Husband and wife asking who pays for a divorce

Who Pays for a Divorce? The Question Every Couple Asks After Deciding to End Their Marriage

I’ve helped countless couples get married and divorced over the past two decades. People enter marriages for any number of reasons and leave them the same way. Some of the people I meet are simply thinking about getting a divorce. Others are already separated, looking to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. And when it comes to divorce, a question that pops up again and again in almost all cases is this: how do legal fees get paid to divorce attorneys? Or rather, who pays for a divorce? This is no wonder. As you transition from one household to two, there are bound to be plenty of changes, some of which cost money. The sooner you’re able to wrap your head around these changes, the sooner you can move forward, turning the page on this chapter of your life and starting the next.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how to pay legal fees. The more questions you ask your lawyer and the other experts around you, the more you’ll be able to make the best choice for your unique situation. Typically, the bulk of the payments get withdrawn from either joint funds or requested from the “monied” spouse. (In non-legal terms, that generally means the spouse with the larger income.) Yet, the law provides no definition of the phrase “monied spouse,” which may complicate matters when it comes to who pays for a divorce.

Payment of legal fees is first brought up when a client signs a retainer agreement with her attorney. The retainer agreement outlines the scope of the attorney’s representation and any payments, including an initial deposit. The initial retainer is usually paid by check from joint funds or placed on a marital/personal credit card.

If you want the monied spouse to pay for legal fees, or if you have other questions about who pays for a divorce, make sure you mention that to the lawyer you hire.

Here are a few good questions you can ask when interviewing lawyers:

  • How much is the lawyer’s retainer, and how much do they charge per hour?
  • If the monied spouse is responsible for legal fees, when will the spouse make that payment?
  • What other costs should I be aware of?

Authority of the court to decide who pays for a divorce

Each state has different divorce laws. For example, New York gives courts the authority to award legal fees when necessary. An award of legal fees isn’t automatic. If the court finds it necessary, they order the monied spouse to make payments directly to their partner’s attorney. In any case, it’s rare for the monied spouse to be responsible for 100 percent of their spouse’s legal fees. Prepare yourself for any possibility.

Application to the court to award payment of legal fees

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, how exactly does one get an award for legal fees? At any time during the case, you can fill out an application and submit it to the court. In this application, you must explicitly request an award for legal fees. You must submit quite a bit of financial documentation along with the application.

While awarding legal fees isn’t automatic in New York, state law does attempt to level the playing field for both partners. The law assumes that giving the less monied spouse an award of legal fees will do so. It falls to the monied spouse’s legal team to argue that such an assumption is incorrect. They’ll have to prove that an award of legal fees isn’t necessary. (For example, the less monied spouse might have assets but not income.)

The court’s decision to award legal fees

Awarding legal fees to the less monied spouse means both partners can find adequate representation. The courts review both partners’ financial circumstances. They also review whether one partner has prolonged litigation. Courts don’t need proof of poverty, and they don’t force one partner to exhaust all financial resources before granting an award. In fact, the trial courts have a fair amount of freedom to determine whether an award is necessary.

The calculation of legal fees

Once the court has decided to award legal fees, it must determine what amount to award. The court reviews many factors, including your financial ability to pay, the nature of the proceedings, and the difficulty and result of the case. The court also reviews the attorney’s experience and performance, as well as the fees typically charged for legal services in the area.

So remember, when it comes down to who pays for a divorce, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, courts often require that the monied spouse pay the legal fees of the less monied spouse to ensure they can defend themselves. But there are no guarantees. As frustrating as it may be, any legal fees awarded to either partner, like other assets and funds, is subject to reallocation at the case’s close.

For more than 18 years, Nina Epstein and law partner Elyse Goldweber have helped individuals and families in the New York City metropolitan area with the full range of legal issues associated with creation and dissolution of personal unions—including divorce, separation, and child support, as well as employment challenges and related business matters. For more information on how they might assist you, visit their website or call (212) 355-4149.


Whether you’re navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or recreating the life you want, one thing that makes a big difference for women is choosing not to do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. For support, guidance and direction now, consider joining Annie’s Group, a virtual community teaching you what you must know as a woman considering or navigating divorce. Class begins April 10th at noon.  Space is limited.


Single mother lifting her daughter

Coparenting Tips: 4 Ground Rules All Divorced Parents Should Live by (For Everybody’s Sake)

So that’s it. Game over. You’re all talked out, and the writing on the wall is clear. Something has to change, and you and your partner have decided divorce is the best answer. If you share children with your Ex, then before you can even think about how you’ll fumble through the world of dating (because, at first, there’s sure to be at least a little fumbling while you figure out what you want) you have to come to terms with your new situation. You need coparenting tips and someone to shine a light on the path that leads forward and beyond. So, let’s begin.

