Getting a Divorce is stressful. Here are some articles to help.

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Woman blocking door when served divorce papers

What to Do When You Get Served Divorce Papers

You’ve heard the doorbell ring. You go to the front door and open it, only to be met by a stranger who is handing you something. He says, “Are you Ms. Smith (insert your name)?” You have to think a minute about the answer, because you are facing a stranger and you have no idea what he wants. He leaves so fast you think you must be imagining this. But in your hand you are holding something.

You never thought you’d be reading these words: ACTION FOR A DIVORCE. And suddenly, a million things are going through your head.

What is your first step when you get served divorce papers?

Breathe. Breathe. And after you sit down, breathe again. There is a process to follow and here are your most important next steps …

Do Not Hide

Now, your first inclination might be to put your head in the sand. Hiding is a normal and expected response to the fears that you are facing as a result of those divorce papers. To you, those divorce papers signal the unknown, a future that could be radically different from the present that you have been living, and in ways that you cannot foresee. In order to overcome these natural feelings, you should set about finding a good team to represent and support you. In addition to your attorney who will play an important role (see step below), you may need a divorce coach who can help educate you and guide you, and/or a therapist who can help you maintain your mental strength. Or both. I know this sounds daunting, but I assure you that the time and money you spend now, connecting with the right people, will reap great rewards for you personally and professionally by keeping you tethered and strategic.

Get a Good Attorney and the Right Support

You will need to find a good attorney. A divorce coach can help you with vetted referrals, or your divorced friend may have some ideas. I suggest getting three referrals for matrimonial attorneys, and visiting all of them. I also recommend you only visit referrals who are willing to give you 30 minutes of their time without charging you. What you are looking for is someone who is smart, compassionate and experienced. You will need someone who is willing to listen to all of your concerns, even the ones that are not traditionally legal concerns. But, you also want to find a legal person who can protect your interests and fight for your rights, too.

Being Served Vs. Serving Divorce Papers

Most people think that it’s better to serve your spouse papers than to be served. It is not always that way. In all states, including New York, the laws allow for a ‘no fault’ divorce, and most divorces are filed due to irreconcilable differences in the marriage. In these cases, being the party who gets served doesn’t really matter much. Certainly, if you are served with divorce papers that accuse you of adultery, abandonment or one of the other causes for divorce that may still exist in your state (like New York), you will be forced to defend against those grounds and unfortunately, this will cause you more angst, time and money.

Get Prepared

You need to get prepared for a legal action. Being prepared means a few things, depending upon your circumstances:

 1. If you have children, you need to provide them with the love and support that they will so desperately need at this time. For this, I highly suggest that you visit with a family or child therapist, who can help you with the challenging things like how to tell the children, how to help them manage through the transition and how to support them so that their suffering is minimized as much as possible. Most importantly, your children will feel the pull of their loyalties to you and your spouse, their other parent. This pull can be very distressing to them, and is often so distracting and stressful that it affects their ability to handle the other responsibilities they have, their relationships with others in their lives, and it can affect their mental health. It is critical that you understand this pull of loyalties, that you identify the behaviors or actions on your part that exacerbate them, and work hard to avoid them. Your divorce coach can help you manage your parenting challenges or a divorce lawyer can provide you with referrals to experienced family or child therapists.

2. When you are alone at home, spend time going through your family’s financial records. Make copies of all deeds, leases, or other important documents. Go to your online bank and credit card accounts and download three (3) years of your back statements to a zip drive. While you are doing this, you should secure the online accounts by changing the passwords. If you are locked out of any of those accounts or cannot find the important documents, make a list of the accounts and documents that you know exist to provide to your attorney.

3. Start dreaming about your future as a single person. Yes, I know it is hard, almost impossible, but it is a habit that you need to develop and the sooner you start, the faster and easier it will be to realize your dreams. Marriage is great. It is an institution in our society because it is great. But, singleness is no less great. What have you held yourself back from doing (or what has your spouse held you back from doing?) that you have always wanted in your life? In particular, is there a work or educational pursuit that you have put on the back burner? Now is the time to start dreaming about those things. The dreams will provide you with guiding light when you need it.

 

Robyn Myler Mann is Partner and Director of the Mediation Practice Group of the Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC in New York City. Ms. Mann offers a free consultation to potential clients, and is available to discuss whether your matter would be best served by mediation or a more traditional legal approach.

credit: weheartit.com

Divorce in NY: What to Expect When You Go to Court for the First Time

Divorce law varies from state to state (Step 1. Google yours!). But in a lot of states the laws are similar. In New York, for example, divorce can be attained by filing the paperwork yourselves or through mediation, or by your lawyer sending documents to your spouse’s lawyer, to full-blown litigation … and every combo in between. However, in any case, if you and your spouse cannot agree to the divorce itself or to the terms of the divorce, it is called a “contested” divorce and you must ask the court to assist you in the divorce process.

