Getting back into the dating scene after a divorce is a process. You may take some time to learn to be on your own again, or you may just not have the time now being a single parent. Some people don’t wait and jump right back into the game. The problem is that the game has changed pretty significantly over the last few years. If you were married for any length of time and are now dating for the first time in a long time, then things are going to seem really strange.
As with everything else in the world now, dating has gone online. While there had been online dating sites for a long time, it wasn’t something everyone did. Well, welcome to the future of dating. Fire up your cell phone, download one or several of any number of apps, set up your profile and jump right in.
Let’s take a step back. Before you jump in, the rules on dating have changed along with the technology and it is good to have a few guidelines for utilizing technology for getting out there.
Don’t pine for anyone.
Here is the first truth of online dating: the chances of someone you are interested in replying back to you is pretty low. There are a lot of people online and people are possibly getting multiple responses to their ads and profiles. It is unlikely and unnecessary for someone to respond back to everyone who reached out. Don’t sit by the computer trying to analyze what other people are thinking and doing when you have not even talked to them yet. Don’t cause yourself stress and anxiety trying to be a mind reader and absolutely do not read into anything or take anything personally.
Detach yourself from the outcome on first contact
Once you send someone a message or an email, let it go. You may or may not hear back from the person. Online dating is a numbers game. Do not latch on to the first person you see. Send out messages to people who you are interested in, but cast your net wide. The more people you contact the greater your return will be.
Do not invest in anyone too quickly
This applies to anyone regardless of how you meet: do not invest in anyone too soon. Get to know people. It is nearly impossible to get to know someone as you should in only a couple of dates. Don’t cut yourself off from other possibilities too soon. There is no rush here. It takes a while to get to know someone and even longer to trust someone. If you move too quickly you may find yourself in a place you do not want to be and, more importantly, you may miss out on the person you will really want to be with.
People’s social media profiles are their “highlight reels”. If you set your expectation on someone solely on their dating and social media profiles, it is almost guaranteed you are going to disappointed once you meet and get to know the person. Almost nothing is as it first appears. From a person’s looks to their attitude, sense of humor or their seeming never ending vacation of a life they present to the outside world. Do not presume or assume anything about a person. Don’t build someone up in your mind because that will only lead to the person never meeting your expectations and this not fair to you and it is not fair to the other person. Get to know the real person. Take profiles, pictures and descriptions with a grain of salt. Assume too much and you will be disappointed, but if you go in without expectations, you may be pleasantly surprised. Or you may want to run screaming.
Do your research into online dating and the sites you decide to use. These dating sites are a business. They are selling a product. That product is a dream. The dream of successful dating, the dream of getting remarried or dream of a fantasy. Keep your expectations realistic. There is research that shows that about a third of the people on the online dating sites never meet anyone. Be mindful of the world you are entering and keep your feet in the real world. The point of dating is to have fun. Don’t put too much stress on yourself. If the process is not fun, then maybe you are not ready for it.
Life, as time, moves forward regardless of what is going on in our lives. The process of divorce can be a long and drawn out process and in the end, there are a long list of changes and transitions that have to be taken care of. Through it all, the kids continue to have their lives which mostly revolve around school. Back-to-school time can be a very exciting time for kids. They are looking forward to seeing their friends after the summer break. It can also be a very stressful time for kids with not knowing how their new teachers will be or what the work will be like. It can also be a stressful and expensive time for the parent, especially newly divorced parents.
There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your kids for getting back to school after a divorce.
Tell the School
It is important to let the school know about this major change in life. Some school systems have programs for kids of divorced families that they may be able to take advantage of. School teachers and counselors are also a great resource for families and kids. They are also very often a great outlet for kids who often feel comfortable talking to teachers and counselors. It is also important for school officials to look out for any related behavioral issues that need to be brought to the attention of the parents. It is possible that kids who are frustrated at home may start to act out in school.
School administrators, teachers and counselors should know some of the details of the divorce, including any custody issues or concerns they have about the kids. In the event that the divorce was contentious and there are ongoing custody issues, the school should know if they are able to release the child to the non-custodial parent.