You could sit on the couch watching episode after episode of Ray Donovan (cliché carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream included). You could go to the gym and spin yourself silly with endorphins. Or, you could head to Vegas for a divorce party and toast your new beginning. Whatever you do, don’t settle for old stereotypes—images of women plotting their Ex’s demise in the shadows. You’ve got too much to look forward to and to discover. Concentrate instead on creating the best life possible for your children, and redrafting the shared connection you will always have with your Ex. Confront those negative feelings about your Ex, and work on building a successful coparenting relationship. When you realize the positive impact doing so has on your children, nothing else will matter. Trust me.

Stay focused

Remember those negative feelings I mentioned? (Of course you do—right now those feelings are still fresh and raw.) They’re your first hurdle to jump on your journey toward successful coparenting. Everyone needs to vent. That’s what friends, and coaches, and therapists, and groups are for. Sharing your experiences with and supporting others, can help you move past your own feelings and gain perspective. Your emotions can be obstacles when enforcing the following four coparenting tips, so learn to let go.

Focus on creating a warm and stable environment for your children. It’s a difficult time for them too, of course. They need their parents now, possibly more than ever, and they need you to be united. Not distracted by personal squabbles that have nothing to do with your role as parents. When talking to your Ex, try not to bring up the past or allow yourself to be drawn into arguments. Stay on topic.

You are bound to have more than a few disagreements about your differing parenting philosophies. Stay focused on your main goal: doing what’s right for your children. They need time with both their parents without disrupting their entire lives and routines.

Stay positive

Staying positive can be tricky, right? The end of a marriage can feel like the end of your world, but it’s only the start of something new. Your marriage may not have turned out as planned, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to be grateful for. Your children, friends, extended family, and pets should all add to not detract from your life. Maintaining a positive outlook is one of the best coparenting tips out there. Negative experiences are what you make of them. How you react to those experiences determines whether or not you learn from them.

Being positive helps you proactively pursue an ideal coparenting setup. Explore the potential of mediation, therapy, and counseling, and take time to learn about the processes involved in creating a parenting plan or custody agreement. There’s a lot of information out there. The legal aspects involved in creating a custody agreement can make it seem like a daunting task, but really, forming an agreement can be simple.

Get organized, but be flexible

Staying focused and positive are two coparenting tips that will help you create the consistency every family needs, especially those going through divorce proceedings. Having a set visitation calendar helps both you and your coparent understand your responsibilities with little room for conflict or misunderstandings.

Something I’ve touched on in a previous article is respecting your coparent’s differences and parenting style. It’s great to have shared values and rules about how to properly raise children, but there are bound to be points you simply don’t agree on. Structure is crucial, but being rigid is a barrier.

For the initial transition period, it can help if everyone (parents and children) has a routine. The routine will change—that’s just life! If you still need to iron out the kinks in your routine and lock down schedules, a temporary custody agreement might be the best option for your family.

Be prepared to compromise. I know this isn’t easy. You love your kids. Your feelings for your Ex, on the other hand, are complicated (to say the least). But just remember any feelings you have for your Ex can’t compare to the love you have for your children. Any compromises you make are for them.

Communicate often and effectively

In my last article, I also spoke at length about keeping the channels of communication open. Nothing has changed since then. Avoid misunderstandings by communicating often, and be a positive role model for your children (and your Ex).

Keeping your Ex in the dark about important matters will only jeopardize your ability to stay positive and focused. Be civil (even when they aren’t making it easy). Being civil helps control everyone’s emotions, and you will leave exchanges feeling all the better for it.

If you have children, it’s not news to you that your Ex will most likely always be a part of your life. These coparenting tips will help you set aside your feelings and do right by your children. A rocky marriage does not have to translate to a rocky childhood for your kids.

Whether you are navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or in that confusing but fertile place of recreating the life you want to lead, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of “After Divorce.” “A successful divorce requires smart steps through and beyond the divorce document.” Learn what we mean and how it will benefit you in a free 45-minute consultation.


This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules.

Self care after divorce means listening to your inner music

Self Care after Divorce: Loving Our Bodies, Ourselves

Taking care of ourselves can be challenging on our best days. Work, children, aging parents, pets, email, the car, smartphones—all of them competing in a dizzying buzz for our attention. Yet, self care after divorce is crucial. There’s no one around to casually remind you it’s time for another teeth cleaning or that you seem to be carrying a backpack of rocks between your shoulders. Still, the things that support, nourish and safe guard you need to be taken care of, perhaps more than ever. Because so much of life that is good, so much of life that must be maintained, is on us! Including our own well-being. No matter how old I get, it still feels odd and a little unfair that the outside world doesn’t come to a screeching halt when I feel upended. But stomping my feet and demanding the world JUST STOP won’t get me anywhere. For in the end, the problems we face are almost never as bad as they feel like they’re going to be at the start.  The trick is to start.  (But, you probably learned that in your last phase, when dealing with the divorce and facing things you never ever wanted to. Still, you pushed through.)

