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Once upon a time, when a couple no longer wanted to live as man and wife, they would file for divorce, quibble over who gets the Beemer or the season tickets, and eventually reach a compromise. Or not. In which case everyone suffered, especially the children, because divorce is expensive – litigation even more expensive – and the primary caregiver (the wife and mother) often came out second best. However this may be true, there is also mediation.
According to a recent study, these hardships were not only financial, but emotional, mental, and social as well. After a divorce, two thirds of children typically found themselves in the bottom half of the family income scale, or worse. The impact of this sudden poverty was immeasurable. As adults, these children of divorce were only half as likely to find work, or to have the qualifications needed for skilled, good-paying positions.
Today, divorcing couples can hire a divorce mediator. This person, typically trained in law, mental health, or conflict resolution, will help achieve a settlement – with or without a lawyer.
The concept is fairly new, but also a long time coming. Most lawyers can arrange an equitable legal settlement, but few are trained in crisis counseling, and that is what a divorce represents. In fact, in some instances of bad feeling, it may resemble a hostage negotiation.
Most important, litigation is costly. For couples trying to preserve as many assets as possible for starting a new life or raising children, saving the cost of a lawyer – or two – can mean the difference between a successful separation and one doomed to failure.
What Makes a Good Mediator?
Choosing a mediator can be complicated and time-consuming, but the effort is worth it. Failure to reach an agreement means divorcing couples have to start over from square one, including all the costs associated with that fiasco.
Before choosing a mediator, ask:
For educational background in law, mental health, or conflict resolution
For familiarity with your state’s divorce laws
For ongoing education/training in the field, or associated fields
For length of experience, and the number of mediations during that period
For the cost per hour or per session
For a sliding scale payment plan, or a free introductory consultation
For an explanation of his/her mediation style
What Can a Good Mediator Accomplish?
A good mediator doesn’t take sides, offer advice, or act as a lawyer. A good mediator does keep the negotiations on track by reducing bickering and point out the ultimate objective to each party. This may be as simple as an amicable settlement, or as complex as wealth preservation for the sake of the children, often through lowering a potential tax liability.
Moreover, mediation is voluntary, whereas legal divorce is adversarial. Either spouse can withdraw from mediation at any time, and this helps reduce the pressure to resolve issues. A mediator can also withdraw, but most will persist unless the couple simply cannot agree.
The main advantage of mediation is that it keeps you and your spouse in control of your own divorce. That can make all the difference in your recovering from your divorce and moving on with your life. Mediation allows the two of you to get through your divorce with less conflict than you would experience in an adversarial divorce.
Everything that divorce entails can bring on intense levels of stress. It’s a break up at its most extreme. Not only are you in the middle of emotional turmoil – sometimes it can be forgotten how in love you once were with the person you’re divorcing – but you have to deal with the legalities of the split. Coming to the decision with your partner that separating is the best thing for each of you can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll face. The entire process can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so how do you stay sane? Here are 5 tips for keeping your cool and staying as relaxed as possible throughout the process.
Anticipate and understand that this period of your life will be a major transition. It can be scary to think about, but if you’re ready for it and prepared to take it on it won’t seem quite so terrifying. Look at this time in your life as an opportunity for change and growth, as well as the chance to create a new life that works for you.
Exercise & Eat Right
This is the perfect time for you to really hone in on what it is that you need. Create a lot of time and space so you can exercise and stay active. Do what you enjoy – run, practice yoga or go to the gym. Focus on what makes you happy. Eat lots of fruits & veggies – try to eat less heavy foods that can weigh you down. Let yourself feel light and free!
Know That You’ll Have Conflicting Emotions
Realize that it’s totally normal to have a lot of emotions about what’s going you. It’s okay to feel angry or frustrated or sad. You might feel anxious about what’s going to come of the future. Know that giving yourself time to heal is the best medicine. These negative emotions will lessen over time.
Share Your Feelings
Don’t go through this alone! Talk to your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to communicate with them about how you feel. Find a friend who you trust and who listens well. Share your thoughts, worries and fears. Talking things out and hearing what trusted friends and family have to say can really put things into perspective.
Explore Your Interests
This period of time is all about you! Think about life before your spouse – what did you enjoy doing? What are some things you really loved, but when you entered your relationship you didn’t seem to have as much time for them any more? Really think about what your hobbies and interests are, and devote some time to them. Reclaim your life and who you are!
