Ending a marriage is a major life event that can undo even the strongest of men. Regardless of gender or which partner initiated the separation, divorce is challenging and takes most people some time to recover from and rebuild their lives. Post-divorce, both men and women have a hard time adapting to a new life, navigating individual versus shared expenses, and maintaining a safe and healthy atmosphere for raising children. However, oftentimes resources for women outnumber those for men, perhaps due to male reluctance for seeking out help.
It’s worth noting that women are 69% more likely to file for divorce than men, but the statistic isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. Sticking it out, approaching life stoically, and pushing through the hard times are defining cultural characteristics of “being a man.” This, however, can prevent men from addressing recurring issues with a spouse or finding help within a support network. To one’s detriment, this may be one of the leading reasons that it’s more difficult to seek divorce advice and why divorce support for men may seem less available than it is for women.
In this article, we aim to share some ideas and options that are beneficial to men preparing for or considering a divorce or legal separation. While certainly these ideas can apply to women navigating separation and divorce as well, we find from our experience that women more often seek support even though it is equally beneficial to both genders.
Is My Marriage Worth Saving?
Before initiating a separation or divorce, or accepting a partner’s desire to do so, it’s helpful to evaluate whether the relationship is worth saving. Some questions to ask may include:
- Is my marriage worth saving?
- Can I maintain a healthy mental atmosphere for myself in this marriage?
- Will the current stressors in my relationship end up affecting my children? Might a divorce in the long run be healthier for my children?
These questions will help you begin to target the amount of time and effort you and your spouse may want to invest in trying to work things out. Working on the marriage should have the goal of creating benefit to your spouse’s life and happiness, your children’s wellbeing, and your own as well. Without a positive impact in these important aspects of life, it will be difficult to maintain a level of functionality for you and your spouse in one household. If you think the marriage can and should be saved, counseling is a great next step.
Couples counseling is often a good first step if the goal is to save a marriage. It can also make sense to explore if a couple does decide to separate and ultimately divorce but wishes to do so in the most mature and healthy way possible. This is even more important when there are children involved. There may be concern over the cost of therapy; however, if a marriage is worth saving or two people are committed to a healthy uncoupling, it will likely be well worth the investment. Don’t forget, this type of counseling is often covered by health insurance.
If a divorce is imminent, seeking therapy for yourself can also be valuable to help you maintain your own wellbeing while going through a divorce. Having an unbiased and trained professional to help you navigate the emotional challenges of divorce is something we often recommend to our clients.
While as divorce attorneys, we certainly care about our clients’ wellbeing, our job is to advocate for the best possible divorce outcome for you based on your goals. Our focus will be very different in supporting you through a divorce process than will be a licensed therapist who will be focused on your emotional wellness. Your divorce attorney will be focused on your goals around areas such as division of assets, child support, and parenting plans.
As a neutral third party, mediators act to establish terms of separation that both sides can accept. There are no reconciliation talks or attempts to mend things in order to remain a couple at this point. This is the next phase in moving forward, division of assets, determining parenting time, and making sure your children are properly cared for post-divorce.
If children are involved, mediation can be a gentler approach. It sends the message to your children that both parents are reasonable and working together for the best interests of the family. Focus on becoming a solid co-parenting team who can talk, meet, maybe even go to games, plays, and other activities together without any issues. Also, prepare for another person to come into your ex’s life. Many couples include language in their settlement agreement around how much time should lapse before introducing a new partner to children.
Tips During the Divorce Process
Don’t Hide Anything
Avoid hiding things from your spouse that might be considered important. This includes financial information. This doesn’t mean you have to disclose every detail of your day-to-day life, but don’t withhold the essential information. If there’s something at risk of being lost in the divorce, bring it to mediation or to your attorney.
Business owners during a divorce are often at increased risk when dealing with the non-disclosure of assets. Most states require a 50-50 split when it comes to community property. A business could be considered community property even if one spouse owns it and puts in the majority of work into the business. Don’t try to stash funds, vehicles, real estate, or other shared holdings that can become a liability down the road. In these situations, a divorce attorney can be an enormous help in asset division and helping you protect certain assets.
Don’t DIY Divorce
Do-It-Yourself divorces may be tempting. If both parties can agree in most areas and/or where hostility is minimal, then mediation is likely the best way to go. Mediation will save money, yet still provide for guidance during the divorce process. You’ll want to make sure that your divorce is conducted and completed in accordance with all Arizona state laws. This can be challenging to do if you try to DIY it. Divorce attorneys know how to navigate the laws and set everything in stone before finalizing the separation.
Don’t Put Kids in the Middle
Adults considering divorce usually have an idea of what’s coming. Considering that about 40% of marriages end in divorce, many of us had parents or family members that have already been through it. Our experiences may have somewhat prepared us for stressful situations and separation from the things we love.
Children don’t have that luxury. Being confused about what’s going on can make them feel isolated or at fault. Putting them in the middle by asking them to deliver messages or snapping snarky comments about your spouse can be conflicting for them. Remember, it’s not about recruiting children to the “righteous cause.” Divorce is about acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness for the benefit of each and every family member involved, especially kids.
Keep Spending to a Minimum
Before the divorce is finalized, refrain from any unnecessary spending, especially on large purchases like luxury items. You’ll also likely want to focus on saving funds to establish your life separately from your former spouse. If you will be paying child support, you’ll want to start restructuring your spending habits as necessary to prepare for that new expense.
Regardless of whether the climate between you and your spouse is amicable, you should be documenting the exchanges with your ex-spouse, at least initially. While it’s a bit extreme to screenshot every conversation or record every single call, it can be beneficial to keep track of communications, especially if they are threatening or inappropriate. Journal entries are likely the best way to accomplish this. Also, keep track of your purchases, retain receipts, and store all important documents in safe space.
Respect the Child Support & Custody Arrangements
Child support in Arizona is calculated by a mathematical formula that considers several factors including both parents’ incomes, health insurance expenses, extraordinary child related expenses, childcare costs, and parenting time. Unlike some other states, Arizona does not calculate child support as a percentage of the payor’s income. Once finalized, child support payments are required by law, and they will be enforced. This definitely includes addition of interest on unpaid payments (10%!) and can include garnishments and incarceration for non-payment. The court views child support as a parent’s number one financial priority even above mortgages and transportation expenses.
Take Up a Healthy Habit
The emotional upheaval of a divorce can trigger those prone to drug and alcohol use to abuse these substances. Whatever your vice may be, and we all have at least one, try to replace it with a healthy habit like taking up a new form of exercise or hobby that brings you joy. This is also where a licensed counselor can be of tremendous support in helping you stick to healthy choices during the divorce process.
We hope you’ve found this article to be of support to you as you embark on this challenging time in your life. Divorce is a major life upheaval with many ups and downs throughout the process. Having a team of support from a therapist to a divorce attorney for mediation or to represent you exclusively can make a huge difference in how you weather the storm and come out the other side. It’s hard to imagine that life may actually be better after a divorce, but we’ve seen with our clients that in time, this can be true. Surrounding yourself with the right support and making good choices will go a long way in the outcome of your divorce experience and post-divorce life.