Divorce Transitions or The Dragon is Finally Dead

castle This post is third in a series of posts on the transitions that accompany divorce. You can read the first post in the series here and the second one here.  I originally wrote these last year, as I was contemplating my first year post divorce.  I also had a friend who was dealing with separation and divorce at that time and I thought some of these things would be helpful for others facing the specter of divorce. 

Phase 4—Picking Up the Pieces and Moving On

After the judge’s gavel drops for the final time dismissing all in the courtroom to go on about their lives within the new parameters issued by The Court, the process of picking up the pieces and moving on begins.   I call this a time of rebuilding the kingdom.  Your kingdom might be ravaged by war in many ways: physically, emotionally, financially to name a few.  It takes time to sort through the remains and build a new life out of the ruin. 

During this time, if you have children, your family will adjust to living in two households.  You may experience a holiday or two where you do not spend the time with your children as before because they will be at the other parent’s home.  You may experience grief, loss, pain and deep sadness.  You might be ecstatic that your nightmare has finally ended.  Your children will likely experience a wide range of emotions also and may need some help dealing with them.  You will be adjusting to new schedules, new responsibilities, possibly a new living arrangement in a new location.  This period is all about learning how to do your new life and getting used to the way things will be.  It’s time to slow down, take some time for yourself, reflect, experience the emotions, don’t deny them, learn and grow and hang in there.

3 Certainties Besides Change

Earlier, I stated that the only constant is change. One simply can’t predict a dragon’s behavior or the fallout of a dragon’s fury and damage.  But, as with most things in life…even if it is very bad…it’s not all bad.

Last year, after completing my first year post-divorce,  I made the following observations about what I’d learned during the year.

1.  Things (whatever disaster may come) are never as bad as they appear to be at first.  I will get through it somehow.

2.  I will survive and will learn something in the process if I pay attention.

3.  Things will turn out okay, though it might be a bit messy or difficult getting there or, to put it differently, slaying dragons is never easy.

As I come up on the second year post divorce (two and a half since leaving the ex for the last time) those words are even more relevant than they are today.  It’s been a long exhausting haul financially and emotionally but things are much better now than they were.  The romance department, while incredibly disappointing this year, taught me many things I would not otherwise have learned. The divorce dragon has been buried.  Our castle, bit by bit, is being repaired and improved. We’ve cleaned up, replaced the tattered gowns, polished up our tarnished crowns and there is more order and prosperity in our little kingdom than we had last year.  In spite of the new challenges and heartbreaks we faced this year, we continue to thrive. My children and I are going to be just fine.  I hope this encourages others who might be wondering if the battle will ever end, if the dragon can be slayed, if peace and prosperity will ever be theirs again.  I am here to say, the battle does end, the dragon will die and there are better days ahead.  Those days begin now. Believe it!

I would like to close with words I penned after my first rebuilding year. These words, now more than ever, express my feelings as I conclude another post-divorce year:

As I near the end this year, I have one overriding emotion.  It is the same feeling one might have after winning the Olympic gold medal in a come-from-behind-to-win-against-all-odds victory.  It is the same feeling players on the underdog football team feel when they win with insurmountable odds against the chosen favorite.  It is better than joy.  It is deeper than exhilaration.  It is more powerful than elation and less fleeting.  It is deep, deep conviction and confidence that comes from facing the demons, slaying the dragons, and emerging from the dragon’s lair, with princess gowns a bit torn and slightly charred, crown askew, maybe a bit tarnished, hair mussed and ratted, soot smudges on my face, but with my life and health intact and the dragon’s head in my hand.  My kingdom is safe and those in my castle can breathe without fear.  We are at peace with ourselves and our world. The rebuilding projects are progressing steadily throughout the land.  We can view the future from atop the mountain of hope and joy together.  It doesn’t get much better than that.


Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Part 2

This is the second in a series of three posts about transitions one can expect and decisions to consider during divorce.

After you’ve sorted out your priorities and determined what is journal-writingmost important to you and what is least critical, you might find that there is a bit of a waiting period while papers get filed, petitions get reviewed and responded to by your attorney and your ex and his/her attorney.  While this is a waiting time where the legal process is concerned (sometimes hearing dates are booked six months or more in advance), it is also a time of setting up how your future without your ex will operate.  It is also  a critical and foundational time, because during this period you are setting precedents that might come to bear if and when your case goes to trial.  I call this Phase 2.

Phase 2 –The Process of Separating

Once papers are filed and served, the process of actually separating begins. There are the terms of the physical separation which need  to be negotiated.  There is also an emotional separation that must begin.  During this phase, partners are defining boundaries, establishing new rules and ways of addressing each other and deciding how children will be exchanged for parenting times determined by the court during this interim.  How this looks between couples varies widely from couple to couple. 

This is often where much of the dragonsbattlewpbattle takes place.  Much has to be decided during this phase.  Where will each of you live?  Who gets the family home, who gets which of the family possessions, and how will the money and assets be divided?  These decisions are not to be taken lightly as they will in some fashion determine your lifestyle after the divorce is final.

The next consideration is how to parent the children.  Consider these questions:

  • What kind of parenting plan will you develop?
  • Will you have shared custody or not?
  • How will you help the children transition through these changes with a minimum amount of tension? 

What the two of you negotiate for a parenting plan will in many ways determine your lifestyle after the decree is signed.  This is where being very clear about what you want your future to look like is important.  It might not always turn out exactly your way, but the likelihood of you getting more of what you want is greater if you go in with a plan.  It is wise to consider how workable the plan really is.  Additional questions to consider include:

  • Does the parenting plan allow for some reasonable boundaries to be implemented so you have some privacy and distance from your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) while the children are with you?  Or…do you prefer something more fluid, with your STBX coming and going on your property as before? 
  • How about the children?  Consider what is in their best interests, not just the meeting of your own needs as parent.
  • Does the parenting plan make the most of a bad situation by giving you some time for yourself if you are the custodial parent. 
  • If you are not the custodial parent does the plan give you ample time to invest in and parent your children? 

In every case, it is best if parents can nail this down and agree upon it before it goes to trial.  If you leave it up to the judge, it it less certain how things will turn out.  A judge is not likely to intervene in a parenting plan if both parents are in agreement.  Again, discussing this, and everything else, with your attorney is the wisest decision you’ll make. Your attorney will be familiar with the laws, procedures and judges in your area. (Please do your research and retain an attorney that has an excellent reputation and find someone you can trust to be direct, professional and who will advocate on your behalf.) Tap into that knowledge and expertise as you make plans that will daily impact your future.

Phase 3– Limbo Land: Waiting Around To Make Sure The Dragon Is Really Dead

952313_79933908 The next phase is the phase after the trial while awaiting the final  decree to be signed, stamped and recorded. I call this waiting around to see if the dragon is really dead. For me, this was a period of about three weeks.  My attorney had to formalize the final documents, I had to review them and then they had to be sent back to the judge for signing.  Since my trial occurred the Friday after Thanksgiving two years ago, I was waiting on pins and needles to find out if my divorce would be final before the end of the year.  In my state, if I’m divorced before December 31st, I can file single on my tax returns.  This was important to me, because, I knew my ex hadn’t had his taxes withheld all year and I knew that on my own I would get a return.  I also did not want the hassle of having to negotiate yet another issue with this man.  I was living in the transitional world of being free, knowing the outcomes, but I didn’t have a signed document yet.  I remember the overwhelming feeling of relief I experienced when my attorney’s assistant called to inform me that the document had been signed by the judge on December 21st.   My dragon was finally dead.

To be concluded…in the next post.