The papers are signed. Everything is final. Now what? First off, let out that deep sigh you’ve been holding in for the entire divorce process. You made it to the other side, and now you have the rest of your life ahead of you. Once you’ve done that, we recommend including these three things on your post-divorce checklist.
Three Things to Do Post-Divorce:
- Stabilize yourself financially
- Prepare yourself emotionally for future relationships
- Protect yourself legally
Stabilize Your Finances
Chances are that the divorce did a number on your finances. Even those who were well-off financially before the divorce can see a shift in their overall financial future after a divorce due to legal fees, loss of a second income, and new spousal or child support payments.
These factors mean you’ll need to take a deep dive into your finances to get yourself stabilized post-divorce. While the state of today’s economy can make this task even more difficult, it also makes it even more important. A few things you should do to start taking control of your financial future include:
- Cut any financial ties that you have with your ex. If you haven’t already, close any joint accounts and open new accounts in your name. Ensure that any debts you have (e.g., car payments, credit cards, etc.) are now separate as well. You want to make sure that all your assets are yours and yours alone going forward, as well as any debts, to avoid any negative impact on your credit in the future.
- Increase your credit score. It’s likely that your credit score took a bit of a hit during the divorce process. Check your credit score to see where you are at, and then consider speaking with a financial advisor to determine the steps you need to take to increase it. If you don’t already own a home, this is an important thing to address so that you can own one in the future.
- Stay on top of your financial goals. Saving may not be on your list of priorities right now, but you can still start small by setting financial goals and taking control of your financial future. You might want to start with paying off one of your credit cards or setting another attainable goal. Sit down and plan a monthly budget to help you attain this goal. Once you start crushing the small goals, you can tackle the big ones.
Preparing Yourself Emotionally for Future Relationships
Maybe dating isn’t even on your radar right now, and that’s okay, but it probably will be at some point so starting to prepare yourself emotionally now certainly can’t hurt. Divorce can take a huge toll on you- mentally, emotionally, and physically. You want to ensure you’re fully able to meet your own needs first before adding another person’s needs into the mix, which can take some time.
Consider working with a therapist to explore what makes you tick, and how you can better show up for yourself and your partner in your next relationship. Therapy doesn’t have to be reserved for crisis situations. Even if you are feeling fine, working with a therapist presents you with the opportunity to fully heal and move on after your divorce. A divorce recovery coach or divorce support group are also great options to help you achieve this.
Protecting Yourself Legally
Even if your divorce was low-conflict, it can still be an overwhelming- even scary- situation to go through. Although things are finalized, if you share children or are still tied together financially through support obligations, there is always the potential there for future issues to arise. Ensuring that you’re protected legally now will make things much easier if this situation occurs.
The most important thing you can do is abide by your marital separation agreement (MSA). If you have any support obligations, pay them. If you have a parenting plan in place, follow it. You don’t want to give your ex any reason to pursue legal action against you in the future.
If there’s something in the MSA that you don’t agree with, you can request that it be modified. When it comes to modifying an agreement, both parties need to agree to the modification, unless you choose to go the route of litigation which can be quite costly. Grounds for modification should have been laid out in your MSA, but if you aren’t sure, you can always consult with a mediator or attorney for advice.
You are just turning the page and starting to write the next chapter of your life. While the pen is in your hand, there are many factors that can impact your story. Make sure the next chapter starts off on a positive note by adding these three things to your to-do list. Don’t forget that Split.fyi is here to support you post-divorce as well! If you haven’t already, check out these other helpful post-divorce resources.