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Divorce can sometimes be a messy business. When two people have interwoven their lives so deeply, it can be difficult to untangle everything if the time comes. Knowing how to separate the strands that make up each person’s individual life can be tricky. For some, court litigation is hands down the way to go – perhaps due to a history of domestic violence or a fear that it may go down that path. For others interested in an alternative to litigation, mediation may be a good option. So if you’re not interested in court litigation, how can mediation help?
It Provides You With A Neutral Party
Finding a mediator that works for you and your spouse or domestic partner means finding a neutral party. It can be helpful simply to have someone present to help you work through your differences as far as ideas about property division or custody of your children. Mediators can provide a listening ear and guide the conversation down a path that’s productive. Having that buffer there means you may be able to talk through issues and come to an agreement more easily.
It Opens The Pathway For Communication
Similarly, using a mediator to help work through your differences as opposed to going in front of a judge provides a great place for you and your partner to communicate openly. The mediator will not force either party into making any specific decision; he or she is just present to help you work through issues in a way where everyone can come to an agreement. Communication is key, and you often don’t get that in a courtroom.
It Keeps Things Private, Not Public
Just because the two of you have been unable to come to an agreement on certain issues until this point, does not mean you have to take your problems in front of a judge. Sometimes this can make the situation even more frustrating and hostile than it may already be, leading to even more unproductive conversation.
It Can Minimize The Overall Negative Impact
If you have children, this point can be especially crucial. Tying in with the idea that mediation opens the pathway for communication, it can greatly minimize the negative impact that it might have on your children as well as your relationship with your spouse. Keeping things amicable is important, especially if kids are in the picture. You know you’ll have to communicate with this personal regularly if this is the case, so why not try to keep it civil? The more emotional trauma you or your kids take away from this situation, the more the situation has an upper hand on you and your life. Don’t let divorce win!
If you think a mediator may be a good fit for you and partner, stay open and honest and you can come out of this even healthier emotionally than you were when you began the process.
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Divorce is a process that often stirs up a variety of bittersweet emotions. For couples without children, once the divorce is finalized there’s rarely a need to stay in contact and it’s easier to move forward in life. However, a divorcing couple with children often face the challenge of how to co-parent without letting their personal feelings and issues interfere with raising their children with their ex. If you are struggling to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex, here are some tips to ensure that your child’s well-being remains a priority:
The Benefits of Healthy Co-Parenting
Parents make their children one of their top priorities and while most parents are well-intentioned, the unfortunate reality behind divorce is that some children end up feeling tossed around, split in two, and are forced to act as a mediator between feuding parents. While the moments during and shortly after a divorce can be rocky, it’s important to think about how healthy co-parenting can benefit children. If you and your ex have both been given shared custody of your children, keep in mind some of the benefits of co-parenting:
- Children develop feelings of stability and are less likely to feel abandoned.
- Children are allowed to be children, rather than a social and emotional companion for their parents.
- Children can continue to have a good relationship with both of their parents and parents are able to focus on strengthening and improving their relationship with their children.
Be Available to Your Child
A divorce can leave you struggling with some intense emotions and while it’s important to work through some of your issues, make sure that you are always available to your child. Although it’s likely that you and your ex already sat down and explained the divorce to your child, don’t assume that all of his or her questions are answered and even though you may want to move forward, understand that your child may need more time. When talking with your child about the divorce, keep it neutral, don’t trash talk your ex, and focus on how you can help your child with his or her feelings.
The Importance of Communicating
While the last thing you may want to do is keep in contact with your ex on a regular basis, communication is key in regards to your child. Don’t make major decisions for or about your child (such as education, religion, extracurricular activities) without talking with your ex first. Failure to communicate can be toxic for your co-parenting relationship and will ultimately affect the wellbeing of your child. Keep your conversations with your ex professional, stay on task, focus on your child, and avoid using language that sounds accusatory.
Be on the Same Page
You and your ex may disagree on many things, but in order to have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the two of you need to agree on things related to your child. Even if you disagree with what your ex is saying, hear him or her out before arguing. While it’s likely that you won’t agree on everything, try to find a middle ground and be consistent. Many divorced couples end up competing with one another and try to be a “good” or “fun” parent. Keep in mind that children do better with a routine and if your child is sharing time between you and your ex, a healthy co-parenting relationship will benefit your child as he or she work through and adjusts to his or her new life transition.
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Valentine’s Day is a loved and loathed holiday. It’s over commercialized, there’s pressure to buy expensive gifts, flowers, chocolates, and finding the perfect card that expresses exactly what you feel. Some couples get into Valentine’s Day and see it as the perfect way to reiterate their expressions of love, while many single people would rather ignore the day all together.
