12 Ways To Handle Your Divorce With Dignity And Class

How to get through your divorce with your head held high.

Last updated on Jun 09, 2024

Woman handling divorce with dignity and class Michael Dagonakis | Unsplash

Look, I know divorce hurts and you’re looking for just about any way possible to feel better. I know, because that’s what I did when I went through it, and my clients all do the same when they go through it. The thing is, sometimes, what you do to feel better backfires and the next day (or even within a few heartbeats) you wish you hadn’t done or said what you just did. That's why it is so important to stand in your dignity during divorce — so you don’t have (too many) regrets about how you handled yourself.


Psychologist Susan Quilliam says, "Dignity is our best friend in a crisis because it reminds us that, although we may be at the mercy of uncertain circumstances, we can at least be in control of ourselves." Choosing dignity means staying grounded, centered, and in control of yourself. It's about mindfully responding versus emotionally reacting. And there’s a huge upside to choosing the high road: You feel good about yourself, which means your self-esteem gets a (much-needed-when-you’re-going-through-divorce) boost. Of course, staying calm and keeping your dignity during such a difficult time is far easier said than done. So, to help you stay true to yourself, here are 12 ways to navigate your divorce with class.


RELATED: 5 Simple Steps To A Faster, Cheaper Divorce

Here are 12 ways to handle your divorce with dignity and class:

1. Put down the ice cream scoop, chip bag, and wine glass

Drowning your sorrows in ice cream, chips, alcohol or any comfort food will, at best, provide temporary comfort, but it won’t help you long-term. In fact, "eating your emotions" may make maintaining your dignity more difficult. According to USC neuropsychology professor Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, "Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain. The more balanced you make your meals, the more balanced will be your brain functioning." And you need your brain working at its best to remain calm and classy.

@avanouriwellness building a balanced, healthy meal does NOT have to be complicated! just use my "foundational four" framework that i share in this video to make sure you're getting all the components of a balanced meal🫶🏼 your blood sugar, energy levels, & hormones will thank you later #greenscreen #fyp #balancedmeal #howtoeathealthy #balancedmeals #bloodsugarfriendly #bloodsugarbalance #healthymealprep #healthymealideas #healthyeating #registereddietitian #dietitian #holisticnutritionist #dietitiansoftiktok #dietitiantips #healthymeals #balanceddiet #hormonehealth #hormonebalance #bloodsugarbalance #nutritiontips #mealprep #healthymealprepideas #holistichealth ♬ original sound - Ava Nouri, MS, RD

2. Pick up an adult toy

Look, having casual intimacy is just a Band-Aid for your very valid need to feel attractive, lovable, and connected to someone who meets your needs. But those encounters come with their own baggage. Instead of bringing someone else (and all that drama) into the picture, spend some time pleasuring yourself until you’re truly ready to date like an adult, instead of a teenager.


3. Be a problem-solver

There’s a great line in the movie The Martian... "Work the problem." Everyone who wants to divorce with dignity should choose this as their motto. Rather than getting side-tracked with overly emotional reactions (at inappropriate times), feeling like a victim, playing the blame game, and taking a vengeful or defensive stance, look for actual positive solutions to the immediate problem. Of course, you don't have to solve every issue or challenge on your own. Do your research. Ask for help from those more knowledgeable than yourself, and stay open to examining their suggestions so you can take their input and choose how you want to solve whatever problem you’re facing.

4. Act as an equal to your ex (yes, seriously)

For you to maintain your dignity, you must accept that you’re just as 100 percent human as the next person. Which means you're neither superior nor inferior to your ex or anyone else You need to treat others with the same respect and courtesy that you want to receive. If others don't treat you with equal civility, make it clear you expect that behavior to change.  

RELATED: 45 Ways To Make A Tough Divorce Easier On You, According To A Divorce Coach

5. Let your legal team know you want to stand your ground without getting ugly

Attorneys learn to litigate and fight for what they believe is in the best interest of their clients. Set some ground rules with your legal representative so you're better able to stick to the high road. Your time is too precious to waste on unnecessary and lengthy legal battles. 


6. Don’t fight over petty stuff

The most important thing is your kids and their welfare. Important is an equitable (notice I did not say 'fair') division of the assets and debts. Unimportant is anything that is replaceable — like the iTunes library or Netflix membership.

7. Don't journal your divorce woes on social media

Airing dirty laundry about your divorce on Facebook (etc.) just isn’t productive. And for goodness sake, don’t go changing your relationship status until your divorce is final.

8. Wait to find your next relationship until after your divorce

Yes, I know divorces take a long time. But so does fully recovering from one emotionally. Finish up the legal and emotional work of ending your marriage before bringing anyone else into the picture. But, if your new relationship is the reason for your divorce, then the least you can do is avoid flaunting it.

@heyqueenkae When to start dating after divorce 🤷‍♀️After my divorce I jumped right into another relationsip and dated him for a year 🤦‍♀️ I really don’t recommend that🫠 But live and learn, right?After that I took some time and just focused on me! 💕 If you do the work to heal and become your best self, then you’ll know. You’ll be confident in yourself and you’ll be ready, because you’ll trust that through the dating process you don’t have to be scared. Because no matter what, you’ve got your back! 💪 That timing is different for everyone. But if you focus on bettering yourself, you’ll find peace and you’ll feel it, and know 😘 Hope this helps! Have a great day!#datingafterdivorce #divorecedparents #divorceisnottheend #divorceadvice #datingdivorced #motivationforyourday #motivationadvice ♬ Hope (2 Min Edit) - Max Farrar

RELATED: How To Have An Amicable Divorce In 8 Strategically Simple Steps


9. Speak up for your needs

You must take care of your kids ... but also that you look out for yourself. There’s no guarantee that your ex will honor anything he's promised to do. You may not get everything you want, but be sure to get what you need. Remember: being a doormat is neither classy nor dignified, so speak up! 

10. Be fair

Don’t hide or dispose of assets to prevent your soon-to-be-ex from receiving them. Do your part to move the divorce forward by providing the requested information on time or by taking the actions you're required to take (i.e., getting the house ready to put on the market) as quickly as possible. Don’t be so generous that you suffer. Being fair (even when you're mad at your ex) is about both of you.

11. Don’t drag your kids into the drama

No matter their age, spare your kids exposure to your divorce drama. They’re facing their challenges as a result of your divorce. Venting to a friend on the phone within earshot of your children still counts as dragging them into the drama. 

12. Express your emotions constructively

It's normal to feel extreme emotions during divorce. But, feeling them and expressing them are two different things. No temper tantrums, ultimatums, pity parties, stuffing (a.k.a. ignoring) your feelings, or displaying your emotions to manipulate your former spouse or anyone else (including your kids). Your emotions are normal and valid. It's good to honor them, but don’t let extreme feelings dictate your actions. If you need to schedule time to get them out in a healthy way, then schedule the time.


Divorce isn’t easy. It's one of the most difficult life changes you’ll ever experience. Displaying dignity and class throughout the process will require great self-discipline, but the hard truth is — you WILL slip up occasionally (maybe even a lot). You'll experience at least one moment that you wish you could take back what you said or did. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It is okay. As soon as you recognize your mistake, just correct it the best you can and avoid inflaming the situation further. That’s how a classy, self-respecting person handles one of the hardest experiences in life with true integrity.

RELATED: The Surprising Thing That Helped Me Get Over My Divorce

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.