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

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emotional turmoil when considering divorce

Divorce Advice: How to Get Over Paralyzing Fear

In this follow up article, excerpting highlights from her interview on Progressive Radio Network, SAS Cofounder and divorce coach Kimberly Mishkin offers divorce advice to women who are thinking about the frightening steps to divorce. 

Why is Divorce So Scary?

Jack:  How do you address it when people feel fear?  You can’t say, “Get over it.” So how do you balance the fear and getting people to take action?

Kimberly: Actually, we sometimes use the acronym, “ACT.” 

A: Act

The first thing you need to do is get somebody to be your ADVISOR, a divorce coach or therapist. We recommend you use somebody who is in the professional world but if you can’t afford a coach, it could also be someone like an HR person at work or the guidance counselor at your kid’s school (–someone who has helped people through divorce issues before.)

At least in the beginning stages, it could also be your attorney who can point you to other things. But, you absolutely need an advisor. You need to talk about it out loud. You need somebody to give you feedback. You need somebody to help you think it through.

It’s just impossible to do it all in your head, all on your own.

Jack: You had an advisor?

Kimberly: I did. At first, I wasn’t telling anybody at work and it was torture. I had compartmentalized to such a degree that I was a totally different person at work than I was on the weekends.

It was exhausting and the anxiety started to come out of my pores. I was getting injuries or I was getting sick every other day. The anxiety was literally eating me up inside until I had to reach out and get some help.

You need an advisor; somebody you can trust, somebody you know is genuine; who doesn’t have a personal stake in this, somebody who can be objective.

Kimberly:  The second thing you need to do is COLLECT INFORMATION.

C: Collect Information

Start collecting information from anywhere you can. Especially in New York, there are all kinds of free workshops, free things online, pamphlets you can download, E-books. There’s a wealth of information out there.

Most people fear the unknown more than anything.

Deborah: Right.

Kimberly: So, the more you collect information and educate yourself, the more the fear will start to subside because you’ll understand what you’re looking at and what the realities are.

Kimberly: And the third thing is to TAKE STEPS.  Just take baby steps.

T: Take Steps

Start a journal; get a bank account of your own, change the locks if your spouse has moved out; call a friend and make plans for once a week.

The key is to do something different — take a tiny step, which will lead to more steps. Once you get that momentum going then you will feel the changes happening.

For more on this interview, read “Divorce Coaching: The Female Take” or listen to the complete interview here.

What is your next step?  Take hold of your fear and schedule your free, 45-minute “Map to the Next Steps” session” and walk away with a mini-action plan right now.

Will She Ask for a Divorce

Do Women Really Ask for a Divorce More Than Men?

On your typical Monday, we ladies huddle around the coffee maker talking about a well-known topic — complaints about our husbands. Some days we complain more than others. But are we serious? Are we really unhappy in our marriages? Would we ever consider the D word and ask for a divorce?

It turns out that women are more interested in divorce than men are. Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, examined data from Stanford’s 2009-2015 How Couples Meet and Stay Together project, a national study of relationships and breakups. Rosenfeld looked at 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 94, who had opposite sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had split up or gotten divorced.

According to the data results, it turns out that men have a lot to worry about if they are a topic of a coffee complaint conversation. Rosenfeld discovered that wives initiated 69 percent of splits, compared to 31 percent of husbands.

Why Do Women Want It More?

I find the results of the project fascinating. Women are less likely to stick around in a relationship that is not satisfying to them. There had to be a bigger story here. Why do women ask for a divorce so frequently and are we inadvertently responsible for the historically high number of broken families?

Every relationship has its owns reasons for breakdown and eventually breaking up. However, a societal shift is putting much more pressure on marriages than ever before. Today’s woman spends more time earning a paycheck outside the home. After a hard day on the job, she comes home to a second shift. On a typical day, 50 percent of women spend time after their full-time job doing chores around the house. Just 20 percent of husbands will do the same.

According to the book, The Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, mothers spend 41 hours caregiving versus 22 hours per week for fathers. Women also cook and clean 10 hours more a week than husband’s do.

If we only focus on working women, the situation is just as depressing. Mothers who work full-time will put in a week and a half’s worth more time on household tasks than their male partners each year. No wonder women feel tired all of the time. I thought it was just because I was getting old!

Real Life Marriage Does Not Equal Gender Equality

The modern marriage does not seem so modern after all. The age old uneven power dynamic still persists, leading to lowers levels of marriage satisfaction for women. Rosenfeld maintains that “Women report lower levels (of marriage satisfaction) because they experience marriage as constraining, oppressive, uncomfortable and controlling.” Marriage has not caught up with the gender equality that women expect.