Create a routine
When there is one parent at home, getting the kids to school and getting them home from school can be extremely difficult when that one parent has to work. Often, morning and afternoon routines vary from day to day based on work schedules and who will be responsible for the kids before and after school. This can create chaos and confusion for everyone involved. The more chaotic things become, the more important it is to have a routine for things. Make a calendar that clearly states what the plan is for each day of the week. This way everyone knows what is going to happen every day and be prepared for it in advance.
It is important to keep an open line of communication with your ex. Both parents may be part of the ballet of getting kids to school and getting them home. There are also things like homework, school functions, sports, after school activities, and parent/teacher meetings that both of you need to be a part of. If there is no proper communication, there will be issues and miscommunication. This can lead to being late for school, a missed pickup, or missing other activities which would cause the children to feel stress and anxiety. Whether you choose to directly communicate or use email or text, make sure the conversation is ongoing. Most importantly, even if you have issues with your ex, unless there are underlying issues of safety related to an ex, there is no reason for the children to be exposed to those issues.
Talk to your kids and listen to them
It is always important to talk to your kids. Even the smallest things can be a major part of their lives. During a major transition like a divorce, it is vital to talk to your kids and listen to what they say. You also have to listen to what they are not saying. They may not know how to communicate what they are feeling and it may come out in different ways, such as acting out or showing signs of stress. Talk to your kids. Also know when you may be over your head and consider the possibility that your kids may need to talk to a therapist. Most importantly, let the kids know they are loved and that they are not the reason for the divorce.
Parents often learn quite a lot about how their children are coping with divorce simply from letting them speak their minds. This will also give divorced parents a better idea for how to mentally, physically and emotionally prepare their children for changes in and out of school.
Over the last 20 years, the area of Family Law has gone through some major changes in the way conflicts between spouses are resolved. Families are taking the cases out of the courts and into their own hands with procedures that are called Alternative Dispute Resolutions. We have discussed Divorce Mediation, which is one of these alternative procedures. A major benefit of mediation is that the couple has more control over the details of the divorce having worked through all of the steps with the guidance of a mediator. Couples that utilize Divorce Mediation have a greater chance of an amicable break since the terms of the divorce were directly negotiated by the couple as opposed to the details being dictated by the courts. Oftentimes, the terms dictated by the courts can lead to animosity and bitter feelings by either spouse who feels the decisions did not go in their favor.
Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures can easily be utilized in cases where there are not high levels of conflict. However, these procedures can, likewise, be utilized in many cases even where there is high levels of conflict and even anger. Of course, there will always be cases where the terms of the divorce will require the backing of a judge and court order, such as cases where abuse is present.
Another alternative procedure is called Parenting Coordination. When it comes to parenting, custody, visitation, and anything related to the children, the level of conflict can become very high. In an effort to remove the burden of making parenting decisions for the family, which may not be in the parents’ or child’s best interest, the parents may agree to use a Parenting Coordinator, which the court will then make a court order. This is a process that is focused on the children. A professionally trained and experienced mental health or legal professional, called a Parenting Coordinator, would work with parents to resolve conflicts with the parenting plan that would be in the best interest of the child and take each of the parents wants and concerns into account. Since the Parenting Coordinator is usually working under a court order with guidelines, they can only make very minor changes to any court orders related to items such as custody or visitation. The Court will still have the final say if the parents cannot resolve the issue themselves or with the input of the Parenting Coordinator.
In some jurisdictions, the main function of the Parenting Coordinator is to create appropriate parenting plans, to build functional, enduring co-parenting relationships; and to resolve ongoing co-parenting disputes. In other jurisdictions, the main function is to help the parents resolve conflicts, enforce the custody orders, or help the parties clarify the implementation of order. Much like mediation, the goal is to take the details of an agreement out of the hands of the courts and give the responsibility to the parents. Even in high-conflict cases, the long-term relationship has less animosity since the terms of the agreement were directly negotiated and agreed upon.
