Even in the most amicable splits, the divorce process inherently triggers grief and anguish. But, now that your divorce is final, you have a custody plan and live in your own place, you are ready to move forward, begin a new chapter and place the stressful episode of divorce behind you.
Now is the time to reposition yourself and “take care of what matters most.” You are a survivor, living and breathing. Therefore, you must seize your worthiness and value, because YOU matter. You now have the freedom to take the next small, realistic steps forward, embrace the opportunities coming your way, and accept life’s challenges — ‘souvenirs’ derived from the divorce that will now help you flourish and grow. Here are 3 tips for rebuilding your life following divorce:
1. Protect Your Family and Assets
- Address Changes – Contact the following entities to change your information in their records:
- Social Security Administration;
- Department of Public Safety Driver’s License Division;
- Credit card companies;
- Insurance – vehicle, home, life, etc.;
- Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040;
- Mortgage holders;
- Utilities on your residence;
- State licensing agencies.
- Awarded Properties – Record any documents necessary to transfer title into your name. Contact the holder of the mortgage to ensure all escrow deposits and other benefits (such as private mortgage insurance) accruing from your ownership of the property are also transferred into your name.
- Car Titles – Transfer all car titles to your name.
- Retirement Plans – Review the payee of the survivor benefits under your 401(k) or other retirement plan. Sometimes a grant of a divorce will not have the effect of changing the currently designated beneficiaries.
- Insurance – Contact insurance companies on life insurance policies you received or policies covering any awarded assets (house, vehicle, etc.), confirming all transfer and other forms have been properly signed to effectuate the intent of your divorce decree.
- Health Insurance – If you had health insurance under your ex-spouse’s group employment insurance, you have the right under federal law to convert your coverage into your name in accordance with COBRA. NOTE: You have only thirty days from the date the decree was signed to give notice to your ex-spouse’s employer and insurance company that you are making that election. You must do so within the thirty-day period, or you may waive your ability to have this coverage.
- Financial Accounts – For financial accounts awarded to you (bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, etc.), contact the relevant financial institutions to ensure your ex-spouse’s name is no longer on those accounts and that (s)he has no authority over those accounts.
- Execute a new Will, Power of Attorney & Medical Power of Attorney – All recent divorcees should have a plan for protecting assets and children in the event of death, injury, or incapacitation. Ensure that your assets will be distributed to your chosen beneficiaries. Safeguard your children by appointing a trusted person(s) to make decisions on your behalf.
- Privacy – Safeguard your internet privacy by changing any computer and/or phone passwords.
- Children – Notify schools or daycare facilities of any changes in the pickup or delivery schedule and whether there are any changes in who has authority to pick up your child(ren). Advise the school if your address or phone number has changed so that you may continue to receive notices, mailings, and reports.
- Taxes – Contact a CPA to ensure you have all you need from the divorce proceeding required for preparation of your next tax return.
2. Be Kind to Yourself & Embrace Your New Life
Enjoy your life NOW, instead of waiting for the ‘happiness’ you imagine you may achieve once you reach a certain goal or level in life. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending your whole life working towards that new goal without ever stopping to embrace your joy and happiness now. Take a quiet moment every morning upon waking to appreciate where you are and what you already have. Find joy and gratitude in the small things that occur every day, such as relishing a quiet cup of coffee, tasting a homemade meal, drinking a glass of fine wine, or the simple pleasure of sharing something you enjoy with those you love. Noticing and being mindful of the small pleasures in your life on a daily basis makes an immense difference in the quality of your life.
3. Look for the Silver Lining
When times are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the trifling glimmers of hope. Remind yourself that you will grow stronger and more resilient during difficulties. Be mindful of your blessings and victories – all the GOOD things in your life that are going right. Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Foster and nurture positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful than negative self-talk. No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you CAN control how you react in situations.
Henry David Thoreau said, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” So, keep your life in perspective: You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night. You slept in a bed in your home last night. You had a choice of clothing to wear this morning. You have access to clean drinking water. You have access to medical care. You have access to the Internet. You can read. You are incredibly wealthy, so remember to be grateful! Finally, know that you are exactly where you need to be right now!
Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment. Embrace new relationships. Be ready to learn. Be ready for new challenges.