One of the survey participants explained why she asked for a divorce, “I used to be a very happy, optimistic person, and it was like he was starving my soul. I did not like the way that he was treating me.”

Obviously, we cannot know the reason for all of the divorces, however, it is clear that marriages need to adapt and move to a more equal partnership or we will continue to see much higher numbers of divorces initiated by women.

Early in her life, Stacy Francis witnessed how devastating life could be for women who were not empowered through financial education. Her grandmother stayed in an abusive marriage because she did not have the skills to effectively deal with money. That experience changed Stacy’s life and drove her into the finance field.

Stacy is president and CEO of Francis Financial, a fee-only boutique wealth management, financial planning, and divorce financial planning firm, and the founder of Savvy Ladies, a non-profit that has helped over 12,000 women across the spectrum of ages, life experience, and income levels identify their goals, make proactive choices about their finances, and lead richer, more rewarding lives.

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.

 

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

Would you like to speak to a lawyer but feel you can’t because you don’t know how you’d pay for a divorce?

Does your husband tell you the money in your joint account is “his, because he earned it?”

Do you wonder how you can afford to get a divorce if you aren’t working, because you stayed home to raise the kids?

We spoke with divorce lawyer Daniel Stock about something our clients often face — what it means to be a woman in a relationship who doesn’t feel she has access to money to meet with an attorney, let alone pay for a divorce. The perception that we don’t have money to spend on a consultation can paralyze us from doing anything. We stay stuck, because we see no way out. We see no way out because we are not informed. We asked Daniel to tell us what advice he gives to women who feel they have no options.

How to Pay for a Divorce:

One of the most daunting questions facing women about to go through a divorce is, “How am I going to pay for this?” The answer is closer at hand than you might think. Here are six different ways that you find the money:

1. Use joint money. You may use money in a joint bank account to hire your lawyer. So long as your name is on the account, with certain exceptions, it doesn’t matter if your husband deposited most or all of the money.

2. Use a credit card. Many attorneys accept credit cards. If it is a joint credit card, you and your husband will both be responsible for the amount charged, and at the end of your divorce, a judge may “allocate” the amount of lawyer fees each of you has to pay. Since most credit cards allow you to make monthly payments, you may be able to charge enough to pay your lawyer.*

3. Take out a loan. There are many loan options available ranging from loans against a retirement account to personal loans. If you aren’t sure which is best for you, speak with your financial advisor or SAS.

4. Withdraw money from a savings or retirement account. Many people are reluctant to invade their “nest egg,” with good reason. But remember, if you cannot hire a divorce lawyer to represent you, you stand to lose marital assets that could be a multiple of the amount you spend on his or her fee. Divorce is a time for triage, not penny pinching.

5. Borrow money from friends or relatives. Many divorces are financed by parents who don’t want to see their children suffer in a bad marriage, or worse, a bad divorce. Even if you don’t have the best relationship with your parents, ask them for a reasonable amount of money to pay your attorney – or for the upfront consultation fee. You may also have a close friend who is willing to help you out financially.

6. Know the law on “counsel fees.” In New York, if you are a wife in a divorce who earns less than your husband, the law entitles you to have your husband pay some or all of your lawyer’s fees, otherwise known as “counsel fees.” The tricky part is that the law is not automatic, and, unless your husband voluntarily agrees to pay for your lawyer, (not unheard of but infrequent) you will need a lawyer to file a court document called a “motion” in order to enforce this right. Catch-22! The good news is that the amount of money you need to pay your lawyer up front (known as a retainer) to get him or her started on your case, is not unreasonably high in many cases. You will need to come up with this initial amount to pay your attorney, using one or more of the methods above, until he or she has had time to take legal action that may get your legal fees paid by your spouse.

Often, the seemingly insurmountable task of hiring a divorce lawyer and paying for legal fees will keep you in a place of pain, fear, and dysfunction for far too long. Knowing your rights and what options are available to you are crucial in order to start taking steps toward independence and stability.

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.

If you would like to explore your options with SAS, we offer free, discreet consultations by telephone. Click here to schedule your free session, or if you aren’t ready, sign up for our free coaching letter in the meantime. We are here for you when you want to learn more.

*SAS note: Be aware of interest charged to your credit card if the monthly credit card bill is not paid in full.

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. 

Divorce Support: Your Holiday Survival Guide

As we move toward and into December, we are off and running with the holiday marathon. It’s a chaotic time for many, but the stress and overwhelm are on steroids for those of us divorcing. So, in anticipation of what you are going through, here are a few things to remember to give you the divorce support you need so you can enjoy the spirit without the drama and exhaustion.

