If you’re regretting your divorce, know that you are not alone. Understanding the reasons behind your regret can help you find appropriate tools for processing your experience. Before we grow too newly concerned about the divorce epidemic, remember that divorce is one of the most traumatic events in your life. It’s not uncommon to have second thoughts about such a momentous decision. Even assuming the secret divorce regret is that common, there’s no reason to jump to the extreme conclusion that all of the divorces were a mistake.
How To Avoid Divorce Regret
Sometimes divorce is inevitable, yet it generally doesn’t happen overnight. Before bringing up the topic with your spouse (if you’re seriously thinking about divorce), ask yourself the following questions:
• Why am I thinking about getting a divorce?
• What has changed?
• Am I willing to work through things and do the work it would take if we were to give it another try?
• Does he or she feel the same way?
• Do I have the tendency to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?
People will often romanticize the “way things used to be.” Rewriting history by seeing only the good (or the bad) can lead to many pitfalls. It may have been what got you here in the first place. In the case of divorce regret there are many things to weigh out. Feeling like you miss the way things were is common, especially if there are children involved. Your regret could be driven by desire to have your family back intact. And while there is nothing wrong with that feeling, it needs to be thoroughly vetted to ensure you don’t cause more damage to yourself, ex, or kids. If what were believed to be irreconcilable differences that led you to divorce haven’t been reconciled you will just end up in the same place.
Be real with yourself. Even if you’ve initiated the divorce, you’ll probably feel sadness, pain and anger. If you haven’t already, try talking to a counselor. If these are feelings you alone are wrestling with, speaking to someone individually is a good idea. If you and your ex share the same feelings and are actually contemplating giving things another go, try counseling as a couple. You really owe it to yourselves to cover all the bases before running the risk of repeating the same mistakes.
Do not allow yourself to be so swept away in a romanticized version of the way you “used to be” that you jump with both feet back into a relationship or marriage. People talk about marriage being hard and taking a lot of work, but divorce is hard as well. It is not uncommon for people to want to get away from these feelings. Getting away, however, does not necessarily include getting back together. Divorce should be a last, no other options, choice. If you and your ex jumped the gun and divorced in haste, then reconciling and putting your relationship back together may be the right step. You can’t just decide the problems aren’t there anymore or that the issues are no longer issues. If you are having divorce regret and considering reconciliation, go slowly, thoughtfully and carefully. If your relationship is going to work out, there is no rush. It will only be stronger and more solid by being patient and thorough.
Consider Divorce Carefully
Many people’s divorce regret began popping up immediately, rather than appearing in retrospect only after additional life experience. This suggests that they acted impulsively in instigating or agreeing to the split. While dragging out a dying relationship is also bad, don’t let issues that may be fixable break a marriage if it really shouldn’t.
Put Problems In Perspective
Realize that any prospective new partner will have problems; too you just don’t know what they are yet! For that matter, being single has its downsides too. No matter what you choose, you can’t get away from the problems of life. Though everyone knows a happy anecdote or two about a couple rekindling their romance after a breakup or even getting remarried after divorce, most cyclical couples report low communication and satisfaction levels, amongst other measures of relationship quality. Breaking up may be hard to do but so is getting back together.
Things Not To Do When You Divorce
The divorce process can be a particularly emotional and vulnerable time. Don’t make these common mistakes. As anyone who’s gone through a divorce can tell you, the process is rarely easy. Tensions run high, and couples often make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Given the mountain of financial, practical and emotional details that have to be sorted, it’s not surprising so many couples wind up making critical mistakes on the road to divorce. However, there are a number of things you should do, or more specifically not do, to lessen the chance you’ll regret your decisions later on.
Here are the tips on what to avoid when filing for divorce.
• Don’t Get Pregnant: Having a baby during your divorce complicates a lot of things, and could even hinder your right to divorce. Although many states now grant single parents the same rights as married ones, having a child when you’re in marital limbo can be problematic.
