Should I divorce? Should I stay for the kids? How will I survive?

Browse Articles on the topic of Contemplating Divorce

learning how to hire a divorce lawyer

How to Hire A Divorce Lawyer (The Right One for You)

Whether you’re contemplating getting a divorce or ready to act, your first step is NOT to make any immediate decisions but to get educated on what the divorce process looks like and how to hire a divorce lawyer.

You have choices, and you need to understand what they are. Divorce laws can change quite a bit once you cross state lines, so the best place to start your research is a search engine like Google. Type in keywords like “divorce laws in [your state]” to learn how getting a divorce will affect your life. Spend time learning about different divorce models. Decide whether you’ll work with a mediator or an attorney, for instance. Ask yourself which model is right for you, your spouse, and your circumstances.

After you’ve done a little fieldwork, it’s time to meet with the experts.

Divorce isn’t as simple as understanding your rights. Divorce is a line drawn in the sand, and once you pass it, many aspects of your life that go beyond your marriage will change. So yes, learn all about your rights. Find out what you are entitled to. But then drill down further.

Let’s face it—when it comes to divorce, especially when children are involved, many women are most concerned about two things: money and custody. What custody decisions will I have to make? How will I support myself? How will I pay the bills, put food on the table, and be a good mom all at the same time? All on my own, no less? That’s where a financial advisor comes in. Or even better, a certified divorce financial analyst who will explain exactly what will happen to your money, assets, and—you guessed it—debt.

Again, divorce is not simply a legal or financial issue but a life-changing event that throws even your sense of identity off balance. It’s crucial to seek guidance from someone who can break everything down for you without losing focus of the big picture. Someone who will listen when you tell them where you want to be, and then point you in the right direction. But who do you turn to for this kind of guidance? Who is going to give you vetted and appropriate referrals based on your actual situation?

Hiring a divorce coach

Of course, we believe the best professional suited for this role is a divorce coach because they can teach you about divorce (like how to hire a divorce lawyer) but above all, how to get through divorce the healthiest way. A divorce coach can help you overcome the emotional challenges as well as the practical ones, and by doing so, they help you save money and time. Mistakes happen, but with a divorce coach, the chance of those mistakes occurring is significantly reduced.

Divorce coach or not, it is critical to have a guide—someone who knows there is an end in sight because they’ve been in your shoes. They’ve experienced the self-doubt and second-guessing, the isolation and fear. It’s even more critical this person understand the journey of a woman, as they’ll be the one who helps you navigate and set yourself up for your best life.

If reaching out to a divorce coach is a step you’re not quite ready for, reading these articles about contemplating divorce may help you answer the questions you have and learn what else you should consider before you even start figuring out how to hire a divorce lawyer.

Shopping around for a divorce lawyer

Now if you’re still with me, then you might be ready to take the leap. You may even be shopping around for an attorney (as you well should). But what should you be looking for? What questions should you ask? Below are a few tips.

  • Get vetted referrals and consider them carefully
  • Find out if the lawyer specializes in family law
  • Find out if they are a skilled negotiator
  • Ask if they know the other lawyer(s) involved and how established the relationship is (this will help with negotiations)
  • Ask yourself if there’s chemistry between you and any potential hire (this means understanding your issues and values—making sure you feel heard
  • Ensure your lawyer can explain your “best and worst case scenarios”
  • Find out if they settle often
  • Ensure you understand all costs (the retainer, hourly rate, and payment structure)
  • Consider asking a friend or family member along to take notes and give you feedback after any meetings

Hiring the right divorce attorney or mediator is no easy task. But remember: you owe it to yourself to find the right representation. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions—just make sure they’re the right ones. And interview more than one professional (remember, it’s your right to shop around).

Be sure to read our article on what questions to ask a divorce attorney for more on how to hire a divorce lawyer, how to prepare for that meeting and how to pay your divorce..

And, of course, once you have hired a lawyer make sure you don’t make the mistake so many do of “misusing” her.

What else MUST you know about how to hire a divorce lawyer?

  • No one is ever really happy with her divorce lawyer because both parties always have to compromise
  • Try to settle out of court by putting your emotions aside and asking yourself if what’s upsetting you will still be important in ten years?
  • A good settlement is one in which neither client walks away entirely happy. Begin the process of managing your expectations, realizing what’s truly nonnegotiable, and understanding what all these decisions mean for setting up your next, better chapter of your life.

If you want to find out what else you should know about divorce, whether you’re simply testing the waters or already paddling through them, consider Annie’s Group, our female-centered and empowering six-week class of content, community, and action, the right action for you and where you are in the journey.


contemplating divorce can feel like you are spinning

Contemplating Divorce Can Keep You Spinning

Recently, when I was unpacking boxes and settling into my new house, I came across something that seemed to speak to me from a different lifetime.  It was my old journal, written years ago, during the months leading up to my decision to get divorced:

 “I feel as if I am living in the twilight zone. I’m sooo lonely, scared, trapped in this weird world where I don’t know what will happen next.

“I’m angry at him. I pity him.  I miss him. I love him.  I hate him.”

“I could make a choice. I could leave.  I could choose that.”

“Part of me wants to run far away. Part of me is scared and worried. How will the bills get paid? Do I need to protect myself? Part of me is sad. Sad that we have grown so far apart. Part of me feels guilty and part of me is just MAD.”

For months (maybe, if I am honest with myself, for years) I was spinning in circles. I was desperately unhappy and feeling torn, and scared.  I couldn’t get clarity or figure out what to do, or what I wanted. I was caught in a vicious cycle of “should I, or shouldn’t I?” like the clothes in a dryer, getting tossed, twisted up in a knot, and slammed again against the door. Even after I left, I still went round and round. I worried and wondered if I made the right decision. And I remember feeling physically awful too…my back ached constantly, I had unrelenting headaches and weird episodes of dizziness that would come and go. My confidence was at an all time low. Literally, ZERO. At one point I wrote in my journal, “Am I capable of that?” wondering if I would be able to pay the bills by myself, which seems so unbelievable to me now. Why didn’t I think I would be able to pay the bills? I’d done it before. How had I become so unsure of myself?

