Historically, divorce has been different for women than for men. The reason for this is that in the past, more women worked in the home, while men provided the family with their sole or main income source.
However, today it all depends on how dependent each spouse is on the other. The effect of your divorce also differs based on the length of time you were married, how many marital assets you share, and whether or not you have children.
No matter what your situation is, you need to prepare yourself mentally, financially, and emotionally for your road ahead.
Once you are ready yourself, you can make the most of the situation. That’s why we’ve got divorce advice for your finances, parenting, self-care, and legal issues. Let our divorce advice guide help you through the divorce process and beyond.
Of course, the information provided in this article is general and not specific to any case. It is important to understand, divorce and family law is very fact intensive and even the smallest fact can change your case and how the law is applied to it.
You should consult with an experienced divorce attorney about your case.
Financial Divorce Advice for Women
Preparing financially for your divorce is critical. Proper preparation can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
To start, you need to assess where you will be financially after your divorce.
In the United States, men are the primary breadwinners in roughly two-thirds of all married, hetero couples.
If this is your situation, it is essential to give thought to how you will care for yourself financially after your divorce settlement. If you are already financially independent, you still need to understand how your financial situation may change after your divorce. Being prepared helps you protect yourself and your future.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is essential when you are starting a new, post-divorce life. You need to be sure to include payments for housing, auto expenses, utilities, food, gas, phone, entertainment, clothing, medicine, childcare costs, and any other monthly expenses.
You also need to determine how you will make payments that are due quarterly and yearly, like taxes. Breaking down everything you need to pay helps you determine how much you need to make each month and exactly what you can afford. If you need help with your personal finances, you might want to speak to a financial planner.
Gather Your Financial Documents
You need copies of all of your financial documents, and it is a good idea to gather them as quickly as possible. Also, it’s best to keep them in a safe place.
If you are living with your spouse during your divorce, you might want to keep copies with a friend or family member you trust. Some of the documents you should have on hand include:
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
- Credit card statements
- Student loan documents
- Home loan statements
- Auto loan statements
- Retirement account statements
You will need these documents during your divorce proceedings so you can make informed decisions and potentially present them to the court at a trial, so you should be ready to provide them.
If your spouse is not forthcoming, having copies of your shared accounts will help potentially avoid expensive discovery requests and protect your interests.
Check Your Credit Report
Checking your credit report helps you get an idea of where your credit stands. If you were not the spouse in charge of finances, checking your credit report can also reveal any debt that needs to be addressed during the dissolution.
Additionally, as you move to financial independence, knowing your credit score is essential. Finding housing and making large purchases are a lot easier if you have good credit. So, it is a good idea to know where you stand and, if necessary, find ways to improve it.
Decide if You Can Stay in Your Home
Not all divorcing women want to stay in their marital homes after the divorce. However, if you do wish to stay, you need to know if you can afford it. The last thing that you want after going through a divorce is to lose your family home because you are unable to maintain it.
If you purchased the home during marriage, it is presumed community property. This means both spouses have an interest in the property. So, if you want to stay in the home, you will need to pay your spouse for their part of the property.
If you do not have the money to pay your ex-spouse, you may be able to refinance the property or take out a home equity line of credit to pay your ex-spouse for their interest.
However, you need to consult with a lender to determine your eligibility. You also need to factor the monthly payment into your budget as well as account for property tax, maintenance, and other homeownership needs.
If you are unable to afford to stay in your home, you need to begin looking for other housing that fits your budget.
Find a (Better) Job
If you are not currently working, you will need to find a way to support yourself after your divorce. Even if you receive alimony payments and/or child support, you will still likely be unable to afford necessities without a job.
If you already have a job, consider if you need to begin a search for a better-paying one.
Perhaps without your spouse’s income to supplement yours, you may find yourself financially lacking.
Of course, you should discuss this topic with an experienced divorce attorney, as your job (or lack thereof) can impact your request for spousal maintenance (alimony).
