Your divorce. They’re the words you never thought you’d hear or utter, especially when you took your marriage vows. Now, you’re involved in reinventing yourself and your future.
While it can seem overwhelming to go through this process, you don’t have to undertake your divorce alone. In fact, many professionals, experts, allies, and supporters can help you make your way through it. Therefore, you needn’t worry that you’re wandering ahead solo.
If you’re trying to figure out what to do next, lean on at least one of the following types of individuals to be your guide. You’ll be glad you did.
A Divorce Mediator
Not all divorces end up in battles. Your divorce may be surprisingly peaceful. To be sure, many couples who get divorced are able to stay friendly during the process, even if they’re hurting or angry.
If you’re convinced that you and your spouse will be able to take care of things like figuring out child custody and who stays in your house without the need for the courts, why not contact a divorce mediator? Divorce mediation is typically less expensive than hiring a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Your divorce mediator won’t take sides but will try to help you and your partner come to win-win solutions.
This doesn’t mean that your mediation proceedings will always end in smiles and laughter. They might get heated or leave you with a deeper understanding of why you’re separating in the first place. Don’t let this dissuade you from trying mediation, however. You may want to check your state laws. Some states require you to try mediation before compelling a court to step in.
Of course, you may want to still hire a divorce attorney to help you throughout your journey. Your divorce attorney probably won’t attend mediation meetings unless you need him or her there. This helps you save even more money because you won’t have to pay a legal professional for the time to sit through a mediation conference.
A Divorce Attorney
Have you been asking yourself, “do I need a lawyer?” You wouldn’t be the first one wondering this when you and your significant other decide to divorce. The truth is that if you’re comfortable handling your divorce without a lawyer by your side, you can definitely go it alone. With that being said, most people do choose to pay an attorney to represent them during their divorce matters.
What’s the advantage of having a divorce attorney in your court? First of all, your attorney won’t look at your divorce the same way you do. The attorney has seen other divorces. This gives tremendous expertise and perspective. Secondly, attorneys don’t get all caught up in the emotions of a divorce. You might think that you can separate your feelings from what needs to be done, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Finally, lawyers bring years of experience in divorce law to the table. Unless you’re a lawyer yourself, you probably don’t know all the legal ins and outs of divorce. Yes, you’ll pay a lawyer for this knowledge, but it can help you protect yourself later.
How should you decide which lawyer is right to handle your divorce? See if any firms in your area have stellar reputations. Then, make a few consultation appointments. You’ll probably know within the first few minutes if you connect with an attorney or not. Be sure to ask about all fees at your first discussion to avoid financial surprises.
Believe it or not, your divorce could take a toll on you physically. For instance, you might have a chronic condition that flares up under stress, requiring you to get an expensive treatment.
Now is not the time to stop going to your physician. Even if you’re very worried about how you’ll make ends meet after potentially losing the benefits of two incomes, you need to make your healthcare a priority. You also need to think about how you’ll cover any ongoing treatments for your kids or aging parents, too.
It could be worth speaking with a health care law specialist or advocate to get questions answered. What types of questions might you have? Consider these: How will I pay for my own healthcare after I get a divorce? Does my upcoming divorce preclude my children from getting the healthcare coverage they now utilize? Are there any types of affordable healthcare options I should be considering that I don’t at the moment?
Be upfront with your medical professionals. You should also take your spouse’s name off all documents at your doctors’ offices. The last thing you want, especially if your divorce gets heated and ugly, is for a doctor to call your husband or wife with private information about your medical status.
A Therapist or Counselor
Taking care of your mind is as important as taking care of your body during your divorce. That’s why you need to entrust yourself to one of your local mental health therapists. Maybe you already have a psychologist or counselor you work with. That’s great because you’re familiar with how the counseling procedure works.
On the other hand, if you’ve never tried counseling before, you’ll want to find a therapist you connect with. Counselors are fine with you interviewing them during one visit. Some will even give you the visit at a reduced rate since you’re essentially performing some “window shopping.”
How will you know when the therapist is the right one? You’ll feel comfortable talking about anything and everything. This doesn’t just include your divorce, but everything else that’s going on in your life and affecting your mental health in a positive or not-so-positive way.
Wondering how you’ll pay to see your mental health professionals? If you have healthcare insurance through a provider, you may be entitled to a certain number of sessions each year. You’ll likely have a copay, but the copay will be much less than what you would pay out of pocket. Even if your healthcare insurance provider won’t cover the cost of your therapy sessions, don’t rule them out of hand. Therapy has widespread upsides even though it can be a little pricey.
