3 Ways Dealing With Divorce Is Different When You’ve Been Divorced More Than Once

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Coping With Divorce When You’re Heartbroken From Being Divorced More Than Once
Love, Heartbreak

Coping with divorce is always difficult, especially when you're feeling extra heartbroken that it's your second or third time being divorced. 

Just because you’ve lived through one divorce, does not necessarily make it any easier to go through a second one.

In fact, subsequent divorces are usually more difficult, because of more complicated circumstances — more entanglements, more assets, more debt, more children, more people involved, etc.

RELATED: 13 Must-Know Tips For Coping With Your Divorce In A Healthy, Productive Way

Coping with divorce is a different experience each time because every marriage is unique — like a fingerprint. 

Consider all of the variables! 

There are so many reasons why second marriages fail.

Perhaps you married too quickly, on the rebound, before you had a chance to learn what caused the demise of your first marriage.

Finding yourself doomed to repeat the same mistakes and experience the same patterns of negative behaviors, albeit with a new partner.

Maybe the stresses and complications of a blended family put too much pressure on your relationship.

Or there were no children to act as the glue that holds a marriage together.

Perhaps, you and your spouse were too independent and able to fully provide for yourself and all of your needs, living distinctly separate lives.

Or maybe you’re more aware now and can recognize the red flags, not willing to stay in a marriage if there’s no hope for a better future.

We each have our own reasons for finding ourselves at this crossroads again.

Dealing with divorce the second time around is difficult but, if you’re educated and more aware, you can better prepare for what’s to come. 

There are 3 added difficulties that make coping with a second divorce more difficult.

1. Practical difficulties

Think of all the practical decisions that need to get made when you're getting a divorce, whether it’s your first or second (or 3rd, 4th, or 5th).

What divorce process will you use? Which professionals will you hire? Attorney? Mediator?

Where are you, your spouse and children going to live? How will the family relationships shift? And so on.

A subsequent divorce starts to really get difficult when you have multiple children from multiple marriages.

This quickly leads to practical complications and heartbreak concerning your children's well-being, as well as visitation and custody issues.

  • Do you have children from both marriages?

If you have children from both marriages, your existing custody arrangements may impact the custody decisions in your second divorce.

For example, do you want to schedule your custody time simultaneously, so that all of your children can see each other?

Or would you prefer different custodial days, so that you may enjoy some one-on-one time?

Scheduling, in general, could get very difficult, very quickly.

Now instead of coordinating schedules with one ex-spouse, you’re trying to sync calendars with two ex-spouses, who likely have very different schedules, needs, and desires.

  • Will you get to see your stepchildren?

Maintaining relationships with your stepchildren, if you have them, can be difficult.

You may have developed a strong relationship with your step-kids, and your ex will hold all the cards when it comes to how often you can see them, if at all.

Unless you’ve adopted the children legally, you likely have no rights to custodial time or visitation.

You may have to appeal to your ex's humanity to be able to maintain a relationship.

If that fails, and you decide to file a motion with the courts, a judge may consider if it’s in the child’s best interest to award visitation.

But be aware, this is likely an uphill battle. (Seek the advice of legal/parenting experts when assessing your potential child custody arrangements.)

  • What is the impact of multiple divorces on children?

Children can suffer from each additional breakup and divorce.

Their worlds shift and change with each new relationship — meeting their parent’s romantic partners, forming new relationships with them, as well as any other children/step-siblings.

Studies comparing children who have lived through one divorce to children from homes with multiple divorces find that each subsequent breakup tends to create a cumulative effect.

Each new disruption in their lives — change in parents, siblings, households, schools, friends — adds to a child’s potential for anxiety and depression.

Their sense of stability is compromised, which can lead to feelings of distrust, anxiety, and betrayal, and to difficulties in their own relationships as adults.

Going through one divorce can be traumatic for a child, but going through a second one can be devastating.

If you can keep your split as peaceful and drama-free as possible, this will help to protect your children from a broken heart.

