The “New Beginnings” issue – After 35 years of practice, our team at NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC said goodbye to Mary Ann Burmester, and wished her a very happy and fulfilling retirement. Mary Ann was a leader of the family law community in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. She will be missed. As I reflect on her accomplishments and the impact they made, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the new beginning that she will experience in her enjoyment of the finer things in life. I can only hope that my new beginning as the head of the firm will lead to many successes for our clients and superior representation for all that are in need of assistance
We are one month into the year 2023 and new beginnings abound. “New beginnings” and “starting over” are the themes that remain after divorce. This issue opens with Life After Divorce: How You Can Start Again, followed by The Truth About Getting Over Your Ex After Divorce and concludes with Struggling Financially After Divorce –
Here’s What to Do.
We are here to help you and your family with your legal needs. Please call 505-881-2566 to schedule an appointment. Our Office Administrator is in the office to take your call Monday through Thursday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Friday 8:30 am to noon.
Life After Divorce: How You Can Start Again
Coping strategies to help you build a new life
Whether it’s rife with conflict or not, divorce is rarely easy. When you’re ending a marriage, you may struggle to move on with your life. But you can successfully work through the emotions and start a new life after divorce, says clinical social worker specialist Karen Tucker, LISW-S, ACSW.
“You may feel rejected, angry, profoundly hurt or out of control. It’s also possible that you’ll feel relieved and hopeful,” Tucker says. “It’s important to pay attention to your emotions and to get help when you need it.”
But there are usually stages of emotional upheaval people face when they’re on the road to starting over. As with any loss, you’ll go through periods of adjustment, active recovery and life reformation.
Knowing what to expect (and understanding that the feelings, and even physical symptoms of grief, are normal) will help you get to the other side.
How to rebuild after a divorce
Here are nine strategies to help you move through divorce to a healthy new life.
Let yourself feel
By letting yourself feel, you’ll actually recover better in the long run.
“Your emotional experiences are valid and uniquely your own. There’s no right or wrong way to feel,” Tucker says. “People universally grieve the loss of their dreams — the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.”
Take time to let these feelings out.
Talk it out
Working with a professional therapist can give you solid support, as well as practical tips to help you manage your money, housing, child care and health insurance. Professional guidance can also help you create time and space to grieve over your loss.
“It’s important to utilize your support system during any emotional crisis or change,” says Tucker. “However, a therapist can serve as a nonjudgmental listener, providing guidance and skills coaching, rather than someone who will react emotionally, taking sides and telling you what to do. By developing healthy responses to life stressors, you learn how to avoid making things worse.”
Embrace coping skills
Emotional regulation is a lifelong skill, Tucker says. It helps you learn how to handle intense emotions, focusing on positive self-care and self-soothing.
“People going through a divorce are in survival mode in the beginning and are often not focused on their own well-being,” Tucker notes. “They benefit from learning how to manage their emotions in a crisis, as well as every day.”
Choosing to spend time engaged in pleasurable activities, practicing self-soothing and mindfulness allows you to focus on self-care.
“The hope is that you will feel rejuvenated and able to manage the stressors that are inevitably around the next corner,” explains Tucker. “These skills reduce your vulnerability to emotional suffering when painful emotions overwhelm you.”
Remember that it’s important to maintain healthy sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet, avoid mood-altering chemicals and to take medications as prescribed.
“Doing one thing a day that makes you feel productive and competent also reinforces your self-esteem at a time when your self-esteem often takes a huge blow,” advises Tucker.
Work together to focus on children
For divorcing parents, Tucker recommends concentrating on what’s best for the children.
Remember, you’ll be co-parents for life. Embrace that role and work to make decisions for your children by putting them first.
“In today’s world, there are more choices than engaging in an antagonistic divorce,” says Tucker. “Explore what parent mediation and collaborative divorce offers.”
This is a more child-centered approach and avoids placing your child in an untenable position.
“Your child is already struggling with major changes in their life and worrying about you, the future and what all this means for their family,” says Tucker.
Watch out for stumbling blocks
Get help if you see signs that you’re stuck on anger and resentment, feelings of extreme sadness or anxiety, choosing misery, suffering alone rather than reaching out, succumbing to fear and developing depression.
“For every step forward, there are times we feel we’re taking two steps backward,” Tucker notes. “These are the times when reaching out and asking for help is so important. This is a hard time. Many of us aren’t prepared to deal with all the complications that a divorce may bring.”
