5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Divorce

When I think back to the time during and even before my divorce, there was so much I didn’t know. I felt unprepared. Even though I knew I could navigate this new set of unique challenges, I wish I had someone to tell me what to look out for.

The same doesn’t have to happen to you! I’ve collected a few of the most popular things I’ve heard other women say they wished they knew before their divorce to compile this post. If you’re finding yourself in the same situation, hopefully, this guidance will bring you some information and inspiration.

What To Do About Health Insurance

As a financial advisor, I didn't even know this, so you aren’t alone if you’re uncertain about what to do when it comes to insurance.

When this happened to me, I assumed that, because I paid my insurance premium for the whole month, I’d have insurance for the whole month. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Coverage ends upon the day of your divorce. Had I known this, I could have saved myself a large bill (and some dignity at the doctor’s office).

Key Lesson: Have a plan in place! It’s hard to know the exact date of when your divorce papers will be processed, so assume it is the day you sign. Prior to your divorce, call an insurance broker or advisor to assist you in finding new healthcare options or look into the options available on the Marketplace.

How to Handle Alimony and Life Insurance

Similarly, there’s uncertainty around alimony and life insurance. It’s critical to protect yourself and make sure you’re financially taken care of post-divorce. Even though life insurance always comes up during the course of mediation, I’ve found that few want to have a discussion on the topic. At the end of the day, life insurance protects not just you, but your children as well. If you are counting on alimony to cover your living expenses, make sure to protect that alimony with a life insurance policy.

Let’s look at this in the context of pensions. If you are awarded a portion of your spouse’s pension benefit in the divorce but your ex-spouse dies before they retire, you don’t get to collect that pension unless it's a separate interest pension (ie: they create your own account for you).

Key Lesson: It is uncomfortable, but you must talk about life insurance, especially if your income will be impacted if your soon-to-be-ex passes.

Further Reading: Life Insurance and Divorce: Protecting Your Family’s Future

The Process of a Divorce

One person shared that they were in the dark about the divorce process the entire time. The reality is that if you are working with an attorney and you let them control the process, it’s very common to be in the dark.

Think of it this way:

  • When you file for divorce, you give up your control. The court has control.
  • When you file a dissolution or choose mediation, you take control over the process.

There are many benefits of alternative dispute resolution and “not being in the dark” during (and also before) your divorce is one of them. Mediation is designed to help you get on the same page with your ex-spouse in a civil way, whereas traditional divorce often heightens conflict and can become quite litigious.

Key Lesson: Know your options and educate yourself about whichever process you choose to go with.

Further Reading: The Best Kept Secret of Mediation, How to Prepare for Mediation: Divorce Mediation Checklist

How People Will React

While reactions around every divorce will be different, something you can count on is that relationships will change. People will avoid you. Others will come out of the woodwork and want to tell you horror stories about their divorce. Be prepared for this change.

For example: People often side with their family during a divorce, regardless of how close they are to that person. This can hurt especially if you’re close to your in-laws and suddenly you’re given the cold shoulder. Or your married friends will no longer invite you to dinner. Plain and simple… It hurts.

Key Lesson: Your relationships do often change as a result of going through a divorce. This could happen before your divorce, during it, or even after. Divorce coaches serve a great role for divorce support.

The Importance of Self-Care

While you’re going through a divorce, your emotions are on high alert and your stress response gets taxed. Because of that, your energy gets depleted quickly and it’s hard to make decisions. Not to add pressure to the situation, but this is not the time you want to be operating from a deficit!

That’s why self-care is so important during your divorce. The saying, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others” is true for a reason. You must do whatever you can to take care of yourself so you can make wise decisions. This period is a critical time to set yourself and your children up for a solid post-divorce future.

Now that I’ve likely stressed you out about the importance of self-care… Consider joining a support group, taking pen to paper and journaling your feelings, and learning simple mindset shifts that will change how you look at your divorce.

Key Lesson: Don’t discount self-care! Make sure you’re giving yourself whatever you need to operate at your best and highest level for yourself and your children.

At the end of the day, you will get through your divorce. I take that back - you will get through it with flying colors and begin to find your footing once more. I wish someone told me this before my divorce, so hopefully this helps you shed some light on what to expect and how to prepare so you aren’t caught off guard. I find that the more prepared you are, the better the process will be!

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