Your Kids’ Educators
America is home to more than 13 million single moms and dads. Your divorce could add you to their ranks if you have kids who are still at home and need your parenting for years to come.
Divorce has an effect on children, so you’ll want to get in touch with your children’s teachers. You don’t have to go into detail about why you’re divorcing, but you should definitely give them the heads up that your family is going through a major lifestyle change. This foreknowledge will help a teacher identify the source of new behaviors in kids, such as an outgoing child suddenly becoming very shy, hesitant, or unconfident.
In addition to your kids’ educators, share your divorce information with the school administrators. This is especially important if you and your spouse will be sharing drop off and pick up duties. Your child’s school shouldn’t be caught in the middle, wondering if your child should go home with mom or dad. Once your child custody arrangement is in place, you can give a copy of your upcoming calendar to your kid’s teachers and the school administrative staff.
What if your child is learning from home? Honestly, the same principles apply. Even though remote learning means that your son or daughter has less direct contact with teachers, the divorce could still change their habits.
A Real Estate Agent
You may be able to stay in your family home, even after your divorce. Or, you might want to just start fresh and get a new place, divvying up the profits from the equity you and your spouse have in your property. If that’s the situation, you’ll be putting up a “for sale by owner” sign in the yard. And that means you need to get in touch with a real estate agent.
The good news is that you won’t have to look far to find realtors. They’re all around and in every community. You may already have one in mind. However, if you’re in the dark about which realtor to choose, check out ratings and rankings online. You’ll get a quick snapshot of realtors in the area who seem to fit the bill.
One caveat: When you’re analyzing real estate professionals, check out the homes that they’ve sold recently. Do they tend to fit the category of your home? The last thing you want to do is waste your time and a realtor’s time if they don’t concentrate on homes in your price range.
Perhaps the greatest part of having a realtor in your life is being able to find a new place to live. Even if you plan to rent rather than buy, talk to your real estate professional. Agents frequently know of rental units because they deal with so many folks, including landlords and property managers at condominium communities. If nothing else, they can put out their feelers or point you in a good direction.
Home Repair Professionals
Of course, your house isn’t going to fetch prime bids until it’s in excellent shape. Therefore, you’ll want to get in touch with home repair professionals. These could include plumbers, HVAC technicians, and electricians. Oh, and don’t forget roofers.
Trying to sell a property that has a roof in need of repair is much harder than you’d like. The last thing you want to go through is avoidable hurdles. Consequently, consider paying for a replacement roof. You’ll hopefully be able to get a return on your investment in the form of a higher sale price than you could have gotten before.
While you’re in the process of making home repairs, you may also want to spend time sprucing up your house. Clean everything that’s visible so it looks and smells good. Remove all personal effects and items from walls and shelves. Fluff up the pillows and keep all the beds made. Oh, and scrub down bathrooms so they gleam.
Don’t forget that your property has an exterior, too. You could always paint your front door if it’s starting to blister or crack. Keep the lawn trimmed and the flower beds weeded. Be sure all kids’ toys are stored away after they’ve been used.
Taking small, but deliberate steps, to improve the outside curb appeal and interior decor of your home will go a long way with eager buyers.
A Car Salesman
Is it time for you to get a different car? You may have lived with your spouse for so long and shared a single vehicle between you. Now, you could need a new car, even if it’s only new to you.
Car salespeople get bad raps, but most are just trying to get you a secure set of wheels to get around. Whether you head to a big dealership or a small auto sales shop, go with an understanding of how much you can afford. For example, ask yourself what would be a good car loan amount after your divorce has been finalized. The last thing you want to do is overextend yourself.
Be very honest with your sales professional by explaining that you want to put a certain amount of money down but can’t budge beyond it. If you feel like you’re being pushed to try to buy something that’s out of your price range, move on to a different car seller. There are many of them on the market, so you shouldn’t think that you have to stick with a certain one.
While you’re hunting for a new car or truck, make use of websites that showcase vehicles for sale in your area. Although it’s hard to get a newer model with decent mileage for an affordable price, it can happen occasionally. Just be a little patient if possible, and try to start the car buying process earlier than you need to in order to ensure that you don’t have to make a last-minute purchase that you might end up regretting.
Your divorce may be hard to understand or even accept, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. You’ll get through it, especially if you lean on professionals who can help.