If this applies to you, and your divorce is being contested, do you know what to expect?

NYC divorce attorney Brian Charles shares the following with us:

Your divorce is being contested and you have to appear in court for the first time for something called a “Preliminary Conference.” You have never been to court before, for anything. You are naturally nervous, unknowing what lies ahead.

First, do not worry. During the first court appearance your attorney will meet with the other attorney and fill out a Preliminary Conference Order, “PC Order” for short. This form contains the attorneys’ contact information along with some background information about the marriage. A blank PC Form can be found on the court’s website.

The form acts a roadmap setting forth what issues there are in your case. Will the grounds for your divorce in NY be contested? Will custody be an issue? Has maintenance, child support, or equitable distribution been resolved? If you have any questions about whether an issue is resolved in your case, remember to talk about it with your attorney, as this PC Form does become a binding order when signed by the judge. The form also contains deadlines for turning over financial documentation and filing certain documents. If you do not turn over certain financial documents by the deadline, the other party could file a motion to preclude you from offering your financial documentation and consequently negatively affect your case.

Each judge runs his or her courtroom a little differently. In some instances, the judge will meet with the attorneys without the parties present. In other cases, the judge will speak to both parties and their attorneys from the bench. Other judges might have their court attorney talk to the attorneys and the judge will not meet with the attorneys during the first appearance. The court attorney is an attorney who works for the court. The judge or his court attorney will ask the attorneys what issues are present in the case and will go over the PC Form with the attorneys. If the judge does address the parties, he or she will go over the PC Form and tell the parties that it is important that you comply with the PC Order. The judge will stress to you to get your attorneys whatever documents they need by the deadlines set forth. The judge may very likely tell you that you should talk to your attorney about the possibility of settling this matter amicably because if he, the judge, decides the case it will cost you a tremendous amount of time, coming back to court on multiple occasions; it will cost you a lot of money in attorneys’ fees, and you might not like his final decision after multiple court appearances.

Remember, don’t worry. The first court appearance for the most part sets forth what issues are present in the case and when certain documents need to be turned over to the other party’s attorney. There will be other court appearances if you do not settle the case in the interim. You should make your attorney aware if you need interim relief in the form of temporary maintenance or child support during the pendency of this action, so your attorney can present the issues to the court. You should be aware that the judge may set an interim order during the first court appearance if custody, child support, or maintenance are issues. If you have any questions, do not be afraid to ask your attorney before you sign anything, including the PC Form.

Have you not even met with a lawyer? Are you just reading ahead on what could go wrong in divorce and if you have to go to court? Check out this article on Divorce in New York: 10 Things to Know BEFORE Meeting with a Lawyer.

And if you are a woman looking to better understand the divorce process or your possible options (legally, practically, financially, and yes, emotionally), we offer free, discreet consultations. Click here to schedule your free telephone session, or if you aren’t ready to talk, sign up for our free, six months of email support. We know it’s not easy, but we are here for you when you are ready and want to learn more.

Although SAS periodically features links to and writing by other professionals on the SAS website, SAS for Women™ is not responsible for the accuracy or content of that information. As for what is best for you and your future, SAS always recommends you speak to a professional to discuss the particulars of your situation.

Black and white photo of older woman with grey hair with a sad expression

6 Ways to Survive Divorce (Especially If It’s Not What You Want)

Are you trying to survive a divorce that you didn’t want? Even if there were problems in the relationship, it can be heartbreaking to lose your marriage and the one you loved. After all you had a lifetime of hopes and dreams intertwined in your relationship and future. But life has handed you this instead. We’re here to tell you something that you may not believe right now … but we believe it for you: You can handle this. In fact, you can do more than survive, you can come out better as a woman. Start by pinpointing the areas that are causing you the most pain, such as dealing with divorce as an older person, a senior, or a young person — who has no one in your circles who is divorced. Maybe you do know people, but you are struggling to stay positive. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions that can ensure you survive divorce, no matter how you landed here.

1. Survive Divorce with a Mantra

Have you heard of mantras? A mantra is a statement or slogan, which can be a single word or phrase that means something to you personally. You repeat your mantra while meditating or when you are feeling out of control. The ancient healing practice comes from Buddhism and Hinduism, but you don’t have to tie a religious context to your mantra. It’s about bringing you back to NOW and calming your nervous system. For example, you can start your mornings by saying your mantra out loud while watching yourself in a mirror. Repeat the mantra a few times each day and then throughout the day when you need to rebalance your mind. Mind Body Green lists the ancient mantras from Sanskrit texts, if you are interested in using a sacred language. Want to stick to English? Here are some inspirational mantras to get you started:

  • Even if I’m alone I refuse to be lonely
  • New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings (Lao Tzu)
  • I am grateful for me
  • I put myself first, last and always
  • I am always true to myself
  • Be free, be me!
  • Forgiveness
  • I will change my life by changing my mindset
  • I am confident, I am beautiful, I am worthy
  • I love and accept me for me

Use these mantras as your own or as kickoff points for mantras that matter to you. Change your mantra when it starts to lose meaning for you.

