Moving Past Your Fears in Divorce

Growth“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Dealing with fear is one of the biggest challenges in divorce. Fear is designed to keep us safe; it stops us from touching a hot stove or running out into traffic. But when we let it dominate our thoughts, it can keep us stuck and unable to move forward toward a new life. We humans all suffer from fear of change and fear of the unknown. And yet, life is filled with change, and the unknown future may well hold all the goodness we desire, rather than what we fear.

How can we get a grip on fear and begin trusting ourselves to cope well with change?

As the wise saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” Fear is our own creation, a phantom of our negative thinking. We can cut our fears down to size when we face them clearly and learn all we can about what is worrying us. Fear is a feeling and not a fact. When we look at the facts and gather information, we can use our understanding and our clear thinking to generate optimism and hope—a positive and fearless outlook. Here, for example, are some ways to meet the most immediate fears that divorce brings up, those involving how we will continue to pay the bills:

“I’m afraid I won’t get a fair share of our family’s assets in this divorce.”

The solution to this fear is first to determine what these assets are and then what they are worth. The more you know about what you own, the more empowered you will feel. If your family finances are simple, it may not be difficult to divide the assets. If they are more complex with multiple homes, non-liquid investments, employer stock-options, family-owned companies, etc., it will take more investigating to sort things out. Learning all you can about what you have to work with will help you fight fear with knowledge. Your ideas about  “fair” and “share” will be important in determining how you experience divorce and move forward into the future.

“I’m afraid of not knowing what I will have after the divorce.”

This fear of the unknown can once again be countered best with information. Once you know what the family assets consist of and what they are worth, you can take a closer look at how they can be useful to you in your new life. Be clear about what your post-divorce finances will look like. Will you have enough liquid assets? You won’t be able to pay bills with home equity or stock options although their value may be great on paper. Making a post-divorce budget will help you see the big picture of your financial future.

“I’m afraid of not knowing what my lifestyle will look like after the divorce.”

Once again, fear of the unknown is at work. Although you can’t know everything about what the future holds, you can have faith that positive results are just as likely as the negative ones you fear. You can have faith in yourself as well and try to be as informed as possible about your finances. Your post-divorce budget, created with all the information you have gathered about your financial picture, can help with the facts about your money. How you feel about your new life, will you be fearful or hopeful, is in your hands. Everyone has concerns about cash flow and financial well-being. Just as in driving a car, we make adjustments along each mile. Although the scenery may be changing, we can learn to stop scaring ourselves and begin trusting ourselves to be capable navigators.

13 thoughts on “Moving Past Your Fears in Divorce”

  1. Michele Colacino

    My husband has not worked for most of the 17 years of our marriage, even before we had children. We are at the point where we can no longer afford the house we live in and I am planning to look for a smaller house for me and our children when we divorce. My husband is expecting spousal support. I can’t afford to pay for 2 households! What is the point of divorcing when I have to still support him? I do not make 6 figures and I would prefer to spend my money on our children! We live in a community property state and I have less than 5k in the bank. I want to split the sale of the house and give him half of my 401k. Would that be enough or would I still have to pay spousal support?

    1. In most community property states, assets acquired during the marriage are split 50-50, by law. Spousal support is determined in accordance with the laws of your state, so you’ll need to talk to an attorney knowledgeable about the laws where you live.

    1. In most states, if you are married during the period the retirement is earned, a portion of it will be considered marital property that could be awarded to you. Find out from an attorney how that works in your state and what you can expect.

  2. I am already divorced, but I am thinking of moving out of state about 4 hours away from where my ex-husband lives. Would he be able to stop me from doing so? I am not trying to take the kids away from him. I just want to provide a better life for me and my 2 children.

  3. What to do when husband leave as u at
    17 half yrs of marriage no children and one dog he took everything left me broke homeless and no car been through nightmare after night trying to survive, it’s now over a year and I can’t go on fighting all my daily serviceable have no family or friends I applied for disability everything is on waiting list funding for medical necessities please anyone tell me something cuz I’m bitterly can’t go on like this!!!! I don’t meet requirements or etc.. no helppp

    1. You may have to file for divorce or legal separation to enforce laws requiring your husband to support you. Check with the county clerk to see what services are available for indigent people such as yourself.

  4. Does the house have to be sold if we get divorced? I dont want it to. He and our 2 kids would live in it. They are 19 and 21 yrs old. I would rent a apartment.
    I live in Wisconsin if that makes a difference.

    1. There is no requirement that the house be sold, if the two of you can work something else out (he buys you out, you buy him out, or you continue to own it jointly). If you can’t agree on another solution, then it will be sold.

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