Establishing Boundaries After a Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

It is easy to lose oneself in a long-term relationship. You are in love and your lives quickly gel in a way that your worlds revolve around one another and your identities become linked. In addition, your friends and family become enmeshed and together you are part of a community. When you have children together, this long-term link takes on another dimension as you are forever co-parents to your beloved children.

Unfortunately, when marriages end, partners are forced to sever all of these links that have been formed and to find a way to move forward. It is hard. And even “amicable” separations are hardly ever clean. In fact, it can take a great deal of work to move on after a divorce. Something that helps in this process is establishing healthy boundaries.

Create Some Rules

Boundaries are necessary because the same difficulties and dynamics of your relationship that led to your separation and divorce will continue if you are still enmeshed with your spouse. This defeats the whole purpose of getting divorced. While it would be nice to agree on rules with your ex, this is not always realistic. It is more important to set some rules for yourself after a divorce.

  • This should go without saying, but do not threaten, stalk, or harass your ex. This is a quick way to have a protective order entered against you and unwanted law enforcement involvement in your life.
  • Do not communicate with your spouse unless it is necessary. Create a short list of subjects that may require such contact, like child custody related matters or true emergencies. This also means choosing a method of communication, like a brief email, to convey your messages.
  • Separate yourself from your ex on social media, or take a break entirely. You likely have groups of mutual friends and family, who you may be unwilling or unable to let go. However, understand that no matter how many filters you put up in your social media settings, Facebook and other apps have a way of showing you what your ex is up to. It is important for your own peace of mind to find a way to separate from knowing the details of your ex’s social life.
  • Seek counseling or find a support group. It is going to be impossible to truly move forward until you have gained acceptance that your relationship is over. If you find yourself having difficulty functioning or coping on a daily basis, please find help.

When Children Are Involved

If you have children with your ex, your lives are forever connected as co-parents. When establishing boundaries following your divorce, you must do so in a manner that is consistent with your parenting plan or custody order. Violating the terms of a custody order can subject you to contempt and sanctions from the court. Agreed parenting plans can create pick-ups and drop-offs, such as at school, so that you do not have to directly see or interact with your ex. In addition, you can find family members who can be a third party pick up/drop off designees. Another option, which is more expensive, is to use a professional child exchange agency as an intermediary.

If you disagree with the way that your ex is parenting your child when they have custody of the child, you should take a deep breath. Unless your child is being emotionally or physically harmed, you really have little control over your ex as a parent. In addition, it is important for your children’s well-being that you not disparage their other parent or gossip about them. Also, do not use your children as a go-between to convey messages to your spouse. This is an unfair burden for them.

New Direction Family Law

Separations and divorces are the end of an important long-term relationship; however, they also signify an opportunity to move in a new direction. The attorneys at New Direction Family Law assist clients with family law matters, including separations, divorces, and child custody disputes. We want our clients to feel respected and informed throughout their experience with us. If you are considering separation or divorce, call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to set up a consultation or visit us at our website.