“Really, I’m stuck. What do I do?” 

“I’m half afraid that if I tell someone I want to get divorced, they’ll talk me out of it.” 

“I am GOING to leave!”

“My heart hurts.”

I know now that what I needed then was someone to open that door, to stop the spinning and help me get everything sorted out.  It is hard to acknowledge to yourself that something is wrong, let alone talk to anyone else about it. And it seems like once you tell someone you are thinking about getting a divorce and it’s no longer just in your thoughts, you have to actually do it. What you need is someone to be a witness to what’s happening to you in your head and in your heart.  You need someone to help you see things more clearly, to help you understand what you are going through, and to tell you what to do. And most importantly, you need someone to help you find your confidence again.

As divorce coaches, we know considering or even coping with divorce can keep you spinning. This feeling of repeat, repeat, and revisiting what you know and don’t know is a sure sign that on some level, you do know something is critically wrong.  We also know that you can stop — or at least, PAUSE — the spinning by making small changes.  Start by asking yourself, what do you most fundamentally need? What do you really want, deep down?  Write this down somewhere and look back at it regularly to keep it fresh in your mind. This is about getting and staying in touch with you.  Push PAUSE again and find a friend or professional whom you can trust and feel comfortable confiding in.  Talking with someone will help you process everything that’s going on in your head, heart and body.  Then, and only then, outside the wretched revolving dryer, will you be able to stop the spinning and start moving forward with your life.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.  Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.”

If you want support, schedule a free consult or check out Annie’s Group.

Woman walking on beach thinking about divorce

36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking About Divorce

If you are thinking about divorce, your thoughts can fluctuate, ranging from the mere, fleeting imaginings of what life might be like if you were single, to the repetitive, torturous thought process of “Should I or shouldn’t I divorce?” While one end of the spectrum is entirely normal for many people, the other end can signal serious problems in and for a marriage.

Based on our background in education and experience working with clients in our divorce practice, we’ve identified the following 36 things that can help you understand where you are on the spectrum of contemplating divorce and what steps you can take to gain greater clarity and stop the recurring thought process.

As you complete each step you will be doing more than merely thinking about divorce. You will begin to better understand which direction your marriage and life might go.