It can feel overwhelming and isolating. You can fall into self-blame and internalize your feelings of shame and guilt that can trigger a downward spiral.
“If you’re vulnerable to anxiety and depression at these times, you can benefit from medications and talk therapy,” says Tucker. “If you were in an abusive relationship, education and support groups are available. Start with your primary care physician and they can often explore treatment options with you.”
Avoid hanging on in desperation
You may fall into the trap of trying desperately to reconcile with your spouse, begging for forgiveness or promising anything to hold on to the relationship.
“Divorce feels so final that people are willing to try again and again,” she says.
You may fear being alone. You may feel dependent on your spouse for financial security, housing and your children’s college education.
“People fear the unknown,” says Tucker. “This is where attorneys and therapists can be good resources. We need help challenging our negative thoughts and beliefs. We need good information. Separation and divorce often cause us to feel powerless and helpless. Information is power.”
Don’t rush into a new relationship
Many people going through a divorce jump too quickly into a new relationship. They fear being alone or never falling in love again.
“You need time to heal,” says Tucker. “Heal from the grief, loss and pain of a relationship that has ended. This is not failure, but we feel we have failed.”
Before you can establish a new, healthier relationship, you need to learn the lessons from your previous relationship. What worked, what didn’t? What patterns exist? Do you choose a certain type over and over? Can you trust yourself? Can you trust someone new?
“This can be a time of discovery,” says Tucker. “You have changed and will continue to change. It’s important to allow this change to happen.”
Use self-help and other resources
Books, online resources (research carefully to find legitimate ones) and church-based divorce-recovery programs are all good places to find additional support.
“There are so many self-help books that are on the market that can be very helpful,” says Tucker. “Look for books on codependency, anger management, betrayal, grief and loss or self-esteem.”
You may also benefit from a divorce recovery group.
“It’s comforting to know that you are not alone and what you’re experiencing may be more common that you think,” says Tucker. “Books and support groups provide information, validation and support during challenging times.”
Even though it might not feel like your life is in a good place, try to be positive. Ultimately, you’ll work your way through the challenges and move on.
“You know you’re moving forward when you begin to build a new life worth living,” Tucker says.
What’s life like after divorce?
After a divorce, you’ll go through an adjustment period, full of different stages and emotions.
It’s important during this time that you focus on taking care of yourself. Think about self-care like taking a relaxing bath each week or trying your hand at painting. Use this time to try new things.
You also want to make sure you’re taking care of your physical health, by eating healthy foods and not turning to alcohol or drugs.
Maybe easier said than done, but embrace this change and new chapter in your life.
When to seek help after a divorce
Don’t underestimate the power of talking to someone. Whether that’s a trusted friend or family member or a professional therapist, having a sounding board about how you’re feeling is important.
Ultimately, as you work through emotional issues, you can move forward and create healthy new relationships.
“Part of it is taking personal responsibility and accepting your new life,” Tucker says.
The Truth About Moving On From Your Ex After Divorce
There's no timetable for grieving the end of a marriage.
Some people find the process of moving on after divorce surprisingly uncomplicated. (You know, the kind of folks who say they had moved on from their ex long before their marriage was legally over.) For others, closure is a lot harder to come by.
The good news? Your brain may be hardwired to help you move on. According to a study published earlier this year in the journal Review of General Psychology, humans may be built to experience the pain of a split and move on to a new partner.
Even so, getting through those first initial months and even years after divorce isn’t going to be easy. To help you out, we asked relationship experts and HuffPost Divorce readers for their best advice on moving forward after divorce. Read their tried-and-true tips below.
1. Understand that there’s no timeframe for recovering from divorce ― and that’s OK.
There will be days when you feel amazing and glad to be free of your ex ― and days when getting out of bed seems like more trouble than it’s worth. As divorce coach Kira Gould discovered firsthand, divorce recovery is not a linear process.
“There were times in the beginning of my divorce when I knew in my soul that I was done and over it ― and there are days now, six years later, when I am surprised to think fondly of my ex,” she said. “When you have a past that was long and intricately entwined, those feelings don’t go away overnight.”
2. If you have kids, note that the process will be even harder.
While it’s great to behave like grownups and co-parent for your kids’ sake, having to see your ex every time he or she swings by makes it a lot harder to move on, said HuffPost reader Diane Caron.
