27 Ways To Have The Best Divorce

have a good divorce

You can hate your ex and still have a good divorce…with a little extra effort. From putting aside your negative feelings to keeping legal fees down and your children’s spirits up, read on for 27 ways to have the best divorce possible.

  1. End the marriage respectfully. The way you end your marriage sets the tone for divorce. If you blow things up via an affair, or financial irresponsibility, your partner may retaliate by taking a scorched-earth approach to marital dissolution. Serving your spouse by surprise on Valentine’s Day isn’t a good idea either. Nor is yo-yoing about whether or not to split. Put on your grown-up pants: tell your spouse respectfully, and directly, that you want a divorce so you create an environment conducive to an amicable post-divorce relationship.
  2. Treat the divorce process as a business deal. To be specific, treat your divorce as a mutually beneficial negotiation. That means you have to leave enough on the table for your spouse. If you hide assets, trump up ridiculous allegations against your spouse, or hire a pit bull attorney to barrage your partner with threatening letters, you will create an unnecessarily conflictual environment.
  3. Treat your co-parent like a business partner. You are no longer romantic and domestic partners; you are co-CEOs of a promising start-up called Our Children. Building a successful co-parenting company means that you play fair with your partner. You don’t try to wrest control, or turn the employees against him, or create so much drama that he will quit. Because if you do, your most valuable asset – your children – will be damaged.
  4. Sweep your side of the street. Ruminating on your ex’s shortcomings is like being an alcoholic. You binge on negativity, live with a constant emotional hangover, and aren’t fully present for your kids, job, and friends. So the next time you catch yourself fixated on your ex’s lousy personality, shift your focus to what you can control: your own choices. If you sweep your own side of the street, and work on being the best person you can be, you may find your ex isn’t as terrible as you thought.
  5. Develop effective communication skills. Remember: your ex is now your business partner. Firing off incendiary emails, or lecturing him on how to be a better parent, will invite conflict. When communicating with your ex in person or via text and email, keep your emotions and opinions out of it, and stick to facts and logistics. And say “please” and “thank you.” Those words make a difference.
  6. Respect your ex’s relationship with your children. Trying to get your kids “on your side” will cause them anxiety and anger your ex. No matter how much you hate your ex, your children deserve a relationship with him, and vice versa. If you’re worried that your kids will like your co-parent better, realize that they will eventually like their friends and spouse better too. Part of being a parent is allowing your children to individuate and have their own lives. Get used to it!
  7. Don’t turn your child into your therapist. Your job is to take care of your kids’ emotional needs, not the other way around. Do not share details of the divorce, or tell them how their other parent – who they love — has ruined your life. Burdening them with your grown-up problems will rob them of a happy childhood and set them up for a lifetime of codependent relationships.
  8. Don’t turn your friends, family, or the nanny into your therapist. Your friends and family will listen to your problems because they love you. Your nanny will listen because she works for you. But everyone has their saturation level. If your conversations with others revolve around your divorce it’s time to…
  9. See a divorce therapist. Divorce is one of the biggest stressors anyone can face. A therapist who specializes in divorce can provide the support your children, friends, and attorneys can’t. A divorce therapist can also give you tools to manage stress and emotional reactivity so you can feel better. Having a clear head and emotional stability is crucial when you’re making legal and financial decisions that will affect you and your children forever.
  10. Manage your emotional reactivity. If you can’t stop having kneejerk responses to your ex, or can’t keep your anxiety from spilling over onto your children, you need to learn how to manage your emotions. See a therapist, go to a 12-step group like Alanon, practice coping skills.
  11. Forgive yourself. Playing shoulda-woulda-coulda won’t change the past, and it will drain your energy. You did the best you could at the time. Own your mistakes, try to rectify them, and focus on making good choices now.
  12. Realize your ex did the best he could. Maybe his best was lousy, but it was still the best he could do. Blaming him for your divorce, your kids’ pain, and anything else that didn’t go according to your plans won’t make things better. In fact, it will just compromise your ability to get along with your ex and co-parent effectively.
  13. Let go of shame; it’s toxic. If you’ve made mistakes – and who hasn’t? – it’s appropriate to feel guilt, and then resolve to do things differently. But if you feel that your mistakes make you a bad, defective person, you are experiencing shame. Shame does you absolutely no good. It robs you of your self-esteem and poisons your relationships. Shame survives in secret, so cut off its energy supply by seeking support from a therapist, clergyperson, support group, or shaman – anyone who can help release you from this toxic emotion.