Review Your Prenuptial Agreement
Many couples choose to sign prenuptial agreements before they marry. If you signed one, you need to review it with your divorce lawyer. While the state of Arizona recognizes the premarital agreements without consideration, some situations might make your agreement invalid.
Identify Post-Divorce Benefits (Alimony & Social Security)
Alimony is also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance. If your partner has been providing for you throughout your marriage, requesting alimony could be important. Not every divorcee is entitled to this type of support.
However, if your partner was the breadwinner in your relationship or you were a full-time stay-at-home mom, and you cannot meet your reasonable needs without continued financial support, a judge may grant you spousal maintenance. Many factors go into receiving alimony, so you should seek legal advice from a divorce attorney before you decide if you want to request this type of support.
Additionally, you may be entitled to collect on your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. You should research any potential benefits you may be entitled to so that you can better plan for your future.
Parenting Divorce Advice for Women
Going through a divorce can be more difficult when you are a parent. Parental separation is challenging for children, and you’ll need to care for your children’s needs as well as your own. However, with proper management, your family can live a happier life after a divorce.
Do Your Best to Co-Parent
The State of Arizona requires parents to develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan helps everyone know what to expect after the divorce. It includes information about when each parent will see the child, how important decisions for the child will be made, and other vital parenting information.
Unless there are certain facts or orders, both parties exercise joint legal decision-making.
So, for issues like healthcare, you and your ex-spouse will need to discuss it together and reach an agreement. Before making any legal decisions for your child, it is a good idea to notify your ex-spouse in writing and have them sign off that they agree.
As mentioned above, certain facts and court orders can change the initial whether the parties are exercising joint legal decision-making. You should discuss this issue with an experienced divorce attorney so that you do not violate any court orders or jeopardize your case moving forward.
Provide Emotional Support
There are many ways you can provide emotional support to your kids. One of them is by hiring a therapist.
Children can benefit from having a therapist to speak to about their feelings. Being proactive can help to prevent problems in the future. However, unless specific facts dictate otherwise, you need to discuss this with your spouse before enrolling the children.
This will ensure you do not run into any legal decision-making issues.
Another way you can help your children is by taking them to a divorce support group for kids. Divorce support groups are beneficial because they give children tools for coping with divorce.
They also provide them with an opportunity to engage in fun activities. So, these groups can be a safe place for them to share their feelings if they want and at their own pace.
Make sure you receive permission from your spouse before you enroll your child in any group therapy if your legal decision-making arrangement requires it.
Avoid Confiding in Your Children
Courts are very against parents including children in the divorce process, and saying the wrong things to your children can cause problems, both legally and emotionally.
As difficult as it might be not to talk about your ex-husband to your kids, you should refrain from doing this at all costs.
Hearing negative comments about their other parent can cause self-esteem issues, emotional problems, and it can damage your relationship with your child. It is also against the law in many situations, and it can come back to harm you in court.
If you can refrain from speaking to your child about your divorce, that is best.
However, if you feel you need to talk to your children about your divorce, you should consult a family law attorney before doing so.
Personal Care Divorce Advice for Women
With so many other things to think about when going through a divorce, it can be challenging to find time to care for yourself.
However, caring for your physical health and mental well-being is essential during this challenging time. Taking proactive steps to care for yourself can help you feel better about yourself and deal with heartache.
Find Emotional Support
You need a support system when going through a divorce, especially since you are losing the support system you once had.
Friends and family members can be good options, but it’s also important to find professionals who can help you through this challenging time.
Hiring a therapist or attending a divorce support group are two great ways to cope with the changes in your life, especially after years of marriage.
A therapist can help by listening to your feelings, thoughts, and concerns. They have experience assisting people in processing their emotions, and they work with many divorcees.
A divorce support group can also be beneficial. These groups allow you to connect with other people in your situation. A divorce group can help you pre-divorce, while you’re divorcing, and post-divorce. You can find divorce groups in your area or online, and there are groups for women, parents, and victims of domestic violence.
Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your physical health ensures that you stay healthy and feel your best. Get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, drink water, and eat plenty of nutritious foods. When you take care of yourself physically, you feel better about yourself.
Additionally, if you are a dependent spouse in Arizona, you have the right to stay on your spouse’s health insurance during the divorce process. If your spouse no longer wants to cover you on their policy, they have the option of purchasing a policy with similar coverage in your name.
However, they have to serve you with a notice to change your policy.
Get to Know Yourself
Many married women lose themselves. They are so focused on running their household, advancing professionally, and keeping their family happy that they no longer know what makes them happy.
Find hobbies and engage in activities that make you happy. Taking some time to get to know yourself and the things that make you happy will help you maintain a healthy mental state as well as determine ways to spend your time post-divorce. So, this is an essential part of the divorce process.
Embrace Your Independence
Make time to do the things you love. If you have wanted to do things your spouse did not enjoy, you now have the opportunity to do them.
Listen to the music you enjoy; go on a trip with your girlfriends; or, do something you have been putting off as a married woman. Take advantage of your new-found independence to enjoy yourself. Doing so will help you have a stronger sense of self and a better outlook on post-divorce life.
Try Your Best to Be Amicable
If you can, keep things amicable with your ex-spouse.
The divorce process and life afterward are more manageable if you are on good terms.
Being friends might not always be possible, but it is beneficial to both parties to at least try and keep things civil.
Let Things Go
During a divorce, you have to let things go. Holding on to material possessions and emotions can harm you in the long run. If you will be unable to maintain marital assets post-divorce, it might be better to let your ex-spouse take them and offset your interest in other ways.
Do not see this as a loss. You are starting a new life, and you need to understand things will be different. It is also in your best interest to start fresh with your ex-spouse, especially if you share children.
Letting go of painful situations will help you to move on more quickly. And ensuring you have the emotional support to do so is imperative.
Legal Divorce Advice for Women
The legal aspect of your divorce is vital. You need to take certain steps to ensure that you are in the best situation possible. Failing to pay attention to the legal process can harm your life in the future.
Learn About the Divorce Process
In Arizona, there is a legal process couples must follow when they are divorcing. The legal process differs if you are the petitioner or the respondent.
The petitioner is the person who files for divorce. The process starts when the petitioner files divorce documents to have the other party served.
The respondent then responds to the petitioner. If both parties agree to the terms, the divorce process is less challenging, but that is not always possible.
Knowing what to expect in your own divorce will help you prepare yourself for the potential legal, financial, and emotional rollercoaster.
While it might seem obvious, many people do things they should not do during a divorce.
You need to protect yourself, especially if child custody is part of your divorce case. Refrain from doing anything on social media or offline that might make you look like an unfit parent in divorce court.
Follow the Judge’s Orders
The judge will give orders during your divorce case. You need to follow any orders set forth. Going against the judge will cause you unnecessary challenges. Some of the orders a judge might put in place can limit you and your spouse’s access to certain assets. These orders help protect the assets you share.
If you or your spouse go against the orders, you might be found guilty of contempt of court.
If you do believe that there is a specific reason that an order may be inappropriate, consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss potential options.
Hire a Reputable Attorney
Hiring a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you protect yourself. They can provide you with legal advice, help you through the divorce process, and let you know what to expect.
They are also able to help you maintain assets and get the support you need in your divorce settlement.
Final Thoughts for Women Going Through a Divorce
You might be wondering how you will pick up the pieces after your divorce.
There are a lot of things you need to be mindful of during this time like your financial well-being, your mental and physical health, the best interests of your children, and the legal aspects of your divorce.
Dealing with all of those things can be overwhelming.
However, many women before you have gone through a divorce and led happy lives afterward. You too will make it through the challenges as long as you follow our divorce advice tips and maintain a positive outlook on the future.