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, part of the challenge is not knowing where to go or whom to turn to for trustworthy information. Try to relax in front of the telly at night, and we are bombarded with commercials for prescription drugs and other advertisements, all continuing to feed us the myth that medicating is the answer. We can’t rely solely on doctors or the manufacturers of pills or popular culture with its subliminal messages to make the right decisions.

Christiane Northrup, MD, wrote the book on women’s health, and it’s called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. She’s a board-certified OB/GYN and past president of the American Holistic Medical Association. (Which means you can trust her advice.)

Diet comes first when it comes to self care after divorce

Food is often overlooked when discussing personal well-being. By and large, if it grows in the ground, it’s probably something you should be eating. If it doesn’t—if it, say, makes a satisfying fizzy sound when opened or has to be ordered from a teenager attending a drive-thru window, then don’t eat it. Fast food is destroying America.

Statistically speaking, women outlive men, and it’s no secret, girls are taking over the world. Women living long, healthy lives, passing their strength down to the next generation and making this planet a better place, is a necessity. But we have to be healthy to do this.

The simpler we eat, the healthier we will be.

The dairy and beef industries have sold us on the idea that milk is good for us and red meat is All-American. The truth is neither milk or red meat is good for women’s bodies and eliminating them from your diet can help make going through menopause or dealing with PMS less of a headache. Caffeine and sugar are also culprits, as they throw your body’s natural balance off, affecting everything from hormone levels to anxiety.

Andrew Weil, MD, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, provides readers with a wealth of information like this in his monthly newsletter. He backs his advice up with research and studies but doesn’t bog the reader down with too much information. I like newsletters—as you can probably tell, like SAS’ Day Break, because they funnel the information I want and deliver it right to my inbox. In the case of SAS’ weekly coaching letter, you’ll receive practical to emotional to girlfriend advice, helping you understand and even forgive yourself as you aim to rebuild and recreate the life you deserve. Learning how to self care after divorce (indeed, self care in general) shouldn’t be another chore.

Benefits of exercise (you actually want to do)

Find some movement you enjoy. Enjoyment is key for those days when motivation seems nowhere to be found. I think of the tango dancer who once had a fear of intimacy but now dances with strangers in tightly choreographed movements. Who even met her current beau in a dance class, a spark quietly ignited through the art of dance. (The new beau an added benefit, of course.)

There are also simple exercises you can do that don’t take up much time. Jumping on a rebounder, a small trampoline, is a daily exercise that cleans out the lymphatic system and strengthens your heart. This is a low impact exercise involving gentle bouncing. Only a few minutes is enough to release toxins.

Making your health a priority

Examine what else, besides food, you allow your body to consume. Quitting cigarettes, for instance, is as much about vanity as it is health. Smoking cigarettes ages your skin by breaking down connective tissue and depriving it of oxygen. It thins hair by constricting blood vessels and disrupting hormone levels. Nearly half (yes, half) of all smokers are diagnosed with gum disease by sixty-five, according to the American Dental Association.

Stay on top of all doctor appointments. In 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association published guidelines advising women to get annual mammograms starting at age forty-five. Once a woman turns fifty-five, she is advised to cut back to once every other year. Other appointments, like visiting the dentist or gynecologist, should happen on an annual basis regardless of age, while general physicals and eye examinations should take place every other year. Preventive care is proven to keep people healthier, longer.

Life after divorce should be all about putting yourself first—that includes your health. A life of freedom and fun is within your grasp, but safety and education come first.

Surgical intervention as a form of self care

People love to bash on celebrities who reveal their newly enlarged breasts or smaller noses. But there’s a world of nuance and a menu of options that exist for the discerning woman.  There is nothing wrong with cosmetic surgery as long as it’s done for the right reasons. If giving “the girls” a little lift as a certain self care after divorce makes you feel better, then who am I (or anyone else) to judge? To comment?  No, rather I might ask, “Who did it for you?” You get one life, so live it.

But before you schedule any cosmetic surgery, make sure you understand surgery will not cure you of self-loathing. It will not ensure a long term loving relationship. Once they have you on their examination table, surgeons may try to sell you “additional surgeries” to enhance the “new you,” but you are not an experiment. Some people—perhaps many people—will never be fully satisfied with how they look, even after surgery. Do NOT change your body to please someone else, when you’re the one who has to live in your skin.