“Whether you have children together does make a difference,” she said. “It’s something that we have to live with for the rest of our lives, even if we do move on.”
3. Remind yourself that you’re capable of moving on after divorce.
Don't get too hung up on the theory that it takes half the length of the relationship's duration to process a breakup. You'll feel more empowered once you accept that you're in charge of moving on, not a calendar, divorce coach Emma Heptonstall said.
"Recovering from divorce is ultimately about being willing to let go," she said. "Letting go frees up emotional space, physical space and creates a path on which you can move forward. Being open to the possibility that you might be able to move on is the first sign that you already have."
4. Make a point to define who you are outside of the marriage.
Instead of fixating on moving on, try focusing on yourself and re-embracing the goals and interests you may have put aside during your marriage, said reader Barry Fraser.
"I don't think there's an exact timeframe for moving on but what I do think helps immensely is regaining confidence in yourself," he said. "Chances are, your relationship changed who you were and you lost your identity or self worth."
5. Take comfort in knowing you might experience a moment where you finally feel free of the past.
For writer Amy Koko, the moment she knew she was over her ex (or as over an ex as you can be when you have kids) happened unexpectedly on Thanksgiving, two years post-split.
"The year before I had looked around and felt an overwhelming sadness for the one person who would never again be sitting at head of my table," she said. "This year as we laughed at the table, I felt a flush of warmth remembering how my ex always drank a glass of egg nog with his turkey dinner. In that moment, I hoped he was enjoying his day as much as I was…and that’s when I knew."
6. But don't be surprised if a new wave of sadness hits after you thought you had processed your grief.
Six months after her "drama"-filled divorce was finalized, HuffPost blogger Lindsey Light felt emotionally ready to date again. But then, seemingly out of the nowhere, she experienced another bout of sadness.
"Today, I find myself still dealing with some of the repercussions of my divorce and marriage," she said. "We were together seven years; I think it's good that I'm aware of this as I move forward in my life and relationships. That said, I can say with certainty that I am no longer bitter or heartbroken -- and I definitely don't have any romantic feelings left for my ex."
7. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to get over it.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to move on after divorce -- but maybe instead the goal should be some version of closure from the past, said psychologist Andra Brosh.
"One of the greatest misperceptions of divorce is that it's something you move on from," she said. "The end of a marriage can be grieved and embraced as a life experience, but the mark it leaves can never be erased."
8. Down the road, try to look back fondly on the good times you had with your ex. (You know there were some good times.)
It's healing in its own way to look back on the years you spent with your ex with a sense of appreciation, said Gould.
"I like to think that my ex still has a small place in my heart that's compartmentalized," she said. "I honor the time we had together, but limited in a healthy way."
Struggling Financially After Divorce? Here's What to Do
Divorce can devastate your finances. Here are some steps you can take to try to get back on track financially.
Divorce can devastate your finances. Here are some steps you can take to try to get back on track financially.
Divorce can have a profound impact on your finances. Unfortunately, coping with money issues after divorce can be challenging as you try to rebuild your life. If you've been left struggling financially because of your divorce, it's important that you are as proactive as possible.
Some of the steps you should take immediately to try to get back on track financially include adjusting your spending to your new single-person budget; making a plan to deal with any debts the divorce left you with; considering how divorce will affect your taxes and health insurance; and setting some new financial goals. You may also need to work on building credit in your own name if you shared joint accounts with your spouse.
If you're not sure how to handle all of these post-divorce financial tasks, this guide will walk you through some of the key steps you need to take.
1. Rework your budget to adjust to your new financial situation
For most people, a divorce means you have more expenses to meet with less income. Where you once had two people contributing to one household, now you're solely responsible for covering all your costs. And you're reliant on only your income without contributions from your spouse. Even if you are a higher earner, you may have new obligations such as child support and alimony to pay.
You'll need to make sure your budget fits with your new financial reality, because trying to hold onto old spending habits could quickly lead to financial disaster. Figure out how much income you'll have coming in post-divorce and allocate that cash to essential expenses. If you find you don't have enough to maintain your current standard of living while staying out of debt and saving for retirement, you'll need to make big changes.
It can be helpful to make these changes sooner rather than later so you don't continue to spend as you used to and harm your financial security in the process. You may have to sell the marital home, for example, or downsize to a less expensive vehicle if you can't afford the payments or maintenance.