While there is not a lot of data to declare Parenting Coordination a success, there are some numbers that do show its usefulness. Born out of the need to alleviate the pressure on the courts by parents who came back to court multiple times, Parenting Coordination was designed to give the parents a way to resolve their issues even before they come major. In one year prior to the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator in California, 166 cases accounted for 993 court appearances. That is an average of just about 6 trips back to court for each case. Not only does that put pressure on the courts, but each time, the parents had to disrupt their day, miss work, pay the lawyer, find babysitters.. it gets expensive. For these same 166 cases, after the Parenting Coordinators were appointed, there were only 37 court appearances. (1) Another survey found that on average, the level of conflict and stress of dealing with the other parent was decreased and a majority of cases were satisfied with the coordinator and the resulting agreement (2).
As with mediation, Parenting Coordination is not for everyone. It is up to the judge presiding over the case to decide if Parenting Coordination is a good fit.
(1). Johnston, T. Outcome study on special master cases in Santa Clara County, (unpublished study) (1994).
(2). Vick, M. H., and Backerman, R. (1996). Mediation/arbitration: Surveys of professionals and clients, paper presented at the Boulder, Colorado Interdisciplinary Committee on Child Custody
We have discussed mediation in a previous blog post, but there are so many questions about Divorce Mediation that we thought it would be good to revisit the subject. As we previously discussed, mediation is a voluntary process in which both parties hire a mediator to walk them through the process of finalizing the terms of their divorce. The process ends with a full legal divorce and you do not have to step foot into a courtroom at all.
With mediation, there are no attorneys present, however, you are still entitled to hire a mediation coach to ensure you are prepared to go into the mediation sessions on our own. Tracy Duell-Cazes provides mediation coaching through her Family Law practice. You can call our offices to talk to Tracy about the mediation process as it pertains to your specific situation.
In general, there are lot of questions that people have about mediation, so we want to go through some of them here.
As we said, the process does lead to a legally binding divorce. The difference is that the terms of the divorce are fully what you have negotiated. There are no preset formulas or judges unfamiliar with your situation making decisions for you. Mediation is a non-confrontational process, so there are usually no attorneys during the process. That doesn’t mean there will be no disagreements, there are bound to be quite a few. The job of the mediator is to get past the arguments and have both parties come to a place where everyone is somewhat satisfied, or at least where everyone can live with the decision.
We are mediating our divorce, but does that also include child custody and visitation?
Absolutely. This is one of the most important areas of the process. Anything dealing with the kids are sensitive issues. It is also where most of the animosity comes from through a courtroom hearing. Instead of custody and visitation being dictated by the court, it is agreed upon by the parents. This makes it much more likely that the settlement will be fair and amicable for both of you leading to less problems down the road. When it comes to kids, you are still going to be associated with your ex for a number of years, not to mention getting together for major life events. It works out better for the parents and the kids when the custody issues are resolved by the parents rather than a stranger.
Our situation is much too complicated for mediation.
Actually no, it may not be. Every divorce has its own unique complications. There are assets to divide, there may be investments and businesses involves as well. Mediation can even resolve issues about taxes and issues arising if one spouse decides they want to move out of the area.
So, mediation can be used for everyone?
No. Mediation is not for everyone. If one or even both spouses are unable to come to the table to discuss issues in a productive way, then mediation will not work. There are also cases where the divorce is being initiated due to an abusive relationship. In cases like that, it may take the force and even threats of a court order to implement the orders and protect the person being abused.
At TDC Family Law, our focus is the family. We do not look at every case as one where we have to go to court. We look for ways to resolve issues in a way that protects our clients, our clients kids and other interests and we try to do so without deepening the rift between the spouses. We realize that in so many cases the ex-spouses’ lives are still intertwined even after the divorce is final, whether due to kids, investments, or a family business. Mediation is a great process for achieving the end of a marriage that is not working while working to maintain an amicable relationship so everyone can move on without being angry or bitter.
After a divorce or a breakup, there are still going to be awkward interactions with your ex. After being together, you share friends and therefore, you will continue to have some social groups in common. As much as you may want to, you won’t be able to completely control the situation, especially at social gatherings. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to face these moments without a plan. Here are some steps you can take to make these interactions as smooth as possible.