    1. As you first contemplate divorce, you may or may not know if you want to divorce. Accept that this is entirely normal. What you “want” may be entirely different from what you ultimately decide you “must” do. Your job right now is to study and learn what is possible for you and your family.
    2. Educate yourself. It’s likely that you feel you’ve reached an impasse in your marriage and your emotions may be all over the place. You might be incredibly angry and lashing out. Or perhaps you have retreated, feeling despondent, probably depressed. This is to be expected, but you should not be making long-term decisions from this emotional place. Start educating yourself by looking for credible divorce resources. Visit your nearby bookstore or search online. There is a wealth of information available to you for free.
    3. Understand that getting educated about the choices you have for your life does not mean you are necessarily getting divorced. You are learning about your options and what your rights are so you can ultimately make a good decision from an informed place.
    4. Establish a new (secret) email account dedicated to this subject. Take care to use a “private” or “incognito” window so that the computer does not create a history of where you’ve been when you go to log on. And take time to create a new email address. Use this email to sign up for divorce information and newsletters that might advance your thinking and understanding.
    5. Save cash. Should you decide to pursue divorce, you will need access to money. If all your money is in joint accounts with your spouse, check with a lawyer as to when you can open your own account, or start stashing cash in a safe, secret place. Maybe you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you started saving now.
    6. If you feel you may be a victim of abuse, take action immediately.  There are many signs and forms of abuse, and sometimes it’s difficult to know if you are a victim. A clear sign is this: If you find yourself constantly watching what you are saying and doing, or walking on eggshells around your spouse–lest you trigger him/her and “cause” a blow up, you are likely in an unhealthy and abusive relationship.  Focus your attention there.  Read more about this and take action to protect yourself and your children. You may feel you can handle it, but things will not improve unless you do something to change the way things are now.
    7. Make a list of your most critical financial questions.  If you divorce, will you have to get a job if you’ve been a stay-at-home-mom? If you have debt, do you understand half the marital debt is yours? Should you use your IRA to help pay for your divorce? Keep a running list of questions as they occur to you.
    8. Be careful in whom you confide – this includes family.  Few people can be truly objective, and fewer still are marriage or divorce experts. Yet, there are plenty of opinions and judgements. Just because your neighbor got burned by his ex, does not mean that’s what’s in store for you if you choose to divorce.
    9. Do your best to conduct your research from a healthy mindset. It’s easy to vilify and blame your spouse for the problems that exist, but deep down, you know no one is totally faultless. As you learn about the issues in your marriage and what is possible for your lives, try to avoid the adversarial, vindictive, blame-gaming, and often, gender-bashing attitudes some books, some social media posts, or some people propagate.
    10. Evaluate your biggest fears. Do you fear you cannot “afford a divorce?” Are you afraid what divorce would do to your kids and thus, staying in a marriage “for the kids”?  Writing down your fears may help you examine their validity.  You may recognize you cannot not afford a divorce because you need your sanity…or that you are really hiding behind the kids so that you don’t have to be a single parent or face being alone.
    11. Think of how your kids are being impacted now and will be impacted long term. If you are a parent, and you and your spouse are fighting, look at yourselves as your kids might view you. You may think they don’t know what’s going on, but on some level they do, and it’s anxiety inducing for them. Your lack of clarity and unresolved difficulties or the warzone you have created is playing out in their lives, too.
    12. Avoid venting on social media. Watch out for where you vent and be wary of social media. If you say something online, it’s there forever and can be used against you. Same for emails. Before posting or hitting SEND, review what you are saying as if you were a courtroom judge. Be very careful.
    13. Recognize that marriage does not come with an owner’s manual. In our culture, most of us are poorly prepared for making a marriage work. Often it is something we learn — or fail to learn — behind the marital door. At this point in your relationship, it’s not worth beating yourself up…that energy is better spent figuring out what to do about your situation today and how you will move forward tomorrow.
    14. Ask yourself, is there is any love left? Do you still love your spouse? Love is sometimes hard to find when you are consumed by anger, resentment, or are stressed out from overworking, parenting, or a million, everyday struggles. If there’s even a hint of love left, however, it’s worth asking the question, “Can I re-ignite it?
    15. If you decide to stay in the marriage, set your intention and begin work together. Discuss with your spouse how you are going to work on your marriage so you begin to do things differently and not repeat the same old story. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do this without the support of a professional, so we suggest that you seek a trained marriage counselor.
    16. Evaluate what you have done as a couple to repair your relationship. Have you sought good quality help? Not all couples therapy is created equal. If you’re working with a therapist and you’re not making progress, it does not mean you should necessarily divorce. Investigate which types of marital therapy have the best success rates and find a trained practitioner who will teach you how to communicate with each other and help you both understand that growth and change require a deep commitment from both of you.
    17. Consider Discernment Counseling. Particularly helpful to couples where one partner wants to divorce and the other wishes to repair the relationship, discernment counseling helps couples understand if their problems are solvable. An added benefit is that the counseling is designed to be short term and to help you answer the important question, “Should we get a divorce?”
    18. Think about your role in the difficulties of the marriage and do not isolate yourself. If you are convinced that marital therapy is not working or that your spouse is not participating, or that your efforts to try to do things differently are failing, do not isolate yourself. Seek to move beyond wondering if you should divorce. Being alone darkens your sense of possibility and hope. It keeps you in a spin cycle of overthinking.
    19. Begin assembling a list of your most critical legal questions. Do you separate or do you divorce? If you were to divorce, how do you go about it? Do you know the different ways? Is Mediation an option for you? How do you find a good attorney? What are your rights? What do you not know?
    20. Read about the divorce laws in your state. Laws vary and what is possible in one state may not be possible in yours.  Most states have a section on the court website to help you understand the divorce process where you live. Start there.
    21. Consider a Time Out. Often when there’s a physical shift between a couple, it’s easier to think straight and reflect on what is really important. Consider taking a long vacation away from the other, or a house-sitting job. If you wish to live separately make sure you consult with an attorney in your state before doing anything.
    22. Organize and prioritize your most critical practical questions. If you’ve never paid the bills before, how would you begin?  If you work overtime most days, who would be home for the children after school — if your spouse is no longer there? Keep a running list and add to it as you think of things.
    23. Move beyond the cyclical thought process of thinking about divorce by consulting compassionate, professional support. We recommend your first step be a consultation with a divorce coach. A divorce coach can help you understand the legal and emotional process you may be facing and the issues that are holding you back from making a decision. A good divorce coach will help you evaluate what’s real and not, and help you take steps to face your fears. A divorce coach can also explain the different legal processes that may be available to you. Learning about your choices will allow you to go deeper and be more educated if you choose to then consult with the next level of experts (lawyers, financial advisors, mediators) whose hourly rate is often more expensive.
    24. Ask your divorce coach, therapist, and friends for vetted referrals to other experts, including lawyers. You are seeking perspective and feedback on your situation, and if you think you are ready to hire someone, you are looking for chemistry and someone you can trust.
    25. Schedule consultations with several attorneys and/or a mediator.  We recommend that you interview several. Bring your legal questions from step #19, or for more information, read here for additional questions. Don’t forget your notebook for taking notes and your last 3 years’ tax returns (if possible.)
    26. Consider having your friend or divorce coach accompany you to some or all of these professional meetings. There is a lot to learn and keep track of at the same time you are feeling stressed. Having an ally to help you take notes and bounce ideas off after meetings will lessen your strain on trying to be on top of everything.
    27. Strategize about how you might pay for a divorce. Will you use joint money, a loan, a credit card, your secret stash (#5), or borrow money from a friend or relative or from a saving account or your IRA? Learn the laws about “counsel fees” in your state and ask the attorneys you are interviewing how you might pay their retainer and ongoing fees.
    28. Branch out and talk to more experts who can help you answer your other questions. Often a financial advisor experienced in divorce will think of things a lawyer will not mention. S/he can possibly help you strategize how you might pay for a divorce or what might be in your interest to ask for in the settlement. A child therapist who has counseled other parents through divorce may do much to help you support your child. A real estate broker might advise you on your practical housing questions, such as the pros and cons of renting vs. buying if you divorce, or what your house might be appraised for. When a question comes to mind, think about who is out there and who might have the answer for you.
    29. Understand there will come a tipping point and you will make a decision about divorce. Despite your best efforts to get educated beyond just thinking about divorce, rarely will you know 100 percent if you should or should not follow through. Usually there remains some portion of ambivalence, but know that at some moment in time, you will reach a saturation point of information and either you’ll be ready to make the decision to stay or go — or the decision will be forced upon you.
    30. You are not ready for divorce If you cannot accept changes. If you cannot accept there will be a change to your finances, lifestyle, friendship groups, or traditions, you are not ready for divorce. If you cannot accept uncertainty … that at times there will be fear and unknowns, then you are not ready for divorce. On the other hand, you may have no choice. In which case, you must face your greatest fears. Seek support.
    31. If you decide to move ahead with the divorce, set your intention. Determine how you want to conduct yourself throughout this difficult passage and beyond. Remind yourself you will have no control over your spouse, but you will try your best to control how you act and react. If you have children, ask yourself what is the model you want to show them? Write down the image of yourself as the parent you want to be. Establishing a clear image of who you want to be and what you want to demonstrate for your kids will help you in this next often-difficult stage.
    32. Understand that you want to avoid divorce court if you can help it. Rarely is anyone completely happy with the terms of his/her divorce, but to avoid getting a judge involved, you will have to be flexible, negotiate in good faith, and compromise on tough issues. Being stubborn or vindictive is what drives people to litigation. That means court. (The truth is that less than 10% of cases end up in a full blown trial; but those that do, end up with massive legal bills and a destroyed relationship.)
    33. Start collecting your financial information.  If you choose to begin divorce proceedings, you will be required to disclose your finances early in the process. Most states have a required financial statement form (though different states have different names for it — check your state court website). Begin filling it out or hunting down the information to get a head start.
    34. Learn what your next steps are and what the process will look like. A divorce coach will act as your guide throughout the process, but if you are not working with one (or cannot afford one at this time) ask your lawyer to explain how the legal process will go and how s/he will keep you informed. Also ask him/her what is the best way to communicate going forward: Is email best? Telephone? How do you keep costs in check? Knowing what to expect will help manage your anxiety and stress.
    35. Be kind to yourself. Understand that there will be times you feel crazy, like you’ve returned to your old loop of contemplating divorce and wondering if you are doing the right thing. But because you followed many of these steps, you are not embarking on this path lightly. You have taken every opportunity to be thoughtful about facing this major life-change, divorce, and though you many not desire this outcome, you have done your homework.
    36. Know that there is life after divorce. What stands directly in front of you is moving through the divorce process and ensuring your divorce recovery. It will be challenging. But for you and your family to stand the best shot at a healthy life afterwards, you must continue to step forward mindfully and with intention. There is life after divorce. You probably cannot see it yet. You certainly cannot feel it, but it’s there and bigger and better than you can imagine, it is waiting for you.