Do your homework. Research all about your surgeon. There are ways to read reviews and cautionary tales about doctors on the internet. Find out as much as you can about women’s real experiences and how they were treated by the doctor before making any decisions.

Perimenopause, menopause & postmenopause

As early as a woman’s 30s, but more likely in their 40s, her body begins to undergo perimenopause. During this time, you still have menstrual cycles and can get pregnant—but the body is preparing for the changes to come. Menopause is diagnosed when twelve consecutive months pass without a woman having a period. The ovaries no longer release eggs, and estrogen levels drop off. Cue hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.

But as we know, women’s bodies are strong and capable. Preparation is key. Even simple lifestyle changes (many of which are already mentioned above) can make this transition smoother. Think, drink and eat soy, too.

Last but not least, when it comes to self care after divorce, don’t be afraid to say NO. Saying no is one of the most liberating exercises of all. It’s like saying YES to you.


Whether you are navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or in that confusing but fertile place of recreating the life you want to lead, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of  “After Divorce.”  “A successful divorce requires smart steps through and beyond the divorce document.” Learn what we mean and how it will benefit you in a free 45-minute consultation.

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a freelance writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues, creativity, and online businesses. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs.

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.


Woman talking about her divorce recovery

How to Recover from Divorce Emotionally

You’ve heard it before, divorce can be as stressful as losing someone to death. Except death is final. The person is gone. So for those who never wanted the divorce, who continue to struggle, trying to recover from divorce emotionally, that lack of closure — still knowing your ex is around — can be more painful than death. He’s not gone — entirely.

Losing your marriage no matter how long you’ve been married, or the circumstances of who left whom, is going to require experiencing and working through your grief. And grief may not be what you think it means.

We like to define grief as the sudden loss of a familiar pattern or way of living. For example, while you might not be missing the yelling, the passive/aggressive behaviors of your ex or yourself, or the lying, cheating or second guessing of yourself;  you’re probably not entirely prepared for the changes facing you across the board, now that you are waking up wondering who your are. How did you lose yourself? As you begin to understand divorce recovery, and that this next chapter in front of you is complicated, you’ll need to remind yourself to be patient. Your healing is not going to happen overnight.

But there are things you can do to begin the repairing of your heart and body and soul.

Get the support and help you need

The first weeks and months after a divorce can feel soul-wretchedly lonely, but there are others who can help you feel less alone. While friends and family may be available to lean on if you need anything, it is sometimes better to work with a licensed counselor or therapist who can guide you through your grieving. It’s important to have a safe place where you can honestly open up and discuss your feelings in the wake of the divorce.

Accept your emotions, experience them and talk about them

You might be feeling angry or besotted with sadness. You might be numb. You are probably experiencing a spectrum of emotions after your divorce, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. This is an extremely challenging moment time and it’s important that you accept your feelings for what they are. Cry when you need to cry (in that safe place described above). Vent about your anger when you feel frustrated or upset. This allows you to experience the emotions and to process what they mean to you.  It’s not about sweeping them under the rug or putting them in a box. It’s about honoring them and giving them space. A support group, a good friend who has been through divorce, or a coach can help you with perspective and what’s more, doing something to move beyond the trauma.

Try to maintain your daily routine

Nearly every aspect of your life is uprooted when you get divorced, and it’s easy to feel like each day is chaotic and stressful. To maintain some sense of normalcy, it’s necessary to stick to a consistent routine. Continue to have your favorite coffee in the morning. Take the same route to work, and make your favorite spaghetti dinner on Tuesdays like you always do. This can both alleviate stress and bring comfort during an emotionally trying time in your life.

Delve into a new interest or hobby

Divorce can take its toll on your identity. While you grieve the loss of your status as a married person and as a spouse to someone that you once loved, you should also see an opportunity to grow, change and learn new things. For many, a new hobby can be therapeutic. It takes your mind off of the pain of your divorce, and also allows you to find something for yourself that you enjoy. Photography, crafting, writing, hiking or yoga are a few options that you might want to consider.

Keep a journal

Writing about your feelings and your daily activities can provide you with a private outlet for your feelings. This is one of the safest spaces to disclose your thoughts and your experiences in the aftermath of your divorce. Pick a time of day where you have a few extra minutes to jot down your thoughts — many people find that before bedtime is a wonderful time of day to journal. Incorporate journaling into your new routine, and keep up with your new habit in the months and years to come.

Prioritize self-care

After a divorce, it can be easy to focus your efforts on caring for your children or throwing yourself into your work. It’s also easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself. However, this is one of the most important times in your life to prioritize self-care. Treat yourself to that pedicure, even if it doesn’t feel like you have the time. Take a warm bubble bath at the end of the night and read a light-hearted novel. Visit your favorite local restaurant and enjoy the most delicious item on the menu. Do things that make you feel good and happy, as this will help minimize your stress.