The Holidays + Divorce = Feeling Horrible
You’re not alone. This is the start of the year when people begin to feel depressed, and this includes those who aren’t even going through divorce. We put these crazy expectations on ourselves as an attempt to make up for what we perceive to be our failures and shortcomings from the rest of the year. We are going through the motions, trying to decorate the perfect house, hold the perfect party, give the perfect gifts to our children and loved ones, all the while pretending everything is fine. It’s wonderful. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But the truth is . . . our foundations are crumbling, and we’re desperate to maintain control of the life we thought we knew, the life we’ve invested in. If you bear this and the following things in mind, you will get through this crazy time with grace.

Lose the BS Illusions of What the Holidays are Supposed to Be
Nothing in life is perfect. Yet, for some reason many of us feel we must have flawless decorations and meals and gifts to truly celebrate. The media has perpetuated this false ideal. And so have we. There are infinite Pinterest boards and shows on the Food Network that love to remind us that our own celebrations will never be adequate.
But nobody can live up to those impossible ideals, which during the holidays, serve as a double-whammy for those coping with separation and divorce . The holidays have a way of reminding us, especially when our marriage is on the rocks, that we have failed to live up to the dreams and visions we had for ourselves — it’s like the season is twisting the knife a little more into our already aching hearts.

So, forget those unattainable standards! Although you are going though a rough spot and the timing is horrible because of the holiday season, you have been given a second chance. You now have the opportunity to create your own picture of the holidays — you now have the chance to breathe again and be independent again and find the things that give you comfort. And that doesn’t have to include unattainable ideals.

Boundaries are Beautiful
For many, the chance to spend time with family spanning multiple generations can be magical: Grandma makes her delicious fudge, your crazy uncle tells his college story for the 18th time, and everybody laughs about how the secret ingredient in the mashed potatoes was mayonnaise.

But when you’re splitting up, the questions and prodding from family members, well-meaning or not, can make you feel like a torture victim. If the thought of explaining a separation or divorce has been causing you to lose sleep lately, remember this: You have the right to remain silent. You are not obligated to tell anybody anything if you don’t want to share. Of course, there will be the common refrains from your usual boundary-breakers, like “But I’m your mother,” or “We’re family!” But it’s your life and your choice whether or not to share details about the state of your marriage, whether you’re dating again, how the process is coming along, etc.

Remember — this is your life — and it is your decision from whom you seek support. No one, including your family members, is entitled to know the details unless you want to share.

Own this Time
Nobody says that you have to spend hours and dollars shopping, decorating, and making the perfect crudités. There are no laws requiring you to be stuck in traffic or to be stressed about delayed flights en-route to visit family who only cause you more stress and anxiety. Ask yourself, “What is it that I want to do?” and if you have children, think about what is it that will make them happy.

Focus on Comforting Things — Not Your Self-imposed Obligations
During divorce and the holidays, we tend to forget about taking care of ourselves and doing the things that we actually love. Why don’t you make a simple holiday joy list as a starting point? Some of my favorites include:

  • Walking or driving around to see all the festively decorated store windows and houses in my area
  • Watching my local tree or Hanukah lighting celebrations
  • Caroling with friends or watching holiday movies together
  • Spending time with people I actually want to spend time with, and not those who will judge me

As you write your own list, you will notice that you probably don’t have the following:

  • Being scrutinized by prodding family guests
  • Feeling completely exhausted because I tried to do too much to make everything perfect
  • Spending too much time and money on making things perfect

Worried about Your Children Missing Out? Fear not!
What do you remember from your childhood? I honestly don’t remember the expensive gifts that I thought I couldn’t live without, or the big labor-intensive meals, and chances are, your children won’t either. I do remember, however, the simple sugar cookies my siblings and I loved to decorate with my Mom, and watching “The Sound of Music” on Christmas night. Although it may not seem like it now, it is the love you show to your family (and to yourself) that will leave the lasting impression . What simple ritual or joy do you remember from your own childhood? Can you do it with your kids this year?

This is Finite
Understand that the holidays, as well as the pain and stress you are feeling with your split, will be over soon. It may seem like a never-ending nightmare right now, but the day will come when the drama is over. It may not be by Christmas or New Year this year, but it will come. And it is you who has the power to mindfully navigate through the craziness and rise above it, instead of getting sucked into the void.

The best way to survive this month is to recognize that you are going through a “hot mess” right now and not to punish yourself. With kindness and self-care, you too can receive those tidings of comfort and joy.

Martha Bodyfelt’s website, Surviving Your Split, is dedicated to helping readers through a stress-free and drama-free divorce. For more great strategies, sign up at Surviving Your Split. You can also email Martha at martha@survivingyoursplit.com.

