Divorce: A Catalyst for Change

Any major life event, including divorce, can be a catalyst for overall life changes. By recognizing and accepting that any big life change will result in many other significant changes, you’ll likely find the transition easier. Knowing this, it’s possible to be intentional about the changes you want to see in your life during this crossroad. Those might include financial changes, a new work situation, changes in your family traditions, your schedule, dating, your living situation, and even your overall lifestyle. 

Change can be both overwhelming and exciting. In this post, we discuss how to own, plan, and design your post-divorce life by using divorce as a catalyst for positive change.

Honor the Transition

Divorce is undoubtedly stressful and the most challenging time of separation is often the time of indecision. During this time, it feels like you are trying to figure out what the future will look like without a true vision, blueprint, or roadmap to get you where you want to be. First off, recognize that the time of transition is often the hardest and that it won’t feel this way forever. At the same time, temporary arrangements made to parenting time, holiday time, or decision-making authority could change again as you negotiate the official decree. 

The more work you can do to create a plan for success, both financially and from a life design perspective, the sooner it will feel like a new normal rather than a time of uncertainty. Being intentional about what you want can help you settle into healthy and productive life patterns faster through adapting habits related to finances, a new job, a new parenting schedule, and decision-making. 

You can get clear about what’s possible and realize the future you desire through preparing, planning, budgeting, saving, projecting your retirement savings, and understanding any financial protections you may need (such as insurance). For example, if you plan to take on a new house payment, have a new job, and have savings set aside, working on a budget to understand how much you’ll want in retirement savings in your divorce settlement to complement other financial assets is critical to realizing the financial freedom you want in the future.

Own Your Decisions 

In addition to struggling with the transition of your divorce and all the associated change, you may notice that, possibly for the first time in your life, you’re making decisions on your own. If you find yourself struggling with these decisions, know that that is normal. You are no longer making major life choices about everything from your living situation to your career with the input of your partner, his/her expertise, and perspective. You may feel added pressure or uncertainty due to these new autonomous dynamics. 

Once again, your divorce can be a catalyst for you to get clear about what you want, based on your values and life vision, which might even be difficult to even articulate after sharing so much of your life and self with a spouse. For example, if you are moving into a new house post-divorce, this may be the first time you have made the decision about your living space and location on your own. In order to make a decision that aligns with your needs, reflect on what is truly important to you without the influence of your former spouse and his or her opinions about living arrangements and circumstances. You now have the opportunity to define new decision-making criteria, taking financial considerations into account. Along with this, you have a new responsibility to yourself and your own happiness by choosing a path that aligns with your wants and needs.

Get Clear about What You Want

Divorce is an opportunity for re-evaluation, planning, and preparing for the life you want. It’s an exciting time for you to build your future! Recognize that the decisions you make as you negotiate various aspects of your divorce decree can have a ripple effect. As you consider all the options available in your future, notice how one change or decision can impact others and/or limit what’s possible for you from a work and earning perspective. 

For example, the parenting time agreement will influence what’s possible with your career as well as child support and/or maintenance. This will impact your finances as well. In another example, quitting or changing your job won’t necessarily impact your financial obligations or what you receive from your spouse for support, since imputed income and historical income will be taken into consideration in these circumstances. 

Instead of looking for ways to minimize what you might owe your spouse or extract as much value from your spouse, do what is best for your future long-term. Don’t get wrapped up in short-term wins. For example, sometimes going back to work immediately can ‘hurt’ your short-term situation and the support you receive, but not always. Other times, getting back to work immediately can help you from a resume-building and independence perspective, which can be rewarding psychologically, especially long-term. Your attorney can advise you based on your unique situation.  

Lastly, recognize when you are just trying to “win” in your divorce versus setting yourself up for the best financial future. Be willing to surrender and compromise for the best long-term situation, even if it means “losing” some aspects of the divorce battle.

A major transition in life, such as divorce, can be a catalyst for positive change and you have an abundance of choices to make that can facilitate a secure and rewarding future. It’s possible to improve your finances and your relationship with your children, friends, family, and self during this time. By focusing on your values and investing in your financial future, you can reclaim the life balance you want. 

At A.M. Financial, we are here to help you budget and plan for the future with the resources you need. We can support your decision-making process by providing financial insights when it comes to planning the next phase of your life. Contact us to share more about your specific situation and learn about how we can help.