The Big Tell: I’m Getting Divorced

Having to tell your family and friends you’re getting Divorced can be a surprisingly difficult part of the process. At a really awful time in your life, when you’re already dealing with all the turmoil and fear and uncertainty, one of the last things you may want is to run into a friend at Starbucks who asks, “So what’s new?”

Author Wendy Paris, writing for Psychology Today’s website, believes that the act of telling others about your split is actually a great opportunity. She explains that marriages exist within communities, and members of those communities can be confused by a Divorce. So the way you break the news helps the community see how you’re viewing it, and lets them know what to expect.

The key to handling it well is, like so many things in life, preparation. Paris suggests developing an “elevator speech,” a term from the business/networking world, which means a quick, organized, presentation — but instead of pitching yourself or your product, you’re describing your Divorce. And she offers some steps  to creating a good one, among them:

  • Define the Divorce. Position your split in a way that gives you more strength, not less. If it’s amicable, say so. If it’s not, say you’re working toward amicability. Avoid, or at least limit, criticisms of your ex. This is about you. Accentuate the positive.
  •  Issue a call to action. Keep in mind that most people will be thinking “How does this affect me?” So, depending on who they are, give them a task. From a good friend, you may ask for support. From an acquaintance, perhaps a set-up when you’re ready to date again. This call to action turns the conversation from “why” to “what’s next.”
  • Always be closing. Be ready to shift topics once you’ve finished saying what you want.

How to Tell Your Spouse It’s Over

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If you’re Di-Curious, have you thought about how you’ll tell your husband or wife you want out, if in fact you decide to Divorce?

And for those who’ve already been through it, how’d you handle the situation, whether you were the giver or receiver of the news? Did that initial statement/conversation get your process off to a reasonable start, or did it dial up the anger and set a negative tone that lasted the entire process? 

Your Divorce Attorney: What to Look For, How to Manage

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For many of us, our Divorce Over 50 is the first time we’ve ever had to deal with an attorney.  Yep, just one more thing about it that really sucks.

So at a terrible time in your life, with all sorts of stress and emotion and pressure, you have to navigate that new, confusing, scary, and expensive world of Divorce lawyers.

How do you even go about trying to find an attorney? The first step is to ask for help. Have any of your friends, family, or co-workers gone through a Divorce? Would they recommend their attorney? Might they recommend the opposing attorney? You might also consider seeking referrals from other professionals you use, like your accountant or insurance agent. They’re often in networking groups with attorneys, and may have a sense of who you should at least interview.

Here’s an article from DivorceNet which addresses interviewing a Divorce lawyer. Asking these questions will  help you get a sense of the attorney’s qualifications, strategy, philosophy, and a projection of the costs you’ll face. In addition to using DivorceNet’s guide as a cheat-sheet for questioning potential attorneys, the site will also help you find qualified lawyers in your area (that’s not an endorsement, just provided informationally).

Then, once you’ve hired an attorney, it’s important to continue monitoring his or her performance to ensure it’s what you want. In this blog post, family law attorney Cheryl Stein says she’s often taken over cases for  clients who had come to distrust their previous lawyer. Many times, these clients felt their attorney was more interested in their relationship with the opposing counsel than with them.

Stein says clients need to insist on transparency with their attorney, meaning open, clear, and honest communications. Clients should be getting regular updates on the progress of their case, and be copied on all written communications.

Don’t Let Divorce Ruin Your Finances

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Many visitors to Divorced Over 50 are either Di-Curious, or in the very early stages of their Divorce. If that’s you, it means that final decisions about post-Divorce finances have not been made, so there’s still time to get it right.

And this article from US News and World Report should help you do just that.

The piece offers ten ways you can prevent a Divorce from ruining your finances. Some are obvious, some you’ve likely heard before. But it’s worth taking a look and keeping the suggestions in mind.

The tips include:

  • Prepare for a new career ASAP. For a non-working spouse, as soon as you know Divorce is even a possibility, start planning to go back to work. Polish your skills and start networking immediately.
  • Don’t get emotional about your home or other items. Many people are emotionally attached to their home, but staying in it may cause significant financial hardship. And don’t spend more money fighting over sentimental items than they’re actually worth.
  • Hire your own team of professionals — get an attorney, accountant, or even financial planner who’s working just for you.
  • Don’t forget about insurance. When one spouse has a financial obligation to the other, that person has to have both life and disability insurance in case something goes wrong.

