Last Updated on July 24, 2018 by Varghese Summersett Family Law Group
We asked experts across the country to give their best advice for going through a divorce — and we weren’t disappointed. The tips poured in. Having these resources at your fingertips will help you take action and prepare for the emotional, financial and legal hurdles ahead. Though divorce is never easy, these tips can empower you to thrive (and not just survive) your divorce.
Here are some of our top suggestions:
- Keep records of everything — from how often you see your kids to bank statements to how much you spend each month.
- Evaluate all of your assets and investments.
- Look over your estate planning documents, insurance policies, pension plans, and jointly-held accounts or policies.
- Spend time with your kids and make it clear you are not leaving them.
- If possible, talk to your spouse.
Because we wanted to provide diverse divorce advice, we reached out to experts in different industries to get their take on how to handle divorce. Here’s what they said.
[Need jump ahead? Hire or contact our Fort Worth divorce attorneys.]
Divorce Tip #1: Practice Self-Awareness
My best advice is to practice self-awareness. Many people become so overwhelmed that it’s difficult to hear their own voices. Staying in touch with yourself is imperative for remaining true to your values and working towards your unique goals. There are many benefits to working with a coach.
A divorce coach offers understanding, holds space for healing, and helps clients make sense of their lives during a tumultuous time. Through coaching, clients gain greater clarity, confidence, and control over their situation— whether it’s dealing with a difficult ex, practicing self-care, or becoming a better parent. This often results in lower legal fees, more productive communication, better boundaries, and reduced stress.Tara Eisenhard
Author of “The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes”
Divorce Tip #2: Give Kids Permission to Love Both Parents
I always talk to parents about giving kids permission to love both parents (or all caregivers involved), rather than having to choose or forcing them to be loyal to one parent over the other.
It’s ok to love both parents. You may have some really strong feelings about your co-parent (and vice versa), but your kids are part of both of you. Some children need to be reminded that they can love more than one person at a time. It may feel unfair or difficult for you to encourage your child to talk about loving their co-parent, but it may help ease their anxiety about having to choose one parent over the other.
Nicole Schwarz, MA, LMFT
Divorce Tip # 3: Practice Kindness
My best advice for someone going through a divorce is to practice kindness. Being kind means that you take care of you (and your children’s) needs without purposely trying to do damage. Practicing kindness doesn’t mean that you roll-over and just go along with things. It means that you get honest about what is in your best interest now and in the long-term. It means that you allow yourself to grieve, heal, and to make plans for your new life. Kindness means seeing your ex for exactly who he/she is and accepting that. And it’s from consistently coming back to kindness that you will move forward through a divorce and find the support you need instead of getting stuck in the unhappiness of ending your marriage.
Dr. Karen Finn, PhD
Divorce Tip #4: Let Go of Negative Emotions
To really protect your children from the negative consequences of divorce, parents need to let go of their anger, resentment, hurt and other negative emotions directed toward their ex. They must take into account and ask themselves some very serious questions:
- What will our children say to us when they are grown adults about the way we handled our divorce?
- What’s best for our children today, tomorrow and in the years to come?
- How can we minimize the physical, emotional and spiritual damage inflicted upon our children as a result of our pending divorce?
- How can we best support our children through this difficult time?
- How can we show our love and compassion for them as they move through challenges they did not ask for — or create?
- What can we do to boost their sense of security, self-esteem and wellbeing during the transitions ahead?
- Who can provide the least traumatic home environment for the children – and for what percent of each day, week, month and year?
- How can each of us best contribute our assets – physical, emotional and spiritual – to create harmony, goodwill and peace within the family structure?
- How will our children look back at this divorce a year, five years, ten years and more from now? Will they understand?
- How can we make life better for our children after the divorce than it was before?
The answers to these questions are not simple, nor are they black and white. They require honest communication between two mature adults who have their children’s best interest at heart. And yes, it may likely take more than the two of you to come to a resolution on all the child-custody details. That’s where you can enlist the aid of professionals – divorce therapists, coaches, and clergy. These experienced and knowledgeable experts will approach your divorce from a child-focused perspective. They have the tools and insight to help you reach agreement on issues that will affect the total wellbeing of your children in the least divisive manner.
Founder: Child-Centered Divorce Network
Author: “How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?”
