It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
January is dubbed “divorce month” because many people are now saying, “Let’s make this the last good holiday for the kids and our families” or “Let’s wait until after the New Year when the kids go back to school.” No matter what the reason, divorce is never easy, and there is no good time for divorce. I know because I’m divorced and wished the first holidays away. I also can tell you, from experience, there is no last best holiday.
My first Christmas divorced went much smoother than I expected. I set realistic goals and put my children’s thoughts and feelings first. I even enjoyed the two hours alone and my glass of wine before they returned home for dessert. However, everyone is different, and both parties involved must be willing to put their kids’ feelings first.
If you’re thinking about divorce, you can plan ahead, and, with planning, you may just pull off a wonderful holiday too.
Here are 8 key steps you can take now to plan ahead if you’re thinking about divorce:
- Complete a budget
Review your spending over the last year. Ask your spouse to do the same since you’ll need this moving forward. Make a holiday spending budget with and without your spouse. Overspending over the holidays adds a lot of stress to happily married couples, so you can imagine the stress it adds to divorcing couples. Alleviate some of this anxiety by setting expectations on gift giving. I suggest you both set cash aside and agree to only spend that. If cash is not an option, agree to a set amount to charge and write it down.
- Take caution with credit cards and Get a credit report
Get a free credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Credit reports allow you to see all outstanding bills and credit problems, if any. If you do not have a card in your own name, apply for one now. When going through divorce, oftentimes money is unavailable and expenses need to be paid by credit. If you only have joint cards, access may be shut off by your spouse. Be mindful that your friends may advise you to max out your credit, but they might be unaware that you may also be responsible for repaying the debt.
- Make copies of year-end financial statements
This is when year-end financial statements will be generated. Look for them in the mail and make copies of anything you find. If you have access to statements from prior years, copy those as well. Finally, make copies any and all credit card statements.
- Don’t comingle monetary gifts
If you receive monetary gifts, keep them in a safe place out of your home. Don’t commingle them. Explore obtaining a safety deposit box or leave money with a trusted family member. You should also store any financial statements and personal documents outside of the home.
- Be mindful of what you post on social media
Once you post, it stays there forever. Think of how others perceive what they see and how it would affect your children. The world doesn’t need to know your personal business. Posting your emotions and your personal affairs on social media can lead to those emotions taking over and prevent you from making important decisions in the future. If you are flooded with emotions, keep a journal close by –this is a safe way to acknowledge and move through your feelings. You’ll also want to change all your passwords and create a new email address that only you have access to so you can send and receive private financial and legal information.
- Start thinking about your divorce team
Some of the advisors you may need are a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), mediator, therapist, CPA, Certified Financial Planner, and lawyer. We can help you put this team together, so reach out to us at Divorce U Solutions when you are ready to take the next steps.
- Start a new holiday tradition with your children, family, and/or friends this year
By doing this, next year you will all have something to look forward to, and you will enjoy having something new that brings about a sense of tradition. This will also act as a reminder that this is not your last happy holiday, but the beginning of a new happy.
- Finally, play your favorite holiday music, journal the things that you are grateful for
Write down what you are grateful for in this moment like good health, an opportunity for something new, or time with your friends and family. Remember this is a wonderful time of the year if you focus on the positive aspects in our lives and the opportunities that await you in the future.
Since my divorce, I made a New Year’s resolution to “Make the Rest of My Life the Best of My Life.” Here’s a list of what some of our clients’ New Year’s resolutions are. These women are either separated, divorced, or in the thick of the process:
- “Create a budget and STICK TO IT.”
- “Always remember I have options! That way I never stay stuck.
- “Embrace whatever life throws at me and accept that every day happens for a reason.”
- “Forgive and let go and move forward.”
- “Live the best and most fulfilling life I can and just be happy.”
- “Make a point to no longer feel guilty over things I can’t control.”
- “Looking to be excellent!!”
- “Get through a day without thinking how horrible my ex is.”
- “Once and for all to deal with my anger and allow myself to fully embrace happiness”
- “Focus on myself more; I’ve never really done that.”
- “Maintain a healthy body, be mindful, and practice loving kindness!”
Being an experienced Certified Divorce Financial Analyst has allowed me to help many people through the divorce process. Raising five children has allowed me to understand what it is like to love unconditionally. Now, as a divorced woman, I understand this emotional process and how the holidays can be difficult. I want to assure you, in time, things do get better! One life lesson I’ve learned is life is what we make of it and we can create our own happiness!