Dellino Law Group has strong commitment to empowering our clients, many of whom are amid significant life crises. Whether it be a messy divorce, an escape from an abusive relationship, or an ugly child custody battle, we are here. It is part of our mission to assist you in moving into your next chapter with hope and optimism. We believe your best life is ahead of you and we are here to help you find it.
Each individual’s experience is intrinsically unique and there are many more factors and variables to take into account based on each person’s individual and complex picture. No matter what the circumstances, divorce is complicated. Ending a partnership that you hoped would last forever is logistically challenging and emotionally painful. Here we share some of our tips on how to take steps to not just survive but thrive post-divorce or separation.
1 – Allow Time to Grieve
Divorce represents a significant loss and you need to take the time to grieve. When two people decide to make a life-long commitment, this is not the outcome they are planning for. Even if the divorce is your idea, if the relationship was negative or undesirable, or if you know you’ll be better off for the split, the divorce is still a loss of some type. It is the ending of a relationship and a lifestyle you’ve known.
Make space for your emotions as they relate to grief. Remember that emotions can be very uncomfortable, but they are normal and necessary, and not permanent. Don’t dwell on them but allow for them. You may experience shock, regret, or guilt. You may feel angry, resentful, or fearful. You may feel lonely, sad, and heartbroken. Allow yourself the space and time to work through the natural emotional experience that comes your way.
2 – Practice Self Care
Part of taking care of yourself is allowing for and attending to your emotions, as described in #1. Alongside the grieving process, this is also the time to find other ways to take care of yourself and your personal wellness. Pull from your self-care toolbox and do what makes you feel good. If your toolbox is empty, it is time to develop and practice some new self-care strategies. Exercise! Exercise is proven to have a direct positive impact on mood by boosting endorphin production, so its a great time to get your body moving. Go for a walk, take baths, attend a yoga class, listen to music that feeds your soul. Get a massage or a haircut or buy some new shoes. Binge-watch a Netflix series and then get out for a hike with a beautiful view. Try journaling or sketching. If nothing feels like it will be helpful, try something anyway. You never know what help alleviate painful emotion, or even bring a moment of serenity.
3 – Enlist Social Support
Surround yourself with people who are positive, non-judgmental, and supportive of you. Determine who in your social support network you can cry with or talk with and keep those numbers close. This is the time to pick up the phone and ask for help when you need it. Resist the urge to isolate and allow your loved ones to be there for you, just as you would for them. If you are having a hard time getting out of the house, ask a trusted friend to help hold you accountable. If you need someone to sit with your kids so you can get out and de-stress, enlist your supports. Ask your friends to help keep you in check regarding backward behavior, such as social media slandering or drunk dialing. If your social support network is limited, or in addition to existing social supports, consider joining a support group for divorcees. It may feel validating and comforting to connect with people enduring similar experiences.
4 – Enlist Professional Support
With divorce comes inevitable lifestyle shift and you should not try to tackle it all of these changes alone. We recommend you utilize professional support in several different areas in order to reach the most optimal outcome and ultimately thrive post-divorce.
–Family Law Attorney: First and foremost, be sure you are working with an experienced, trustworthy family law attorney. Divorce is complicated – even when it is not complicated, and you should be properly advised and represented in order to reach the best possible outcome. There are inevitable challenging emotions and relationship dynamics at play, and it is essential you work with an experienced professional to manage the legal aspects of the situation, so as not to further complicate things or bring on additional stress.
–Therapy: Divorce is among the most stressful life experiences one can encounter and you deserve to feel supported. In addition to leaning on trustworthy friends and family, it can be immensely helpful to work with a trained mental health professional during this time. Work with an experienced therapist to process your emotions and refine old/develop new ways of coping with stress. Utilize therapeutic support in dealing with the emotional aspects of your situation so you can find clarity on how to manage the logistical and practical aspects. Use this space to help reconnect with yourself and for setting and embarking on a plan to move forward into your new life.
-Financial Planning: Please see #5. We recommend you consider working with a financial planner or accountant to determine your best path forward and to develop a financial plan that maximizes your best interests. Your attorney should have referrals that will be part of the divorce process and will help you with settlement and reaching your new financial goals after divorce.
5 – Develop a Financial Plan
Each person’s situation is completely different, but it is likely there will be some shift in your financial situation following a divorce. Maybe your economic level takes a real hit and you need to determine how to live off a tighter budget, or maybe you find yourself with a lot more disposable income and aren’t sure the best way to manage or invest the new funds. You may have significant assets to divide or you may be dealing with the division of debt. Either way, we recommend you consider working with a financial planner to determine your best path forward, both in the short and long term. Once again, emotions are generally heightened during this time, and it is useful to have an outside professional who specializes in this area to properly advise you. It is also important to take stock of your new budget and determine what lifestyle changes you may need to make in order to adjust.
6 – Get to Know Yourself Again
You have an important opportunity to re-connect with yourself. The ending of a major life role often leaves people with thoughts and questions about sense of self. Rediscover who you used to be prior to or separate from your marriage and reconnect with that self. Take a self-inventory and think about what you value most about yourself, including aspects of yourself that may have grown or evolved during the time you were married.
Examine the ways you would like to continue to change and grow. We are all works in progress with constant opportunity to become better versions of ourselves. This is a new start and a great opportunity for growth and betterment. Discover a new side of yourself. Find a new hobby or passion. Seek out new life-enriching experiences that bring hope or optimism as you look ahead in this next chapter.
7 – Embrace Singlehood
As you re-connect with yourself and develop and discover who you are, be sure to take the time to embrace and enjoy being single. Celebrate this new path. Revel in solitude or quiet space. Do something you may not have done or go somewhere you may not have gone when you were married. You may be single for a brief time, or maybe you’ll stay single for years to come. However long it may be, embrace where you are. It may sound cliché, but this is literally the beginning of the rest of your life and that can be an exciting place to be if you let it!
8 – Moving Forward
Only you can determine your best path forward. Moving forward involves a bit of letting go and significant embracing of change. Dating or finding a new partner may be the last thing on your mind or you may feel anxious to get back in the game. You will likely get all kinds of advice about how soon is “too soon” to start dating again. You may be told “you should be single for at least x months or years before getting back out there.” There is no doubt time can have great healing powers, but there is no post-divorce handbook with all the right answers. Once again, each person’s situation is unique and what may be right for someone else is not necessarily what is right for you.
Moving forward may eventually include dating, sex, or new relationships, or it may include none of these. Moving forward may include renewed or improved connections with family or friends. We recommend you do take the time to walk through the above steps in helping you determine your healthiest path forward, but the timeline is fully up to you and can only be informed by your experience and your personal emotional readiness.
You can and you will get through this. We are here to help.