2. Surviving Divorce as a Senior

If you are older than the age of 50 and have been married for the last, say, 20 years, the notion of divorce, which is coined as a “silver divorce” or “the graying of divorce” is emotionally jarring. Rather than focusing on what was lost, reframe your story as getting a new and fresh start to the rest of your life. We recommend you start by moving out from your family home (yes, we know that is hard!) and finding yourself a new fresh place of your own. This will help you transition from married to single life, while reducing the burden of maintaining a larger home. Just as older individuals are finding new careers in their fifties, you can find new love, meaning and a happy life for yourself but you must start by making shifts.

 

3. Surviving Divorce as a Young or Middle-Aged Woman

If you don’t know anyone divorced in your circles, it could make you feel ashamed, like there is something wrong with you.  We assure you, it’s just a matter of time before you start seeing other women in your circumstances.  But you cannot wait for them. Instead reach out to an older woman who’s been through it.  Or find a divorce coach who can compassionately give you insight and perspective and help you take the next steps you so vitally need to move forward in your life. You need a mentor or guide: someone who knows what you are going through and who can help you avoid wasting time; someone who can show you where’s the good going forward. And mark our words, there is good!

4. Surviving at Work

When you are dealing with a major life event, such as divorce, it affects all aspects of your life including your job. Your mind is elsewhere as you try and tackle the daily to-do lists. How do you stay focused and remain positive during this trying time? Business Insider suggests the following:

  • Avoid communications with your divorce lawyer or ex while on the clock. Filter emails and silent texts when at work.
  • Don’t feel obligated to explain your divorce to anyone whom you don’t want to. (Come up with a pithy statement: “He’s done. I am not.”)
  • Or, if you are asked if there’s something going on or something wrong, explain in broad terms that it’s personal, while being friendly, and leave it at that.
  • Clear out any family photos or keepsakes that remind you of your ex.
  • Find ways to boost your mood, such as listening to upbeat music using headphones or reading a lightweight novel on your lunch hour.

Also, maintain your workload as usual during the divorce. By keeping busy and staying active with your work group you are less likely to sit and dwell on the divorce.

5. Surviving the Weekends

While working is important for helping you move on after a divorce, all work and no play makes Jane a dull, and angry, divorceée. Fortunately for most women the weekends are free of the 9-to-5 duties. However, the weekends can open up the mind and heart to plenty of free time to sit and think. But it doesn’t have to! Take the weekends as your new self-improvement time. Here are some ideas:

  • Join a book club and go bookstore browsing on the weekends. Then spend the rest of the weekend nose-deep in a favorite read.
  • Organize a monthly brunch with your best friends. (Make a commitment to see your clan regularly. You are probably overdue.)
  • Start a craft activity, such as painting, lettering, gardening in miniature, or knitting.
  • Travel! You can take overnight trips on the weekends that will give you a new perspective on life and life your spirit.
  • Take care of the grandkids, nieces, nephews or neighbor’s kids. Nothing will wear you out, while also healing your heart, faster than the busyness of children.

Kindling passions and finding new loves (and not male-focused loves) are the greatest strength for a woman going through a divorce.

6. Surviving with a Divorce Support Group

All across the country there are divorce support groups that bring women together. You can find these groups, which meet in person, through a local house of worship and via Meetup. If you want to stay behind the computer screen there are also online, divorce support groups and support forums. Find a group that you feel is most comforting and run with it.  (But don’t settle for a group that complains. Look for one that moves forward and does things!)

Surviving a divorce can be shattering and sometimes feel impossible on certain days, but you can do this. One step at a time, one day after the next, and you will pass through this phase in your life and on to the next. The key is taking small yet powerful steps like these, moving the needle every so slightly, just a little bit every single day.

What small step will you take now?  Write it down and JUST DO IT.

If you would like to know what else you can be doing to survive or better yet — get back to a place where you actually feel strong again, we know how to support and tether you as you dip your toes — or lunge! Keep reading here or if you’re ready to talk with someone confidentially, sign up for your free 45-minute coaching session. We look forward to talking with you.

Yellow house with picket fence, cat and roses on vines

Should You Keep the House During Divorce?

Should you keep the house during divorce? Well, it’s not just about the house, is it? There is no way you’re letting go of the car, the jewelry, the investments, your pension, your hard-earned income, or the Baccarat crystal goblets either. And you’re pretty adamant your divorce attorney will agree.

