Divorce Survival Tips for Dads
Divorce is hard under the best of circumstances. If you’re a father of minor children, it’s even harder. Not only do you have to deal with the loss of your marriage, and the financial upheaval that goes with it, you are facing a possible disruption to your relationship with your kids. Depending on how you handle the situation, that disruption could be long-term, or even permanent. We don’t say that to alarm you, but to stop, think, and act carefully at every step of the divorce process—even before you or your spouse files. Here are some divorce tips for dads to make the divorce process, and the outcome, better for you.
Divorce Survival Tip #1: Put Your Kids First.
We mean two things by that, and we’ll take them one at a time. The first is that, if you want to preserve your relationship and your time with your children, you should view every action you take in the light of how it might affect that relationship. Calling their other parent names when the kids are in earshot, speaking negatively about the other parent to them, or using them as spies or go-betweens will all damage your relationship with your kids.
The second meaning of “put your kids first” is the more literal one: consider their needs before your own. Not only is that just good parenting, but a track record of prioritizing your children’s needs will serve you well if a court needs to decide custody and parent-time.
Divorce Survival Tip #2: Get a Good Divorce Lawyer.
Whether you’re the one who wants a divorce, or your spouse has brought it up, don’t hesitate to get a good divorce attorney. Many people hesitate to get a divorce lawyer because doing so makes it feel like divorce is inevitable. Getting a lawyer doesn’t cause your marriage to end anymore than carrying an umbrella causes it to rain.
A good divorce lawyer will explain how the laws of your state apply to the facts of your situation. She will give you objective guidance based on what’s important to you. That’s important: this is a difficult time in your life and it’s easy to act based on emotion and impulse. Unfortunately, your spouse could use those actions against you, arguing that you are unstable and even dangerous. That could severely limit your access to your children during and after the divorce.
What is a “good divorce lawyer?” Someone whose practice is primarily or exclusively family law, someone with extensive experience in divorce cases, and someone who understands and supports your goals.
Divorce Survival Tip #3: Don’t Move Out on Your Kids.
One of those impulsive actions you want to avoid is moving out of the house that you share with your spouse and kids. We understand that it may be difficult to continue living with a spouse who doesn’t want you there, or whose face you don’t want to see. But leaving your kids behind in a home with your spouse decreases the likelihood that you will get 50/50 parent time after the divorce. If you want to avoid becoming an occasional presence in your children’s lives, stay in the home as long as you can, Sleep in a spare bedroom, the basement, or even on the couch if you need to. Avoid your spouse if you must, but be as active in caring for your kids as you can.
Divorce Survival Tip #4: Get Support.
Somehow, people seem to forget that divorce is just as painful for men as it is for women. Unfortunately, while we’ve normalized women reaching out for emotional support, men are often expected to “tough it out.”
That’s not fair to you, and it’s not good for your relationship with your kids. Needing support is natural and normal. This divorce tips for dads is talk to a counselor, a divorce coach, a divorce support group, or family and friends (especially if they’ve been divorced and can tell you what they’d do differently if they had it to do over). One note of caution: if the “support” you’re getting is riling you up and making you angrier, it’s not helping you.
Not sure where to look for the support you need? Your attorney may be able to refer you to the right help.
Divorce Survival Tip #5: Gather Financial Records Now.
You’re going to need a detailed picture of your finances in your divorce for purposes of property division, alimony issues, and, of course, child support. It will be a lot easier to gather some of these records, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and bank statements while you are still living in the home. Knowing what you have in terms of assets can be useful if you need to get a temporary order preventing you and your spouse from dissipating marital assets.
Divorce Survival Tip #6: Remember There is Life After Divorce.
That may seem obvious, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the divorce process, and sometimes it feels like it will last forever. Of course, it won’t, so it’s important to realize that what you do during your divorce has an impact on how you live after your divorce. And, coming back to our first survival tip, what you do now will affect your relationship with your kids.
When you have kids with a spouse, divorce may end your marriage, but it doesn’t end your relationship. While your kids are still minors, you’ll have to work together to raise your kids and see each other at parent-time exchanges and occasions like birthday parties and school events. Even after your kids are adults, there will be graduations, weddings, the births of grandchildren. Imagine how you want to be involved in those events, and how you want to be able to interact with your child’s other parent.
The wounds of your divorce may heal over time, or they could deepen. It’s largely up to you and how you choose to act right now. Keeping your eyes on the future you hope for with your children, instead of the struggles of the present, can help you get through even the most difficult divorce.