If you are newly divorced, your first Valentine’s Day as an unmarried person may stir up a lot of emotions. You may feel free, you may feel relieved, or you might feel totally bummed out. If you’re dreading Valentine’s Day, there are numerous ways to get through it and you may even end up enjoying the day:
Don’t Dwell On the Past This Valentine’s Day
Were the Valentine’s Days of your past horrible or were they fairytale material? Regardless of how Valentine’s Day used to be, it’s important to focus on the present. This is your time to change the way you feel about Valentine’s Day. While there’s an overwhelming pressure to celebrate your love for a significant other or even finding your soulmate, people often overlook the general celebration of love. Valentine’s Day should be a day where you celebrate the love you have for family members, your children, friends, and even yourself. You are in control about how you choose to view Valentine’s Day, make the best of it.
Celebrate Love & Treat Yourself
Don’t wait and wish for someone to buy you flowers or other tokens of love and appreciation. This is a day to treat yourself and celebrate self-love. Buy yourself your favorite chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, or the latest tech gadget you’ve had your eye on. Don’t feel guilty or feel undeserving, everyone deserves a little something and you are no different.
Have Kids? Have a Special Date with Them
If you are feeling emotionally raw this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget about how your children might be feeling. Kids will often hide their emotions, particularly if they sense that their parents are bummed out. Consider putting aside your own feelings and focus on making the day extra special with your children. Whether you make homemade Valentines for family and friends or go out to eat and see a movie, forget about all the negative feelings you have about your divorce and focus on the love you have for your children.
Spend the Day with Friends
You may be tempted to spend the day at home, alone, but unless you plan on doing something productive you’re likely to feel lonely and upset. Rather than having a pity party for one, call up your friends and go out to dinner or host a gathering at your house. Remember, you don’t need to be in a relationship to appreciate and love others. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them and show your gratitude for the support they have given you during a difficult transition.
Pay it Forward
Even if it feels like you are the loneliest person on the planet, you aren’t. Sometimes one of the best ways to get out of a “I hate this day” funk is to perform random acts of kindness. Buy a big bouquet of flowers and hand a flower out to each person you pass on the street. Buy bags of chocolates or other treats and give them to a nursing home facility or a food shelter. Your small token may brighten someone else’s Valentine’s Day.
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Valentine’s Day can be an especially painful holiday for newly divorced people. Everywhere you go, ads and social media and society are singing love’s praises and encouraging you spend a special evening with your significant other.
That all sounds great, but there’s just one problem: you just lost your significant other. The one person in your life to whom you were expected to share these special moments is gone. Granted, divorce is a choice, and you’re likely happy to be free from your strained relationship. Still, it’s tough for a divorcee to spend Valentine’s Day alone. These tips are here to help the newly divorced on the supposedly most romantic night of the year.
Friendly Valentine’s Day
Plenty of people hate Valentine’s Day, and for a huge array of reasons. Some hate it because it’s tack and commerical, others resent society telling them when to celebrate something as personal as love, and still others simply enjoy being contrarian.
In any case, the point is that you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting together with other people who reject the Valentine’s Day spirit. Have a big dinner party and watch horror movies. Talk about all the bad relationships you’ve been through. Have a laugh and enjoy yourself.
Go On a Date With Yourself
If you don’t feel like laughing in the face of your loneliness, you could always just embrace the pain. Some people find it helpful to give themselves a long evening of introversion and self-indulgence. Think about all the romantic trouble you’ve been through. This experience may be extremely painful, but you may come out of it with a new perspective on love and human relationships.
In a strange way, the intensely personal misery journey is a lot like a date. You can grab a bottle of red wine, watch old movies that make you nostalgic, and reminisce about old times. Note that spending a night alone with wine and memories is NOT recommended for everyone—only do this if you think it will help you understand and move past your grief.
Ignore the Valentine’s Festivities
If watching other couples celebrate their relationships is painful to you, try to ignore it. Stay in that night. February 14th is just another day, and you can spend it the way you would any other day. Do your normal things don’t let Valentine’s Day get to you.
Find New Love
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! For some people, joining a holiday is the only way to go. If you’ve recently gotten divorced, the world of new romance has recently opened up to you after years of deprivation. Take advantage of it. You don’t need to get too serious if you don’t want to. It’s your time to shine and have fun.
So fall in love again. Have a good time. There are plenty of people in situations like yours, and it won’t too hard to meet them. Don’t give up on love. Start again and make your romantic way through the world. Romance is yours again!