2. Make a plan to deal with debt
Often, divorce leaves you in debt due to legal bills and other associated costs of ending your union. You'll want to be proactive about making a plan to deal with this debt as soon as you possibly can.
One good approach may be to refinance the debt. If you put lawyer's bills on a credit card and are currently paying a high interest rate, a balance transfer or personal loan could help you to sharply reduce the interest you're paying on your debt.
You should also work your budget so you send extra payments to this debt to keep the total costs down and get back on track financially. It's worth making short-term cuts and giving up small luxuries for a limited time. That way you can retire your divorce debt and move forward with more spare cash available once it's no longer promised to creditors or going towards interest.
3. Work on building credit in your name if you don't have it already
If you didn't have credit cards or loans in your own name during your marriage, it's important you start developing your own credit history ASAP. You'll need a good credit score when renting or buying a home or when applying for any loans in the future.
If you haven't ever obtained credit on your own, it may be hard to get approved to borrow post-divorce. Unfortunately, you need access to credit to build credit. That's because you need to show you can borrow responsibly. If you aren't able to get a standard credit card, you can apply for a secured credit card. Almost anyone can get one easily because they require you to make a deposit that's generally equal to the line of credit. Use your card, make small purchases, and pay off the card on time each month to develop a positive payment history. This is a very important component of your credit score.
If your former spouse is listed on any of your credit card accounts, request to have his or her name removed ASAP so they can't continue using the accounts. And if you're still listed on any joint loans with your ex, those should be refinanced into the name of whomever is responsible for paying them. Otherwise, if your ex misses a payment, your credit could be hurt -- even if your divorce agreement says you aren't responsible for the debt.
4. Change your tax withholding
Your tax situation will almost assuredly change after your marriage ends because you can't file as married anymore.
Depending on whether you can claim your kids as dependents or not, you may either have to file as single or file as head-of-household. Either way, it's important to adjust the money your employer withholds from your paycheck. Otherwise, you may have more money being taken out of your check than should be -- leaving you with a cash shortfall. Or, you may have too little being taken out and end up with a big tax bill, which is the last thing you need.
5. Explore health insurance options
If you were previously getting health insurance through your ex, explore all your options for getting covered on your own. You may be able to get a plan on the Obamacare exchange that comes with subsidies to help cover your premiums, or you may be able to get signed up for an employer plan where you work.
If you were covering your ex, make sure he or she is taken off your policy so you don't get stuck subsidizing their healthcare costs (unless your divorce decree requires you to do so).
Whatever you do, make sure there is no gap in coverage for yourself or your kids, as one minor illness or injury could further exacerbate post-divorce financial problems.
6. Look for ways to increase income
When you're dealing with a downsized budget or trying to pay debt associated with divorce, increasing your income can be extremely helpful.
Look for ways to earn more by learning new skills or picking up a side gig. You can keep busy during your early days of being newly-single by bringing more money into your household. This extra cash will help you become financially stable and overcome any money struggles the divorce is causing you.
7. Set some new financial goals
Now that you are on your own, it's up to you to set financial goals and make plans to achieve them.
The future will look different than you planned now that you're divorced. Think about things like saving for retirement and saving up an emergency fund since you no longer have a spouse's income to fall back on if something goes wrong. You may also want to set some fun goals, such as saving for a vacation, so you have something to look forward to.
Be as specific as possible in setting these financial goals. Start with the essentials, such as becoming free of your divorce debt or rebuilding your emergency savings, and determine how much you need to put towards these goals each month. Then work your budget to prioritize meeting your objectives.
8. Ask for assistance if you need it
If you aren't sure where to start when it comes to getting your financial life in order, you may want to talk with a financial planner about making a post-divorce financial plan.
You may also need help from other sources, depending on your situation. There is usually free or low cost legal assistance in most areas to help you recover unpaid child support if your ex isn't paying. Or, you and your kids may qualify for government benefits without your ex's income.
Don't be afraid to use all the resources available to you as you rebuild your financial life. After all, divorce is a major money setback and it can take time to get back on your feet.
Your finances can recover after divorce
Rebuilding your financial life after a marriage ends can seem daunting, but it is doable. Just follow these eight key steps and before you know it, you'll be in a much better place with your money and you'll have a brighter future to look forward to.
NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC | (505) 881-2566
2727 San Pedro Dr NE Suite 114, Albuquerque, NM 87110