One of the worst parts of divorce is it’s typically not something you plan for. A lot of guys are caught completely off-guard by it and are left scrambling trying to figure out what they need to do.
That’s an extremely vulnerable position to be in and if you’re not careful you can end up getting a raw deal in your divorce or custody settlement.
Here are three tips and strategies to help you navigate the divorce process as a father.
Find a support group
Gregory Frank, co-founder of DivorceForce, says one of the most helpful things a guy can do to get through a divorce is find a group of people going through the same thing to offer support and advice.
“I think that one of the most critical things that somebody needs to do is really surround yourself with some people who are going through the same experience at the same time as you,” Frank said, “because you’ll find that there is a lot of relevance there, and divorce is extremely emotional. When you are talking to people and you’re engaging with others who are going through the same exact thing, you relate to each other and you can really learn and that education is really, really impactful.”
There are plenty of ways to get connected to divorce support groups that offer both online and in-person support. DivorceForce, DivorceCare, and the Men’s Divorce Forum are all great resources if you’re unsure where to start.
If you’re a private person, you might not be comfortable sharing details of your divorce with members of your community, and that’s OK because there are still plenty of online options where you can remain anonymous. However, Frank says it can be informative to reach out to people going through divorce in your same geographic region.
“Whether they’re in the same court system, in front of the same judge – people that are in the same county or town that are just like you, these are great resources,” Frank said. “These are great people to reach out to, ask for help, connect with, and really educate yourself so you can mitigate the risk of divorce, but more importantly not bring it into your house where it affects your children the most.”
Get a grip on your finances
It can’t be overstated how crucial it is to understand exactly where you stand financially before you enter into the negotiation process. The last thing you want to do is agree to child support or alimony payments that you can’t afford. That can leave you in financial ruins.
You also need to cut way back on your expenses while you’re going through divorce. You’re going to have to pay attorney fees, court fees and will likely have support payments on the horizon, so unnecessary spending has to stop.
Curtailing spending can be challenging under normal circumstances, and even more so when your life is so chaotic. Here are a few articles to help you figure out how to get your budget in order:
- The Frugal Father: 5 Ways Single Dads Can Save Money
- Divorce Attorney Tips: Securing Your Financial Future
- Money Saving Tips For Divorced Dads
- The Top 9 Major Money Mistakes Men Make In Divorce
The bottom line is you need to figure out how much money you have, what you can afford and try to start saving for a rainy day fund just to be safe.
Prepare to take on more parenting duties
Get ready for your role as Dad to change post-divorce. Regardless of how the parental duties were divided during marriage, you’re probably going to be taking on a lot more now.
“Traditionally the father is waking up, he’s going to work, he’s not really dealing with pay dates or car pools,” Frank said. “Now that you’re going through divorce and you have parenting time, that all comes to the table so you need to completely readjust how your day is spent, because you’ll be responsible for play dates, picking children up from school, and spending quality time with them when they’re in your camp.
“Especially in the initial phases of divorce because that’s when kids feel the most stress and, as a father, you really need to be present in their lives in reassuring them that you’re not going anywhere.”
It might be helpful to let your boss know what you’re going through and see if there is any flexibility with your work schedule. If there are times when you simply can’t watch the kids, then you’ll need to find alternative child care options. If that becomes unaffordable, enlist the help of close friends or relatives.