In light of all of the Ashley Madison leak attention, we thought now would be a good time to remind readers that there are a lot of ways and reasons to end a marriage or long term partnership with your significant other. Sometimes the reasons are dark and sad (abusive relationships are no joke) but sometimes partners simply realize that they are happier apart than they are together. It happens–even to the best among us.
What matters, when you and your partner do decide to split, is that you do your best to make the process as easy and as smooth as possible for your kids and, by extension, yourselves. Here are some tips for how to do that:
Face Your Fears
Your kids are going to be upset and worried about your split. It’s natural–they love you and they love their other parent. More importantly, kids thrive on a routine and a divorce is a big change for almost every aspect of their lives. They’re going to worry about what is going to happen to them, and you are likely going to worry about how they are dealing with everything. It is important that you work hard not to worry excessively, though; because your stress about them will increase their own stress levels. Breaking up is hard to do, no matter how old or young you are.
There are dozens of fabulous articles and books out there that will teach you how to talk to your kids about divorce and how to alleviate fears surrounding who lives where, etc. It’s also a good idea to get everybody into family therapy as soon as possible so that everyone has a safe space in which to talk about their feelings and how they are dealing with all of the changes occurring.
There are some instances in which a divorce can be managed simply by you and your partner. If you’ve combined expenses and debts, though, and if you have children, it is best to hire professional help to make the process easier to navigate.
This is particularly true if one spouse has been financially dependent upon the other, writes John N Kitta and Associates, a San Jose Divorce Attorney firm. Setting up spousal support, alimony, child support, etc., should all be done via an attorney. In some families, a single attorney mediates the entire process for everyone, but if conflict arises it’s best for each spouse to have his or her own representation.
It is also important that you not wait to meet with an attorney to discuss your options. As soon as you start thinking of leaving (or are told you are being left), you should meet with a professional to get advice on how to navigate the situation and to find out what you need to do, legally, to keep yourself protected as you start to build a life on your own.
Money Money Money
As soon as you and your partner decide to split, you’re going to want to separate your finances immediately, writes Daily Finance. Close your joint credit cards and open your own individual bank accounts into which you should start depositing your earnings. If you have a joint bank account, that money will likely be divided up according to your divorce settlement. If you think your divorce is going to be contentious, talk to your lawyer about putting protections on the account to prevent your partner from emptying it out pre-settlement.
The reason you do this is because, until your divorce is final, both you and your spouse are 100% liable for any debts and expenses incurred in your names. So, for example, if your spouse racks up a huge amount of debt on a joint account before the divorce is final, you are just as liable for that expense as he or she is and you might wind up paying for it as part of the settlement. It’s important to take steps to protect yourself financially.
A Word about Abuse
If you are in an abusive relationship, you will likely have to proceed a bit more cautiously than someone whose relationship is not abusive. It is important that you firstly get out and that you protect yourself, your kids, and your livelihood. It is also important that you find a way to do this that is safe. WomensHealth.Gov has a wealth of resources and information for how to get the help you need and how to leave as safely as possible.
No divorce is going to be perfect. What matters is that you do your best to keep your kids happy and healthy, that you get the professional help you need to settle the relationship as amicably and as fairly as possible, and that you set yourself up for a successful future financially.