If you are considering divorce, you may well benefit from watching our free 40-minute video: Should You or Shouldn’t You Divorce?  It helps you understand why things are not clear for you and steps you can take toward resolution (in either direction) so you lessen your anxiety and chronic state of limbo.

#Metoo in calligraphy

#MeToo. In My Own Marriage

I’m loath to write this piece but I feel like I have to… I don’t want to, because it’s embarrassing, and because I’m afraid he’ll read it. But I have to — I know there are women out there who are being sexually harassed by their husbands this very minute and they don’t even know it. Or they know it deep down but don’t call it that because, well, they are married to him. We can’t call it sexual harassment if we are married, right? Oh HELL YES we can. Especially now.

On October 15th, I saw a Facebook post that read, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘#Metoo’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I quickly posted “Me too” on my page thinking of the professor who failed me when I wouldn’t respond to his “flirting” … and the time another guy ground his groin into my backside on a crowded subway … or all the countless times any guy stared at my boobs while “talking” to me. But in that moment of my #MeToo post, my ex husband didn’t enter my consciousness. And I certainly didn’t think my “Me too” would become part of something bigger. (Thank you, brave and bold women.)

Fast forward to now and I don’t know about you, but every morning when I wake up and see yet another celebrity or politician or executive on the news with a sexual harassment charge, I get a tiny little thrill. FINALLY the dirty little undercurrent that literally every woman everywhere has had to live with is coming to the surface and being called out. It seems the floodgates are open and we’re hearing about more and more men (and it is mostly men, let’s face it) who have behaved anywhere from inappropriately to downright horrifically. And we know, because we know what we’ve experienced throughout our lifetimes, that this flood is not receding anytime soon.

Let it continue.  Let it expand as it eventually includes all kinds perpetrators, not just those who are high profile. And let it encompass all kinds of behavior, not just the obviously egregious. Because the fact is, sexual harassment comes in many packages, including within the context of a marriage.

For those who worry, is the #MeToo movement going too far? SAS’ response is this form of disrespect and violence has been going on too long and has been, far too insidious. Sexual harassment, as shaming and uncomfortable as it is for the victims, needs to be aired before our society can metabolize the lines of what is “too much.” It’s been too much.

Thanks to gender and power dynamics, victims throughout history have had to keep silent; or if they have spoken out, are labeled and called names for saying the truth. Up until yesterday! Consider how the women who’ve accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment were not taken seriously. Until now. Think of Anita Hill and what she went through.  Think of the women who work in hotels as chambermaids, housekeepers and laborers, what they face everyday and must keep shut up about, because they cannot afford to lose the jobs that support them and their children. It is too much. And not enough. Those who have a voice, a power, must speak out now — not for themselves, but for their daughters, their sons, and all the victims who cannot.

If you look up the definition of sexual harassment, there are variations on a theme but one phrase comes up over and over again, regardless of whether we are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace or not: “Unwelcome advances.”

That was the crux of the matter for me. This is when I was certain that yes, the way my ex behaved did count as sexual harassment. I cannot count the times that I felt uncomfortable in my own marriage bed, times when he would want me to do something or wear something or say something that I was uncomfortable with. All so very unwelcome but my options were to shut up and do it, or ignite a fight that would escalate to epic proportions. So time after time, I put my own wants and needs to the side in an effort to appease and placate him. During those times, I just thought I was compromising, as we all have to do in relationships. But also, deep down those experiences made me feel gross, ashamed, lonely and sad. If he loved me, why would he want me to do things he knew very well made me feel dirty and pained?

I wish I had listened to that little voice that told me it wasn’t okay, that I had every right to stand up for myself. In my particular story, I feel that because I did not find the courage to stand up for myself along the way … because I did not say no nearly often enough … because I implicitly gave him permission to harass me, to do these things to me  … that the onus was on me: I allowed it to escalate. And escalate it did. By the end of our marriage, he was trying to invite strangers home from the bar for a threesome. The day I came home to find the computer open to a notice on a porn site where he was advertising us as a couple interested in orgies, THEN I found the courage to put a stop to it.

If any part of my story resonates with you, please don’t wait around for it to get worse. He will keep pushing the boundaries until he finds that threshold, the place where you are so horrified that you cannot take one more minute. Please don’t wait for that, it could be a long way off and in the meantime you’ll endure, you’ll tolerate, you will suffer. It’s not necessary. It’s not fair and I would argue, it’s not healthy.

This is the beautiful power of the #Metoo movement. As women, as young people, as men, we no longer have to bear this burden alone, with only our inner voice trying to reason with us. We now stand together, with safety in numbers, and if you tell your story to the right people, they will listen.

We recommend you identify someone you feel safe talking to and start there. Can you share with your sister, your best friend, your mom? It feels really good to tell someone, I can attest to that. Then move on to finding a professional who can help you figure out what to do about it. Therapists and divorce coaches are trained to lead you through a process – not to divorce necessarily if this is happening in your marriage; but to decide what to do to address the situation. It may or may not mean splitting up, that remains to be seen. What you do know is that something fundamental has to change. Figure out how you can do that.

