I recently read an article regarding essential New Year’s resolutions for your divorce authored by Diana Shepherd. Based upon my professional experience and the observations of many clients, here are the top suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for separated, divorced, or divorcing spouses. Use whichever ones apply to your situation, or use them to inspire you to create your own list:
- Complete your divorce this year. You may be vainly hoping for a reconciliation. You may be hoping for a miracle that will make the divorce process painless. Or you may be delaying your divorce to cause aggravation to your spouse. Whatever the reason, it’s time to get clear on whether you and your spouse want the same thing. If your soon-to-be ex confirms his or her wish to proceed with the divorce, honor it. Complete whatever paperwork, mediation, or hearing that is outstanding, so that you can start your new and improved life during 2016. This advice applies whether you are contemplating filing for a divorce, or are in the middle of your divorce or other family law matter.
- Stop fighting battles from your dead marriage. Make a resolution that you will not use your attorney to settle your emotional issues with your spouse or ex-spouse. It is the most ineffective and expensive way to deal with your emotional issues generated from your deteriorating relationship. Instead use a therapist, your social support system, life coach, or any other form of social support to assist you in processing these sometimes painful issues. It will cost you far less money and you will find resolution far quicker to assist you to get through the grieving process of the divorce or resolve your residual emotional issues.
- Update your will, trust, insurance policies and estate plans. If you don’t have any, then create or obtain your will, trust, insurance policies, and estate plan, if appropriate. Make sure that you revoke your prior will by literally tearing it up and making a new one. You probably should consult with your divorce attorney as to what should be included in your new will and how it should be executed to ensure that it conforms to the legal requirements of your state. If your situation is financially simple, you can make a basic will or living trust using software designed for those purposes. If your situation is more complicated, you should hire an attorney to perform some, if not all, of the following tasks:
- Drafting your will.
- Naming a new executor for your will.
- Updating your beneficiary designations for your will, trust, life insurance policies, pensions, social media accounts (unless your divorce agreement requires your ex-spouse to remain the beneficiary of some, if not all, of these documents).
- Naming two powers of attorney: one for medical decisions and one financial matters. Consult with your attorney to make sure you have language that will clearly indicate when the power of attorney for financial matters will come into effect.
- Don’t badmouth your spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse in front of your children or within the hearing of your children. This is advice you hear from judges, mental health professionals, and hopefully your own attorney. You repeatedly hear this advice because it is the best for your children and ultimately the best for your piece of mind. Refusing to participate in badmouthing your ex-spouse will avoid placing your child in a potentially painful loyalty conflict. In addition, the corollary to this resolution is to encourage your children to love and spend time with their other parent.
- Never withhold timesharing (visitation) or child support to punish your ex. What your ex may say or do during the divorce or subsequent to the divorce may be very aggravating and cry out for you to retaliate. However, children of divorce adjust better and are happier if they have frequent meaningful contact with both parents. Also, child support is more often paid on time and in full when the payor is able to have meaningful visits with his or her children frequently.
- Be cooperative co-parents. Co-parenting means just what it says: co-parent. Again, your spouse may be irritable and may not be the easiest person in the world to deal with. Nevertheless, you should try to accommodate reasonable requests to alter timesharing (visitation) schedules on occasion. Both parents should be welcome (and should behave themselves) at: the children’s school, the children’s celebrations and milestone events, such as graduations, weddings, the birth of grandchildren, etc. Children shouldn’t have to fear having their parents in the same room – it will ruin their special days. Always remember: always put the needs of your children before your own.
- Start exercising. Exercise helps the mind and the body. It triggers your brain to release endorphins and serotonin, which block feeling pain in your muscles. However more importantly, these neural chemicals help you feel happy. Study after study has shown the emotional benefits of regular exercise. I recognize that exercise can quickly become drudgery. So make it fun. To give yourself an extra boost, plan enjoyable bike rides or hikes, learn to surf or skate, take up ballroom dancing, walk your dog in parks and nature areas daily. All this can be done when your children are with you – and especially when your children aren’t with you.
- Forgive your ex. As difficult as it may seem, holding a grudge (no matter how justified and how much it makes you feel righteous) will prevent you from being able to move forward. You don’t have to forget – remember the lesson, but forgive and move on and remember if you don’t forgive, you will always be bound to your former spouse forever. And in this fashion, you will never be emotionally divorced from him or her.
- Forgive yourself. In a retrospective analysis of why our relationships failed and why the divorce occurred and what happened during the divorce, it is easy to put all the blame on the other side. However, it takes two to make a marriage and two to cause the breakdown of a marriage. There is always going to be something about the breakdown of your marriage for which you need to forgive yourself. If you are blindsided by the divorce, then you can forgive yourself for having ignored the warning signs. Mental health professionals and several sites on the internet can offer you several exercises and ways in which you can understand these concepts of forgiveness and utilize them to help you move on to a better and brighter future.
Not all of these above resolutions will apply to you. So use the ones that do. In addition, create additional resolutions that better fit your circumstances and will work for you. In any event, remember the New Year provides a possibility for getting rid of the things in our lives that hold us back. Completing your divorce and following the above resolutions will greatly assist you in resolving and moving forward into a better and brighter life.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss your divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.