Allow yourself to focus on the future 

Your future needs your attention, And there is a future. You may not feel it or see it, but it’s right in front of you. You just cannot see it if you are only looking in the rearview mirror.


If you are struggling to recover from divorce, and dealing with the wounds at the same time you are trying to rebuild your life, you may be especially interested in a 6-week group we are forming to support women navigating this new chapter of their lives. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a quick 15-minute chat with SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell.  To advance, to live well, you must do something.

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.

Father coparenting his daughter by tending to her hair.

How to Parent Your CoParent (Without Him Realizing!)

You know that setting an example is always important. And you can guess, I’m not just talking about the model you demonstrate to your kids. When you separate and become coparents, it is so easy to disengage and consequently, communicate less and less with your ex. It can be such a relief! Yet, communication more than ever remains key. If you want a healthy coparenting situation where both parents are informed and active (the best scenario for your children), then how you share information is vital. What’s more, communicating healthily in front of your children provides them with a model to base their own behavior.

The value of setting the coparent example

If you want your children to grow up as kind-hearted, thoughtful, respectful people then screaming at your coparent is not going to cut it. Your ex needs to realize this too.

So, if you lead, if you set the example, this will show your coparent “how it’s done” (potentially, he* may have no idea, otherwise). This might well encourage your ex to emulate you (but don’t ask him to acknowledge that!)

There should be a clear distinction between setting an example for your ex-spouse and making an example of him/her. If the other half of your coparenting duo is failing in some way, don’t complain about this to your children. If your coparent is breaking arrangements or missing dates, speak to him about it whilst keeping the interests of your children the focal point of your conversation. You must always frame things and behaviors as how they impact the children. Try explaining that lateness and missing appointments “are not values we want to instill in our children” and simultaneously how “it’s not fair to keep them waiting or give them false expectations.” “They are excited to see you and disappointed when you don’t show up or appear unreliable.”

This seems self-evident, but your coparent is rarely going to be motivated to please you (–although some ex’s are evolved). So venting to him about your plans being foiled or your appointments being missed because of him and his lateness or no show, is not going to necessarily cause him to be more reliable in the future.  Again, it’s the kids, it’s the kids …

It goes without saying that you then need to do everything to keep your word, and you must honor your appointments. When you reach an agreement, stick to it. Parenting plans and schedules are designed to be flexible but simultaneously need to be stuck to unless enough prior notice is given to all involved parties (including your kids).

Respect your differences

There are many different parenting styles and it’s highly unlikely that you and your ex will see eye to eye on all aspects of raising the children. In fact it’s highly unlikely these days you see eye to eye on anything! That being said you can’t expect each co-parent to share the exact same ideals and try to implement the same parenting methods. Differences don’t mean that one approach is right and that one is wrong. If you want your coparent to see things from your point of view, or if your ex genuinely needs a metaphorical kick up the backside in terms of effort levels, then the best approach is not belittling the parent in front of the children.

Parenting styles you may be familiar with range from Authoritative to Permissive with plenty of room for grey areas in between. Of course, if your coparent is massively lacking discipline in an area of their parenting then you should have a quiet word. You need to agree on values you teach your children and consistent rules regardless of which household they’re staying at. This doesn’t mean being too involved in your coparent’s time with your child though; give your ex room to naturally develop his relationship, solo, with the children.

Don’t give up!

If you can accept your differences then you can work together. Don’t dismiss your chances at having a successful coparenting relationship, because your marriage did not work. Your children are one of the wonderful things that remain of your relationship. And it is for your children that it’s worth doing your best now with your ex. Giving your children the quality of life you want, the parenting relationships they need, and the easiest transition between households are your goals.

Listen to your co-parent, acknowledge his opinion and respect prior arrangements. Reinforce the fact that you are a parenting team. Be considerate towards your ex, co-operate, apologize when necessary and communicate effectively whilst applying restraint. Keep your coparent informed, updated and most importantly involved with your children.

Be prepared to compromise and work on your patience! Apply constructive criticisms SELECTIVELY and be ready for the response. It may seem like a lot to remember but eventually it will come more naturally and once applied you should be able to get a mirrored response from your ex-spouse. If not, he will run risk of being the “bad guy” and in that situation at least your children will have one positive role model to look up to.

Doing the right thing improves your coparenting relationship and your parent/child relationship. It may seem obvious but then again nobody will claim it is easy. When past love, hate, bitterness and emotion is involved it becomes very difficult to be the bigger person and control your actions, words and body language. Nevertheless you must put the hurt and anger aside and separate your feelings from your behavior. Your children must realize that they are far more important than the issues that ended your relationship with your Ex.

