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Divorce in New York

The Reality of Divorce in New York

People know New York for its glitz, glamour, and grit. Everything’s loud, over-caffeinated and fast-paced. For some who experience the loneliness of all this, there can be the feeling of being left out, of never being enough, of someone else always lining up to replace you. But despite all of this, or in response, New Yorkers are equally known for being tough and seemingly invulnerable. Even when it comes to romance. Romance, New York style is often over the top or of the quirky variety, the kind of love that sweeps you off your feet. Think Carrie and Mr. Big. Harry and Sally. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park. It’s the kind of romance they write love songs about. Until it’s not. But divorce in New York? Well, in most of our minds, breakups are equally cinematic. Flash to messy scenes from the Real Housewives of New York, or nuggets of gossip passed privately through whispers, then splashed across Page Six for anyone to see.

Yet, for all those clichés, in reality, divorce in New York State is far more mundane than any image you carry in your mind. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the divorce rate in New York in 2011 was 2.9 for every 1,000 residents. That’s a lower rate than most states in the country!

Of course, when the divorce is happening to us it doesn’t have to be the literal end of the world to feel like it’s the end of ours. Your divorce might come as a complete shock, or it may seem like a long time coming. Either way, it can all feel surreal, like you’re having an out of body experience. How you wish it were just a movie! Yet, this is your life. You are getting a divorce. And throughout your divorce, the surprises may keep coming, bringing out the worst and the best of you.

You may not be feeling so much like Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City—young and colorful and ready to take on the world—as you are Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s Divorce, a little jaded and angry, feeling dull around the edges but looking for reasons to hope.

If that’s you, if you’re done considering divorce or have had divorce forced upon you, then here’s a primer highlighting what to expect when getting a divorce in New York.

Divorce law in New York

In New York, there are two kinds of divorces, a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, the most trouble-free approach, you and your husband agree about the need for a divorce and you believe you will come to terms on how your property gets divided and how your children are cared for. On your own or with the help of lawyers or a mediator, you and your husband come to an agreement on everything and do not need the court to get involved to divide assets or make decisions about spousal or child support or custody.

Typically, an uncontested divorce moves more quickly through the system. It’s less complicated and less expensive. You will likely never set foot inside a courtroom with an uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce, you and your husband are not in agreement about any or all of these things. (Hello, your marriage?) If there are disagreements, and often there are, you will likely need the help of a legal professional(s) to resolve them. The more intense the disagreements, the more expensive the process can become and the greater risk you run of having to go to court to have a judge decide.

Many couples will begin the process of a contested divorce and then, before trial, reach an agreement. This is a settlement.

Thanks to the Internet, though, it’s become increasingly popular to consider a Pro Se or DIY divorce and thereby eliminate the costs of lawyers. Couples who do this successfully are couples who are almost always in agreement. (Hmmm.) They are doing an uncontested divorce.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you and your husband really in agreement about everything?
  • What are the critical issues?
  • Do you understand the finances?
  • Do you understand spousal support?
  • What about child support?
  • What are your options for custody arrangements?
  • How are you going to handle your debt? Whose debt is whose?

Our experience is that most women do not know these things, nor do their husbands—but the idea of saving money on legal fees (or being bullied into the DIY process) blinds them from finding out what they are each entitled to by law. There’s a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and it couldn’t be more aptly used for this scenario.

How can you split things up if you don’t understand what you’re splitting — like the finances (are you aware of their long-term tax implications?) Or what negotiated variable is going to benefit you more in the long run? You need feedback from someone who’s an expert on your situation.

In short, we recommend you NOT consider a DIY or online approach unless you have no children, there is no debt and little or no assets, and the marriage has not been for very long. And if you do pursue a DIY model, we encourage you to consult with an attorney privately at least once (but preferably throughout your completing the paperwork).

Divorce facts in New York

New York also allows you to get either an at-fault divorce (you must prove your husband is responsible for the need to divorce) or a no-fault divorce.

For most people, it’s easier to seek a no-fault divorce. You don’t have to prove anything other than the relationship is irretrievably broken. “To qualify” in New York, the relationship must be broken for at least six months. Also, New York usually requires that you or your spouse have lived in New York State for at least one year before you can file for divorce.

New York is often associated with all things progressive and liberal, but it was actually the last state in the country to allow no-fault divorce. That means that until 2010, getting a divorce in New York almost always meant that one spouse had to prove the other spouse did something wrong and is to blame. What’s more cinematic than a jilted lover or “cold-heartedly” calculating your actions to create a case where you are the wronged party? It’s a recipe for disaster, for heightening emotions and irrational behavior—for people to lash out and for proceedings to get ugly and expensive and to heighten the risk of going to court.

