Surviving Life After Divorce, Year 1

Getting a divorce can be an emotionally and mentally exhausting process. Divorce proceedings can last anywhere from six months to several years, depending on the circumstances. In many cases, the process doesn’t end at getting a judicial decree declaring your marriage dissolved. During my 35 years as a divorce lawyer, I’ve found that life after your divorce is easier if you’re prepared. Below, I describe some of the most helpful tips I’ve found to be effective for my clients.

Maintain Positive Relationships

Some divorces can devastate a person’s social life. If you had a close group of friends as a couple, you may find yourself in a sort of unspoken custody arrangement with them after your divorce. It’s still important to try and maintain any surviving friendships during your first year. Do not be ashamed to join a divorce support group as well. Sometimes support groups can help you more than a friend who has never experienced a divorce.

Set Clear Boundaries with Your Ex

For some couples, this may not even be an issue. For others, it may be easier said than done. If you had a long marriage, you might have formed habits or routines that assumed your spouse’s presence in your life. The transition out of married life may take longer for both spouses without clear boundaries regarding money, space, friends, and communication. Many people strongly advise against resuming a sexual relationship with your ex, as sex can be used as a method of manipulation.

Be on Top of Spousal Support Payments

If you are ordered to pay spousal support as part of your divorce, it is important that you pay it regularly and on time. Late or missed payments could negatively impact your credit, and in severe cases can result in civil or criminal fines.

If you are receiving spousal support payments, you may still have obligations. If you were unemployed during marriage, the spousal support order may have a “step-down provision” that automatically reduces your spousal support after a certain amount of time based on the assumption that you would have found gainful employment. In that case, it is important that you made a good-faith effort to become self-supporting, even if you ultimately don’t land a job. If you can show the court that you diligently sought employment, the judge can modify the original order and delay when a step-down provision becomes enforceable.

Be on Top of Child Support Payments

Like spousal support, it is important to stay current on your child support obligations. Failing to do so can have serious legal and financial consequences. However, if you have sole or primary custody over you children, you may not withhold visitation from your ex if he or she fails to pay child support. Withholding child visitation is considered a crime in California.

Mind Your Child Custody Obligations

Although co-parenting can be difficult after a divorce, it is important for parents to respect the established parenting plan and visitation schedule. If a parent sharing joint-custody has routinely demonstrated his or her inability to stick to the parenting schedule, the court may modify the custody order and award sole physical custody to the other parent. Conversely, if a non-custodial parent can show the court that he or she has got their act together, the court can modify its judgment and award joint physical custody.

Over 35 Years of Insights and Experience at Your Fingertips

For the past 35 years, I have seen how difficult it is for people to deal with a divorce. While there are a lot of lessons you can learn from going through a divorce, don’t learn the hard way. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff, my clients get the benefit of decades of divorce experience. If you have questions about the divorce process, contact me online, or at (805) 633-4999 for a free initial consultation.

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