And if you want to dig deeper on the topic, here’s a piece from a Certified Financial Planner that’s also a good overview on the topic.

 

Divorce Disinformation – Do Not Believe These Myths

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I came across a really important, informative article about Divorce, but I’ve got a bit of a problem with it.

Let me explain.

The article is written by Dr. Karen Finn, for the website Your Tango. Its title is “24 Ridiculous Divorce Lies You Should Never EVER Believe.”

And it does contain lots of great advice for surviving and recovering from your Divorce. But my problem is, I don’t believe anyone would believe all 24 of the “Ridiculous Divorce Lies” that form the premise of her piece. In fact, I don’t believe that most people — no matter their marital status — would believe even half of them. And we Over 50’s, with our life experience and worldliness, would likely believe way fewer.

Seriously, at any point in your life would you have believed “All divorces are basically the same”? Or “Everyone going through a divorce goes through the same emotions in the same order”? Or how about “You should start dating right away”?

Overcome Divorce Over 50 Loneliness

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In late April, I offered DivorcedOver50.com users a survey built around two simple questions: What are the best things about being a divorced person over 50, and what are the worst?

Here’s a link to the survey, if you want to check it out or take it.

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming winner for best was “freedom.” And the most common answer for worst was “loneliness.”

I wrote a piece for Huffington Post discussing the loneliness aspect, aimed at the Di-Curious. The premise is that loneliness can be attacked and overcome. And that a Di-Curious person, weighing his or her options, should not be scared off from Divorce due to that specific fear.

For the Divorced Over 50 community, that decision has already been made, whether by you, your ex-spouse, or mutual agreement. Because such a large percentage (including many who wanted the divorce or whose split was mutual) are facing loneliness, it’s important to discuss it on these pages as well.

Di-Curious Survey: Results of Our Best/Worst Poll

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Back at the end of April, I offered Divorced Over 50 users a quick survey. It asked respondents their gender and how long they’ve been divorced, and then presented two open ended questions: “What are the BEST things about being a divorced person over 50,” and “What are the WORST things about being a divorced person over 50.” 

I summarized the responses into an article which started running at Huffington Post on May 4th. The article was aimed at those who are Divorce Curious, or Di-Curious as we call them around here. And its point was to offer additional information to that Di-Curious man or woman, hopefully helping him or her better understand how life may go if they choose divorce, or one is forced on them.

For the users of this site who are already divorced, I thought you might be interested to compare your experiences to the survey results. And for you Di-Curious who missed the article on Huffington, here’s a look at what you may experience if it comes to a Divorce Over 50. (A quick note — the HP article offered readers a chance to take the survey, too, so many additional responses have come in and are reflected in what follows…) 

Is Divorce Something to Love?

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Can you say you love your Divorce? Or that you love the idea of Divorce?

I would not in either case. I’ll go with the philosophy espoused here: Divorce is never the plan, and it’s not ideal, but it can be a positive that allows us to hit the reset button, be the person we want to be, and move forward into a better future. So maybe I’ll admit to having a crush on Divorce.

However, I have to say, blogger Tara Eisenhard makes some compelling arguments in her piece, Why Do I Love Divorce.  

Men Will Lose Couple Friends in a Divorce Over 50

Getting divorced is guaranteed to cause pain.

It hurts to realize your plan for the future won’t come true. It hurts to realize your spouse is not who you thought he or she was (and maybe you aren’t, either). It hurts to leave your family home, and to divide the possessions you shared there.

Much of the pain tends to hit both men and women equally.

There is, however, a divorce aspect that’s unequal: In a gray divorce, with a marriage that lasted two decades or more, when it comes to the friends you shared as a couple, the man is going to get hurt.

Divorce is Not a Failure — Reframe Your Thinking

Do you feel like a failure because you got Divorced?

Many people do.  But when you think about it, does that really make sense? Over 50% of the adult population will Divorce. Is it really fair to define a majority result as failure? Over half of Americans will get heart disease — are they all failures?

Still, the notion about Divorce persists in society, and adds even more to the pain of going through one.

Well, we may not be able to change society’s view, but we can change our own.