Every woman deserves to feel safe, heard and respected in her marriage. It’s the baseline, not a luxury. If you can’t say that’s how you feel in your marriage, we gently urge you to think about that.

If you haven’t already taken us up on our free confidential consultation, we are a safe place to begin — to start hearing feedback on your situation. Married or not, we’ll listen to your story, perhaps share a glimmer of our own stories, and most importantly, offer you perspective and next steps for lightening your heart and head. By the way, your heart and head are often not in synch; and understanding that is part of your process for healing. If you aren’t sure about talking to anyone just yet, start with our website where you can read, watch videos, and take classes, all of which you can do in complete privacy.

We can feel it, your #Metoo moment is coming.

Should you divorce, a question this woman struggles with

Should You Divorce? 3 Ways to Know When Divorce is the ONLY Option

Trying to figure out if you should divorce is an agonizing process. I mean, sheer torture. It’s overwhelming and confusing and can make you go back and forth in your head, sometimes for years. Unless you’ve lived through it, I’ll never be able to adequately paint a picture for you. All I can tell you is that the question in your head “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” haunts your thoughts, your steps, your decisions, until finally, FINALLY you put it to rest with a yes or a no. I’m guessing that the title of this piece drew you in because you are struggling with this question.

Let me pause here to acknowledge that some women won’t answer the question at all. It will continue to follow them around for the rest of their days and eventually they’ll take it to their graves. My heart hurts for women who choose to live that tormented life. But for many of us, we reach a point where we must figure out the answer to that question because we simply can’t go on this way.

But does it ever become clear? Will you have a moment where you’ll know with certainty, one way or another? In my experience as a divorce coach, no. Not usually. There are so many shades of gray… and good days mixed with bad days… and that pesky “hope” that keeps thinking things will change and that quiet inner voice that keeps arguing that it won’t… that combination keeps you in a muddled state of thinking, of spinning.

You might find that it’s starkly clear to others what you should do with your life. Some won’t hesitate to tell you what they think either. Perhaps a friend, when you go to her to vent after a fight yet again, says in exasperation, “You have to divorce him!” Yet your mother may stand firm in her advice that marriage is forever and you simply have to find a way to fix it. But I’m here to tell you: I know absolutely nothing about what is clear to you. If I am talking to you, and you are stuck in that sickening cycle of thinking and wondering if you should divorce, I’ll give you three reasons when the answer is probably YES.

Should you divorce? Yes, if:

Abuse is in the picture: This was my story and it took me a long, long time to even understand that I was being abused, let alone leave. But deep down I wondered for years. I wish I had listened to my gut and looked it up, read something, talked to someone, examined our behavior to decide for myself if the way he treated me was “abusive.” I believe if I had, I would have been forced to acknowledge that it was not okay and that may have led to me getting help. I am telling you from 17 years of my own personal experience and through the stories of hundreds of women whom we’ve helped at SAS, that it never gets better. Without professional intervention, it will only get worse, I promise you. So if you wonder if (or know) that you are in an abusive situation, you have to follow your heart and figure it out.

Abuse comes in many forms, too… It does not mean you are walking around with black eyes or landing in the ER regularly. It means that he repeatedly and fundamentally disrespects you, that he hurts you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically, or that you feel less than an equal human to him. If that feels awfully familiar, divorce is likely a necessary step to regaining your life, humanity and self respect.

He refuses to do anything different. You’ve recognized that something isn’t working and you know you guys need to work on it for you to survive the long haul. You may be online at night, looking at relationship websites and blogs and chatrooms … all geared toward saving a marriage. And you bring certain ideas or options you’ve learned to your partner, with excitement because there is hope! We can fix this, we just need to do X! And here’s a class/therapist/book/boot camp that will help us! Only to have him shut you down with his refusal. Maybe he’s in denial and doesn’t think anything needs changing… or he won’t see a therapist because that’s for sick people… or he says that he’ll try but constantly makes up excuses to skip out on any help you’ve organized.

There comes a point where you have to admit that he’s not going to participate with you. It’s a painful recognition. But this is a partnership and it takes both of you. You cannot keep beating a dead horse. You cannot revive this relationship alone, it’s impossible. If he refuses to do anything different, you’ll need to do something different for yourself. You must find another way of living. You should get space. This may mean divorce.

You’ve gotten professional help and exhausted all avenues. It’s heartbreaking but sometimes you have to come to a mutual agreement that you have tried everything and it’s still not going to work. Hopefully you worked together and tried talking, tried therapy, tried anything you could find that you thought would weave you back together and after all that effort, it’s still not good. In that situation, there comes a moment when it’s appropriate to stop. You must make the decision to end it with dignity and with respect for one another. At SAS, we recommend this path for those who feel they have exhausted all avenues to happiness as a couple. We encourage you to take that discovery journey together, because if you do (ultimately) decide to split, it sets you and your family up for a healthy resolution to a difficult situation. Consider Discernment Counseling, which is designed to help couples arrive at the right decision together.

We know how hard this is — this question of should you or shouldn’t you divorce? We also recognize that it’s helpful to hear from other women who have been there — and we’re telling you, as confusing as it is — there are times when the answer is more “yes” than “no.”

If you’d like more information on knowing if you should divorce, you’ll want to view our free video in which SAS Cofounders Liza and Kim explain the steps you can take to see more clearly and the 4 Big Mistakes you must avoid. (This video is not live but recently filmed with an anonymous group of women viewers who participated in asking questions and commenting.)

Women studying for Divorce in New York

Divorce in New York State: 10 Things to Know Before Seeing a Lawyer

Whether you knew it was coming or taken by surprise, divorce can be difficult and overwhelming. Unless you’ve been through it before, you probably have no idea what to do or where to turn. Divorce in New York is complicated, but it need not be confusing. There are specific steps that New York State Law, also known as The Domestic Relations Law, requires in order to obtain a divorce.

