Once your final hearing has ended and you’ve signed your divorce decree (whether you are happy with the settlement or not), it can feel like a major weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You are now free to begin a new life as a single man without the burden of court dates, attorney fees or prying into your personal life. Everything can return to a sense of normalcy.
However, you may quickly realize that the weight, worry and time spent on the divorce process prevented the reality of your situation from sinking in — you are beginning a new life.
This comes with its own set of challenges, but you also need to keep in mind some aspects of the divorce can come back to haunt you. Despite finally being over, there may be things that need to be addressed months, or even years down the road.
Here are a couple of the common mistakes men make after divorce that can extend the time it takes to move on, cost you extra or even land you back in court.
Forgetting to update life insurance, retirement account and estate beneficiaries
Your decree does not change them automatically. If your ex is no longer your beneficiary by operation of your decree but you have not changed the designation with your insurance plan, the plan will pay to her, and your estate / intended beneficiary will have to sue her to recover the money (in those states that even allow these lawsuits).
Additionally, you have spent a lot of time dividing up your assets, and you need to ensure they go to your intended beneficiaries rather than probate court.
Not signing over titles to vehicles and deeds to real estate
If you wait until the time of sale, you will have to track down your ex and hope she is willing to sign. For vehicles, you will also be treated as an owner in most states if you are still on the title, and you could be potentially held liable in the event of an auto accident causing bodily injury or property damage.
Ignoring court orders
Failure to follow the orders set about by your decree is contempt, and you could find yourself back in court. It is easiest to simply abide by the orders laid out in your decree (even if you disagree with them), or if there is a big enough issue, file an appeal or motion to modify.
Falling behind in your child support or alimony payments is also considered contempt, so it is best to keep up with those payments. If a significant change in circumstances occurs, you generally have the ability to file a motion to modify the agreement where the court will decide whether a modification is applicable.
Paying alimony and child support directly to your ex
In some states, if you pay to your ex directly and she decides not to acknowledge the payment as support, you still owe the support and could end up paying twice. To avoid this kind of problem, utilize state-run agencies or a third-party that can help keep track of your payments.
Going into isolation
Men often take the divorce much harder than women do, and for many men, their ex-wife was the one person they had always trusted to fall back on for support. Without someone to trust, men often try to deal with their problems alone, pushing away from others who may try to help.
Becoming reclusive not only worsens feelings of loneliness and depression, but can also lead to self-destructive behavior, such as alcohol or drug abuse. It is recommended that instead of going into isolation, men should actively seek to broaden their social circles by reconnecting with old friends, joining extracurricular activities, expanding their professional networks or even going back to school.
Jumping back into dating / tying the knot too quickly
It can be tempting now that you are newly single to pick up right where you left off when you decided to settle down with your ex. What many men find, however, is that casual dating isn’t nearly as fulfilling as they had built it up to be in their head. While fun for a while, it doesn’t properly fill the loneliness that comes with losing the one person who was always there for you — sometimes for decades.
This can lead many men to remarry way too quickly (at least for those who still want marriage or those desperate to get back into a comfortable routine). It is all too common for men to rush into a second marriage without actually getting to know the person, which is a recipe for disaster. The rate of divorce for second marriages is even higher than those of first.
The end of a divorce is really the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and you deserve to treat it as such. Just avoid these common mistakes that men frequently make after their divorce, and you can move on with a healthy new lifestyle without having to worry about the past coming back to bite.
Mat Camp is a former Lexicon Services Online Editor, who focused on providing a comprehensive look into all aspects of the divorce experience. On MensDivorce.com, he concentrated on issues, such as parenting time, custodial rights, mediation, the division of assets, and so much more.
Mr. Camp used the wealth of experience of Cordell & Cordell attorneys to bring tangible answers to reader questions in Ask a Lawyer articles, as well as offer a step by step process through the divorce experience with Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder and Principal Partner Joseph E. Cordell in Divorce 101: A Guide for Men.
Mr. Camp used thorough research to highlight the challenging reality that those who go through divorce or child custody issues face. He helped foster the continued success of the Men’s Divorce Survival Guide, the Men’s Divorce Podcast, and the Men’s Divorce YouTube series “Attorney Bites.”