Emotions and Decision Making During Divorce

Written on Tuesday April 30, 2019 by Bob Hinrichs

Life is full of ups and downs that take our emotions for an invisible rollercoaster ride. Getting a divorce is like going through one of those loops that flips you completely upside down. And while stuck there, you’re required to take a multiple-choice exam before you can finish the ride. With the entire emotional whirlwind and the stress of making life-changing decisions, the divorce process can be terrifying.

For the first time in a while, you have to start making decisions on your own again rather than as a team. At the same time, cooperation with your soon-to-be ex is extremely important. You also have to remember that the decisions you are making impact you (and your children – if you have them) for years to come. Because this time in your life is so impactful, we want to provide you with some tips to make the best decisions possible while filtering through all of the emotions you’re feeling.

How Emotions Can Affect Someone Going Through Divorce

First off, emotions in general can cloud our thinking. Biologically, we are not designed to think well during stressful situations. We were built to take action – think back to the high school biology lesson of fight or flight. As your cortisol levels increase because of the stress, your brain can begin to feel foggy and you may have difficulty making decisions.

Emotions can also cause us to make rash decisions. The human brain is wired to avoid pain, so many divorcees make the mistake of “just getting it over with” when it comes to the details. Just attempting to avoid pain now only delays the problems and frustration that will hit you like a brick in the future.

Our feelings and memories can cause us to make decisions based on attachment or not wanting to embrace change. It’s important to think through things clearly using logic before making major decisions. For instance, who is keeping the house? The house may be full of memories and you may want you kids to stay in a familiar setting. But what happens if you can’t afford the mortgage in a few months? Staying would be an unhealthy thing for everyone. 

There are specific ways to make sure you go through the divorce with your future and best interest in mind. Let’s talk through a few…

Compile an Amazing Team of Professionals to Help You

Having unbiased individuals help you through the process is the first reason gathering a team of people is important; but more than that, these professionals are experts in their field and together, can help make your divorce a much smoother transition. There are a few professionals that you really ought to have on your team as you go through divorce. 

  • Attorneys will often prevent you from making emotional or detrimental decisions. They will help you better navigate decisions in a timely, yet smooth, manner. Divorce attorneys are not new to this situation, so they can provide fair feedback as to how to split up assets. They may even have advice on custody based on what they’ve seen parents (clients) do in the past.
  • Therapists can really help keep your emotions in check throughout the process, but more importantly, they can help you filter through what you’re feeling for the best long-term results. What you’re going through is unfamiliar and may be too much to handle on your own. There is nothing wrong with seeking counsel from someone who can provide an outside perspective and allow you to move forward in a healthy way.

Your relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse was built on intimacy and is now transitioning into something closer to a business relationship in many cases. The emotions you used to share with that person need to be redirected to someone else. By avoiding emotions between you and your ex-spouse and talking to a third party, you’ll be able to communicate with your soon-to-be ex much more amicably. This is SO important not only for your own sanity, but for your children as well. It is proven that children in divorce situations do much better if their parents can get along.

Don’t forget about these professionals as well

  • Financial planners are one of the best professionals you can consult during this time. This is especially true if your soon-to-be ex was the primary financial person in the family. They can better help you make informed decisions by walking you through a new budget based on only your income.

Because you don’t have shared money with someone else anymore, your lifestyle may have to change. It’s better to know that before you make commitments (to taking responsibility for assets, to new housing, etc.) than after. Know what you can afford, and prevent heartache, financial issues, poor credit, and even stress, down the road.

  • Realtors are the final professional that may be helpful – depending on your situation of course. If you and your ex can’t decide who should take the house or neither of you can afford to keep it, it might be best to sell before the divorce is finalized. Selling prior to everything becoming official will allow for double the capital gains tax exemption than either of you individually would receive.

Selling will also allow for a fair split of profit and a fresh start for everyone. And all from a new home that doesn’t have old memories. Even though it can still take months, a realtor can be a good resource for selling your home. Also, consider selling your property directly to an investor. 

Other General Tips

Although employing the help of the above professionals can be incredibly helpful, there are a few other general tips we would like to offer up.

Focus on your kids! 

  • It is so much easier to make decisions logically and amicably when you’re focused on loved ones who depend on you. Both sides will likely be less selfish or bitter if they each agree to do what is best for their children every step of the way. This advice applies to asset division and your new custody/living situation.

For example, some couples may find it valuable to keep their kids in the house they grew up in (for the sake of not changing schools/flipping their world upside down even more). One partner may offer to help cover the housing costs where the other falls short. Some couples may decide it’s best for everyone if both parents find a new place to live.

In the case of older children, it may be beneficial to ask them what they would want in terms of a new custody situation. You may not follow their wishes, but asking for their input keeps the focus on them. If they’re younger, find an arrangement that allows the kids to get the most out of each parent. Remember, kids whose parents cooperate during and after their divorce transition much more easily than kids with bitter parents.

Sleep on it.

  • If you get emotional while trying to make a big decision, don’t force yourself to finalize anything right away. Take some time to sleep on it and clear your head. When in doubt, it will give you time to consult with one of the professionals we mentioned above and make a sound decision.

As much as these tips will help, this will still be a tough time for you. Give yourself some grace to feel what you’re feeling, but don’t do it at the expense of making logical decisions. Though the pain will pass, the decisions you make now determine how you begin the next chapter of your life. We truly hope this insight was helpful and wish you the best of luck in this transition.


Join our newsletter

Join the Housing Gurus to get answers to your toughest housing questions!


Leave A Comment

Sell your House