• Don’t Forget to Change Your Will: Getting divorced does not automatically revoke a will. If you want to prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from receiving the monies and privileges granted them in your will, you need to update your will. You can re-do a will at any time. But if you die before you are granted a divorce, and you have left your spouse nothing, he or she can sue and recover part of your estate.
• Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Collaborative Divorce or Mediation: In a collaborative divorce, you can get the help of professionals attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists, to divide property and manage emotional stress. Some critics of collaborative divorce believe that attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists who engage in collaborative divorce are not really experts, and cost too much time and money. But the majority of jurisdictions with collaborative divorce have stated that collaborative divorce is more cooperative and less adversarial than traditional divorce. Mediation is different. Only one third-party professional, a divorce mediator helps you and your spouse reach an agreement. Mediation is more of an ongoing process than a one-time intervention. Although lawyers are generally not allowed into mediation sessions, you can consult a lawyer at any time during the process to make sure you are getting the right result.
• Don’t Take It out on the Kids: Children need a supportive environment to deal with divorce. Minimize the amount you talk about the process. It will give you more time to be there for them. Refocus your energy so you can attend their school and after school events, help them with homework, and take them out once in a while to the movies or the zoo. When you are relaxed, they get more relaxed. Though you should be comfortable talking with your children about the divorce, the point of this divorce is to relieve stress on you and your family.
• Don’t Refuse to See a Therapist: Seeing a therapist can help you get through the range of emotions that you will experience when dealing with divorce. It is a good idea to get help before you become extremely depressed or angry. A therapist is not just someone to talk to. They are also a professional who can show you how to relax, how to talk to your kids, and how to remain calm in court. Most importantly, a therapist can help you figure out how to become self-sufficient.
• Don’t Forget About Taxes: Typically, the person who is awarded custody of the children gets the house. But the house may not be the best deal. If you can’t afford the mortgage, taxes and upkeep on the house, you want to ask for the investment portfolio of equal value instead. However, before declaring yourself king or queen of your block, remember single people are not allowed to shelter as many capital gains from taxes. Stocks can also be at issue. Newly-purchased stocks may be more desirable because they will cost you less in capital gains taxes.
• Don’t Settle Early: Just because you want out of your marriage immediately doesn’t mean you should forfeit your financial security. Make multiple copies of all of your important financial documents: pension statements, tax forms, brokerage and mutual fund statements, credit card statements, and other records. It will make you aware of what you own and even what you owe. Make sure that you and the children will continue to have health insurance during and after the divorce proceedings. While you are still married to your spouse, an illness or accident can change how property is divided. If you and your spouse can work out an amicable agreement on your own, you can file what’s known as an “uncontested” divorce. This will save you both time and money in court costs. If this is simply not possible, you may want to hire a professional mediator or an attorney. If you decide to retain legal counsel, remember to bring three things to the first meeting with your lawyer so you can assess what you will need once separated: a balance sheet listing the family’s assets and debts, an accounting sheet of your income and expenses, and your tax return.
• Don’t Increase Your Debt: Divorce is expensive. On top of attorney’s fees, you will need money to set up a new household. Though it may be difficult to make ends meet, you should get used to having less now. Remember, your legal bills and court costs may come due before you receive your first payment of alimony or even your share of the marital property. While it may seem stressful, the freedom you’ll enjoy down the line will be well worth the struggle.
Some individuals who are in the process of divorcing their partner or have already done so wonder when divorce regret will set in. For some, the regret may creep in immediately, while it can take years for others to realize they regret their decision to get divorced. It’s important to understand if you regret your divorce because you miss your partner versus the divorce process has taken longer and has been more emotionally draining than expected. In other words, do you miss your partner, or is the divorce process itself sparking feelings of regret? Regret can be tricky to get over and often takes some time to fully understand.