Unfortunately, the law and recent statistics are not in synch with you. According to financial studies, divorcing individuals need a more than 30 percent increase in income just to maintain the standard of living they had before the divorce. Divorce is like that. It’s really about loss and opportunity. But the fact is the loss is harder on women.  One in five women fall to poverty as a result of divorce, while men experience a loss of between 10% and 40% to their standard of living. As devastating as those statistics may sound, divorce is not just about the economic leveling. Sometimes your life and the quality of your inner peace is more important than the house with the gourmet kitchen. Divorce could also be an ideal opportunity for you as a couple, and then as an independent woman, to face reality and get out of debt, or to finally sit down and work out a long-term financial plan for your children’s education.

What follows is a practical conversation about whether or not you should keep certain assets in the divorce. How you are going to come to terms emotionally with this division of assets, or how you are going to take steps to protect yourself and rebuild your life is better discussed in a series of coaching sessions or by reading this article about divorce recovery.

Divorce & the Family Home – Pros and Cons of Keeping It

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself where the property is concerned. The first is whether you would be able to keep up with the payments and maintenance of the property on your own and whether you would have enough cash to buy your partner out or qualify for a loan to do that. If this is going to place you under pressure, you may want to consider downscaling a bit in order to still live a comfortable life.

The advantages of keeping the home in divorce include:

  • Continued stability for the children
  • Maintaining an asset that will form part of the estate
  • The frustration of moving is not added to the stress that a divorce brings

The disadvantages of keeping the home in divorce include:

  • Mounting financial pressure due to loans or reduced saving
  • The full cost of the maintenance of the property rests on a single pair of shoulders
  • The possibility that there is no access to funds to buy the other spouse out, which could cause ongoing financial pressure

Until You Decide What to Do

Whether the proceedings are quick and amicable or long and drawn-out, it’s important for both parties to take responsibility for the property and their other financial obligations. Falling behind on mortgage payments following a divorce, could cause serious financial implications. Both parties risk losing their creditworthiness, which means they may not qualify for a mortgage, whether it is for the family home or not.

It is also crucial to maintain other payments, such as credit cards, tuition fees, levies, car payments, and insurances. Failure to maintain payments on these items could have a far-reaching effect on future applications.  At this point, couples may also want to look into making use of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). A CDFA will assess the financial situation to ensure that both parties remain on an equal footing for a long period. This is especially handy where one party earns a lot more than the other, or one of the spouses is unable to enter the job market as they need to raise the children. During the calculation, the analyst will determine whether one spouse’s assets will grow and the other’s will deplete, and adjust their recommended asset split accordingly.

If Neither of You Wants It or Can Afford It

When you’ve made your calculations and neither of you qualifies for finance, or neither of you wishes to remain in the family home, the obvious choice would be to sell it. But what happens when the value of the property is far less than the actual bond with the financial institution? This is what a short sale is, but it really shouldn’t be the first option as it will have a negative rating on the credit scores of the spouses. When their FICO scores are affected, they may have to wait a few years to enter the property market again.

Other Debts and What to Do

Joint accounts and divorces go together like a tracksuit and heels. They don’t. The moment there is a whisper of divorce, it’s important to let the banks and financial institutions know. This is to prevent the spouse from running up the debt and getting out of town. Although a loan may be in both names, both parties are responsible for the repayments in full. If you’re left with the repayments and you’re struggling to keep it under control, you will need to contact the bank to make a payment arrangement.

Sit down with the finances and prioritize payments. List the expenses in order of most important, which would include mortgage or rental payments first, then food and utilities,and finally tuition and insurances. The rest will follow. Try to pay debt off as the items clear instead of running up a bill again, but don’t necessarily close the accounts in case the alimony and child support payments come in late. Only use debt for emergency purposes.

And for those issues that fall off the balance sheet … your emotional needs, concerns, your sense of injustice, not to mention how you will begin to rebuild your life and help your kids get through this, contact SAS. We will help you put a system in place to come to terms with what you’ve lost, but also what you will discover. Take advantage of our free consultation so you begin your healing now.

Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

hands holding a sign that says "Do something today that your future self will thank you for"

Divorce and Life Insurance: 5 Critical Things to Know

When you are setting up your new life during a divorce, life insurance may not be the most pressing thing on your mind (ahem, we suspect it’s not on your mind at all!) and yet it plays a crucial role. Many of us don’t understand life insurance, nor recognize how necessary it is for protecting us in the future. It’s especially important to understand how divorce and life insurance go hand in hand before you finish negotiating your divorce settlement. We will give you a quick “Life Insurance 101” here, but you’ll definitely want to consult with a vetted insurance broker to make sure you have optimized your plans for the future.

