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A new member to the social network recently posted her first blog explaining she was just beginning her divorce and asked for help and advice from the other women on the site.

The following divorce checklist was posted as a comment and caring gesture of support by one of our other members, and we thought it was worth featuring.

She wrote, "We have a checklist for starting out. Take it or leave it, but for most of us here, it's been very helpful:"

  • Go to your doctor and get a complete checkup. Some sisters have had unpleasant findings and others have found that talking to your doctor was helpful if, down the track, you might need medicinal help in finding your balance. No matter what, it's always good to have a complete checkup to know where your health stands before going down the road to divorce.
  • Get all financial stuff copied and stored in a safe place. Anticipate a dirty fight, men tend to fight for 'things' whereas women tend to want to make sure the kids are okay. To both, it often becomes the fight of your life and for most, we no longer recognize that person who once was our best friend. You need to make sure you know where you stand financially and cut off all responsibility for him because he often becomes a bit 'spendy' ~ new clothes, new haircut, new earrings (!) so you want to make sure that you don't pay for his frivolousness.
  • Get a good lawyer. For me, the cut-throat was not my way to go, and I learned that I had to satisfy who I was. I've never been a fighter but I'm not stupid so I visited several lawyers before I found the one who understood what was important to me.
  • Journal everything every day, preferably in a bound and dated diary. In case you need to back up abuse in any way, in case you need to defend yourself ~ in case he's playing games ~ you will have it journaled. Courts accept journals as evidence but they don't like pages torn out.
  • Journal your emotional path. Expect the same symptoms of grief that you would feel if he had died. Some days are better than others, learn to identify them and be grateful for them.
  • Cut off as much contact with him as you can. Each time you see/speak/hear anything to do with him is just like being hit hard in a dangerously bruised place. The least you know about his new life, the better. With a child, the dad is usually somewhat involved. Keep your part to a minimum. Do all that you can to encourage your son to work through his stuff, encourage him to keep open minded about his dad because, like it or not, kids need both parents providing both parents are fair and decent around the child. Plus you no longer belong in their relationship so respect that very holy part of your son. Remember that your ex's blood mixes with yours inside of that wonderful kid and you have to honor that part of him.
  • Write to us here on First Wives World. We're all here to help each other get through this, together.
  • Exercise. Be very kind to yourself, pampering whenever possible. Go to the movies to escape your frenetic pace and to relax for two hours of someone else's life. Focus on your health and do everything you can to remember the dreams you had before this tsunami washed over you. Your dreams are important because they give you something to focus on. Visualise where you want to be in 10 years and aim for that. Believe in yourself because you have to. Remember that you are your son's role model and you don't want to do anything that would bring him shame, including bad-mouthing his father or behaving badly. You want to look back on this time with relief because you did it so well. If you don't misbehave there will be no reason for guilt or evasion. Remember the mantra of 'Grace and Dignity' and make it yours. Sometimes those two words will shout at you when you want to hurt him...

The good news is that this nasty part of your life will not last forever. There is a brilliant light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. And I can promise you that there has never been a growth spurt quite like the one you've embarked upon. You'll learn how strong you are, how resilient you are, how amazing you are. Hang on tight ~ keep us in the loop and we'll help you to walk through it..

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 14 November 2010 11:14 posted by Guest

    I'd like to add two: I'd like to add two more.

    Commit to encouraging a healthy relationship between your kids and both of his future step-parents. Some day, you and your former husband will meet someone and remarry. Nothing is more harmful to your kids than expressing, implicitly or explicitly, that you do not like their stepmom. It puts them in a loyalty bind, making them unable to enjoy her or life when they are in the other house out of fear you will be angry or hurt or will stop loving them. It also make life in the other house unbearable for everyone and has long-lasting effects on your kids' ability to trust and love. Please educate yourself about loyalty binds and commit not to create one for your kids. 

    Commit to creating a specific parenting plan and to following it. Your divorce order should include a specific parenting plan that addresses the regular schedule (week on/week off or whatever you both select), the holiday schedule (two lists of holidays that you alternate each year), a provision for two uninterrupted weeks of vacation with each parent each year and a process for requesting exceptions).  The more specific you are, the more quickly your kids will be able to identify and adapt to the new routine and the more secure they will feel and be. Also, the more specific you are, the less fighting and chaos you will interject into both households. It is better for the kids, better for you, and better for the other household. 

    One more, while we are at it - Commit that you will not hoard information about your kids.  When you sign your kids up for athletic or other activities, when you register them for school, when you take them to the doctor, for goodness sake, write down both parents' full name and contact information. My partner has been forced to take his divorce order showing he has joint legal and physical custody of his daughter and his ID to her school and doctor to get information about her because her mom pretends he does not exist and refuses to name him on any file. It is dishonest and creates major issues for him, but mainly it leaves her daughter wondering why daddy doesn't know about her school activities. Please commit to being a better mother than that.