Friday, November 6, 2015

Divorce Survival Guide

Sorry to hear that things didn’t work out. For whatever the reason, your marriage is coming to an end. The next chapter in your life will be tough. Perhaps one of the most difficult you’ll ever have to go through. You’ll survive. How do I know? Trust me. I’ve been there.

Along the course of my separation and divorce, as well as having seen other friends go through it, I’ve noticed that, unfortunately, divorces are becoming more and more like dark alley, no holds barred street fights. Especially when kids are involved.

Don’t forget one thing. You and your ex cannot get rid of each other. You are parents and no matter how much you two may hate each other, you had a kid together and you will be talking to each other for a very long time. That’s reality.

Picture this. Boxing ring. You vs your ex. The fight is about to begin. You come to the centre of the ring and touch gloves as I, the referee, gives you your instructions:

Rule #1 – Communication
Communication, just like in most marriages, is probably one of the reasons as to why you are no longer together. I hate to break it to you but, for the sake of your kids, you will have to work incredibly hard at this. Your kids will now have two homes. Depending on what your agreement is, you’ll be sharing clothes, toys, stuffed animals and who knows whatever else so you have no choice but to talk.

If all communications by phone or in person fail, try by text message or, preferably, email.  Not communicating is not an option.

Keep it clean too. No matter how hard the communication is, try to make it work. It pays off in the end, especially if you go to divorce court.

Rule #2 – Respect towards each other
Do not:
  • ·         Insult each other
  • ·         Call each other names
  • ·         Just hang up
  • ·         Do things to intentionally piss the other one off

If you do any of these things mentioned above, you are the one who is an idiot.

Yes, I know it is hard to resist the temptation. Try. Try harder. Try again. Don’t do it. This pays off in the long run, especially if you end up in divorce court.

Rule #3 – Find a good lawyer
This is not where you want to start getting cheap. This is going to cost a lot of money. Shop around. Don’t just take a bargain divorce lawyer. Remember, you are now fighting for a fair split of your stuff and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, custody of your kids. Going with a cheap or inexperienced lawyer could cost you. Big time.

Rule #4 – Respect your agreements
If you come to an agreement with your ex about anything, RESPECT IT. If you need to change the agreement, see rules 1 & 2.

Under no circumstances should you go against an agreement just to ‘piss off’ your ex. If you break an agreement without a valid reason, it gives your ex a reason to disrespect a future agreement for a stupid reason. It’s a vicious cycle. Don’t allow this to happen.

WARNING: If your ex breaks an agreement, for any reason, do not break the next agreement just to spite them. Don’t give in. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Yes, it will be hard to resist temptation but you must do it. Period. It pays off in the end, especially if you go to divorce court.

Rule #5 – Don’t fight dirty
This is similar to rule 2 but it goes on a much deeper level. Keep the fight clean.
Do not:
  • ·         make false accusations
  • ·         invent stories against your ex to tell anyone around you to make your ex look bad for nothing

Keep it clean. Trust me. It pays off, especially if you go to divorce court.

Rule #6 – Be flexible
Although things may get rough, you still have to communicate and make agreements. Be flexible. Don’t take a hard line stance on everything. Divorce, just like communication, just like marriage, is a two way street. If you are not flexible, don’t expect flexibility in return.

In the event that your ex is not flexible, be flexible anyways. It pays off in the long run, especially if you go to divorce court.

Rule #7 – Shrink your circle of friends & don’t take advice from just anyone
It is easy to give advice, especially when you don’t have to live with the consequences.

When going through a divorce, be careful of who you allow in your circle of trust. This is your battle, not theirs. Make sure those around you keep you grounded, focused and logical.

  • ·         truly listen to you and want the best not just for you, but for your kids.
  • ·         encourage communication with your ex.
  • ·         keep you focused on your well being and the well being of your kids.
  • ·         are problem solvers.
  • ·         are willing to challenge you and tell you straight to your face when you are thinking illogically
  • ·         will tell you to stop being stupid
  • ·         are brutally honest

  • ·         want you to ‘clean your ex out’
  • ·         want you to ‘take your ex for all they have’
  • ·         encourage you to take the kids away from them
  • ·         encourage creating problems rather than problem solving

Who you keep in your circle of friends will directly influence how you act in life and towards your ex. The wrong people can hurt you in the end. Directly AND indirectly. Choose wisely or it can end up costing you later. Especially if you go to divorce court.

Rule #8 – Keep your new partner under control
You are ‘back on the free agent list’. You are available. If you meet someone new, that is great. However, remember, this is your fight, not theirs. You need to, for lack of a better term, keep your partner on a leash.

  • ·         try to make them replace their father or mother. Your child already has one of each. There are boundaries. As long as the other parent is present in the child’s life, your partner should not try to act like the child’s sole father or mother.
  • ·         allow them to confront your ex. This is not their fight. Keep them out of it.
  • ·         allow them to speak negatively about your ex in front of the kids. This is something you shouldn’t be doing either and you should make sure of the same for your partner.

This is important. If your new partner can’t stay out of it, they can cause irreparable damage to the kids, to you and your rights as a parent. Choose your new partner wisely. A partner that fuels negativity in a divorce that isn’t theirs can cost you, especially in divorce court.

Not much explanation needed here. Parenting is not a competition. Your child loves BOTH parents EQUALLY. 

Don’t have arguments in front of the kids. Don’t disrespect the other parent. Don’t try to be ‘the better parent’. Divorce is hard enough on a child. Don’t make their life any harder. Show your child that they can have a normal life despite his or her parents being divorced. Be an example for other divorced parents.

This is one of the hardest things you’ll do in the divorce. Do it. Work hard at it. Work harder. Don’t be an idiot. It can cost you in the long run. It can cost you your future relationship with your child. It can also cost you dearly in divorce court.

Rule #10 – Parental authority, no matter the custody situation, is 50/50.
It takes two to have a kid. It also takes two to make any decision for the well being of the child. Parental authority is 50-50. If you try to act as the ‘boss parent’, it can cost you in the long run, especially in divorce court.

It doesn’t matter if you have full custody, partial custody or shared custody, both parents have an EQUAL say in the child’s well being and upbringing.

That’s it. 10 rules. Follow these rules and your life will be much easier. Trust me. I’ve been there. By the way, you’ve read several times a mention about ‘failing to follow this rule could cost you in divorce court’ and there is a reason why. If you end up in front of a judge, with the fate of your child’s custody at stake, the judge will evaluate everything, including your maturity level. If you decide to be an idiot (or hurtful, or disrespectful, or anything negative) during the divorce process, it WILL hurt your chances and helping you win your case. There is nothing that judges hate more than two parents who act more immature than their children.

Divorce is tough enough. Your whole world is being turned upside down. Make your life easier. Follow these rules. Don’t believe me. Show this rulebook to your lawyer. They’ll approve of this. Guaranteed.

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