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Divorce has been predisposed as an ugly word to many people with negative connotation. Divorce can suggest a million things to people, including: failure, bitterness, disillusionment, poor planning, and long term unhappiness. But does divorce have a positive side? The answer may surprise you. Take into consideration some of the benefits of what divorce entails:
Divorce From Someone Who Made You Unhappy.
Divorce isn’t sad. An unhappy marriage that persists and continues to ruin the lives of the couple involved is sad. When you get divorced, you separate yourself from a toxic person (or at least a toxic relationship). Be thrilled that you can now set your own rules, define your own personal limits, and run your own finances without interference.
You Get to Do Whatever You Want After Divorce
Newly single people often speak of being nearly overwhelmed by a feeling a freedom. This elation may inspire you to seek bold new goals. When you were married, you need to set your watch by your spouse. You needed to watch the movies they liked, participate in the hobbies they liked, and decorate your home in the way they liked. Now that you’re on your own, you can set your own parameters.
Divorce Allow You to Connect With Your Friends.
After a divorce, you can strike up old friendships that previously had been dying from neglect. Friendship is a crucial component of mental health. And since you’re no longer being held down by your spouse, you can build those components. Being with friends is another counterintuitive benefit of the extremely high divorce rates of many countries—sure, you’re divorced, but so is everyone else! When you split up, you won’t be all that alone. Loads of newly single people will be right there with you!
You Can Make Dramatic Life Decisions.
When you’re married, you have a responsibility to your spouse. They married you, not your dreams. Now that your only responsibility is you, your can can reach up to your fantasy version of yourself. You can make big decisions without worrying about whether your spouse will agree or will suffer through the growing pains. As a single person, you can work on your dreams without being concerned about putting hardships onto anyone else. Make a career change, Go back to school. Take up a strange hobby that would have embarrassed your spouse. Move across the country, or even to a new country. Those exciting new places will offer you adventure, excitement, meaning, and even the strong possibility of future romance.
Your Ex Will Be Doing the Same.
Don’t worry about your former spouse. Not all divorces end in bad spirits; this leads to many newly divorced people feeling guilty about their newfound joys. Don’t feel guilty about your exciting new phases of life. Most likely, your ex is going through the same good experiences. You should both be happy for one another. You should absolutely not feel bad about enjoying the world. The two of you have agreed that life will be better for both of you if you split up. By enjoying yourself and growing your self in positive ways, you’ll be proving that both of you were right.
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Divorce is often thought of a problem for older folks, as the dramatic conclusion of a midlife crisis or a lifetime or mutual bad blood. But young people get divorced, too. While the rates of marriage among young people have dropped significantly since millennials entered their twenties, the divorce rates within the portion that does marry remains high.
Millennials get divorced, too. But much of the divorce coping advice you’ll find online is geared toward an older generation. Here are a few things that newly divorced young people should do and keep in mind when they find themselves in this scary, lonely situation.
Reconnect With Friends After Divorce
One advantage young people who get divorced have over their elders in similar situations is that their networks of friends are still going strong. Older people who get divorced tend to have difficulty finding ways to reconnect and socialize, since most of their friends are either still married, have moved far away, or both.
If you’re in your twenties, your friends are probably still out having a good time. It shouldn’t be too tough to catch up on lost time. Being single when you’re young isn’t really so bad; there’s a reason most your peers are waiting for their thirties to get married.
Reconnect With Old Flames Post Divorce
Here’s another great thing about an early split. Your old woulda/coulda/shouldas are probably still available! And they might just be guiltily excited that you’re back in the game. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get more opportunities to connect than you ever did in high school—those near-misses might realize they missed a big shot initially and have been granted a second chance.
Focus on Your Hobbies
You’ve still got time to cultivate your old passions. Or work on some new ones. You’re still young enough to pick up skateboarding, the piano, or whatever you want. You could even sit around playing video games for hours at a time. Think about all the time you spent fighting and working with your ex and imagine how much you could have accomplished if you’d put all that energy toward something productive. Well, now you can do just that. Pick a hobby, stick to it, and build something for yourself for a change.
Focus on Your Career
As a young person, you’ve also got tons of time left to earn a degree or work on a promotion. You’ve probably been spending the last few years fighting and wasting all kinds of energy on a doomed relationship. You’ve still got that time and talent. Put your newfound energy into something that lasts.
When you get divorced, you’re not distracted. You can put all of yourself into your professional life. And now that you’ve made it through such a rough experience, you’ll have a new maturity with which to approach your goals. If you’re a career-minded millennial, you’ve got a golden opportunity to advance your job life. You could Get that Master’s Degree, work on some certifications, or simply switch jobs.
