This year has already been especially difficult for everyone. But if you find yourself also experiencing a divorce, you might have added challenges ahead. Divorce is often a complicated and overwhelming experience, regardless of who initiated it. But what you do first can help you prepare and develop a healthy strategy for moving forward. Here are three suggestions to help point you in the right direction during this challenging time.
Coping with the Emotional Components of Divorce
You’re going through a difficult time and will no doubt be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. It’s ok. The experts suggest allowing yourself to have those feelings and process through them.
Allow Yourself to Mourn the End of the Union
Regardless of the length of time you spent married to your spouse; there is a normal feeling of loss at the thought of ending the union. The professionals suggest allowing yourself to mourn the end of your marriage and dedicate a period of time to entertaining these feelings. By doing so, you can emotionally grow to accept the divorce.
Assemble an Emotional Support Network
As with any challenging life journey, considering surrounding yourself with close friends and family who can help you through the divorce process. Look to spend time most with those who bring joy to your life, and often are the best listeners. Avoid the negativity of pessimists in your circles. Right now, you need sounding boards, voices of reason, and emotional support to find your healthiest path through divorce.
Connect with Professionals
Don’t be afraid or too embarrassed to reach out for professional guidance in processing your emotions. If you experience frequent feelings of anxiety or depression, you may bring those symptoms to the divorce table with you, making it harder to avoid emotional overreaction. Find a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who can help you navigate your emotional transition while keeping an eye on the big picture goals.
Planning for the Task Side of Divorce
Once you have dedicated time to process your emotions, you can look to create the to-do list of actions you should take next.
Legal Representation & Mediation
Even if your soon-to-be ex-spouse says there’s no need for attorneys, it’s probably best to at least consult with one before proceeding. Some couples can make their family plans and financial decisions with the help of a mediator. Others end up spending thousands in court. To protect yourself and your interests and to learn more about what the divorce process will entail, speak with an attorney straight away.
Creating a New Normal Engagement
Looking ahead, you and your spouse can hopefully agree to move forward with the next steps amicably. However, if one or both of you is clinging to the reasons for separation, it can make every engagement or conversation turn into a bitter disagreement. Instead, do your best to put those reasons behind you and move forward with new rules of engagement for a new normal interaction. If you have children, for example, your conversations with your spouse might be limited to discussing only those family-related topics. Should you feel an argument or confrontation is unavoidable, only connect by phone for a while and until you can both discuss matters civilly.
Carving Out Independent Living Goals
Whether you’re moving out of the former family home or your spouse is, you will need to begin taking steps to move forward independently. You will have short-term needs, like paying a mortgage, rent, or utilities. But you’ll also have more mid and long-term goals, including a new place to live, change in careers, or retirement planning.
The Business of Divorce
The business side of divorce can sometimes be just as gut-wrenching as the emotional aspect. The two of you will have to decide how to separate assets, child custody agreements, and in some cases, alimony.
Separating Joint Accounts
You may not be able to cancel accounts, including cell phone joint bank, without both of you being present. And some of your collective assets and accounts will require a copy of the official divorce decree before making changes. But you don’t want to be held hostage without a phone or access to funds. So, now is a great time to invest in your own accounts, wherever applicable. Open a new bank account. Get your own phone plan. Look to separate what you can, so you can move forward in a way that allows you to support yourself.
Revisiting Your Designated Beneficiaries
It’s also a good idea to sit down with the Human Resources contact at your job. You may want to make changes to which account your paycheck is deposited. You can also amend any beneficiary information on employer-sponsored life insurance or benefits. Don’t hesitate to share the news of your impending divorce with them, as well. You may need to request days off in the coming weeks for court dates or scheduled mediation.
Health Insurance for Yourself
Don’t forget to protect your health during this difficult time. You may have joint health insurance coverage with your spouse now. But soon, you could face changes to existing health insurance plans that leave you without coverage at all. A divorce is considered and listed as a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) in the eyes of the health insurance marketplace. And it affords you a Special Enrollment Period for selecting coverage. Open Enrollment is happening now through December 15th. So you can explore health insurance now, based on your independent income projections for 2021, and enroll in a plan you can afford based on your new financial situation.
If you’re facing a divorce, the road can be challenging ahead. Take a deep and purposeful breath and allow yourself to process the emotional side of the separation. Then you can take the first steps to making the divorce as manageable as you can.
Prioritize your health and your new family dynamics, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your support network and family for help when you need it. And when you’re ready to explore your health insurance options, browse the marketplace with W3LL. You can have free guidance to determine your premium tax benefits and to search for plans that are affordable with your new life ahead.