Guilt and divorce go hand in hand, especially if you have children. While there are plenty of things you should never feel guilty about as you struggle through this challenging time in your life, there are situations when guilt is the appropriate emotion. Sometimes the guilt is unavoidable, in other situations you could avoid guilt entirely by making different decisions.
Here are just six things you could (or should) feel guilty about in your Michigan divorce:
1. Abandoning the kids.
Missing visits with your kids, not being there when you said you would be, not paying for your adult child’s college education – these are all ways you can hurt your kid and, in the long run, hurt yourself. Just because you might not be the custodial parent, your responsibilities as a parent have not ended with separation or divorce. You may also choose to move far away from your children to be with someone new or take a different job or get away to the place where you’ve always wanted to live but your marriage was holding you back from. Insufficient time with your kids should make you feel guilty.
2. Introducing a new love.
Your kids don’t want to know anything about the new love in your life, especially if he or she is the reason your marriage imploded. While you are entitled to find love again, take dating slowly and be even slower about introducing your love interest to your children. The little ones may feel confused, the older ones might just be angry. Keep the focus on you and your kids, even if you’re overjoyed at finding a new and exhilarating partner.
3. Skimping on support.
Maybe you really don’t like your ex. Fair enough. But own up to your responsibilities, particularly if you have children. Your divorce papers will outline exactly where the money goes and who is responsible for what, but that doesn’t stop some people from dragging their feet about sharing the wealth or refusing to pay for something because they’re angry or upset. While you may not feel one ounce of guilt for skimping on spousal support (even though you should), you should feel guilty if you’re depriving your children of their needs – school clothes or fees, equipment to continue with their extracurricular interests, and, in some dire cases, adequate shelter and healthcare.
4. Spending time your new love interest’s children.
Do you find yourself moving further away from your own kids and closer to your new partner’s children? Whether this is by choice or by default, the guilt will rear its ugly head when you least expect it, especially during milestone moments like graduations, championship games, and weddings.
5. Spending money on yourself.
If there is one thing divorce makes you supremely aware of it, it’s money. Unless you’re talking about a high-profile divorce, most people are not better off financially after a split. There will come a time, however, when you have some cash to spend, and you may spend it on yourself. Whether you buy a new house, travel, or spend money on the new person in your life, guilt can sneak in and make you think about family vacations you could have had or home improvements you would have made at the house you once lived in and adored.
6. Destroying the family.
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, and while many marriages end because of infidelity or financial problems, sometimes there really is no one at fault. Two people can simply fall out of love, whether they’ve grown apart during child-rearing, their interests no longer gel, or their goals for the future do not intersect. The family dynamic that you created with your children is gone forever. Everyone will adjust to a new normal, but it won’t be easy, and it won’t be without guilt. You’ll remember the days when your kids were young, drawing pictures of your family and naming every member, joyous about the unit you were together. Knife to the heart? You know it.
Divorce isn’t easy. Neither is guilt. But you can expect to feel this emotion, along with a slew of others, throughout your Michigan divorce. Get the support you need from your divorce attorney – contact Femminineo Attorneys, PLLC in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to schedule your free initial consultation.