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Life After Divorce – Advice For Moving On and Starting Over

By David Bakke

retain focue in a divorceAnyone who has been through a divorce can probably agree on the fact that the emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical toll that it takes on you can be devastating. Learning how to “visit” with your children can be a very difficult adjustment and learning to live alone again can be hard as well. In fact, the cost of a divorce can hit you like a ton of bricks. For these and many other reasons, it can be very easy to lose sight of everything else in your life, such as work and friendships.

The impact of a divorce is often underestimated, but it can really throw you off your “game.” I saw the quality of my work take a serious hit, my friendships suffered, and I lost the ability to smile and to laugh for a long time. And I didn’t even realize these things had happened to me until much later on, when some damage had already been done.

There are a lot of important legal, financial, and logistical issues to address during a divorce and in the immediate aftermath. In a previous article, I discussed how to get a divorce, the process and how it relates to finances. Today I want to talk more about life after divorce, including 4 of the most important things to focus on in order to protect yourself and your financial well being.

4 Things to Remember About Divorce

1. Insurance
Especially in regards to health insurance, keep in mind that not only do you not want to have your ex-spouse covered on your plan, you can’t have him or her on your plan. Your ex needs to be removed from your health insurance as soon as your divorce is finalized. And you need to inform your ex of that fact if he or she doesn’t already know it. You only want to be paying for your own coverage, not your spouse’s (it wouldn’t be honored after you’re divorced anyway).

And don’t forget about auto insurance. Most times, your spouse will end up with an automobile that you may or may not have paid for, but unless it’s specified in the agreement, you are not obligated to continue paying for coverage. Give your ex time to find new coverage, but not too much time – you don’t want to end up being legally responsible for repair bills, or with any black marks on your insurance record.

2. Beneficiaries
Especially if you have children, you probably made your spouse the beneficiary on some insurance policies and possibly other investments. This would especially apply to any 401K plans you may be associated with, any life insurance policies you have on yourself, and also any college funds you may have set up for your children (e.g. 529 college savings plan). You may not want to keep your spouse as the beneficiary after your divorce. However, if you’re considering making your child the beneficiary, keep in mind that in a lot of cases, children aren’t eligible to be beneficiaries. Consider listing a relative or godparent until the child is of legal age.

3. Savings
If you let it, a divorce can be financially devastating. The child support check that I write out every month, for example, far exceeds what I was paying when my spouse and child were living under my roof, plus I have to pay for my own living expenses. Therefore, it’s time to start saving. Turn down those thermostats and find other ways to save on your utility bills, figure out how to save at the grocery store, and do everything that you can to cut your monthly expenses. With attention, prudent spending, and of course, guidance from Money Crashers, you never know – you could find yourself with a bigger savings account than ever.

4. Moving On
As soon as you can regain your perspective; it’s time to start to move on. There’s no sense in feeling sorry for yourself, and there is certainly no sense in blaming yourself. Your marriage didn’t work out – you’ve got to start to get over it and try to learn as much as possible from it.

For me personally, the biggest emotional hurdle to get over was the fact that my divorce was going to have serious consequences for our son, and he never did a thing to deserve it. That for me was one on the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. However, at some point in time, you’ve got to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, and start anew. Ultimately, a positive mindset will not only benefit you, but also your relationships with your friends, family, and children if you have any.

Final Word

For those of us who have been through it or are going through it, getting a divorce is an all-around negative experience, especially when children are involved. The most important thing to remember is that, in most cases, it is probably for the best. You can either let it get the best of you, or do what you can to make the best out of a bad situation. Allow yourself time to grieve, but after that, it’s time to turn over a new leaf. You may emerge with even better perspective, and a better approach to finances, than you had before.

Have you been through a divorce? Please share any financial tips or pitfalls you learned from the process.

(photo credit: daquellamanera)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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