Mentally prepare yourself before you go. Remind yourself why you aren’t together anymore. Seeing your ex in a situation where they are on their best behavior may remind you why you loved them. However, these rose-colored glasses are not going to help you. So when you find the world taking on a rosy tint, take a minute to shake it off and keep enjoying yourself. And it’s okay to feel sad about your former relationship, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you need to take a minute to step away and collect yourself before you head back out.
In the moment, don’t panic and ignore them or look like you’re trying too hard. Now is not the time for a miniskirt, nor is it the time for pretending to be blind to an ex’s existence. These actions will simply make you seem immature and childish. Also, don’t bring a date in hopes of making your ex jealous. This will only leave you feeling awkward with a date you may not even enjoy. Remember, you once loved your ex. Respect them now and act maturely and they’ll probably do the same. You don’t need to completely avoid your ex, just keep it short, simple, and civil when you do need to interact with them.
Take a wingman (or wingwoman) with you. Going alone leaves you without a buffer to make small talk. They can also help by steering you towards the dessert table instead of accidentally towards your ex. There’s something very comforting about having a close friend by your side in an awkward moment, especially someone who understands the situation and won’t leave you alone to flounder while they gab.
Finally, don’t let your ex being there ruin the day for you. Remember, you came to this event because you wanted to see friends and celebrate them. Try not to dwell on their presence or focus on your ex at all. Relax and have a good time knowing that while you can’t control everything, you’re prepared for most of it.
When going through a divorce, one person may be eligible for spousal support from their partner. This can be temporary support whereby one spouse makes payments to the other for them to maintain the status quo during the divorce proceedings and before everything is finalized. Then there is “permanent” spousal support, or alimony (these terms are interchangeable) this is meant to help maintain the marital standard of living for the supported spouse during the duration of the support order. The supported spouse will also need to be making all good faith efforts to be self-supporting during this time. Often during a divorce, one spouse has been out of the workforce and they cannot quickly reintegrate and find employment, and maintain their lifestyle. Therefore, spousal support laws aim to prevent one spouse from suffering a decrease in the marital standard of living.
Not all cases require or include a party to pay either temporary or permanent spousal support. If it is a part of a divorce it can immediately become one of the biggest expenses incurred. Spousal support can last for years, so every adjustment can mean a difference of thousands of dollars. To calculate spousal support, you can settle out of court or pursue litigation. Temporary spousal support in California is calculated by a formula, while “permanent” support is not. “Permanent” spousal support is determined by the weighing of several factors, so while settling out of court may save you legal fees in the short term, the long-term effects of a spousal support agreement that does not include the analysis of the factors or is not litigated could cause you to lose money in the long run. By pursuing litigation, the terms of support will be much firmer. Spousal earning capacity can be established by the testimony of a licensed vocational counselor, arrangements for making modifications or termination of support in the case of a change in income for either party, and the paying spouse will be able to hash out their payment in accordance with all aspects of their income.
There are numerous factors to consider in determining spousal support. Things like the final division of the assets and debts, the marital standard of living, upcoming retirement, remarriage, and self-employment can affect spousal support amounts while something like a prospective raise cannot. Similarly, since California is a no-fault state, any affairs your partner may have had are not taken into consideration when deciding support unless they are cohabitating with another partner, which may merit a decrease their need for support.
In addition to the amount per month that is paid, the duration of spousal support payments also needs to be determined. A general rule of thumb is that payments will last for half the length of a marriage that lasted less than ten years. If the marriage lasted longer than ten years the court can not set a time limit for spousal support absent an agreement by the parties. In this case, the burden to prove that spousal support is no longer necessary will fall on the party who pays support.
In total, spousal support is something that can weigh heavily on divorce proceedings. For the paying spouse, it can be a large expense on top of divorce proceedings that needs to be realized and for the unemployed spouse, it can save them a large financial burden in the long run. If you find yourself in a position where you may need to receive or pay spousal support, taking the proceedings for support to court may seem like a hassle in the short-term, but the long-term effects of such a significant part of a divorce can make the extra court proceedings worth it.