  1. Have a legitimate reason to divorce. Until recently, the usual reasons or ‘legal grounds’ for divorce were based on one spouse doing something wrong, like adultery or abandonment. Today, in regard to divorce in New York State we have ‘no fault divorce’ which is one spouse swearing in an affidavit that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for a period of six months or longer. If you and your spouse are able to arrive at an agreement about all issues related to children, finances and property, you can proceed directly with a ‘no fault’ divorce. If, however, you and your spouse need to negotiate these issues, you may still file and proceed on this ground, but will also need the help of an attorney and/or a mediator to help you arrive at reasonable terms.
  2. Meet the residency requirement before filing. With some exceptions, either you or your spouse need to have been living in NYS for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before starting your divorce. Provided certain other requirements are met, you can still file for divorce in NYS even if you were married in a different state.
  3. New York State Supreme Court grants divorces, not Family Court. Family court rules on child custody, child support and other family-related issues, however, only the Supreme Court can grant you a divorce. Every county has its own Supreme Court with a matrimonial clerk’s office that processes divorce paperwork. Total court fees are approximately $450.00.
  4. Make sure your spouse is properly served with divorce papers. Generally, papers must be served on your spouse a) within 120 days after you file, b) by hand-delivery in person by almost anyone but you, and c) almost anywhere and anytime but not on Sunday. Violating the rules of proper service can have potentially damaging legal consequences down the road For more on being served divorce papers — and next steps, check out this SAS article. 
  5. Be patient. The length of time it takes for the court to grant your divorce varies according to whether your divorce is uncontested or contested. Each county also operates slightly differently; some have more clerks and judges while others are more overloaded with cases. Ensuring that paperwork is complete and on time is something you can do to help avoid unnecessary delay.
  6. When ruling on custody of children, judges do not declare winners and losers. Judges adopt the prevailing legal standard known as “The Best Interests of the Child”. Therefore, your strategy in your negotiations with your spouse, or in court, should not be to argue why you should ‘win’ but rather, to present a persuasive statement about what you believe is best for your children and why.
  7. Keep accurate records of your income and expenses. Children have an absolute right to financial support from both parents until age 21. A 50/50 custody arrangement does not relieve the higher earning parent from their obligation to pay child support, which is calculated not only by what comes in, but also by what goes out for expenses. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to pay a total of at least 17% of combined parental income for one child, 25% for two, and 29% for three.
  8. Unlike children, spouses do not have an absolute legal right to support. Legal ideology has shifted away from ‘the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed’ to ‘maintenance’. Simply put, unless one spouse is destined to become a public charge, the courts are unlikely to impose an order of spousal support that differs from what the spouses already agreed to.
  9. Equitable does not mean equal. Generally speaking, regarding the law for divorce in New York everything a spouse had before marriage is their separate property; everything acquired afterwards is marital, subject to equitable division, based on factors such as one’s earning potential and assets. Taking inventory of all your ‘stuff’ and assigning a value to each asset will go a long way towards reaching a fair settlement.
  10. You are not alone. Now that you have some of the basics, you are ready to select your lawyer, divorce coach, financial adviser – even your friends. These are the people who will walk beside you during your journey, and who can help you become the person you wish to be on the other side. For more education — if you are thinking about or preparing for divorce, here are 36 other things to help you stay informed and centered.


“Your strategy in your negotiations with your spouse, or in court, should not be to argue why you should ‘win’ but rather, to present a statement about what you believe is best for your children … and why.”


Debra Mechanick is a Social Worker and Matrimonial Attorney, practicing in mid-town Manhattan. Debra combines her expertise in Social Work and the Law to help clients achieve non-adversarial solutions to the complex legal challenges associated with divorce. Through mediation, Debra carefully guides the divorcing couple through a series of negotiations that result in an agreement that is uniquely suited to the needs of their particular family. 

Particularly knowledgeable about divorce in New York, Debra serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee and provides pro bono legal services to The New York Legal Assistance Group’s Divorce Mediation Project.


Should I divorce a woman wonders

Should I Divorce My Husband — Or Stay for the Kids?

Your home has become a war zone. You and your husband are always fighting — or it’s eerily silent — and you are both miserable. What was supposed to be happily ever after has become an ordeal you cannot escape. Or can you?

A voice inside your head whispers, again and again, “Should I divorce?”

While another voice asks desperately, “What about the kids?”

If the word divorce sends chills up your spine then you have one thing going for you – you aren’t taking this decision lightly. It means something and this scares you. That’s good – very good. Divorce is never easy – on anyone involved. It changes your life and those changes are not always good — especially for your kids. But will getting a divorce ruin them? If you aren’t sure, then we need to talk.

Divorce isn’t always good. But, it isn’t always bad either. Like any other big decision in life it can go either way. Your job as a mom is making the best decision you can; working hard to limit the fallout; and helping your kids persevere through it all.

The Impact of Divorce Isn’t Always Clear

If you have been contemplating a break-up, maybe Googling “Should I divorce?” at various intervals in your life, odds are good you have been scouting out information about how it will impact your kids.  Maybe you have read a few articles that cite all kinds of bad things that will happen to your kids: like, they will develop behavioral problems; they won’t be able to sustain a lasting relationship of their own in the future; they will fail in school; or they will become young parents.

As a mother, you may be focusing on these negative reports, fearing the decision you are making. But there is another side to this story. There are plenty of reports that contradict these negative findings. One study done at Dartmouth indicated that 75-80% of children from divorced homes showed no lasting psychological effects from their parents’ breakup. Another study showed that 42% of young adults who came from divorced households received higher well-being scores than their counterparts who came from a two-parent household.

When asking yourself, “Should I divorce my husband?” consider this important fact: a 2012 study at Notre Dame University showed that parents who fight in front of kindergarten age children set their kids up for depression, anxiety and behavioral problems at a much higher rate than those who decide to end their marriages. This study indicates that it is not necessarily the act of divorce that causes problems for kids, but the inability of the parent’s to provide a calm and loving environment that does the most harm.

Other studies suggest it is actually how you navigate the divorce process that dictates how well your children will recover.

How Divorce Can Benefit Your Kids (Yes, We Said That!)

