Survival Tips for Your First Year After a Divorce is Final
It’s time to rebuild. Up until this point, you have been focused on separating everything from your marriage, to your home, to time with your kids. That can make the sudden realization that the divorce is real and final scary. What next?
Following your divorce mediation sessions, you’ll have a clear understanding and agreement on how your new life will be divided between you and your former spouse, from the finances, the home, time with the kids, etc. You also need to consider how you’re going to move forward emotionally, ensuring your own mental well-being.
Here’s what to do after your divorce mediation, including some recommended survival tips.
Dividing Property and Finances Following Divorce Mediation
Following your divorce mediation sessions, you’ll have a good Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). This agreement includes a timeline for transferring title on property and dividing assets. These deadlines result from mediation and what makes sense for both parties, allowing for time to take care of these assets, including:
- Selling a home
- Refinancing property
- Paying off or refinancing vehicles
- Buyout of community shares of property
- Dividing Retirement Accounts
Don’t stress this. Your mediator will go over all the details and be sure you have the information you need to implement this moving forward.
A quick note on retirement funds: If you each decided to keep what is in your own names, there’s nothing that needs to be done after divorce. If you decided to divide an account that requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), you would need to follow the Plan Administrator’s instructions on how to prepare the QDRO, have the Judge sign it and give it back to the Plan Administrator to transfer the funds to an IRA for the receiving spouse. This can take a few weeks or up to 18 months. If you decided to divide an IRA or another type of account that doesn’t require a QDRO, you need to provide a Judge-signed Consent Decree of Divorce to the brokerage that has your IRA, and they must follow the directions in your Decree to divide the account(s). This can be done as soon as 24 hours following your divorce.
You’ll also divide any debts as part of your PSA. After the divorce is final, you must follow the terms of the Property Settlement Agreement. However, lenders are not bound by your PSA and divorce decree. Even if you agree that one of you will pay 100% of a credit card account, for example, the credit card company can still go after the other person if the debt was incurred during marriage or both names are on the account.
Emotional Well-Being Following Your Divorce
Contrary to what you might hear from friends going through a contested divorce or what you see on TV, Divorce Mediation is NOT the drama-fest you might think. That said, there are things you can do post-divorce to help your mental health. Check out these blogs we published on reducing stress DURING a divorce. The same advice will help promote post-divorce mental health:
- Feeling Stressed? Three Ways to Lower Your Stress During a Divorce
- Healthy Tips When Moving Through the Divorce Process
- Workout Therapy and Other Stress Reduction Techniques During Divorce
- Staying Mentally Strong Through Divorce
Children and Relationships Post-Divorce
A child-centered divorce brings other post-divorce considerations. The date of divorce often triggers a lot of the deadlines in the Decree. It may establish when spousal maintenance or child support starts or when an equalization payment is due. You are technically now single.
Be honest and open with your kids about your situation — don’t hide it. When it comes to new romantic relationships, child development specialists suggest not introducing kids to a new significant other until at least one year after the relationship is serious and exclusive. It is best not to introduce kids to anyone you are casually dating, as that can cause a lot of issues, especially if you break up. It can be a good idea to tell the other parent first or even introduce that person to other parent before the kids.
After a divorce is final, we encourage you to be careful, deliberate, and take one step at at time. Here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t disparage your ex on social medial (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
- Keep good records. Keep a copy of anything you sign in a safe place, along with other important documents
- Consider using a shared calendar with your ex for scheduling time with kids, school activities, pickups/drop-offs, etc. You may even want to create an email address just for communication about the kids.
- What NOT to do? Don’t create unrealistic expectations of your former spouse, your common friends, etc. Let it flow. Don’t skip counseling sessions. Don’t jump straight into the dating apps.
You and your former spouse experienced a ton of strong emotions leading up to the decision to get a divorce. After a surprisingly drama-free divorce mediation, you may be surprised at how fast it happened — you’re divorced! That can be a scary moment. Take the time to read through the above recommendations and put together a plan. It’s your future and you deserve to create a happy life for you, your kids, and yes, your former spouse.