Going through a divorce can be an incredibly personal and emotional time in your life not only for you but also for your friends and family. The closest people in your life will naturally want to be there for you during this time but having them around will not always be the most healthy situation. Therefore, it is important to establish clear and healthy boundaries for your relationships with friends and family as you progress through your divorce. While they may not completely understand your reasons, in the end your decision to keep your friends and family out of your divorce will help you, your spouse, your children, your friends and family, and your future relationships to be healthier and happier.
You and Your Spouse
Your divorce is first and foremost about you and your spouse. Friends and family, while well intentioned, do not need to be privy to every challenge you are facing. Divorce means having to hash out every part of your marriage and having other people weighing in, even when they think they are helping, can hurt negotiations with unwarranted opinions. Divorce proceedings need clear heads, and a friend or family member who is strongly biased in your favor can influence your opinion in a negative manner and cause unnecessary conflict. Even if they mean well, unfounded advice from someone who isn’t directly aware of all of the circumstances may cause more harm than good to you and your spouse and potentially needlessly increase your attorney fees and costs, including having to pay for your spouse’s fees and costs.
Friends and Family
Your friends and family will also be affected personally by their involvement in your divorce. If they are friends with you and not your spouse, they are likely to resent your spouse based on their one-sided opinion. Likewise, your spouse’s friends may come to resent you for the same reasons. If allowed to fester, these resentments may turn into a dislike strong enough to affect your opinion and cause even more strife to color your divorce. In addition, married couples often share friends. These are often other married couples and by involving them in your divorce it can cause rifts between them as they watch their friends struggle to separate their lives. They may not realize it, but getting too close to your divorce may bring up issues in their own relationships that could hurt them in the long run.
Finally, involving your friends and family in your divorce can affect your relationships with them in the future. In the moment, divorce my impact your relationships negatively by creating rifts between you and your friends who find themselves in an awkward situation. They may feel the need to provide advice, be fiercely protective of you, or take your spouse’s side against you. All of these situations can lead to resentment, which, when left to fester, can have serious repercussions on your relationships. Even when your friends and family want to be there for you during your divorce, setting clear boundaries on their involvement is best for all involved. Let your friends and family know how they can help you during this time and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Don’t over involve them, but don’t ignore your relationships altogether during your divorce. Take time to be intentional with your friends and family throughout the process and you’ll all be thankful for it later.
Divorce proceedings can be complicated even for the most civil of couples. However, in many case there are things you and your spouse can do to work through the process while saving you time, money, and stress. Settling your divorce out of court can provide major relief in all three of these categories. With the help of your lawyers and a mediator, settling outside the courtroom can be a much smoother process than going before a judge.
Taking your divorce proceedings to court simply takes much more time than settling out of court. You and your lawyer must invest significantly more time in readying your case for the courtroom than readying it for settlement discussions. To build a strong case for court, you must gather all relevant documents, hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, prepare your statements and arguments, and much more. On top of this, the court system is slow. It takes time for your case to go to trial and once you get there, the ruling could still be delayed for weeks or months if the judge takes the case under advisement. Additional appeals cost you still more time afterwards. Altogether, the amount of time spent going through divorce court is many times the amount of time spent settling with your spouse out of court. To prepare for settlement discussions you will still need to gather documents and prepare your settlement position, however, this process is not as intensive as preparing for court.
Going hand in hand with the time you lose in divorce court is the money you lose along the way. Settling out of court can save you the enormous expense of divorce court. If you proceed with going to court instead of settling, lawyer fees and taking time off from work can cost you much more than settling. In addition to having to pay your lawyers for working the extra hours to prepare to present your case in court, you may also have to pay expert witnesses to appear in court for your case. You must also take time off from work to appear in court, which will cost you your wages. These dollars add up fast, and before you know it, the cost of court is far larger than settling. There is also the possibility that even after preparing for your case and going to court, you may lose, resulting in even more money lost.
