Divorce has a way of impacting nearly every part of your life.
The costs of divorce – attorney fees, child support, alimony, and more – can wreck your finances. Depending on how the division of property goes, your living situation can drastically change. And worst of all, divorce can even change the amount of time you get to spend with your children.
With so much at stake, it is understandable if you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. That can take a huge toll on both your mind and body.
It is critical to be proactive in taking steps to minimize the physical and mental strain of divorce so that you maintain your overall health.
Looking after your mental well-being is every bit as important as taking care of your physical health. The emotional turmoil of divorce can create a spiral of anxiety and depression that seems unending.
Some men might feel hesitant to open up about their feelings. Traditional views of masculinity emphasize the importance of toughness, fearlessness, and invulnerability to pain, but these unrealistic notions are counterproductive and prevent many men from seeking the help they need.
Not only will a therapist allow you to vent about what you are going through, but they are qualified to recognize the symptoms of depression and can determine the best way to treat the disorder.
Divorce is not the time to hold things in. That is only going to make things worse. A therapist can help you manage the negative feelings you are experiencing and help you get back on your feet.
Avoid bad habits
One of the factors contributing to the increased health risks men face during and after divorce is their propensity to fall into bad habits.
With so much stress and frustration, there is a natural temptation to try to drown your sorrows in a case of beer or bottle of liquor, but self-medicating with alcohol is a slippery slope.
Research shows men are more likely to binge drink during divorce. Not only is this a risky behavior health-wise, but it could potentially be used as evidence to paint you as an unfit father during your child custody case.
Another mistake a lot of guys make immediately after divorce is jumping into a rebound relationship too quickly and becoming a habitual dater. Starting a new relationship too soon after divorce makes it more likely that someone ends up hurt – whether that is you or the person you are dating.
Surviving divorce is no easy task no matter how tough you are. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, divorce is the second-most stressful life event behind only the death of a spouse or child.
There are numerous factors that make moving on after divorce so difficult. When you get married and start a family, you think you have your future figured out, but divorce flips your plans upside down, forcing you to start from scratch and rebuild many of the most important aspects of your life.
However, surviving divorce is possible, no matter how nasty things get between you and your ex. Divorce recovery is a slow process, but with patience, focus, and really hard intentional work, you can do it.
One of the toughest parts of divorce for fathers is that too often dads get the short end of the stick in child custody decisions. Despite the shared parenting movement’s enormous progress, many judges still default to automatically awarding primary custody to mothers.
This is why it is important at the very beginning of the divorce process to get in touch with a family law attorney who focuses on fathers’ rights. Divorce is uniquely challenging for dads, so you should make sure you hire an attorney who understands what you are facing.
Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.
Regardless of what your child custody arrangement ends up looking like, you should use the time during and following a divorce to focus on becoming the best father you can possibly be for your children.
Depending on the age of your children, they might initially end up with some hard feelings toward you after your divorce. It is possible they blame you for the breakup and harbor resentment. It is critical for you to acknowledge the emotions they are feeling and give them an outlet to vent, whether that is to you, a trusted family member, or counselor.
Another big part of being a good father to your children in the aftermath of divorce is working with your ex to establish a strong co-parenting relationship. This can be particularly tough if your divorce was not amicable. Even if you and your ex have hard feelings, you need to agree to put your differences aside so that you can effectively co-parent. Your children’s well-being should be the top priority for both of you.
Effective co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, and cooperation. If your ex refuses to cooperate, you might need to consider a parallel parenting arrangement, which is a high-conflict co-parenting model designed to shield children from whatever disagreements their parents might have.
Divorce is so draining that it becomes very easy to shut down. At the end of the day, you might just want to crash on the couch with some beer, pizza, and Netflix.
There is nothing wrong with taking an occasional night to regroup and veg on the recliner, but don’t make that habitual.
There is a very strong relationship between body and mind, and exercise is proven to be one of the best reducers of stress and anxiety. So hit the gym, go for a bike ride, walk around the park, or even jump into a pick-up basketball game with some buddies. Just make sure you are staying physically active, even when you do not feel like it.
Striving to become a better parent and taking care of your physical and mental health all tie into the larger picture of overall personal development.
When you were married, your relationship with your spouse probably formed an enormous part of your identity. That all changes after divorce, but it also presents an opportunity for you to really focus on self-improvement.
Now that you are single, you likely have more time to take up new hobbies that you always wanted to try. In addition to doing everything possible to become a better dad, you also can devote tremendous energy to advancing your career and putting yourself in a better financial position moving forward.
The key to personal development is identifying specific areas of your life that need improvement and then coming up with a realistic strategy to make progress. So if career success is a goal of yours, maybe there is a promotion you can work for. If you feel getting into better shape is important for you, then set a weight-loss goal. Just make sure you are taking steps to keep your life moving in a positive direction.