This article was authored by Krishan Smith, senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

(* Disclaimer: For the sake of brevity, this article relies on the pronoun “him” as the gender of  your ex; while we well realize your ex may be a she.)

Independent woman spreading her cape like a powerful butterfly

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

How do you rebuild your life after divorce? Ah, a very good question, my dear Ms. Watson. So good … or so daunting … that the answer and its blinding array of what ifs and unknowns make most people shrink and stop. They never find out for themselves.

But that’s not you. Because here you are after divorce, emerging from the dust and finding that you have no choice. You are wondering who you were before you were married. You question who you are now.

This is tortuously … normal.

But first things first: pay them no mind, those back there, watching you from afar. They mean well (… well, mostly) but they don’t understand. After all, from what they can see — most logically and clearly — is that you’ve completed the divorce agreement. What’s more, you’re living in a separate house. Shouldn’t you be getting a grip on yourself and moving on?

You are moving on, is what we’ll tell you.

The experience of beginning these steps below, will build upon the culmination of what you’ve been through and who you want to be. You will discover you do have a choice. You have choices, indeed.

And after you’ve read our list of one hundred ways to support and enhance your life as a proud, independent woman, take in a big breath and consider one more.

A retreat of epic proportions!

100 must do’s for the newly divorced, independent woman

1. Reconnect with long lost friends and family.

2. Eat brightly colored fruit and vegetables that say yes to life and YES to LIVING!

3. Find a good financial advisor who empowers you. Do they work with other divorced women? Even better!

4. Open your own bank accounts (if you haven’t) and check your credit score.

5. Complete paperwork or any lingering details from the divorce (For example, transfer/consolidate your IRA. Change beneficiaries on documents. Are you changing your name?)

6. Take a bath in lavender and frankincense.

7. Befriend other divorced women and schedule a monthly outing or regular, stay-at-home potluck and netflix viewing of … Under the Tuscan Sun? The First Wives’ Club? Eat, Pray, Love? An Unmarried Woman? Wild? The Other Woman?

8. Elsewhere, create boundaries. Lines in the sand. Practice saying “No” elegantly – especially to toxic friends or situations.

9. Connect with Nature everyday.

10. Understand you are in flux (even now) after the divorce, and take steps to begin or nurture your healing.

11. Buy a new mattress and sheets. (Spray them with your favorite perfume for you.)

12. Find an affordable accountant who will teach you more about financial independence. BONUS if he has a sense of humor! Again, if they work with other divorced women, that’s also a bonus.

13. Evaluate your credit cards, consolidate debt and cut what you don’t need.

14. Investigate your home options, now and long term. What’s the smart play for now? What’s your dream?

15. Take a nap.

16. If you don’t have the children, sleep in.

17. Wake up and commit to a daily practice of moving and getting in shape.

18. Get your teeth bleached.

19. When faced with a decision, start checking in with your Inner Voice. What does she say?

20. Scan your divorce document and have a couple of extra copies notarized for posterity.

21. Then put all divorce paperwork away.

22. Create a new email address for your new chapter, Life After Divorce.

23. Smoke (because you can).

24. Stop smoking and decide to have your home smudged instead.

25. Keep purging. Donate unused items, clothes, and books. Remove yourself from junk mail and automated call lists.

26. Create a beautiful home with just what you want and need. Make it for you (& your kids if you have them). Even if it is smaller than before, make it your anchor and your sanctuary.

27. Write in a journal. You could even throw out the journal someday, but get the thoughts out of your head. Morning is a really good time for this. Excellent ideas might come to you this way.

28. Try a new haircut or outrageous hair color!

29. Buy some French Love Letters & get educated about STD’s.

30. Schedule your gynecologist, your 3D mammogram, your general practitioner, and your eye exams.

31. Not to sound maudlin, but since you are on this efficiency roll, you might as well update or CREATE your will. You’ve got to anyway!

32. Eat something your Ex was allergic to.

33. Make a plan for the holidays when you are with the kids … and when you are alone. Now.

34. Take to bed and cry.

35. Don’t date.

36. Or, hit Tinder! (Create your online dating profile.)

37. Develop a budget. Ask your financial advisor or your accountant how; or better yet, see #52.

38. Support Frankie and Grace’s business: buy a good quality vibrator and use it for health reasons.

39. Learn how to breathe.

40. Avoid processed foods.

41. Create your Blues or Freedom playlist (Aretha? Adele? Beyoncé?) Play it when you need reminding you have survived divorce. You are building a meaningful life. You are an independent woman. You are worthy.

