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How to Manage a Split

January 17, 2013

Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, it’s unlikely you entered your marriage already planning your divorce.  All joking aside, however, what should you do if you find yourself in this position? Unfortunately, I’m finding this to be more and more common with friends….divorce, or separation, or splitting. Whatever you want to call it, it basically sucks for all parties involved! All I can think is, “I was just at your wedding!”. But, in reality, years have gone by and obviously a lot has changed. I recently got the low-down from Elise Pettus on the most important things to think about if this is happening to you. No one likes to talk about it but from her experience with clients, the more prepared you are the better you’ll come through this. I’m wishing you all happiness in whatever your situation may be!

guest post: by Elise Pettus, founder of Untied.net, a website for women going through separation and divorce.

Considering A Split?

If your marriage is in serious trouble, and you’ve tried everything, you may be looking at the possibility of getting out. Contemplating separation or divorce is a scary and lonely place to be. Most important to remember; what holds true in an airplane losing cabin pressure holds true here.  Your first priority is you.  These are big decisions, and nobody can make them but you.  You need a clear head and to feel as grounded as possible during the coming weeks and months.  Consider the following Eight First Steps:

1. Look for help with grief, depression or anxiety.  It might be a free support group, such as a local meetup for divorcing people, or a weekly Alanon meeting.   On the other end of the price spectrum, there are a growing number of private divorce “coaches” who are trained to support, listen and advise clients going through a split.  There are lots of options in between, too. Just make sure you have a space where you are free to talk about what you’re going through, and can ask for advice and suggestions.

2. Find a close friend or sibling that you can call at any hour and who will help keep a finger on your pulse by checking in regularly.

3. Get a grip on your financial assets, and if possible, your spouse’s. Locate documents that pertain to your private financial holdings, and keep them somewhere safely out of your spouse or partner’s reach.

4. Consult a financial advisor who understands not just your immediate needs but will help you with long term planning for you and your kids.  This may be a trusted uncle who works in finance, but if you can afford it, think about talking to a financial analyst or planner who specializes in divorce.

5. Talk to a lawyer now! Better still, talk to two or three.  Even if you think you’ll want to try mediation or collaborative law. Ask them pointed questions such as what they think you might reasonably expect in a settlement and how much they think it will cost.  Don’t know any lawyers?  Start here.

6. Get rest, healthy meals and exercise.  If you feel tempted to finish that bottle of wine-DON’T! It is all too easy to overindulge when life feels this uncertain, but it has never been more important to take care of yourself.  Think massage or meditation class instead.

7. Find things that bring you joy and put them into your life.  Always wanted to learn the tango? How to knit a sweater? Maybe it’s just a daily run with your dog.    Aside from providing a needed release from the constant weight of heavy thinking, these activities will help you locate the part of you that went missing during the darkest days of your marriage.

8. Share with your circle of friends. Think about enlisting the families in your and your kids’ community.  You might send a letter from you and your spouse or partner explaining that you are splitting, but that you hope that you can rely on their friendship and support particularly with regard to the kids.  Most parents will feel moved to help rather than to sit in judgement.  Don’t hesitate to extend this invitation to your child’s teacher, coach or other adults they spend time with.  Ask their help to keep your kids on as stable and solid a foundation as possible.

For more info and support on separation and divorce, and to learn about our upcoming event with Forbes’ divorce finance expert, go to Untied.Net.