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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

7 New Year’s Resolutions for Separated or Divorced People

So you're recently divorced, and New Year's Eve is here. New Year Eve is commonly a time for reflection and looking ahead, and this is never more poignant when you find yourself newly separated or divorced and coming out of an emotionally difficult year, as we all have had due to Covid-19.

It’s easy to dwell on being alone on New Year’s Eve, but it’s important to remember that just because you’re alone this New Year’s Eve, it doesn’t mean that future years will be the same. Why not use this opportunity to to reinvent your life: make some powerful resolutions that will put you on the path to happiness and prosperity next year.

Here’s how…

1) Self-Care. The COVID pandemic and your post divorce life are great sources of stress and uncertainty. They can impact your sleep and eating patterns greatly. If those disturbances persist for long enough, you will find yourself in poor physical and mental health. You cannot be at your best if you’re not up and operating at full capacity. This why self-care should be your number one priority in 2021.

Start exercising regularly to banish depression. Exercise triggers your brain to releases endorphins and serotonin, which block feeling pain in your muscles – but more importantly, it makes you feel happy. Study after study has shown the emotional and physical benefits of regular exercise. Try to make it fun to give yourself an extra boost: take an online healthy cooking course, plan enjoyable bike rides or hikes, get a dog and walk him in parks and natural areas daily. All this can be done when the kids are with you – and especially when they aren’t.

Whatever you do just commit to trying something new. Pursue a new hobby or interest that you’ve never done before. Focus on what makes you happy and do more of it.

2) Take Control of Your Finances. Divorce means one income instead of two, so you may need assistance adjusting to one stream of income. Meet with a financial expert. Get some objective advice about how to achieve your new financial goals from an expert. In the meantime, create a budget, analyze your retirement accounts, set up an emergency fund, and start investing.

3) Update your will, trusts, insurance policies, and estate plans. Revoke your will by literally tearing it up and making a new one. If your situation is relatively simple, you can make a basic will or living trust using software designed for the purpose; if your situation is more complicated, you should hire a lawyer to create these documents for you. Consider:

  • naming a new executor for your will.

  • updating your beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and pensions (unless your divorce agreement calls for your ex-spouse to remain the beneficiary of these).

  • naming two powers of attorney: one for medical decisions and one for financial matters. You could designate one person for both roles, or choose two different people based on each individual’s knowledge and experience.

4) Never withhold visitation or child support to punish your ex. Children of divorce adjust better and are happier if they have frequent, meaningful contact with both parents. Also, child support is more often paid on-time and in-full when the payor sees his/her kids frequently.

5) Become a more cooperative Co-Parent. It’s been proven that children do better and are happier when they have meaningful relationships with both parents. If you and your ex share custody, then you’ll be in communication with them frequently. Never bad mouth your ex in front of the kids or engage in fights. At best, you will cause a painful loyalty conflict for them. Instead, encourage your children to love and spend time with their other parent.It’s not easy being cordial with a former spouse, but it’s important for your kids. Always remember to put their best interests first.

6) Forgive your ex. Forgiveness is freeing. Holding on to a grudge for your ex’s wrongdoings will only hinder your own growth in the new year. You don’t have to forget, but it’s probably time to forgive and move on. This is especially important if you have to remain in each other’s lives, which goes along with the next resolution.

7) Forgive yourself. As you venture through the forgiveness process, do not forget that you might need to forgive yourself. You may feel guilty because you blame yourself for the failed marriage, or feel at fault for failing your children. You are entitled to forgive yourself. In the same manner you extended forgiveness to your ex-spouse, you need to forgive yourself.

I hope you find some or all of these suggestions to be helpful; you can this list of resolutions to inspire your own to make the most out of 2021! I wish you have a safe, healthy, relaxing and stress-free and emotionally prosperous New Year!


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