Dealing with an unhappy marriage can be painful and difficult. Whether there are severe conflicts or simply a growing apart over time, divorce is always challenging on personal, emotional and financial levels. While spouses in New Jersey know that divorce is a significant undertaking, it can be more difficult than expected, but advanced preparation can help you emerge more successfully.
You already know that divorce can be an expensive undertaking. Spouses will need to divide their assets, and the changes that come with divorce may be substantial. They may need to sell the marital home or seek refinancing, find new places to live, deal with the separation of retirement accounts or investment funds, and calculate child support, spousal support and other expenses. This is in addition to court costs, legal fees for a family law attorney and other professional costs for therapists, financial planners or expert witnesses.
There are many financial changes that come with divorce. In general, it costs more for two single people to manage their lives than for one married couple to do so. If one partner was not involved with paying the bills or managing the finances, they may not budget correctly for their post-divorce lifestyle. One spouse may want to stay in the marital home even if it is challenging to afford it on one income, or they may not sufficiently downsize to account for their single-life budget.
The division of marital assets means that each spouse may need to funnel more money into their retirement accounts or other investments to build them up for the future. Most people feel some kind of financial difficulties after a divorce, although longer-term outcomes for men and women can vary. However, some people may experience a decline in their living standards after the end of a marriage.
This can be even more challenging for parents, especially if the kids are involved in costly programs like private schools, sports teams or extracurricular activities with trips and similar expensive activities. Parents want to make sure that their kids’ lives are not undermined by divorce, but the changes that come with a different lifestyle can affect everyone in the household. It may be important to prioritize therapy for the children and find less costly projects that still provide stimulation and fun. Your divorce lawyer may work with you and a financial planner to help understand their future after divorce.
Parents may have some particular changes to plan for when considering a divorce. Of course, parents want to ensure that their kids feel loved and supported through the divorce. Even the most amicable parents who work with their divorce attorneys on a collaborative divorce still will spend most of their time co-parenting as solo parents. Running two single-parent households can add extra stress and challenging scheduling for both parents after the divorce.
Both parents will need to look after their children’s basic needs, help keep up with academics, provide love and emotional support, work to support their friendships and social lives, coordinate academic activities and extracurricular activities, maintain their health and provide all aspects of family care. While positive co-parenting can help share the burden and the joys of child-rearing, each parent is likely to spend more time on child care than before, especially with 50/50 shared custody.
If one parent was the primary caretaker before the divorce but both parents are seeking joint physical custody, the less active parent will need to plan for the caretaking tasks where they previously relied on their former spouse. Parents can consult with their family lawyers about actions they can take to plan for the future. This can include working with professionals like a therapist or coach who can provide advice for transitioning to successful joint custody. This can be particularly important for the parents of older children who may feel pressured into a semi-parental role in caring for younger siblings if one or both parents do not step up to play their role in care.
In other cases, despite the financial challenges outlined above, parents may need to employ other professionals. These can include tutors, babysitters or housekeepers, especially if both parents work full-time jobs.
Ideally, kids should not experience extreme differences when they go back and forth between their parents’ homes. While each parent is free to pursue their own style, kids should feel a sense of stability, especially since divorce can lead to feelings of insecurity. The more active parent can help the other parent prepare for these tasks, especially when going through a more amicable divorce.
After you have signed the divorce papers, worked with your family law attorney and developed a plan for the kids and your finances, you may want to take a long break from romantic relationships. However, when you are thinking about pursuing dating again, you may find that the scene has changed from the last time you were looking for a partner.
Parents have their own concerns to deal with when dating, including not introducing new partners too early into their children’s lives. Parents who have custody the majority of the time may find it particularly difficult to make time for romantic activity. However, even non-parents may find it hard to get back on the dating scene after a divorce.
A growing number of people in New Jersey are divorcing later in life, a category that divorce attorneys refer to as a “gray divorce.” They may never have used online dating, one of the more common methods people use when looking for a partner. There are an array of dating sites and apps that cater to different interests, relationship styles and needs, and the “swipe right” style of looking for a partner can be overwhelming and alienating.
Of course, returning to the dating scene can be more difficult for people who went through very challenging divorces or a traumatic experience in their marriage. But for those who want to date, online dating can be one helpful choice. However, it still is not for everyone; you may prefer to meet a new partner through family, friends or colleagues. Online dating may still be a good choice, however, if you are looking for a shorter-term relationship or to experience the thrill of dating again.
You may want to think about your emotional readiness for dating before starting the process, although you could always meet someone as part of your daily life. Dating can be exhilarating and also challenging, with or without a divorce, and thinking about your expectations in advance can help you prepare.
If you’ve begun to think about divorce, it is also time to think about planning for the future. The practical and financial sides of divorce may be some of the most long-lasting effects of the legal process, and a family lawyer may provide advice and guidance. Contact the experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers at Lawrence Law by calling 908-645-1000 or using our convenient online form for a consultation about divorce at our Red Bank and Watchung offices.