Starting Over: Ways to Reconcile After Divorce
If the problems in your marriage are reversible, in that with work you can solve them, it’s possible you can reconcile. The most important thing to remember when trying to get back together with your ex-spouse is that you have to start over. From there, consider the following ways to reconcile after divorce:
• Initiate contact as much as possible: Just as you did when you first met, talk to your ex-spouse as much as possible. Call, text or email to discuss the things that are important in his/her day. Show interest in the things that your ex-spouse is involved in. Compliment and express how much you’ve missed your ex-spouse. After some courting, you can then ask your ex-spouse on a first date. Treat this first date just as you would if you were going on it with someone you don’t know.
• Talk about the issues in the marriage: After you’ve reestablished a connection with your ex-spouse, you should discuss the issues in the marriage. The best time to do this is when you start to enter into the commitment stage of your new relationship with your ex-spouse. You don’t want to repeat the same patterns as you did in the marriage, or the new relationship will have the same ending as your marriage did. Be open about what happened to cause the divorce and discuss it with an open mind and heart. Sometimes this can be difficult, so counseling is a great way to get issues out into the open to work on them in the most effective way possible.
• Move slowly and with caution: It will be easy to run full speed into a relationship with your ex-spouse because it will feel like it did when you first started dating or got married. Don’t let your feelings carry you away because you may crash and burn. Take the steps in your relationship slowly and pay attention to what is happening. Understand that this is a new beginning but it has history attached to it that needs consideration and resolution. Ignoring what happened in the past and only looking forward may seem like the best way to handle it, but it may end up surprising you later when you discover you still hold on to some of your old feelings.
Petition for Divorce and Summons
In addition to being served with a Petition for Divorce, a Summons is served at the same time. The Summons is a form of restraining order that tells the Respondent (the person receiving the divorce papers) that they are prohibited from selling any marital assets. The Summons also advises the Respondent that they are barred from canceling any insurance policies or changing the beneficiary on existing policies until the divorce hearing has taken place.
Serving the Petition for Divorce and Summons
There are two ways the Petition for Divorce and the Summons can be served:
• A process server delivers the documents to the Respondent personally.
• The Petition and the Summons are mailed to the Respondent, along with an Admission of Service form.
Filing the Petition for Divorce and Summons
After the Petition for Divorce and the Summons have been served, they need to be filed with the Court Administrator at the Courthouse located in the county where the Petitioner lives.
Divorce Asset Protection
With approximately half of all first time marriages ending in divorce, many couples want to protect themselves financially in the event their marriage fails. Couples can protect their individual assets prior to the marriage, during the marriage, or even in the midst of separation, in one of several ways.
Asset Protection Prior to Marriage
Taking steps to protect your assets prior to marriage is the best and easiest way to ensure that you’re protected in the event of a divorce. Since no assets have been commingled, there will be little to no argument over what is, or is not, separate property.
Although considered unromantic, many people sign a pre-nuptial agreement to protect their assets. In order for the agreement to be considered valid, it must meet specific requirements set by each state. Pre-marital agreements can cover a variety of issues, including:
• The division of property in the event of divorce
• Property that will remain separate during the marriage
• Payment of accumulated debt
• Alimony payments.
Placing Assets in a Trust
A trust is a legal document created to hold property, including real estate, a business, stocks and other investments or cash. Distributions of trust assets are made by the trustee to one or more beneficiaries, based on the terms of the trust. Once assets are placed in a trust, they are owned by the trust, not the person who transferred them in to trust. Trusts can include language stating distributions to the beneficiary are discretionary, which means the trustee can make distributions at whatever time and in whatever amounts he wishes – including making no distributions at all. Unless the trustee abuses his discretion, the beneficiary cannot force the trustee to make a distribution. However, it is important to note that the distributions themselves may be considered marital property and subject to division between the spouses
Post-nuptial agreements are the same as pre-marital agreements, except they are entered into after the marriage. Because you may have commingled assets since the marriage, this agreement may include how the marital property will be divided in the event of divorce.
Maintaining Separate Property
During marriage property is classified as either separate or marital. Separate property can become marital property if it was commingled with marital funds. It is therefore important that any assets one spouse came into the marriage with be kept completely separate from marital assets, and that the owner not add her spouse’s name to any accounts or other property that they wish to remain separate property.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
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