Tag Archives: legal separation

Thanks-parting: Dealing with Divorce on Thanksgiving

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If you’ve been through a divorce recently, you are certainly more than aware of how different (and sometimes difficult) each day can be.  This goes tenfold for the holidays.  

The first Thanksgiving that you spend away from your ex-partner is bound to be a trying time.  A day synonymous with familial joy and “coming together” will naturally seem a little heavy when on your own.  Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to keep the painful memory pangs to a minimum and the glorious gravy enjoyment to a maximum. 

Ring in the new

It’s obvious that this day will inadvertently drudge up memories of previous Thanksgiving celebrations.  Some of these memories may be quite pleasant, others can be the utter opposite.  One way to combat these ghosts is to change things up.  By creating new habits for the day and devising fresh traditions, your mind will be focused on the tasks at hand, rather than languishing in previous experiences.  One potential benefit, right off the bat, is that if you used to spend the day with your ex’s fam, you’re now entirely free of that shackle.  You can visit with your own clan, or a specific group of friends, if you choose.  Forget cooking and go out for dinner.  Even better, really relish in what the holiday is all about; thank your lucky stars that you have what you have and volunteer at a homeless shelter, doling out seasonal food.  Whatever you do, the past customs that you and your ex engaged in will be a faint memory as you create entirely new moments this year. 

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Talk turkey 

Granted, this is a time of thankfulness and grateful reflection, but you’ve been through a rough year and can’t be expected to simply grin through the pain.  It’s actually the perfect time to pull that special relative or comrade aside and let your emotions flow freely.  With the abundance of caring people conveniently assembled, odds are that there will be a trusted someone (or several) that you can talk to.  Not suggesting to turn this whole event in a pity party, but go someplace private and unburden yourself.  You’ll feel some of that emotional weight instantly lifted so you can fully enjoy the rest of the festivities.  Remember, this may be an overwhelmingly hard time for you, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings too; it’s their day as well.

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The Kid’s Table  

As with many divorce related issues, the hardest aspect can be if children are in the mix.  One thing that can assuage the troublesome topic of how to divide their time (between you and your ex) is to be calm and ready to compromise.  Maybe you have to relinquish them for the actual day, but then get to spend Black Friday with them, shopping with glee.  The point is that arguing with your ex about who goes where and when will only acerbate the situation and make everyone feel tense.  Just be reasonable and think of your kids’ feelings; nobody wants to hear about how mom/dad is ruining the holiday by _______; your ex is still your child’s parent, a pivotal person in their lives forever, and badmouthing them always makes you look bad.  

Give thanks

Whether your family is the type that goes around the table before the turkey is cut and everyone states what they are thankful for, or if it’s just tacitly implied, a large component of this holiday is the expression of gratitude.  Take a few minutes to sit down and write out (or type) what you personally have to be thankful for this year.  Go through everything you can think of, big and small.  This simple exercise will soon have you seeing just how bright the silver lining in this divorce cloud is, as a bevy of wonderful things flows from your mind and on to the page.  By assessing all of the gifts you have in your life, you can crystalize a plan for the future, or just sit back and revel in the positive mindset you’re now in.  

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No matter what anyone says, this may be a particularly hard time for you to get through.  Try to relax and follow the aforementioned steps to the best of your ability.  Just remember that life truly does go on, and once the day is done and everyone has returned to their prospective homes, there still will be the scrumptious leftovers to feast on later.  

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 -Joe Leone 

Dealing With Money after Divorce

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People can sometimes get nasty during divorce, and you might see sides of your former partner’s personality that you never thought you’d have to deal with. A lot of that nastiness arises during discussions of money and the valuables you once owned together, things people sometimes feel possessive about during the divorce negotiations. If you’re going through a divorce, it’s never too early to analyze your investments and create a financial plan and budget for your future. But before you think about the future, you have to think about the past and protect any wealth you have already worked hard to acquire.

Here are a few facets of your financial situation that are important to think about as you move forward with your life:

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Bank Accounts: According to DailyFinance.com, one of the first things you should do once you are divorced is ensure that you have all your own bank accounts, whether that means opening up entirely new accounts or simply ensuring your existing accounts are in your name only. If you don’t have one already, getting a credit card in your own name should be considered paramount, especially to help you adjust in the short term. If you have an outstanding balance on a joint credit card that you are unable to pay off immediately, you can call the credit card company to tell them not to allow any future payments on the card.

Insurance: Married couples often receive insurance discounts, so it makes sense to combine contracts at first, but after divorce, things can get confusing. For your health insurance, under a COBRA plan, you have the right to coverage if you are legally separated, but not if you are divorced. Other insurance policies to examine include homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, car insurance, and life insurance.

Beneficiaries: Evaluate your named beneficiaries to make sure none of them are your ex-spouse or his or her family members. While it might not seem like an immediate concern, changing the beneficiaries on your 401(k) and your IRA is one of those tasks that often gets put on the back-burner during the chaos that is divorce paperwork and the emotional rollercoaster you’ll be riding.

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Safety: Having a safety account is always a good idea; especially during divorce proceedings. This isn’t a hidden, secret Swiss account that you can use when you run away, it’s simply an account you can add to and withdraw from without having to worry whether your former partner is partaking in what belongs to you.

Taxes: First, keep in mind that a 50/50 split in assets might not be 50/50 after taxes are evaluated. Speak with a tax professional to ensure you are getting a fair deal in the settlement, and remember, when tax season rolls around, you and your ex may still be on the same side for that particular challenge. Be sure to keep copies of everything related to major purchases and finances, even if you are not sure whether they still have anything to do with you. That way, when it’s tax time, you’ll have all of your bases covered should an issue arise.

Other Income: In addition to accounts that directly involve money you already have, consider the value of indirect sources of money—whether that involves income or anticipated savings. Some commonly overlooked concerns include insurance that was paid for ahead of time, tax refunds, and even frequent flyer points.

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Bills: On the flipside, you and your former spouse probably have several joint billing accounts that you pay into monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Look through your records for memberships, subscriptions, and even items that often are forgotten, like EZPass or your state’s toll payment provider. Some people prepay for items out of joint accounts before filing for divorce, while others may simply not worry about future liability, leaving the responsibility on you.

Divorce proceedings are often tedious, and losing that part of your life can be painful, but staying in charge of your financial future is a great way to create some security in your life. Protect yourself from unfortunate financial surprises by looking into what might seem like tiny details before they become big problems.