it taken care of now. This includes separating assets and writing them all down as well as signing the final papers. The quicker you get this part done, the faster you can move on with your life after divorce.

2. Know that it's okay to mourn.

A divorce is the death of life as you knew it. It doesn’t matter whether you were the initiator. It doesn’t even matter how long you were married. Your life is changing. You might think that the best thing to do is put up an emotional wall, the more you put up dealing with your emotions about this change in your life, the harder it will be.

The emotional stages of divorce are much like the emotional stages of grief. You have lost something, so let yourself experience those different stages of grief. Experiencing those feelings now will ensure that in the long run you can accept life after divorce.

3. Create a budget.

The average cost of a divorce in the United States is between $15,000 and $20,000, and this can be a difficult burden to overcome. However, you can recover if you follow these steps. It’s important to accept that your post-divorce lifestyle is probably going to be different.

Most married couples share finances, and as a result, everything ends up in turmoil when they go through a divorce. Once you are living on your own, one of the most important first steps is to create a budget.

You need to assess how much money you have coming in, what living expenses you will be facing and what bills and/debts you are responsible for. Create a budget that will get things paid for and that will give you room to live as well.

4. Know when it's time to sell your house.

The shared home and property can be extremely difficult to deal with during a divorce. Maybe you went through an argument with your ex-spouse about who gets to keep the house. If you and your spouse are splitting everything, then it’s best to sell quickly so that it can be finalized and settled.

If you kept the house, you need to create your budget and determine if you can truly afford it. If you can’t afford it on your own, then it may be time to sell.

5. Be willing to lean on friends and family for support.

They are in your life for a reason, and they want to be there for you not just during the divorce, but after it as well. If you have children and you are learning to juggle changed schedules and responsibilities, ask friends and family to help you with childcare or carpooling. In addition to logistics, be sure to find at least one person you can count on for emotional support.

However, it’s also important to understand that it’s OK to let toxic people go. Everyone may have people in their lives who may sabotage self-improvement and growth, something that is crucial as you start your life after divorce.

These toxic relationships can lead to frustration and resentment, preventing you from creating the new lifestyle you need as you cope with your divorce. If you’re struggling with people in your life who are trying to control your decisions and are getting in the way of your happiness, remove them from your life.

6. Be on your own for a bit after it's official.

People who were married for a long time have the most trouble with this. They may not remember how to be alone, and the very idea of it can be terrifying. However, jumping into a relationship right after a divorce could spell more trouble in the future. Once you learn to stand on your own, then you will be ready to move forward and consider other relationships.

Find new ways to occupy yourself and your time in your life after divorce: volunteer, take up a new hobby, read books or take an adult education class. Focus on reconnecting with your individual identity.

7. Live within your means.

As mentioned in above, a solid budget is a must. That’s because learning to live within your means can be somewhat difficult, especially if you have grown accustomed to living in a two-income household.

Avoid the temptation some divorcees succumb to; don’t spend money frivolously by buying a new car right away or changing up your whole wardrobe. While a small bit of “retail therapy” won’t hurt, you don’t want to get yourself into (or further into) debt. That could damage your finances for years to come.

8. Recognize transitional relationships after a split.

“Transitional relationships” are fairly normal and healthy to experience after a divorce. These relationships:

  • most likely won’t go anywhere.
  • will help you get back in the dating world.
  • can help you stretch your dating horizons.

Notice that these relationships are not serious. Take your time before jumping into something long-term. After all, there’s a reason they’re sometimes called “rebounds”.

9. Consider divorce seeing a therapist.

Divorce can take an extreme emotional and psychological toll on you, and divorce and depression often go hand and hand. Friends are great for venting to, but you should consider talking to a professional to work through everything that is happening in your life. Therapists are knowledgeable and can provide valuable insight you haven’t thought of.

Post-divorce counseling can be extremely beneficial to you mentally and emotionally. Talking with a mental health professional about your experiences is only going to make you stronger — in no way is it a sign of weakness.

10. Take a workout class.

Working out is a great way to relieve the stress from your changing life. Plus, staying physically active will help you avoid the temptations to overeat or sit on the couch. Join a gym or look into local classes. You’ll improve your health and maybe make some new friends in the process!

11. Develop a 10-year financial plan.

A divorce is a chance to take control of your finances. Think about your financial goals and create a plan that will get you the financial independence you need as you’re starting over. Make a commitment to yourself to take action and start saving today. If your divorce left you struggling with financial problems such as  credit issues, a financial advisor can help guide you on your new path.

12. Work on cleaning up your credit.

Divorce can wreak havoc on your credit history for a number of reasons, such as:

  • unpaid bills.
  • credit checks for a new place to live, vehicles or credit cards.
  • higher debt-to-income ratios.

Focus on your credit history now, before it spirals out of control. Watch how much debt you build up, avoid putting things on credit cards and always pay your bills on time.

13. Travel somewhere new.

Traveling can be empowering and give you much-needed time to yourself. If divorce has taken a toll on your finances, you don’t have to take a long-distance vacation. Simply taking a daytrip to a city you’ve never been to can help you move forward with new experiences. Traveling gives you time and distance away from your ex, which can help you get a fresh start.

14. Decide what will make YOU happy.

Have you wished you had the time to volunteer? Is there a fitness class you’ve always wanted to try? Joining group activities like these can help battle the loneliness and isolation of divorce. Create a list of things that will make you happy and discover new goals. Think of things that will lead to positive experiences in your life.

For times as stressful as divorce, don’t try to go it alone – Legal Now can provide the help and peace of mind you need at an affordable rate. Our network of attorneys is available to all members not covered by legal insurance from an employer.

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