9 Reasons You Should Hire a Divorce Coach

Maybe you debated for years if you should stay or go, until finally you were so miserable you couldn’t breathe. Or maybe he announced out of the blue that he was unhappy and wanted out, and you never saw it coming. Or was it that your relationship just slowed down over the years until it came to a long, grinding halt? Regardless of how your marriage ended, it probably felt like someone took your entire life as you knew it and blew it to pieces.

Now you are facing a divorce and you know you have to put yourself back together somehow…but how? The questions running through your mind just won’t stop: “Can we even afford a divorce?” “What about the kids, will they be ok?” “Will I have to go back to work?” “What will my friends think?” “Why is this happening to me?” “How am I supposed to start over at my age?”

The list of unknowns is daunting, not to mention your heart is broken and you have zero energy to tackle any of the tasks you face. You probably don’t even know where to start. This is why you should consider hiring a divorce coach.

What’s a divorce coach?

Divorce is a major life transition, as is getting married or having a baby. These are moments in our life when everything changes and life takes on a very different look. Much like we have wedding planners to plan the big day and midwives to assist us in weeks and months leading up to a birth, there are divorce coaches who are trained to help you with this monumental shift in your life.

Recognize that this is not the time to try and “go it alone”

You aren’t your best self right now, and you know it. Your stress level is through the roof. You are forgetful, exhausted, and clumsy. You aren’t sleeping (or you are sleeping too much), you aren’t eating or exercising, you are drinking too much wine and the household chores are piling up. And you know what? You really don’t care. Yet the decisions you are going to be forced to make during your divorce have real and long lasting repercussions, so you really can’t afford to screw them up. What are you supposed to do?

Ask for help

You’ll need a team to get through this. Start with your best friend and your family. Tell them you could really use a shoulder to cry on and help with the kids. Then move onto lining up your professionals. It’s really important that you are as well informed as possible in order to make thoughtful and smart choices with all of the big decisions that you face. Your friends and family mean well, but they aren’t trained to help you with a divorce. You’ll need several professionals to navigate this process. Where to start?

Everyone thinks the first thing to do is get an attorney. It’s not. Before you hire a lawyer, you have to decide what the right divorce process is for you. Is it mediation, collaborative, litigation? What are the pros and cons of each? Once you know what process is the right one for you, then you can look for an attorney who practices that type of law. However, you’ll immediately face the next question, “How do I know if s/he is good?” Before you write that check for the retainer, you’ll need to interview several attorneys until you find one you respect, like, and believe is right for the job.

Hire a divorce coach first

A coach will be able to help you understand the divorce process and the different options available to you. S/he will have excellent professionals to recommend and may even accompany you to meetings to interview attorneys. Finding an attorney is the tip of the iceberg though. Do you understand your finances? Where will you live? How will you tell the kids? A divorce coach is there to guide you to the answers to these questions and to many, many more, as well as help you with the emotional ups and downs all along the way.

How do you know if you need a divorce coach? Ask yourself, do any of these 9 reasons ring true? If so, hiring a coach would be a good investment for you:

  1. You aren’t thinking clearly
  2. You are unfamiliar with the legal process
  3. You can’t get past your anger
  4. You are paralyzed by fear
  5. You either aren’t making good decisions or you aren’t making any decisions at all
  6. You don’t understand anything about your finances
  7. You don’t know how to be a good parent right now
  8. Your self-esteem is at an all time low
  9. You have no idea what you are going to do after the divorce is over

It is certainly possible to get through a divorce on your own, many people have had to do it solo. However, if you put a team in place, you will be much better equipped to make smart and sound decisions about the future, for you and your children.

Still unsure whether or not coaching is for you? We offer free consultations so that you can ask questions and find out more about how we work. Contact us to schedule your free 45-minute telephone consultation.

We Created SAS to Provide Divorce Support for Women

Recently, Christopher Cameron of Luxury Listings Magazine asked SAS why divorce might be different for women living on Manhattan’s Upper East- Side. We welcomed the opportunity to respond briefly to his question. But the nature of the question left us wanting to share more.

Divorce is horrible, and divorce for women, no matter the income or geographical locale, has its unique gender, racial and cultural trials and stigmas.  But for SAS Co-Founder Kimberly Mishkin, who was working at a prestigious UES School while trying to leave an abusive marriage, the discovery of the darker side of privilege came as a surprise.