When you look at the time and money spent on divorce court, it’s no wonder that there is also a higher level of stress attached to divorce court proceedings. When you have to spend more time and money on your divorce, you are much more likely to experience high levels of stress. Going to court is not an easy process, and having your future decided by someone else is stressful to say the least. By settling out of court you can work together with your spouse, your lawyers, and a mediator to reduce the stress of a drawn-out divorce court case into a far less time and money consuming agreement. Navigating your divorce does not have to take all of your resources. By working to settle out of court, you are taking the steps needed to ensure that your divorce doesn’t cost you additional time, money, or stress.
Stress and emotion are incredible motivators. When things are stressful, we tend to act very quickly. The first step that people usually take is to physically separate. One person will move out just to remove themselves from a very emotional situation. In some case, after a separation, a divorce happens quickly. There are issues about spousal and child support, asset distribution, and so many other things that make the step after separation come right away.
Sometimes, the next step is not so dire. Once the separation occurs, the stress is instantly relieved. This happens often when there are no young children to worry about or there is a hope that the issues can be resolved over time. Another reason that people procrastinate may be health insurance. There are so many reasons that people give for not moving on to the next step. When it comes down to it, it is easier to procrastinate than it is to move forward.
The truth is that there are a lot of reasons why it is beneficial to move on sooner rather than later. Some reasons are emotional, some are financial and others are practical.
This sort of living situation becomes a stressor on its own, not only for the couple but for family and other loved ones around them. If there are children, even adult children, they may start to wonder if their parents are going to end up getting back together again. This sort of unknown can cause a high level of stress.
There is also the case of what happens if someone meets another person and starts a relationship. Whether it is a serious relationship or not, it could be extremely stressful on the new relationship with the new person knowing that the person they are getting involved with is still attached to another. If you hide the fact that you are still married, and the new relationship becomes serious, it becomes a much more difficult situation to deal with. It could very well be the deal breaker of a new relationship.
With the divorce proceeding itself, the length of time you spent separated may be considered if the court decides on the issues of spousal support. The years spent separated can be considered in the analysis of the support issue and may extend the length of time support must be paid.
Until you divorce, your lives are still intertwined. Property ownership may still be under both of your names. Your taxes are still tied together. You may even still have joint bank accounts that need to be managed. If one spouse runs up debt on a joint credit card, then the banks will come after both spouses for payment. You may be separated for years and think you are free and clear until the bank calls and your credit is ruined. To make matters even worse, if you have a credit card and your spouse is still an authorized user on the account, they can run up the bills and you will be totally responsible for them.
It is time to finish the process. Separation is only the first step. The stress and emotion of a bad marriage may be a thing of past, but it does not mean you should forget about the next steps. Get the divorce filed and finalized. The truth is if you have been living separated this long, you have most likely already worked out all the details of support and asset separation. The divorce can be completed without the emotion that tends to lead to ugly drawn out battles.
We are only a few days from the holidays and the end of holiday season. For a lot of people this is an extremely stressful time of the year. From Thanksgiving straight through to New Years, it seems that there is always something planned. More people to see, places to go. There are holiday parties for work and school and family and friends. There is hardly time to breathe, never mind to do any holiday planning of your own or holiday shopping for the gifts.
It is a non-stop train ride that is all meant to be fun, but the truth is that it can be extremely stressful and loaded with anxiety. The biggest stress of the holiday season is the costs related to everything. It is a very expensive time of the year.
When you take the stress of the season and the stress and anxiety of money, it can turn into a very volatile combination.
The months immediately following the holidays are notorious for being the time of the year where more divorces are started than in any other part of the year. On the popular law-related website, FindLaw, searches for divorce climb by 50% in January, February and March.
Why is it that divorce spikes right after the holidays? As we had said, the holidays are very stressful time and a very expensive time, as well. There are things you can do to work through the stress and anxiety with your partner or spouse and avert those emotional fights that tend to lead to divorce.
Most cases of divorce are started after an emotional event. Once proceedings are started based on an emotional event, the process stays emotional throughout the whole process causing you to continue to act emotionally. If you follow the items listed here, you could avert some of the more emotional discussions and learn to deal with the stress and anxiety that often leads to rash decisions.
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