Host: Divorce, Dating & Empowered Living Radio Show & Podcast
Divorce Tip #5: Visualize a “Good” Divorce
One of the questions I like to ask early on with any client is, “If you could have a good divorce, what would it look like?” I ask them to think about this with respect to their relationship with their soon-to-be-ex, their children, their children’s school and activities, holidays and special occasions, their work/career, their home, their free time, their finances. There will be many points during the divorce process where there will be a fork in the road and knowing what a good divorce looks like will help with the decision-making. If I take the left fork, will it take me closer to a good divorce? If I take the right fork, will it move me further away from a good divorce?
Divorce Tip #6: Take Things One Step at a Time
When couples get married, they create hopes, dreams, and visions for the future. One of the difficult losses associated with divorce is the loss of these future dreams. Grieving this loss and trying to envision a new path forward can be overwhelming. Divorce brings about many changes and transitions. Navigating the emotions, decisions, and losses can leave clients feeling vulnerable and anxious. In walking this journey with many clients, I have found that one of the greatest tools in recovery is to approach the healing journey one step at a time. Let go of trying to manage and predict the future. Approach each emotion, decision, and transition, one baby step at a time. Take the information you have to determine the next right step. Eventually, the series of these small steps will lead you into a beautiful path that you could have never seen and imagined from the beginning. You will feel every emotion in the book. Feel each one and let it move through you. The painful ones don’t last long and letting them run their course will make room for the positive ones.
When making decisions, reflect back on how you have successfully made big decisions in the past. Seek out guidance when needed, find quiet time to reflect, make pros/cons list…whatever process has served you best in life. You can always redirect your sails if you need to down the road. When you take the time to be intentional on your journey through the grief and healing after a divorce, you will find that you are stronger and far more capable than you could have ever imagined. You will build trust in yourself and feel more empowered in your life. Building this resiliency and esteem will go a long way in healing from the events that brought your marriage to an end in the first place. Starting a new chapter in life feels scary. But the great news about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. Be intentional and you may just find that this next chapter is full of beauty, hope, adventure, and endless possibilities.
Jill Gilbert, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S
Marriage and Family Therapist
Licensed Counselor and Supervisor
Memorial Family Connections
Divorce Tip #7: Consider a Divorce Auction
Divorce auctions are a good way to fairly divide assets. By having a well-planned and marketed auction to determine fair market value, many uncomfortable discussions can be avoided in attempting to decide what value each asset holds. In the end, the bidders can decide the value of an estate.
We have sold everything from train cars, to airplanes, to collections of exotic taxidermy, and real-estate. The most unique story I recall was an experimental airplane we sold to a gentleman who started it up, took off from a dirt “runway” in the field and flew it home.
One tip I would offer is in relation to asset values. Fair market auction values are very different than insurance appraisal values. Insurance appraisal values are designed to replace the full value of an asset. This is not a fair standard in the auction world. The auction value is often considerably less than the insurance value or what was paid for an asset. It is important for sellers to look at the estate auction as a service designed to make a difficult situation easier. There is a certain law of averages we have come to understand in the industry. Some items will sell for much less than the value a seller holds in their mind. However, many items will sell for surprisingly more than a seller would ever imagine. Consider the end result, the time saved, the stress reduced, and the total sale proceeds rather than focusing on each individual item. The decision for a well-planned auction is a great option in a difficult circumstance.Aaron Ault
Pacific Auction Companies
Divorce Tip #8: Prepare Early
We encourage clients to first determine what is “possible” in their divorce settlement, and then determine what is “prudent.” Whether it relates to housing objectives, income needs or asset allocation, one should be proactive in learning which options are actually achievable (and if not, then how to achieve them) before deciding which goals to pursue in their settlement discussions.
Divorce is a moving target. Preparation early-on will allow for a much more seamless process while enhancing your chances for a successful outcome.
Certified Divorce Lending Professional
Divorce Mortgage Advisors
Divorce Tip#9. Understand Where You Are Financially
The most important thing you can do to prepare financially for a divorce is to get a clear understanding of where you are right now. This includes understanding all your expenses, your assets, your debts, and your overall financial situation.
For example, many women I work with insist on keeping the marital home. But many times, these same women have little-to-no understanding of all the expenses that go into keeping and running the home. When you consider taxes, insurance, upkeep, unanticipated expenses, mortgage payments, lawn care, and more, it can add up quickly. And often it adds up to more than you might be able to afford. And this is before you consider utility and other bills to keep your home running.