It started the night she walked into the police station, not far from her school, to file a report against her husband. After completing a full day’s work, Kim was dressed appropriately for her job as an administrator in education: she was in a suit and wearing heels. However, “I felt like they didn’t know what to do with me,” says Kim, when she describes that evening. “They acted like I was coming to complain about a silly tiff with my husband. They mimicked faces of sympathy. I had to convince them that this was a real complaint.  That I really needed help. I walked out of the station that night with a brochure on domestic violence and not much more.”

Kim’s experience, as she faced the reality that she must save herself, was that there was no divorce support for women like her.

Coming to terms with the fact that she must divorce, Kim was facing a multitude of decisions, from “Where am I going to live?” to “Where am I going to get the money to pay for my divorce?” Because she was leaving an abusive marriage, Kim needed answers related to her immediate survival as well: “How can I be safe from my ex?” “How do I get a restraining order?” Yet, what she  discovered as she began the painful process of learning, was that for someone perceived as having income, there were very few places for her to turn. She had to rely heavily on friends, who eventually tired of her endless story, until ultimately, she came to rely on herself to navigate all that was before her.

Kim’s Story:

There came that day when I had to leave in a hurry.  Things had taken a turn for the worse, and it became clear I was no longer safe.  I had to do two things immediately: pack some clothes before he came home, and get a restraining order. 

A good friend came with me to the apartment, and she brought contractor bags.  We quickly tossed some clothes and shoes into the black trash bags and carried them to her car.  I remember going back in to grab a sauce pan . . . why I don’t know, I just wasn’t thinking clearly. From there we went straight to the courthouse.  I had no idea what to do then, or next.  When I asked the officer at the desk in the courthouse, he suggested I visit a nearby organization that worked with abused women.

I went there, and the organization offered me food vouchers . . . but I didn’t really need food vouchers. I had a good job.  They offered to put me up in a shelter. . . but I had many wonderful friends who were happy to give me their couch for the night. While I will always be grateful to the women I met that day for their warmth and empathy, it soon became clear they were unable to help me.   

What I needed was information and help understanding the entire, crazy divorce process: I needed to secure an order of protection first, and then to figure out how to press criminal charges. I needed an introduction to a good divorce attorney.  I needed someone to help me figure out my finances . . . I had let him handle our money, and ugh, big mistake! This is to say nothing about the obvious fact that throughout all of this I was breaking down. I was an emotional train wreck. Who could help me? Who would want to?

Alone in that space, I was in tears for months. 

We knew there had to be a better way. This is why SAS exists today.

We’ve put a lot of thought into what divorce support for women should look like. As women who have survived our own divorce stories, and as educators and coaches who have gone on to work with many wise women since, we feel an urgency to share our message with everybody:

There is no sugar coating it. Divorce is unbelievably hard and many people you meet will not understand what you are going through.  But we want you to know that you can get through this, that there is a process, and that by taking the right steps, you can and will feel in greater control of your life.  

Why should you muddle through it alone, we ask, when women, who have come before you, have their hard-won wisdom to share?

We know not everyone can afford our services, which is why we offer free 45-minute consultations to any woman who calls or writes us. So that regardless of whether you engage with us further, or not, after taking that brave step of connecting with us, you will have a new piece of information or an action step that will make you feel less isolated and less alone. Walking out of that police station that night, Kim had never felt so lonely in her whole life.  Now, at SAS, there is a kinder, less painful way to learn about the process and to move on with your life.

 

Divorce on the upper east side

What’s Different About Divorce on the Upper East Side?

Wealth, luxury, affluence . . . these are words that often come to mind when thinking about Manhattan’s UES.  A unique neighborhood with a culture all it’s own, everything is different — or so some people think — when you reside here.  Christopher Cameron of Luxury Listings Magazine asks SAS if divorce on the Upper East Side is different for women, too. And while we think divorce is hard no matter where you call home, for a peek into how things can go particularly “imperfectly” in 10028, read our interview.

For more information on SAS for Women™ and our divorce coaching program, or how to divorce and lesson the pain for you and your children, visit our divorce coaching page or schedule your free consultation.

Finding light in your divorce story

New York Times: “How to Divorce” is Changing for Women

The “newspaper of record,” the New York Times is shedding light on how to divorce and how it’s changing. Women are no longer navigating it alone in a desperate, anxiety-ridden journey. Allying themselves with a partner, a team, a tribe, women are moving through this major life-challenge differently.

Read about SAS — but what’s more — our friend Elise Pettus, founder of UNtied (— the women’s divorce-support community you should definitely join if you live in the NYC area) in Penelope Green’s NYTimes piece, A New Cadre of Experts Helps Women Navigate Their Divorces.

For more information on SAS for Women™ and our divorce coaching program, or how to divorce and mitigate the pain for you and your children, visit our divorce coaching page or schedule your free consultation.