GETTING a divorce can be a challenging experience for men. There are certain financial, social and practical hurdles to overcome. Here are our top ten tips for men going through a divorce.
(1) Move out- personal space is needed; and forward mail: most psychologists would agree that it is emotionally unhealthy once the divorce process has started to continue living with your soon-to-be ex-wife. A clean break is recommended especially if there are children in the family, so they can understand clearly what is going on with their parents. It is confusing for very young children that their parents are getting divorced, even more so if there has been no change in the living arrangements. Further, each spouse needs their own personal space to adapt to being single again which can take time, but it should start straight away. Ensure you inform the Post Office of your new address so that they can forward your mail to you.
(2) Divide the stuff: talk to your lawyer about what you would like from the marriage. If you purchased land together, and movable assets such as a car or boat, a decision must be reached in terms of who gets what. Furniture and other effects of the marital home must also be shared, so decide what you really would like to keep, and what you are willing to part with, and have a discussion with your ex-wife and the lawyers.
(3) Schedule time with the children. Don’t be a stranger: you may be moving out but make it clear to your children that even though things did not work out with their mother that you love them very much and will always be in their lives. Your children need you as a parent just as much as they need their mother, regardless of the age or sex of your child (ren). Discuss with your ex-wife when would be mutually convenient for the children to spend time with you in your new home, or if your ex-wife moved out (usually the husbands move out especially when there are children involved) and what activities you will do together.
(4) Take part of the blame, agree to disagree: it wasn’t just your ex-wife’s fault that the marriage didn’t work out. Take part of the blame. Communication and compromise are important to sustain a long and lasting relationship. (If there was verbal or physical abuse involved this advice does not necessarily apply here).
(5) Get closure: whatever the reason (s) that you are getting divorced; it will signal the end of this form of your relationship. You will no longer be married to this individual; the nature of your relationship has changed. But it does not mean it has to end altogether. Start the healing process; the pain that you are feeling is real and many men have gone through this before. Join a support group or speak to your pastor, a close family member or close friend who understands the situation to help you through this.
(6) Keep lines of communication open with your spouse, be civil: your marriage is ending but it does not mean your friendship has to go with it. We encourage civility in divorce; if there are children involved, they will observe your behaviour and act accordingly. Making major decisions about your children is a shared parental responsibility that you should continue to take seriously beyond the divorce process. Always treat their mother with respect.
(7) Choose an amicable agreement with an attorney involved not a hostile take-over: your divorce does not have to mirror a civil war, complete with weapons of mass destruction and armies of soldiers. The alternative of civility and kindness to your ex-wife does not signal weakness or a loss of control on your part but maturity and grace. Speak to your lawyer about ending the marriage on good terms with your wife.
(8) Don’t take the bait: if you were married to a difficult woman and you wanted out of the marriage once the honeymoon was over then recognise that the two of you were not compatible from the outset. Be the grown-up in the room when she wants to be unnecessarily argumentative and boisterous. Don’t let it escalate into a scene. Calmly explain your position and excuse yourself from the room.
(9) Discuss issues calmly with spouse including money, cancel joint lines of credit: some couples have a joint bank account and at the first hint of a divorce one of the spouses removes most or all of the money from the account. Here is a helpful tip: do not have a joint bank account, and if you really feel that is necessary don’t have much money in it. In the event of a surprise attack, much would not have been lost. In the alternative, discuss calmly with your ex-wife how the monies in that account should be divided. For example, if you are both working and this money was ordinarily used to pay household expenses, the mortgage, or books for the children, these expenses still need to be met, so discuss how this will happen before the divorce is finalised.
(10) Get a lawyer: we would advise all persons considering a divorce to retain a lawyer. A lawyer who is well versed in the local legislation, Rules, Divorce Act and other guidelines will be able to aptly assist you to get divorced. For example, if you found out you needed to get your tonsils removed, you would not attempt to do that yourself. Similarly, if you need legal advice and assistance, please see your lawyer. A divorce, especially a contested one, would need the guidance of a legal expert, not a relative or friend.
One final note: don’t forget to change your will. Once your divorce has been finalised, remember to do your will again. Any will executed in our jurisdiction before marriage or divorce is void afterwards. Speak to your lawyer about making your will.
Ms. Trudy O. Glasgow is a practising attorney at the law firm Trudy O. Glasgow & Associates and a court- appointed mediator in Saint Lucia (and has also taught law at University level in the UK)* Ms. Glasgow is also the Vice President of the Bar Association of Saint Lucia.
This column is for general use only, for advice specifically for your case, please see your lawyer.
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