42. Go to graduate school or enroll in some Continuing Education classes at your local college.

43. Write down your goals for the next year … the next 5 years … and your long term.

44. Botox it.

45. Wear an outfit you love but your Ex hated.

46. Go to a cool bar solo (Go inside.)

47. If you are heading back to work after a career break, check out

48. Update your resume regardless.

49. Use sunblock (then go topless on a beach).

50. Investigate insurance options and based on what you can afford, get something in place.

51. Visit a nutritionist. Find out what foods you are allergic to and what others make you thrive.

52. Learn even more about your money with this accessible and genius class designed for newly divorced women.

53. Get more professional advice, but this time on “your colors.” Pick one new, sexy, power lipstick. Because sometimes you are going to need to fake it, and other times, life after divorce is going to be better than you imagined.

54. Allow yourself to date (and more) a younger man.

55. Keep exploring different styles of clothes and different types of men.

56. Swim in a lake or ocean au naturel.

57. Learn to parallel park or drive stick shift.

58. Stop apologizing.

59. Be still.

60. Explore traveling to a place you’ve only dreamed of (without the kids)

61. Detox your body.

62. Start planning and saving to make your dream trip a reality. This. Year.

63. Hire a mentor / coach or see a loving therapist.

64. Cultivate a daily relationship with YOU.

65. Declare you will listen to the biggest, most expressed version of yourself. She has plans for you (and may scare you to death, which means you’re on to something).

66. Explore investment opportunities.

67. Consider starting a woman’s group — spiritual group, meditation, book club, walking.

68. Dare to state what it is you really want.

69. Stay out all night.

70. Invite yourself to a friend’s house for the weekend.

71. Chase a bat down or change a mousetrap: do something icky you never would have done before.

72. Create your Musts Have’s and Non Negotiables for your next relationship as an independent woman.

73. Every now and then, just be with a small child. View the world through her eyes.

74. Stay connected to the most inspiring divorced women in your life, keep nurturing your posse and stay open to new and surprising people.

75. Go on retreat, do yoga, meditate and connect to a world deep inside and outside you.

76. Commit to one thing you have always wanted to create.

77. Sell your wedding ring and finance something on this list or your bucket list.

78. Spend time visiting your mother, your father, an elderly person. Ask, what is their most important Life Lesson?

79. At night before going off to sleep remind yourself of what you are grateful for.

80. Create a vision board giving visuals (pictures, inspirational quotes, notes) to your goals (#43). Hang it where you will see and add to it regularly.

81. Be prepared: buy new underwear.

82. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try (Italian? Snowboarding? Bee-keeping?)

83. Hike a trail whose name inspires you? (The Incan Trail, The Appalachian or El Camino de Santiago?)

84. List your house on Airbnb or Home Exchange and go somewhere else to live like a local.

85. Do something you could never do when you were married.

86. Look back and laugh.

87. Teach someone the thing(s) you do effortlessly.

88. Find a place you feel whole and go there often.

89. Investigate owning your own business.

90. Spend time with your heroines (in whatever form).

91. Define what courageous means to you.

92. Do something courageous each day.

93. Understand what forgiveness really means and write your letters of forgiveness.

94. Turn your skills into inspiration.

95. Learn mindfulness.

96. Shake your booty (any dance class or club will do).

97. Choose joy and laugh now!

98. Determine if your thoughts support your ideal life and proceed accordingly.

99. Begin writing your memoir.

100. Help someone else.

101. Volunteer.

102. If you’ve never had your eyelashes done — find your eyelash girl!

103. Add one healthy habit every day.

104. Own your gifts. Owning them means admitting they are there, no matter how scary, and showing up as a woman with those gifts.

105. Find ways to be accountable. (A mentor, possibly?)

106. Commit to growing and thriving!

If you are aching to get to that place of independence, but are still grappling with momentous change (divorce? career transition? empty nesting? widowhood?), connect with us a for a free coaching session. We promise — whether you work further with us or not — you will walk away with a next step in securing that future, that future of power and real, genuine living.

And if you are seeking structure, divorce support and female wisdom, check out Annie’s Group.


Why Is Going Back to Work So Hard?

Perhaps it’s because the finances are getting tight … or the kids have gone off to college (and that was always the plan anyways); or maybe you’ve taken a break for medical reasons. Or, you have to go back to work, because you got divorced, and you have to support yourself now. Or maybe you’ve been raising children and taking care of your family, and now with them gone, you are looking for meaning. Whatever the reason… now you find yourself going back to work because simply put, you need INCOME.

So you dig out the old resume, dust off your suit (please, remove the shoulder pads) and grab the classifieds to circle the jobs you’ll apply for … when, oh, wait. That’s not how they do it anymore.