Life is tough sometimes, and kids need to learn that no matter how tough it gets, they will survive. So, while you worry that ending a bad marriage is going to ruin your kids, statistics show that it can actually help make them stronger, happier people.  Here are just some of the things that kids learn when parents divorce:

  • Conflict resolution: Divorce can show kids how to overcome conflict. While it is a dramatic way to solve your marital strife, it does show a positive way to solve problems — as opposed to staying in a spin cycle of pain.
  • Co-parenting can means more parental involvement: statistics show that kids in shared custody situations actually spend more quality time with each individual parent. The Journal and Marriage & Family says that  “quality time with your kids has a bigger impact than quantity of time spent in their presence.”
  • What real happiness is: a household wrought with strife is chaotic and can even feel emotionally unsafe to your kids. But, when the parents finally end the marriage, the stress –and the fighting – is relieved. This can help kids experience life without the chaos; showing them a difference from what they have known. And also, that people have choices as to how they can live.
  • Perseverance: life doesn’t always go as planned. When kids see their parents’ reviving after a failed marriage they learn how to persevere through the tough times and create a new beginning, too.

The Negative Side of Divorce

Of course, we all know that divorce is not always pretty. A bad marriage can turn into a worse divorce.  Ending a marriage can bring out the worst in people, especially when kids are involved. If you cannot find a way to get along with your husband during and after the divorce, ending your marriage could do more harm than good when it comes to your kids’ future.

Statistics show that the trauma of divorce can send kids reeling. In some cases they experience an increase in depression, anxiety, behavioral problems; issues in the future connecting with others; trust issues; and more.

Add to that the negative financial impact many divorces have on mothers and children, and you are getting the picture of a different kind of stress. If you have a hard time financially caring for your children after a divorce, it will impact everything about their life. This may limit their involvement in extra-curricular activities like sports and music lessons; where they live; and the friends they make; as well as their ability to continue their education after high school. All of this can impact the quality of their adult lives.

Should I Divorce My Husband?

This is a question with no easy answer. If you are living in an abusive or dangerous situation or your husband is an addict, then it may be time to get out. We know that can be hard. But get help. If your struggles are another variety, it may be best for your kids to stick it out and work on those problems.  Consider professional assistance so you learn how to do things differently.  It is always best to work on your marriage, but remember, if your home is wrought with chaos, your kids will be harmed. Unhappy parents = unhappy kids.  With 1.5 million children facing divorce annually, the fact remains kids do overcome this change in their lives – and many actually thrive afterwards.

Is it time to give up on your marriage? Only you know the answer to that. And do not expect 100 percent clarity to the answer. Consider speaking to a professional to help you as a couple; or a divorce coach to help you evaluate what is real and what is not. Your kids are clearly a major part of your decision, but don’t let them be the deciding factor as to whether you stick it out or not. In the end you have to do what’s best for the entire family – including yourself, your husband, and your kids.


As mothers we are hardwired to put our children first. So, if you are stuck wondering, “Should I divorce?” ask yourself if this is the kind of relationship you would want your kids to have in their adult lives? Connect with us for a free 45-minute consultation and we’ll help you answer some of these troubling, relentless questions for yourself. So ultimately, you will make the right decision for everybody.

Protesters holding sign that says "Have you no sense of decency sirs?"

SAS Survey: Is the Current Political Climate Impacting Divorce for Women?

Are you feeling it, too? A study published by the American Psychological Association in mid-February (2017) has found that two thirds of all Americans feel anxiety over the future of the country. The analysis, called “Stress in America,” also discovered 57 percent of the nation reported that politics were either somewhat or a very significant source of stress in their lives.

In our work at SAS for Women, a practice dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional and logistical challenges of divorce, we are not surprised. While January, February and March are commonly referred to as the “divorce season” in the family law industry (with the theory being that couples bury their conflict during the holidays and file for divorce in the new year) the start of 2017 feels especially divisive. Since Mr. Trump’s ascent to power, we are hearing more and more about a certain type of stress women are facing, and in particular how it’s playing out beyond and behind the marital chamber’s door.

Our question is how much is this current administration and the daily barrage of headlines proving to be a lightening rod and moving women toward divorce? Is the current political climate impacting divorce overall?

The Survey on Political Climate and Divorce

To learn how much the current political climate is influencing women’s feelings and behavior about divorce we polled the SAS for Women Community — women who are thinking about, or navigating divorce.

Survey showing impact of political Feb 2017 political climate impacting women and divorce

Design: Ashley Nakai

Of the 100 women polled, 53 percent say they are influenced by the political climate. More than a third (35 percent) rate themselves 5 or higher on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the primary reason or trigger they are divorcing. 6 percent of the women who participated indicated they were a “10.”

What Women Said:

Many women in the SAS Community did more than simply self-assign a number. They shared comments and thoughts about their dilemmas, circumstances, and outlook for the future:

Answered “3”: “Women’s rights and freedom are in jeopardy as long as Trump is in office and the cabinet and Supreme Court are staffed as they are now. Single mothers are at high risk for poverty, which not only negatively affects them, but also their children. And yet, women must have the option to leave abusive or otherwise unhealthy domestic partnerships without fear of becoming homeless, hungry, etc.”

Answered “9”: “My soon to be ex has always been a Republican and we clashed during presidential elections before (Bush), but he was a Trump supporter and it really pushed me over the edge to the realization that our values and interests were completely different. Upon my announcing I wanted a divorce in October, he immediately became a Hillary supporter and tried to tell me that he agreed with every position I ever had and that I just misunderstood him or didn’t know him. While it was not the primary reason for my seeking a divorce ( I have been unhappy for many years!), it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Answered “1”: “Political factors influence very little of my day to day decisions. My divorce, my children, and my career consume the entirety of my energy. I will not waste limited energy on those things that do not directly benefit my children or my career or me and moving ahead with our lives.”

Answered “7”: “Problems before…but a perceived wider gap in our overall politics (and general direction we are both leaning) has made the possibility of divorce even greater.  I am left shaking my head about who it was I fell in love with 25 years ago and who is in my bed tonight …”

Answered “1”:  “America goes about its business day after day, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I personally take responsibility for my actions and feel that I have the greatest impact on myself and others by owning what is mine, the good and the bad. Politics will always have good and bad realities that will either enhance or detract from our lives and our choices, but that is something we are lucky to have!”