This said, you can still get an at-fault divorce in New York. To do so, a spouse must have the “legal grounds,” which usually involves adultery, cruel or inhuman treatment, or abandonment. Most divorce lawyers in New York will advise you not to go the at-fault route no matter the dramatic details you may throw their way. It is generally considered a poor use of resources to have a trial on grounds now since the system no longer requires it.

With this in mind, you will want to make sure you understand why your lawyer is pushing for an at-fault divorce, such as “cruel and inhuman treatment,” and how it will benefit your situation as opposed to pursuing a no-fault divorce. We had a client, for example, whose husband had serious mental health issues and refused to seek treatment. Her lawyer filed an at-fault divorce for “cruel and inhuman treatment” as a strategy to protect the children and to impact the custody arrangement, so the children were not left alone with him until he was fully recovered, healthy and functioning.

New York is an equitable distribution state

In New York, assets (the things you own) get divided through “equitable distribution,” meaning, in general, everything you owned prior to getting married is your separate property and everything acquired after your marriage gets divided as fairly as possible.

The separation of property—how you will divide it up—is negotiated between you and your husband, or more likely, by your lawyers after they have consulted with each of you, or with the help of a mediator. But it has to be done well and fairly enough that the court will sign off on the agreement.

These are just a few of the facts that come into play when discussing divorce in New York. There is more you’ll want to know before you proceed further. But we don’t want to contribute to sensory overload.

What matters most is that you are not going to do it all at once, but you will want to be in a position to learn and come to understand what your options are before you make decisions about your property, the debt, child support, custody, spousal support, legal fees, insurance, and more. You might need an order of protection if abuse is a concern, which complicates matters even further.

This is why, whether you pursue a DIY approach, or go to mediation, or use a collaborative attorney, we urge you to get educated on what your choices are first.

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

Divorce court

You must know that about five percent of all divorce cases go to full-blown trial. Less than five percent. So turn the television off. The standard way people divorce is still the traditional one, of your hiring an attorney to represent your interests and your husband hiring an attorney to represent his. Your lawyer meets with you individually, as does your husband’s, and then the lawyers negotiate the settlement through phone calls or meetings.

Divorce negotiations are different from negotiations in most other legal matters in that clients usually attend the meetings—known as “four-ways”, with their lawyers. If one side fails to negotiate or settle, then the risk of going to court does increase, and both parties must attend every court appearance with their lawyers. This traditional approach is still the best way for the less-moneyed or less-powerful spouse (the one who lacks money or knowledge about the finances) to get a fair share.

Diversify your insight into how you will divorce

On the plus side of living in New York is that the city and the state can often be frontrunners of change. Just by virtue of your living within New York’s boundaries, there are far more resources available to you than people living in other parts of the country. Take advantage of those resources, like law schools that offer free legal aid, or referral services offered by the New York Legal Bar Association.

You don’t have to rely on visiting a lawyer and learning things the expensive way as most people have done in the past. There are now people like us, the divorce coach, who can help you learn about divorce (and yourself) before you commit to anything. A certified and experienced divorce coach can also connect you to vetted lawyers and other experts — like a certified divorce financial analyst (who can help you answer the money questions). How you choose to divorce matters for your children and your own recovery.

How long does a divorce take in New York?

Okay, we know, you are maxing out. You want to hear how long this is going to take. If we are talking only about the legal aspect to the divorce and not your recovery and healing, than the time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on two things: how motivated you and your spouse are to organize your papers and documents and to push your attorneys to negotiate the agreement and how busy the court that receives and officializes your settlement agreement is.

For some people, it can take as little as six weeks, for others, six months or more for an uncontested divorce. With a contested divorce, there is no way of forecasting it, but certainly, a deciding factor would be when the money runs out.

What’s certain is that divorce anywhere is a (long) process, and while that wait can be frustrating, it also means you won’t be able to jump into anything without thinking it through first (and that might just be a blessing in disguise).

Divorce support groups for women in New York

There are over eight million people living in New York City and more than twice that in New York State. You are not the only one “feeling lost in New York,” or like everything’s falling apart even as you try to put it back together. We say this a lot but only because it’s true: You are not alone. If your couple friends have disappeared and disappointed you, you are lucky to live in a city and state where there are many divorced women and men—and the stigma of divorce is not as pronounced as it may be somewhere else.

Your job is to connect with those people who understand what you are going through and get educated on what your choices are and who you want to be as you make these important decisions. You might consider joining an online education-driven support group with other women who share similar experiences and who seek to find their voice and change their circumstances for the better. Women just like you.