  14. Let go of blame; it’s also toxic. Blame won’t solve a problem or get your ex to overhaul his or her personality. It also won’t change the fact that you’re divorced, a single parent, and now living in a lesser lifestyle. You are responsible for handling your circumstances, so focus on what’s going right and what you can do to improve things.
  15. If you can’t co-parent, try parallel parenting. If your ex has a high-conflict personality, you are probably not going to be able to co-parent effectively. Decrease the drama by adopting a Parallel Parenting paradigm: limit contact with your ex as much as possible (conflict will hurt your children more than separateness will) and accept that you will be running your households differently.
  16. Practice self-care. Have you gotten your teeth cleaned? Seen the doctor? Are you eating and sleeping enough? Exercising? Carving out time to relax? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” turn them into a “yes.” Child-rearing and divorce will go much smoother if you take care of yourself.
  17. Stay socially connected. Some people isolate during divorce because they’re embarrassed. They’re embarrassed of being divorced. They’re embarrassed showing up solo at social events. They avoid coupled friends so they won’t be reminded of their single status. Or they lose fair-weather lifestyle friends. Isolating will just make you feel more depressed and alone, so find ways to stay social: hang out with real friends who don’t care about your marital status. Join a meet-up group. Get support from members of your religious congregation. Having a strong social network improves your mental health, so stay social!
  18. But don’t gloat about your new relationship on social media or in person. Publicly flaunting your hot romance before the divorce is final can turn an amicable split into a nasty, costly one. Get closure on your marriage before you parade your new partner in front of your ex.
  19. Send the child support check on time. Do not use money as a weapon to get revenge on your ex. He or she needs the check to care for your children. If you’re playing games with child support, you’re playing games with your children’s well-being.
  20. Spend the child support check wisely. Make sure you spend child support on your children. And spend it on what’s important. They don’t need to take 10 friends to Disneyland for their birthday; a backyard party with a bouncy house and homemade cake will suffice.
  21. Respect the visitation schedule. Do not obstruct the visitation schedule to punish your ex. This will just end up hurting your children and inciting legal action against you.
  22. Respect your ex in front of your children. You are your child’s role model: you want to model respectful, adult behavior. If you diss your ex in front of your kids, or otherwise cause drama, you are teaching them bad relationship habits. Don’t do this.
  23. Treat your ex’s new partner with respect. You don’t have to like your ex’s new partner, but you do need to treat them with respect – especially if you want them to support your relationship with your kids.
  24. Support your ex’s authority in their own home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the way your ex handles homework, decorates the kids’ bedrooms, or allows them to watch Spongebob all afternoon. Your ex is in charge at his house. Trying to get him to change his parenting, or telling your kids to call you if they don’t like the rules at Dad’s, will teach them to disrespect authority and depend on you to run their lives.
  25. Don’t tell your ex how to parent. That “helpful” unsolicited parenting advice you’re emailing your ex? Or dispensing in person, in front of the kids? It’s not all that helpful. In fact, it’s likely to come across as condescending. You’ll have a better co-parenting relationship if you respect your ex’s right to parent the way he or she sees fit. The only exception is when you have a legitimate reason to suspect real abuse. And if that’s the case, you should talk to your attorney, not your ex.
  26. Accept the fact that your life has changed. No amount of blame, shame, if-onlys, or legal tactics will change the fact that your life didn’t work out the way your planned. Accept that your marriage ended, try to be the best co-parent you can be, and focus on creating a meaningful future.
  27. Work on your relationship with yourself. If you depend on externals to make you happy, you will be unhappy a lot of the time. The best way to have a good divorce – or a good anything else, for that matter – is to work on your personal growth. Attend to any mental health or addiction issues. Banish that critical voice in your head. Stop trying to fix other people or get other people to fix you. When you treat yourself well, and believe in your abilities and intrinsic self-worth, your divorce will stop occupying so much of your headspace, freeing you up to focus on what’s important: creating a life worth living.

Have questions about your divorce? We can help you resolve your matter and move on with your life. Secure your future — and your peace of mind. Contact us today for an initial consultation with one of our skilled family law attorneys.