Answered “8”: “The political attack on everything I hold dear and all that constitutes my core values as a human being and a woman recalibrates the tolerance of a husband who is not truly supportive of those values either. I can’t have this President in The White House and be trapped in marriage to someone who is not shook up, too.”

Answered “1”: “Politics have nothing to do with my pending divorce or how my ‘husband’ treats me.”

Answered “8”: “I was just speaking about this to my therapist. I feel so outraged by the misogynistic administration and the misogynistic  culture of the election that preceded this corrupt administration.  I’ve realized that our society is more misogynistic than I had felt and that my husband is not a feminist. It has become clearer to me.”

Answered “2”: “My decision was made way before the current political situation which only strengthens my determination. However, the impact is not that great as the determination was there to begin with.”

Answered “10”: “I am exiting a relationship with a narcissist, after 25 years of believing his spin, his alternative facts, his hostage holding (beholden to keeping kids emotionally safe). It was actually a relief to hear the descriptions of Trump as it clarified the behavior I was looking at but still couldn’t see.”


While 47 percent of the SAS Community self-assigned themselves a “1,” thereby indicating their feelings and actions about divorce are not impacted by the political climate, it is clear that more than half of the women polled claim they are influenced. More than a third of this community feels very much impacted by the current political climate and what it means for them, their families and the future.

What do you think? We would be interested to know — as would our Sister Readers! We invite you to share your comments and thoughts below.

SAS for Women® is uniquely positioned to understand women as they confront the realities of divorce around the world. Our education and coaching services — action and outcome-drive — focus on the healthy approach and appeal to women who are committed to being smart and educated in their decision-making. To learn what is possible for you and your life, schedule your free consultation with SAS by visiting here.

Watching HBO Divorce

Are You Contemplating Divorce and Secretly Hooked on #DivorceHBO?

If you are watching “Divorce” and contemplating divorce yourself, this show might have you wondering, “What the hell is wrong with these people?” In the 8th episode, Robert is seemingly taking the divorce extraordinarily well, happy as a lark and moving on with his new single life. Frances is rearranging the house and is excited about a new job prospect… until the 9th episode, where we start to see it all crumble as the lawyers get involved. In every episode we definitely get the feeling that Frances isn’t happy, not really. But wait a minute, wasn’t she the one that asked for the divorce?  Shouldn’t she be ecstatic that she’s getting what she wants?

Divorce is never what anyone wants.  To have change in our life? Yes, we want that. To be more fulfilled, more content, more…well, to have more?  Yes, we want that. But no one, NO ONE wants to go through the actual divorce.

I beg you, if you are contemplating divorce right now, don’t try to put yourself in the shoes of Frances or Robert.

If you are contemplating divorce, I’m sure you are watching out of curiosity (and you should, because I think the show is really hitting some things that are absolutely true about divorce) but you have to understand that (a) this is television, and therefore everything is totally exaggerated, and (b) that every divorce is different and it’s up to you how your’s will unfold.

Divorce is the ultimate unwelcome opportunity.

When faced with this opportunity, any opportunity, you are presented with a choice. Do you take that opportunity and see where it goes?  Or do you turn it down and settle for what you know? Perhaps you are wondering what I mean by “opportunity”  in the context of divorce?

What opportunity does divorce give you, exactly? Well, you get the chance to….

1.     Connect with your kids in new ways.  Spending time with your kids changes once you are faced with divorce. You look at that time differently and you tend to want to really connect with them, when you have them.  They really need extra TLC right now, too. This is a time to find new things you love to do together, to really listen to their stories and answer their questions in a way that you never have before.

2.     Try new things. Frances questions Robert’s new church going ways, to which he replies, “Yeah, I never really saw myself on this path before but…” Yup. Divorce tends to make us reflect on our lives and we often realize there are things out there that we want to try.  Maybe you didn’t try them because you didn’t think your spouse would approve – or maybe life was simply too busy with the mundane stuff. Either way, now’s your chance to try something new. Skydiving anyone?

3.    Try on a new personality. You get to decide who you want to be in this next chapter, how amazing is that?  It will require work, fair warning, but it’s so worth it.  If you hate the way you can’t say “no” to anyone, ever, or you really wish you had a career you were proud of…start looking into what you can do to become the person you’d like to see in the mirror. Is there a book to start with? A therapist? Sign up with a coach? Look for a mentor?  There are many ways to reinvent ourselves and divorce is the perfect excuse.

4.     Do things over with the benefit of hindsight.  Remember when we were kids playing ball and something would go wrong, so we’d all holler “Do Over!”  And you got to try again? It’s like that.  Your next relationship is your do over.  You can thoughtfully choose your next partner, because now you know exactly what you don’t want, what you won’t accept, and what you do need.

5.    Have sex with someone new. C’mon. It’s a delicious feeling, being flooded with all those intoxicating hormones when you meet someone new whom you are attracted to, isn’t it? Even in the most loving marriages we get into familiar patterns in our sex life… When we are given the chance to be with someone new after divorce it can be exhilarating and a whole lot of fun.

6.     Choose to do divorce the healthy way. In the most recent episode, Frances said to Robert, “Just because this isn’t pleasant doesn’t mean this can’t be civil.”  She’s 100% right. It does not have to be ugly and this is your chance to ensure that it isn’t destructive for you and your family.  This is not to say it will be easy. It will not. But there are ways to go through this experience and maintain your dignity and poise.

What’s the alternative, after all?  You could turn down the opportunity of divorce and either stay exactly where you are now — or get dragged through the divorce kicking and screaming, locking yourself into a life of anger and bitterness. Or, you can decide to begin your divorce recovery right now.

What do you choose?

If you are contemplating divorce and unsure how to see this in a positive light, come talk to us. We offer free, 45-minute consultations and we promise you’ll come away from that call with a new perspective — a step, thought or resource that will advance your thinking.