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What happens after divorce can be as stressful as the actual divorce.

Sudden isolation, possible financial problems, coping with new relationships and efforts to “protect” children from the consequences of divorce may make you feel as if you will never regain control of your life.  The good news, however, is that progress toward a new, good life is achievable by taking pride in your new identity, while staying connected to persons who offer positive relationships.  Thus, you do not want to unduly expose yourself to the negative energy of a friend embittered by his/her divorce or to form a new relationship founded on feelings of loneliness.

Simply because your divorce is in the past does not mean that your controlling former spouse will undergo a personality change.  In fact, your former spouse may initiate confrontation in an effort to maintain control.  Therefore, following divorce, taking control may also require changes in the means of communication with your former spouse (for example, using email or the telephone rather than “face-to-face” discussion), making arrangements for coverage of the children, if your former spouse is chronically late (and, if required, seeking legal assistance to address the problem), engaging in activities that you enjoy (even if they do not necessarily involve the children) and expanding your network of friends and advisors to assist in the event of conflict.

Means of maintaining control also include designing a well thought-out budget, making sure that you have a Will, Health Care Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney and an estate plan, seeking the services of professionals to deal with hurt and anger and utilizing the legal system if your former spouse withholds support, interferes with your relationship with your children or engages in harassment.  You may also take control by meeting with financial advisors and regularly obtaining documentation of insurance coverage, payment of college expenses and other obligations of your former spouse.

If you or your attorney have not already done so, it is also important that an outline be prepared of what must be done by you and your former spouse to effectuate the terms of a settlement agreement or Judgment of Divorce, such as changing automobile insurance coverage, exchanging financial information at regular intervals or implementing the division of retirement assets.