Child support for my son was initially opened in New York and also closed in New York. I later moved to Texas while my son, who is now 18, moved to Virginia.
Since neither of us no longer live in New York, do I still need to pay child support until age 21 since the case originated in New York?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state, I can give some general guidance on this issue.
To properly answer your question, I would need to review all of the orders from New York, along with all of the orders from Virginia. If the case was terminated or closed in New York, and a brand new case was opened in Virginia, then I believe Virginia law would control how your child support order is handled.
If the case was simply transferred from New York to Virginia, and if Virginia follows the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, then I do not believe Virginia can modify the duration of the support order, just the amount of the support order.
Oklahoma Divorce Attorney Natalie Sears
However, this could all be moot if your son is no longer living with his mother.
I would recommend calling a Virginia family law attorney for a consultation first to review the support order that is currently in effect to see what language controls how it is implemented and terminated, along with gathering more information about your case.
One of the biggest challenges divorced dads face in the days following a divorce is figuring out how to budget responsibly.
Divorce is often very expensive. Even after the case is settled, there are lingering expenses such as child support and alimony that can affect your finances for years to come.
Many single parents have a tough enough time paying the bills and making ends meet. Court-ordered child support stretches your money even further.
If you find yourself stuck with payments you cannot afford, it is best to check with your divorce attorney to see if a child support modification is possible. It is common for financial circumstances to change after the child support order is issued, and if that is the case then it might be possible to lower the amount you are paying each month.
If a child support modification is not in the cards, then you may need to adjust your household budget to make child support more bearable. Here are some pointers that can help you organize your budget so you are not crushed by child support arrears.
List your fixed expenses
Write down your expenses that are consistent month to month. Fixed expenses typically include bills like your mortgage or rent, car and insurance payments, and utility bills.
Once you finish listing all your monthly fixed costs, you should search for expenses that you can eliminate. Maybe you don’t watch much TV and can do without cable
Reduce discretionary spending
After determining fixed expenses, you need to look at your variable costs. Come up with estimates that you spend each month on things like gas, groceries, entertainment, etc. These are areas where you might be able to save some money with some discipline.
For example, you can carpool to work or use coupons to cut down on your grocery bill. This is probably your best opportunity to cut your spending, so get creative and really think of ways you can reduce these costs.
Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.
Once you determine where all your money is going each month, create a monthly budget that includes your monthly child support payments. Before your month even begins, figure out where your money is going to go. Also factor in an amount for unplanned expenses such as car repairs, emergency health bills, and other odds and ends that invariably pop up.
Once you create a budget, stay disciplined and stick to it. Once you keep at it for a few months, it will start to get easier as this will become the lifestyle you are used to.
Find additional income
Unfortunately, even after trimming expenses and creating a monthly budget, many dads still find themselves with less money than they need to make their child support payments. In these instances, if you are unable to modify your child support order, it might be necessary to find additional sources of income.
If your schedule allows it, you might check into picking up a second job. Some fathers are just too busy to commit to a full-time second job, but there are opportunities within the “gig economy” to earn additional income. Websites like Fiverr provide an online marketplace for freelance services. You could also drive for a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft. These services allow you to work whenever you want so you can keep your schedule open and earn additional money when you have some free time.
Divorce is often complex, and even more so when children are involved.
Depending on you and your spouse’s financial situation, you might be required to pay child support. Divorce is expensive enough on its own, but the addition of a monthly child support payment is enough to ruin many guys’ finances.
Perhaps the most common child support mistake dads make is failing to report changes to their financial circumstances.
The amount of money you are bringing in dictates how much child support you are expected to pay. So if you lose your job, receive a pay cut, or experience some other change in income, you might be able to file for a child support modification.
Child support modifications can be tricky, however, so it is best to discuss with your family law attorney to make sure you understand what you need to do. It also is critical to act with a sense of urgency. Child support is not adjusted automatically when your income changes, so the onus is on you to take action.
Child support modifications also are not retroactive. Changes to child support orders only go back to the date the request for the change was filed.
Making payments outside court-approved methods
When issuing a child support order, the court will list the various ways child support payments should be made. Even if you and your ex divorce on friendly terms, it still is in your best interest to make the payments through a court-approved method to protect yourself.
For example, you initially might agree to pay your ex-wife child support directly. That might work fine for a while, but down the road you might have a disagreement and she would be able to take you to court for missed payments since you did not pay through a court-approved method.
Paying past the age of emancipation
Many divorced dads mistakenly assume their child support order will automatically end once their child reaches the age of emancipation. Unfortunately, that typically is not the case, and the payments will continue unless you take action to end it.