How do you look for a job these days? Not to mention, who will want to hire you? You’ve been out of the loop for so long that there might be that little voice deep down, whispering that you’re too old, too shlumpy, that technology has changed too much, that you just don’t have what it takes anymore to hack it in the “real” world? Well, tell her to shut it, and let’s figure this out.

Let’s just start with the fact that you’re going back to work. This is not optional, right? We both know that the negative thinking isn’t going to help you get there so let’s just override that Little Debbie Downer Voice and concentrate on what you have to do instead.

First, there are several things you must keep in mind:

  • Going to back to work IS work. Put yourself in the frame of mind that you have a job already. Your job is to find a job. This job you’ll need to do every day, probably for many months before you finish it.
  • You’ll need to develop a detailed plan for what you need to do every day to move toward your goal of landing said job. For more details, check out the “things you need to do” list below.
  • Obviously you know you’ll need to update your resume. When you do, really review it and study up. When the time comes, you WILL be asked about your responsibilities, successes & challenges from previous positions, even if it was over a decade ago. Know your resume well. Be proud of what you have accomplished and be ready to tell someone about it all.
  • Speaking of resumes, we tend to think of them as a piece of paper that tells a possible employer where you’ve been and that’s true. But your resume (and Linked In profile, we’ll get to that) must also speak to where you are trying to go. So think about that, what are you hoping to be doing? What are you good at? What are your non-negotiables? What do you absolutely NOT want to be doing? Give some thought to these questions and land on an idea of what you would like to aim for.
  • Finally, don’t think to yourself, “I could do anything really, as long as they pay me.” Even if it’s true, you can’t conduct a job search with that mindset. They will smell your desperation. Instead, be clear with yourself and anyone you speak to that you know what you are looking for and why you’d be good at. If you don’t know what that is yet, revisit the previous point until you do.

OK! Now that you are ready to get rolling, here are some of the things you need to do to get your plan together:

  1. Get up to speed. If you haven’t really touched a computer lately other than to check Facebook, you may want to consider taking some classes to get up to speed with current software. If you were licensed in a trade, you may need to sign up for some Continuing Ed or apply to reinstate your licensure. If you are thinking about taking a new direction altogether, you may need to look into programs and requirements at local universities. Whatever the case is for you, be thinking about what you need to do to educate and prepare yourself for what you are trying to do next.
  2. Get connected. This actually means a number of things. This is where LinkedIn comes in, for example. As of 2018 anyway, a LinkedIn profile is an important part of your job search. Employers will expect it and look for it so make sure it’s in good shape with a professional profile picture and up to date information. In fact, this should be the case wherever you are online. Prospective employers will stalk you online to check you out, so make sure everything out there is stuff you can be proud of. But that’s not it for connecting … you should also check with your alma mater. Your school may have a career services department that can line you up with some resources. Look at local resources, for example the New York Public Library offers Career Placement Services; perhaps your community library or college does as well.
  3. Get involved. Once you’ve decided the general direction of what kind of work you are looking for, start looking for professional organizations related to the field and join them. Go to meetings, read the newsletters, read online and post to their pages … make it your business to be involved in any way that you can. A great universal organization to begin with is Toastmasters  where you can go and meet interesting people from all walks of life, hone your public speaking skills and come away from meetings with a refreshed confidence in yourself. Plus, you just never know who can hook you up with a lead on a job. The more people you meet and impress, the more eyes and ears you have searching out there with you.
  4. Consider taking a job before you take the job. Keep in mind, you may not get exactly what you want in the beginning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something while you continue to work your plan. Consider part time work, to get some money coming in while you meet new people. Or, look in to gig work (check out this great article for ideas) or even volunteering to fill your heart and to connect with others.
  5. Get some guidance. Gosh, there is so much more to share, so many more strategies to tell you about! But then unfortunately this article would be way, way too long. So we recommend that you take a look at a group called iRelaunch; they offer all kinds of programming, online and in person, to help professionals return to the workplace. Finally, we recommend that you work directly with a professional on this if you can… a coach will be able to help you think through all the parts, from figuring out what it is that you want to do – to getting your comprehensive job search plan together and helping you execute it – to clinking glasses with you when you land the Big Job!

We wish you much luck in your quest to getting back to work! Dare to even dream a little bit. Change is not easy  but you’ve got this. We know it takes some digging into yourself to really get in touch with why someone would want to hire you… and we applaud you for this work. We have every confidence in you! We can’t wait to hear about how you nailed just the right interview and how excited you are for your first day at work. Until then, you’ve got your plan. Take it one step at a time.


Wondering how to take the first step? The second? How the heck do you get to figuring out … anything? We’d love to help support you relaunch your next, best chapter.  Let’s start with a free consultation. You’ll walk out of that conversation with next steps tailored to your needs, whether you work with us ongoing or not. We promise!