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Divorce can be an emotionally draining experience. Even if the decision to end the marriage was mutual, it can result in a roller coaster of bittersweet emotions. With divorce comes independence, but also loneliness, particularly around the holidays. If you’re experiencing the holidays for the first time since your divorce, or while going through the divorce process, it may seem like too much to handle. However, the holidays are a great way to reconnect with family, friends, and reflect on a new stage in your life.
Don’t Spend the Holidays Alone
Even if the thought of getting dressed up and heading to traditional family dinner or a gathering with friends makes you feel anxious, strongly consider attending no matter how you feel. Maybe you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your new relationship status. Perhaps you’re afraid that you will be the topic of conversation. Chances are that if you express your desire not to talk about the divorce, your family and friends will understand. Support is essential during any difficult time in your life. You haven’t turned your back on others and it’s likely they won’t let you down.
Allow Yourself to Have Emotions
If you find yourself feeling depressed while decorating the tree or bursting into tears while listening to holiday music on the radio, allow yourself to feel sadness, but don’t forget to move forward. Tears are a natural part of the grieving process, but don’t forget to focus on the good changes in your life. Additionally, if you feel good or even somewhat “void of emotion”, don’t worry or feel guilty as these emotions are natural as well. However you feel, allow yourself to express emotion; it’s the healthiest way to work through a difficult life transition.
Start Your Own Tradition
Traditions are one of the best things about the holidays and your first holidays after divorce can make you long for the old traditions with your in-laws. This is the time to make your own new traditions. Was your ex afraid to try new things or celebrate in fun and unique ways? Take the time to celebrate in your own way, on your own time.
If you have children, it’s important to make the holidays special, just as you did when you and your spouse were married. Creating new traditions with your kids may help them adjust to the holidays after the divorce and it may also help you feel better.
Don’t Lose Sight of What Matters
The holidays can be a financial strain for everyone, but maybe even more so after a divorce. Rather than stressing about the material gifts and potentially putting yourself in debt, focus on what matters to you this holiday season. If you have children, don’t overspend on holiday gifts. You may feel obligated to be the fun or generous parent, but it may make your divorce even more complicated. Remember, your presence during the holidays is more important than anything else. Focusing on what matters in your life will help you get through your first holidays after your divorce.
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Divorce is an extremely emotionally complex situation. You may been through a trial, custody proceedings, fights, and many other tribulations. You need to gather strength everywhere you can to keep from being overwhelmed and broken by the pain. Here are 5 things to do after your divorce to keep on top of your life.
Focus on the Positive
As comedian Louis CK said “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” His joke is effective because it contains an important truth: you got divorced for a reason. Be thankful that you no longer have to put up with whatever it was that was keeping the two of you so unhappy. Your life is yours alone now. Did you hate the music he listened to? The music is gone now. Did you practically have a stroke at the sound of her sister’s voice? Her sister’s voice is gone now. There are lots of good things about being single. Take advantage of them.
Cultivate Close Friendships
You’ve probably already done some of this. Don’t let it end. Your friends have been there for you through this whole thing. Let them know you appreciate it. Stay close. Go out to fun events. Relive your youth (although make sure you don’t get sucked into a reckless midlife crisis). Isolation is dangerous for anyone, especially for someone like you, who has recently gone from constant companionship to your current state.
Keep Your Family Around
Like your friends, your family have likely been on your side through all of this. Divorce means losing a family member. Keep the others close. In most cases, your family knew you before you met your ex, and now they’ll know after you’re through. Strong familial connections can keep you from becoming overwhelmed by loneliness and stress.
If Possible, Maintain Friendly Ties With Your Ex
This is, of course, not always realistic advice. Again, the two of you split for a reason. But if your ex is a decent, tolerable person, you would do well to maintain a cordial relationship. This applies doubly if you’ve got kids together. The kids will be happy to see the two of you at peace, and this could serve as an opportunity to teach them important life lessons about conflict resolution. Even if you don’t have kids, a friendly relationship will keep the memories you built together from being too painful.
Make Another Change
If your new life is too similar to your old one, it might remind you too often of the old days. Maybe now’s a great opportunity to make that move you always wanted to, or to change careers, go back to school. You probably based many life decisions around your previous relationship; take a fresh look and see what’s available to you now.
Don’t Give Up!
You’ll feel pain. Depression may rear its ugly head from time to time. You’ll falter. When it happens, don’t give up. You’re not a failure just because things didn’t work out. You’ve made a bold decision, and you’ve stuck to it. Keep moving forward.
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