What is life insurance and why do I need it?

If you are working and supporting a family, it’s important to have life insurance coverage. If you should pass away unexpectedly and the income your family relies on is suddenly no longer there … well, you see the problem. Life insurance would provide your family money to essentially replace what you would have made in salary. There are basically two kinds:

Term: This is for a designated number of years (10, 20, 30, etc.) If you pass away while term life is in effect, your beneficiary (ies) will collect the money in a lump sum. It’s a “use it or lose it” sort of policy.

Permanent: This policy is for a lifetime (and usually significantly more expensive). There are different types of permanent insurance including universal and whole. Which one you choose depends entirely on your needs and situation. (Again it’s best to talk with an insurance professional to decide.).

Why do divorce and life insurance go hand in hand?

If you are relying on maintenance (alimony) and/or child support payments from your ex to make ends meet, what would you do if something unexpectedly happened to him and he passed away? Getting a life insurance policy on your ex ensures that you would be able to manage financially should something happen to him. By the same token, if you are working, having life insurance on yourself ensures that you would be leaving your family with some money to replace your salary, should something happen to you.

On a related topic — please forgive our bluntness — what if one or both of you don’t die but get hurt badly enough that you can no longer work and earn a living? You should know that life insurance does not help in that situation. In that case you need to have something called “disability insurance”, another type of insurance you really need to understand and consider having in your divorce settlement. Disability insurance is essentially the same thing but it helps in the event of illness or injury. For the purpose of this article we’ll stick to divorce and life insurance (and address disability insurance in a later article).

So what are the 5 critical things to know about divorce and life insurance?

5 info boxes on divorce and life insurance

Design: Ashley Nakai

1. Securing life insurance does not happen quickly.

Life insurance takes some time (several weeks to months) to secure, so it’s important that you start the conversation early in your divorce negotiations. The insurance company needs time to evaluate your case in order to determine if they will offer you coverage and at what rate. This is based on your medical history (medical records or a physical exam may be needed) and your financial history (they may request a current credit report or financial statements for example).

2. You need the right amount of insurance.
The amount of protection you need must be evaluated by a pro. Your attorney will make suggestions based on spousal and/or child support to help you protect yourself and your family from the unforeseen. However, it’s always wise to consult with a good insurance broker to hear their professional estimates.

It’s important to consider other factors, such as your current income, earning capability and your current and future financial needs of the family. A trained insurance broker can help you think about other considerations such as education funding and retirement and pension considerations … things your attorney may not consider but may make a big difference in your situation.

3. You have to figure out how long you will be required to keep it.
You will negotiate into your divorce settlement how long you and/or your spouse are required to carry the coverage, which is why it’s important to get educated before the divorce document is signed. Again, it’s best to not simply reply on what your lawyer says but to diversify your knowledge base by talking with your insurance broker.

4. You will need to decide on a beneficiary.
The beneficiary is the person you designate to receive the money should death occur. Who the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) is should be predetermined in your divorce settlement. It’s also important to be specific in the policy about who owns it, who is required to pay the premiums, and who is allowed to change the beneficiary should the need arise.

5. It’s important to compare policies and prices.
Do not simply go with the cheapest rate (or allow your ex to talk you into that) because it’s important to understand what the policy provides for you and that, should anything happen, the company will take good care of you and the kids. This is not something you can just Google. You need a neutral party — a trained insurance consultant — to do that homework for you and present you with options.

We know, it seems a little grim to be talking about people dying or getting sick or injured but the reality is, we don’t know what life will throw at us. We doubt you saw the divorce in your future, back when you got married, so we don’t want you to be naïve as you negotiate your divorce settlement. This settlement is your financial future near and far, well into your retirement. Thinking about divorce and life insurance is a very strategic way to provide for your family now, should things take a turn later.

Did this article bring up questions for you? Jot them down and contact insurance expert, Lisa Horowitz, CLU, ChFC, who for nearly 30 years, has been dedicated to helping women understand how insurance can help them in every area of life including divorce, business and estate planning, retirement, life-altering illness, and caring for elderly parents. If you mention SAS for Women, Lisa will talk to you for 30 minutes for free, no matter which state in the USA you live. You can reach her at (718) 352-1311 or lhorowitz@insureclue.com

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.”

Conclusion

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.

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What Women Should Know about High Net Worth Divorce

Very often in high net worth divorces, women are considered the less affluent partner. They may enjoy a very privileged and even enviable lifestyle, but because they are not the “breadwinner” or “rainmaker,” their own sense of power and independence may feel minimized, especially when it comes to divorce. Of course, the reality is that most of these women played a vital role as advisor to their husbands and often, mothers to their children. They might have financed his education, managed all the decisions around his career and their shared lifestyle, and actually have cultivated and nurtured the professional and social connections that helped them attain and secure their shared, current high net worth life. And yet, these same women may have no access to the cash or understand where the cash comes from. In a perverse reversal of privilege, they might even feel ashamed when considering what’s otherwise possible for their lives. They may feel trapped. While there are clearly many aspects–emotional, practical, socio-economic, historical, etc.–related to this scenario, this article will focus on the black and white legal aspects of today.