Seek the advice and counsel of a trained therapist to help with these important transitions.

RELATED: 6 Expert Strategies For Beating Post-Divorce Blues

2. Emotional difficulties

Divorce comes with a plethora of big emotions.

Pain, guilt, sadness, anger, grief, and, most of all with a second divorce, shame — the feeling that "there’s something wrong with me."

When you're heartbroken, it’s easier to blame yourself after multiple divorces, as there’s a common denominator: you.

Instead of support, your social circle — friends, family, neighbors, even people you date — might be sending the message that the "series of failed marriages" are your responsibility.

You may be feeling stigmatized — who would want to be with someone who’s been divorced twice?

You may be worried about having a complicated marital status, not just "divorced" but "divorced twice".

Women I have coached, who have experienced multiple divorces, complain that they feel social judgment from friends, family, community.

That they feel like they’re being treated like "damaged goods". That no matter what the circumstances, they are the failure and are to blame.

It may be outdated, but there’s an impression that men are getting more of a hall pass for multiple failed marriages.

There seems to be more forgiveness if there’s been any kind of abuse or infidelity on the part of the spouse.

Maybe we can work together to change this impression, and reference some of the iconic women who’ve divorced and remarried, almost making it fashionable, such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, and Angelina Jolie.

3. Financial difficulties

Second divorces often happen later in life, when you have typically accumulated more financial assets, and/or have a more complex financial landscape.

This can lead to a more difficult negotiation and complicated financial settlement.

Also, the financial components of your first divorce may affect the settlement of your second divorce.

If there are support payments to any former spouses, such as alimony or child support, these payments will reduce the current income, and impact the determination of any support payments in your second divorce.

Keep in mind, if you or your spouse legally adopted your stepchildren, there may be child support ordered for those stepchildren.

The second divorce might compete for resources that are still being consumed by the first divorce, such as alimony, child support, splitting of retirement accounts, sharing of pensions and social security, and any cost of taxes/capital gains paid on sold shared assets.

Additionally, if you or your spouse have owned a business since the first marriage, you will need to consider if there was a percentage awarded to the first spouse when figuring out what happens in your current divorce.

Something not to be overlooked is how all of this will affect your credit.

Are you carrying mortgages from the first marriage? Do you own a house now? What will happen to that mortgage? Can you carry all of this debt?

With so many support payments and divisions of assets, you and/or your ex could find yourselves with very little left to cover your own financial needs.

As these preexisting financial agreements with a first spouse will potentially impact your future settlement decisions, you’ve got to pay attention when putting all of the pieces together. 

It’s like figuring out a very complex financial puzzle, which may require a lot of fact-finding, and careful consideration.

It will likely require the guidance and expertise of some highly trained professionals, such as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and a family law specialist.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Successfully Cope With Divorce (W/O Losing Your Mind)

After living through one divorce, it can be so heart-breaking to be on the threshold of a second one — with all of the added complications of life, and overwhelming feelings.

Chances are you know more than you think though.

You undoubtedly have more knowledge of the legal process this time around, and you can use this to your advantage — minimizing the potential emotional and financial strains of divorce.

For example, you won't spend time, money, and energy litigating issues that you know from past experience won’t matter in the long run.

I encourage you to learn from your mistakes and missteps in your first divorce.

Perhaps this time around, you will choose different professionals, or an alternative divorce process, such as collaborative divorce or mediation.

Think about what you would have done differently in your first divorce, and apply those lessons here.

Tap into your previous experience and use the above information to help chart a well-thought-out course for your future.

You have the opportunity to make this divorce better than your last!

RELATED: 11 Reasons Women Who've Been Divorced Have Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

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Kira Gould is a certified divorce coach® specializing in working with women who would like to get unmarried with clarity, compassion, and positive intention. Check out Kira Gould’s transformational video series — these private, convenient, affordable tools will teach you what you need to know about the complexities of divorce. 

This article was originally published at Getting Unmarried. Reprinted with permission from the author.