The passing of a spouse can be a very traumatic event. When it is your ex-spouse that passes away, though, it is not always as clear what you should do. Should you go to the funeral, or should you contact your ex-in-laws? What you do upon the death of an ex-spouse depends on a lot of factors as the relationship between you might not have come to a complete end with the signing of divorce papers. Let’s have a look at some of the situations you could potentially find yourself in.
A simple divorce
If you and your spouse did not have any kids it could mean that you had a simpler divorce. There is no parental agreement you need to honour and no individual in your life that lost their mom or dad. If you and your spouse are also not dependent on each other in any way after the divorce, then you, theoretically had no reason to keep in touch. Your reaction to the death of your ex-spouse would then completely depend on the type of relationship you did have after you separated. It is up to you whether you wish to go to the funeral or not. If you were friendly or even remained good friends, you might want to go and pay your final respects. If you were not friends, then it might be best to leave your ex-in-laws to mourn in peace.
The passing of your ex could stir up memories of the life you once had together, and now the only person that intimately shared that part of your life and witnessed it is gone. The sadness and grief you feel for this doesn’t necessarily make sense, but you need to give yourself the space to feel it and deal with it. At the end of the day, you are first and foremost responsible for your own well-being.
You had kids
If you and your ex-spouse had kids, you will need to handle his or her death very differently than if you didn’t. This, of course, also depends on if the kids are still minors or not. If they are minors, then chances are likely you had a parental agreement that provides some details about what should happen upon his/her passing. Your situation and agreement will determine exactly what happens, but in general, it is important to remember that a parent’s duties do not come to an end with his/her death. Childcare and maintenance can still be claimed from the deceased estate.
Beyond the legal aspects, you will also have to help your child or children deal with the loss of one of their parents. Whether you had a good relationship with your ex or not, his/her passing can be extremely traumatic for your children, and you need to help them deal with it in a healthy way.
You were a dependent
If you remained financially dependent on your ex even after you got divorced, the death can make your life much more complicated. You could, for example, be living in a house in his/her name or receiving a monthly financial contribution without which you cannot get by. In the best-case scenario, these details will be conveyed in a legal contract, your divorce agreement, or your ex-spouse’s will. These documents should also state what is to happen upon his/her death, for example, you have living rights on the property for the duration of your life and only upon your passing will your ex-spouse’s beneficiaries inherit it in full. If these types of arrangements and agreements are not written and you are now facing serious difficulty, remember that you can put in a claim against the deceased estate. You will need to prove your claim before any potential monies would be paid out, for example, but it might be your only option.
When an ex-spouse dies, it could cause minimal disruption and change to your life, or it could turn your and your kids’ world upside down. The best advice is to surround yourself with the best people to support you. That support could be emotional from family and friends, or legal from your lawyers and court rulings. Just know that you are not fighting your battles alone. If Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group can be of assistance, let us know.