Understand that in order to successfully navigate a high net worth divorce, you will have to:

  1. Account for and value your assets (–items or resources that are convertible to cash)
  2. Determine whether or not your husband is hiding assets
  3. Calculate the amount of maintenance (alimony) you may be entitled to
  4. Analyze the impact of any pre-nuptial agreement you (may have) signed.

Although other factors may certainly come into play, this article will focus on these legal points as they are critical in almost all high net worth divorces.

Accounting for and valuing marital assets

During a divorce, you and your husband will have to declare your marital assets. The exception is where you waive your right to financial disclosure, which is usually not advisable. In New York, and many other states, marital assets are divided under the doctrine of “equitable distribution,” which means they will be distributed to you and your husband in a fair way (ideally), taking into account all of the circumstances of your marriage.

A pre-condition to dividing marital assets is that they be accounted for and valued. If you are not sure what marital property you own, you will most likely need the help of a matrimonial attorney who may use financial experts to investigate. For example, a forensic accountant may be able to find assets by tracing banking records, even if multiple accounts were used to buy marital assets.

Your assets will also have to be valued. In high net worth divorces, business valuation experts may be needed, as well as appraisers who specialize in valuing everything from real estate to exotic cars. Marital assets may even include airplanes, artwork, boats, and collectibles like coins and dollhouses!

Hidden Assets

It is not unusual in a divorce for one spouse to conceal assets from the other. If your divorce goes through and your husband has concealed his assets, you will forfeit your right to them unless you can prove he did so and therefore the divorce was obtained fraudulently. While such cases exist, they are rare (remember, you have to prove the fraud). It is more common that a spouse who has hidden assets will get to keep them after the divorce. Obviously, this is a result to be avoided.

Some signs your husband may have concealed assets are that he never told you what he earned; made large purchases without saying where the money came from; and supported you in a high lifestyle without having the outward means to do so, or asked you to sign papers without explaining to you what they were for.

Maintenance

Maintenance is designed to provide the less-monied spouse with the means to support herself after the marriage in a way that does not seriously erode the pre-divorce standard of living. Interestingly, in high net worth divorce cases, it is not uncommon, if a large award of cash or assets is made to the wife, that she will not be awarded maintenance (the theory being that the award substitutes for it.) Similarly, there’s the reverse: if the wife does not receive a large award, maintenance may be awarded.

Pre-nuptial agreements

It is not uncommon in high net worth marriages for the husband and wife to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement. In most cases, the terms of the pre-nup will determine the outcome of the divorce as to financial matters. So, if you are facing a divorce and have a pre-nup, it is essential that you have it examined by a divorce attorney so you will understand what you will be entitled to in your divorce.

Conclusion

Preparation for a high net worth divorce is key. The earlier you get educated and understand these factors, the more likely it is that you will secure the kind of divorce the law entitles you to.

Read more from Divorce Attorney Daniel Stock:

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

Getting a Divorce with Children and Dealing with a Daddy-Come-Lately

Daniel H. Stock, PLLC, with offices located in New York City and Westchester, brings more than 25 years of legal experience to all issues associated with uncontested, collaborative, contested or high net worth divorce. He seeks to reach amicable agreements on matters such as child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, and property division. He favors the kind of outcome that benefits you and your children as you transition to a post-divorce future. However, when discussions are not productive, consensus is not possible and litigation is necessary, he is fully prepared to aggressively protect your rights in court. Make an appointment to speak with divorce lawyer Daniel H. Stock by using his contact form or by calling his firm at 212-889-8609.

Note from SAS: Find strong, wise counsel that supports you and your interests. Before getting fully educated on what your life and divorce choices are, however, do not adopt the knee-jerk reaction of “I’m going to take him to the cleaners!” For in the long term, as we have learned through our women-dedicated divorce consultancy, this approach is rarely clean. For more on this and what you most critically need in terms of legal support, financial support, AND emotional support to ensure your best divorce recovery – and avoid court, contact SAS for a free consultation.

 

 

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Getting a Divorce? Choose the Right Accountant

Whether you’ve chosen the path, or been blindsided by the decision, no one needs to tell you that getting a divorce can consume you – both emotionally and financially, and that because divorce is so complicated, you must often rely on experts.  But it is also possible that you may be finding that the experts you work with, or are considering to hire, are all too often focused on what they do (and bill you for) and not what your needs are. If you are feeling a disconnect, take heart! It’s normal. Divorce is a particular life event that is uniquely personal. There is no magic formula or infallible model (despite what some experts might say, or what your friends might advise you) that will transform you to a place of financial independence, balance, and full healing.  It’s a process specific to you. And for women, it often involves an education in learning how to take control of your life.