If you have any questions about your child support order or are worried about making a mistake that could lead to child support debt, it is a good idea to get in touch with a men’s divorce attorney as soon as possible.
When your bills start to add up and your child support debt grows, you might wonder if child support debt consolidation is possible.
If you find yourself falling into child support debt, it is critical that you act quickly to remedy to situation. A lot of divorced fathers are unsure what action to take. If that is the situation you find yourself in, you should get in touch with your divorce attorney so they can assess your options and help you decide on the best course of action.
Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.
Child support arrears is a term referring to past due child support owed to a custodial parent. Federal law allows states to apply interest charges if you owe child support arrears. Currently, 35 states apply interest charges. The interest rate varies by state, but can go as high as 12 percent.
Failing to make your court-assigned child support payments can lead to a range of consequences. Some common penalties for nonpayment include:
Warrant issued for arrest
Garnishment of wages
Denial of tax refunds
Suspension of driver’s license
Exclusion from certain government benefits
Revocation of passport
Child support debt consolidation
If you find yourself stuck paying back child support, it might be worth considering consolidating your child support debt. If you are in a state like Colorado or Vermont, which charge 12 percent interest on child support arrears, your debt can quickly snowball, so it is a wise financial choice to utilize a low-interest-rate loan.
This is a fairly straightforward process. You take out a loan at an interest rate that is determined by your credit score and you adjust the term loan to get monthly payments you can afford. A longer-term loan will have lower monthly payments, but higher interest charges, while a shorter-term loan has more expensive payments but decreases the overall cost since interest is not as high.
After you are approved for a loan, you use those funds to pay off your child support arrears and avoid the penalties listed above. Then you pay off the loan and stay up-to-date on your child support payments to avoid new interest charges.
Since it is unsecured, there is no collateral. If you fall behind on your loan payments, the debt goes to a collector who can take you to civil court, where you could be ordered to pay. However, the worst that can happen is wage or tax refund garnishment, so you are not facing potential jail time as you did while owing child support arrears.
Of course, as long as you keep up with the payments, it does not matter whether your loan is secured or unsecured. But if you have fallen behind on child support, money is likely tight, so that risk probably exists.
Qualifying for a loan to pay off child support
Qualifying for a personal loan to pay off child support all depends on your credit score. As long as you have decent credit, you should not have trouble getting approval. However, your credit score determines the amount you can receive and the interest rate.
Even if you qualify, that does not necessarily mean this is the best way to pay off your child support debt. First, you need to do some calculating:
Figure the total amount of back child support you owe.
Find out what the interest rate applied to child support arrears in your state. This will tell you how much money you need to apply for with the loan.
After you apply, the lender will tell you the rate you qualify for during the underwriting process.
If you are unable to qualify for a loan large enough to cover your owed child support, this might not be the best option. If you can’t get a rate lower than the interest rate applied to your arrears, then there is even less benefit in consolidating. However, consolidation could be used to avoid jail time, and that might be enough incentive depending on your situation.
While it is important to act quickly when it comes to paying child support arrears, it is also critical that you know what you are getting yourself into before you take out a loan. This is a topic you should discuss with your divorce lawyer to determine whether child support debt consolidation is the most effective way for you to pay off your child support debt.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently published a story detailing the ruthless and counterproductive way in which the Montgomery County sheriff’s department utilizes midnight raids and debtor’s prisons to target fathers with outstanding child support debt.
The article details how in Montgomery and other Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties, deputies conduct monthly overnight sweeps to capture parents who failed to pay child support, appear for court hearings, or both. Their names are then published in local newspapers and their arrests often aired on local newscasts. Although some are released the next day, others are held in jail for weeks or months at a time.
The purpose of the raids, which often are publicized on Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or back-to-school time, is to coerce payments. Nationwide, overdue child support debt has swelled by 1,000 percent since 1986 to a collective $114 billion, according to the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement. Officials insist that collecting payments is imperative so supporting the healthy upbringing of children.
Everyone agrees that providing financial support for the upbringing of healthy children is critically important, but data suggests enforcement methods, such as these late-night raids, are entirely ineffective at reducing the amount of child support debt owed.
According to the article, five large sweeps of 1,567 people across New Jersey who owed $35 million in 2016 and 2017 brought in just $218 per person – just 1 percent of what is owed.
These methods fail because the reason many of these parents fail to make their child support payments is because they simply cannot afford them. The article cites a 2007 Urban Institute study of child support debt in Pennsylvania and eight other states that found 70 percent of all arrears were owed by people who reported an income of $10,000 or less annually.
The assumption that men are primarily the ones skimping on child support is indicative of the pervasive gender stereotypes that are so ingrained in family law matter. While much ground has been made the past several decades in terms of gender equality, fathers’ rights have become an often overlooked issue.