Wealthcare for Women
Divorce Tip #10: Consider Using Reputable Auctioneers to Settle Disputes
Auctions are a time-proven method for equitably dividing assets. There may be agreement on how to divide some of the assets or no agreement at all on how to divide any of the assets. In either case, an auction can be used to resolve any disputes. If there are items in contention, both parties can bid on them. In cases where there is no interest by either party, the public can bid on all of the items. They will be sold for fair market value in a timely manner, allowing both parties the opportunity to move forward with their lives.
We have sold modern items such as the contents of a home game room with pinball machines, electronic arcade games, and a pool table. We have also sold antique paintings, jewelry, and other valuables.
Make sure that you work with a reputable auction house. Check reviews and get recommendations from friends and family. Make sure the auctioneer is licensed if a license is required in your state. Also, check to see that they are bonded and insured. Be sure to see what their fees are and when you will be paid after the auction.
Central Mass Auctions
Divorce Tip #11: Rely on Experts
If I were to give just one tip, I would say, “Lean on me.” Divorce is such a major life transition, and everything is thrown out of whack. There is so much to do and keep track of during a divorce (paper, emails, texts, phone calls, meetings, court appearances, oh my!), plus working, plus raising kids, plus finding a new place to live, plus managing relationships with other family members and friends, MAYBE sleeping, eating, and the occasional shower, that having someone you can consider an “arm’s length friend” can be a lifesaver. What I often say is a professional organizer can “be the brain” for a client while s/he is going through a divorce. I remember having brain fog during mine, trying to manage everything, and I’m very organized! A PO can be the clone many clients wish for, to help find and gather all of the paperwork, arrange it in a cohesive order for the attorney, create new systems, find outside professionals, do errands and tasks the client doesn’t have time for, basically, if it’s legal and ethical, a PO can probably do it.Gayle Gruenberg
Let’s Get Organized LLC
Divorce Tip #12: Organize Your Support System and Be Forward Focused
- Get your support team in place. This team could include therapist, friends, family, financial planner, attorney, etc. Be clear and direct about wanting to protect your children and use your team to remind you of your primary goal and provide a safe place to vent. Even those of us with the best intentions have bad days; don’t do it alone. Having a support team in place means you always have somewhere to go to feel heard, get questions answered, and held accountable to being your best self and keeping the children firmly in mind.
- Do not sublimate your own needs. I am 100% invested in the well-being of children during divorce, but when my clients fail to take care of themselves, they are UNABLE to take care of the children. Do your absolute best to eat well, get sleep, and exercise regularly. Whatever you do that brings you joy, find time to keep doing it.
- Keep yourself forward-focused. The past, however challenging or disappointing, is the PAST. Focus on the future and your desire to protect your children. Try to separate what is right for you vs. what is right for the kids…and pick them!
Dana Hirt Parenting
Divorce Tip #13: Throw a Divorce Party
Divorce parties are a growing trend. They offer a divorcing person the opportunity for closure and provide an outlet for the emotion involved in divorce. They meet the human need for ritual. All other major life events – birth, marriage, graduation, death – have a ceremony to mark the big life change. The divorce party fulfills that need for the ending of a marriage.
Divorce Party Planner
Divorce Tip #14: Don’t Go it Alone
Get your network of experts to guide you through this unknown territory. You need support; legally, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Do not go through divorce alone or think you have to be the “strong soldier” and suppress those difficult effects of this trauma. Divorce is very difficult and the decisions you make will affect the rest of your life. You cannot know all of the options and the landmines in divorce. Find your experts. They don’t all have to be paid, some will minister to you in ways you never knew possible.Kathey Batey
Divorce Support Anonymous
Divorce Tip #15: Rediscover Yourself
Dating and getting back out there after a long-term relationship DOES feel like you are going through adolescence all over again! Your identity has been linked with your ex-partner for so long that you forget you are separate from that person, especially if you met when you were younger. So doing what feels like “pubescent” activities is actually a great way to find yourself again and gain sexual confidence. The best thing to do is focus on you, learn to date and work on your social life rather than jumping into the next relationship. Use this time to rediscover YOU, heal and have fun.
Dating Coach, Makeover Expert
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