Understanding and taking control of one’s finances is just one aspect to the process, but it is a very important one.  After all, it’s the money and the kids (–if you are a mother) that probably have you the most uncertain and wondering what your next best steps are. Finding a good accountant (and not relying on the one you may have used with your mate) is a very good idea.  But how do you proceed to choose an accountant so you set yourself up for your next best chapter?

If you are getting a divorce, or in the divorce recovery phase, here are five things your accountant should do for you as you begin to rebuild your life:

1. Listen

One of the most critical skills your accountant (–and any expert you hire) must have is the ability to really listen to you and your story. Without truly listening to you, any advice given won’t be tied to your individual needs. There is no one size fits all. You must be able to sit down and feel that you connection and be able to communicate with your accountant on many levels. Think about this as you are interviewing or considering an accountant, would you feel comfortable calling this person out of the blue with a random question?

2. Understand your needs (financial, emotional and social)

Tax, accounting, and financial advice must be seen through the prism of your life. Your financial needs and requirements may not only include the fundamentals like caring for the children and maintaining a home but may also include continuing assistance for … your going back to school, or caring for your aging parents, or organizations or charities and other philanthropic organizations you are involved with. Your emotional, career, and social needs must be supported by the financial advice you are given. The three are tied together like a bow. Without understanding your emotional and social needs the financial advice you are given can do more harm than good.

3. Help you plan the process

After listening to and understanding your individual needs, your accountant should now be able to provide you with several scenarios to consider as you plan out the divorce process or begin the restructuring post-divorce. There are many year-end tax planning checklists as well as guides on how to hire the right lawyer, forensic expert, etc., online. You could literally spend hours and hours searching for that information. That is not your job. Your job is to ask questions of your accountant or financial advisor, and then make the decisions that are right for you. Your accountant’s job is to take complex issues and problems and help you find the solutions that fit your needs. S/he must also be capable of explaining your choices in layman’s terms. If you don’t understand what your accountant is saying then the fault is on them, not you. Your accountant works for you and not the other way around.

4. Be your trusted (and tough) advisor

Your accountant must also play the role of “Tough Advisor”. You will have your own ideas about the divorce process, or what to do now that you are single, and your ideas matter greatly and should influence your accountant’s advice. But there does come times when your accountant should be confident enough to disagree with your decisions and be able to provide a rational argument to you. While ultimately the decision on your plan and finances will always be yours, your accountant should take the time to advise you on any concerns s/he has.

5. Be your “Financial General Contractor” for those providing other services to you

Once you and your accountant have established a relationship based on the previous four requirements then your accountant can play one of the most critical roles in your divorce process or divorce recovery: what I like to call the “Financial General Contractor”. Depending on your situation you may have many people assisting you with and impacting your divorce and future plans. Lawyers, coaches, forensic accountants, real estate agents, the IRS, etc., all may play a role.  But just like building a house, or hiring a divorce coach who can help you understand, oversee, and guide the moving parts, you need a Financial General Contractor to turn to who can help coordinate the money in play and help control everyone’s fees.  Your accountant may the best suited to assist you with this financial control. Besides your divorce coach (if you have one), your trusted accountant may have the broadest view of all your needs. Your accountant can also play the “bad girl/guy” role if need be with the rest of your divorce team if the results and fees are not in your best interests.

As an accountant with over 20 years of experience I have been on the other side of the desk (–though I prefer the kitchen table), listening to my clients as they have gone through the difficult process of getting a divorce. What I discovered was that the single most important thing for my clients was the ability to feel connected to the people who are helping though this hard time. My goal in writing this article was not to give you specific advice on what to do with your divorce, or which model to adopt in getting a divorce, or even to tell you what to do with your money. It was simply to provide guidance on how to select an accountant who can best help you begin or continue on your divorce journey.  As the ladies at SAS say, there’s a great big bright future for you just around the bend. You may not see it yet, but it’s there and it’s waiting for you.

Vincent Pungello, CPA, CISA, CFSA is a Certified Public Accountant and the Managing Member of Pungello CPA, LLC. Vincent has extensive experience in matters of personal and business taxation, forensic accounting as well as domestic and international accounting and auditing. If you would like to talk to Vincent to share what is happening in your journey and to hear possible next steps, he provides all SAS readers with a free consultation by phone. Contact him at (732) 814 7480 or email him at pungellocpa@optonline.net and mention SAS to begin your conversation about your needs and where YOU want to go.

 

 

Cartoon angry woman's face

3 Ways to Handle Divorce and Anger, If Things Are Getting Ugly

Divorce and Anger Go Hand in Hand

Love and Marriage, Horse and Carriage … Divorce and Anger obviously go together, too. Right? Well … at the very end of the season finale of #DivorceonHBO we hear the main character Frances, who is divorcing her husband, leave this voicemail for her husband: “I imagine that, somehow, you didn’t bother to think through this imbecilic move – you simply wanted to fuck me at any cost. But you have made a terrible, awful, IRREPARABLE mistake.  And you’ve LOST, Robert. You have lost EVERYTHING now!”

Uh, oh. There it is. It all just went sideways.

Oh, how easy it is to give into anger when you are in the middle of divorce, especially if it’s justified (though don’t get me wrong, it’s just as easy to get caught up in your anger because of things that you perceive to be happening, whether they really are or not.) In Frances’s case, she asked and was granted permission by her husband to swap weekends with him, to take the kids skiing.  He changed his mind at the last minute though, because he was furious with her for getting their assets frozen (which actually her attorney did; Frances didn’t really understand what the attorney was doing) and therefore reported her to the police for kidnapping. Which, of course, completely freaked the kids out. Which, of course, completely ticked off Frances, so she lashed right back out at him, hence the voicemail. See the pattern here?

Listen, if you are getting divorced right now, I know you may be feeling really, really angry. And you probably have every right to be furious. Maybe he cheated and lied about it for years … or perhaps he was a workaholic and ignored you, never noticing how very lonely you were … or maybe he abandoned you emotionally and focused his attention on the kids … or perhaps he simply left you without warning and you never saw it coming. You need to make him pay for this right? Well, I’m telling you right now, letting anger drive the legal process is not going to result in you getting the revenge or justice you seek. It will only result in a longer drawn out ugly divorce.

Divorce and Anger Must Be Untangled

I’m not suggesting you cease feeling angry … you have every right to that feeling. What I’m suggesting is that you cannot afford to let feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness or even primal raw rage dictate how this divorce will unfold. These emotions must be separated, for your sake and for your kid’s sake as well.

Imagine Anger is a monster inside of you. If you feed it, it gets big and strong. If you allow it, that monster will take over your brain and start to think for you. But Anger has no perspective, no intelligence, no problem solving or rational thinking. Like most monsters, it’s just hungry, so it does things to get fed. It feeds on fear and outrage and hatred and will stop at nothing to stir up those feelings to get a meal. It will stir them up in you and it will not stop there – it will convince you to lash out at others too, so it spreads, and your spouse is the most obvious target.

Feeding this monster does two things: (1) It keeps you in a place where you cannot think clearly nor make smart decisions because the monster is in charge and (2) It forces your spouse into the same position. Now we have two adults, neither of who is capable of making responsible decisions, because both are blinded by Anger.

You must stop feeding Anger the Monster.

As said before, I’m not simply telling you to stop feeling this way. Anger isn’t just going to go because you wish him away. You must honor how you feel, while at the same time figure out ways to navigate the divorce and make good decisions for you and your family. I offer you three things to keep in mind, as a start:

3 Ways to Handle Divorce and Your Anger, If Things Are Getting Ugly

  1. Trust yourself, if only a little.  Listen to that little voice that tells you it can’t be what it seems. Investigate the situation before you let it ignite you. Did he really say that? Would he really do that? Maybe not. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt if you think there is the smallest chance you are overreacting.
  2. Find safe ways to vent and process the anger.  Much like a teakettle that’s corked up, your anger will explode if you don’t find ways to vent the steam. Talking with someone you can trust explicitly or writing in your journal may be important ways for you to get out all that negativity in safe ways.
  3. Get perspective from someone objective. This means someone who is not close to the situation, preferably a professional.  A therapist, divorce coach, social worker, or clergy member will have the expertise you need to help you see things through other perspectives and help you make rational decisions. If Anger threatens to take over, it’s imperative you find someone who is trained to deal with these strong feelings and can help you tame that monster.

Frances says to her dad at one point, “Well, neither one of us is being particularly good to the other, but ya know, apparently that’s how these things go, so….” No, Frances, that’s not right.  Things don’t necessarily have to go that way, unless you let them. You can choose not to let your emotions take over in your divorce, and instead find ways to be civil and communicative with your spouse so you avoid those miscommunications and hurt feelings that Anger so thrives on. You must take active measures to starve the monster.  The best way to do that is with a little help from others.

If you are experiencing feelings of rage and bitterness and just don’t know  to reign it in, Liza and I can help. Reach out to us for a free 45-minute consultation and we’ll help you find ways to deal with your strong feelings while helping you make good decisions about your divorce. We look forward to speaking with you soon.