Remember, divorce in New York rarely looks the same as it does on TV, where the drama’s amped to increase ratings and to get you coming back. This is a process none of us wants to experience even once, let alone come back to. Your divorce doesn’t have to be so dramatic. You can choose to let go the theatrics because they don’t serve you, your Ex, or your children, and to focus on what you do control: getting educated fully before you commit to any one path or decision, and to move through the process smartly and with the greatest sense of integrity and compassion for everybody — including you. 

For more steps to help you with divorce join us for your free 45-minute consultation.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Schedule your 15-minute chat to learn if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

 

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

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

How to leave your husband

How to Leave Your Husband and Slay Considering Divorce Syndrome

If you’ve been suffering from an undiagnosed case of Considering Divorce Syndrome (CDS) — where you keep revisiting the prospect of divorce in your head — there comes a point when you must decide whether to break the cycle of indecision or continue living in a painful limbo replaying what you know but doing nothing about it. Make no mistake that choosing to remain in the place you know, spinning in that cycle of Considering Divorce Syndrome, may feel safe. Yet research shows, the cumulative effect on your body can be very real and life-threatening, too. The fact is for you to recover your health, your clarity, your very sense of self, you are going to have to do something. If you’ve found your way to this post, then you’ve likely already made that decision on some level. You may know it’s time to end your marriage. But what you’re not sure about is how to leave your husband*.

After you decide something has got to change, and it may mean leaving him, it’s important to maintain your momentum — to keep pushing forward — smartly, so you have no regrets. Humans excel at getting comfortable. We rationalize and look for reasons that form cracks in our resolve. Fear seeps in. Fear tries to keep us from falling apart by telling us not to move at all, by telling us that what we should really be afraid of is the unknown. The devil we don’t know. But fear does nothing for us except hold us back. Fear is not enough of a reason to stay in your marriage.

You need a game plan. We’re here to help you determine the best path forward because you already know all the whys—now you need to understand exactly how to leave your husband.

Commit to leaving your marriage with integrity

Get educated and understand what your decision could look like. Do not waste your precious life hoping your marriage will repair itself, or that you must know with 100 percent certainty that you want a divorce to find out what is truly possible for you.

Begin by taking safe, appropriate action. Write down the most important questions you have about getting a divorce.

Review your questions, and find the professional who can answer most of them

Do this well in advance of making any real decisions, like yelling “I want a divorce!” to your husband. You’ll want your ducks in a row (those ducks being organized finances, knowing the laws in your state, what to say to your children, etc.) before you unleash your husband’s (emotional, possibly retaliative) reaction to your decision.

Back up. The fact is you have questions … and you don’t know what else you don’t know.

Going directly to a lawyer is not our suggested first step. (No kidding, you say! Having read that we are divorce coaches …)   The truth is lawyers are expensive and they are not trained to give you the total picture of what you’ll likely go through and need to decide about, to navigate smartly AND recover healthily from divorce. Besides, do you know what kind of legal model you might use to best resolve your marriage issues? Are you really a candidate for mediation? Getting educated on what your choices are first, will help you choose the right lawyer to consult with. It will save you money and also empower you to discover answers from other people who may be more aptly trained to support you and your kind of questions.

A divorce coach is the generalist who can give you the overview you need and also, the specific black and white next steps that make most sense for your unique circumstances. And their professional rate is far lower than an attorney’s. Chances are, a divorce coach can also present you with a menu of lawyers you might consider based on her experience of other clients using them. You can find coaches online who will give you a free consultation (be sure to look for coaching certification and divorce experience).

But if you’re focused strictly on the legal aspect of getting a divorce, then you may want to read 10 Things to Know Before Meeting with a Lawyer and then schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney. If you’re only concerned about assets, how you are going to divvy things up, how will you handle the debt? contact a certified divorce financial analyst.

Anyway you slice it, you need to move from an internal conversation with yourself (as well as midnight Google searches on “how to get a divorce?”) to an external conversation with someone who understands the process of divorce—an expert on the topic who can give you the answers that you need for your story.

If you are super strapped for cash, and you wonder how much will a divorce cost? Can you even afford one? Google your state or city’s divorce services, your city or state’s bar, and see what comes up (this isn’t exactly the best route, but it is a route). Many states offer reduced rate or free legal services to women who can prove income qualifications.

Warning: Anecdotal information from other people (how your neighbor’s friend’s second cousin got screwed by her Ex) does not help you understand what is possible for your life. Plus, talking to a professional is confidential and more objective, whereas Betty next door might tell Barbra, Alexis, Jen, and Meredith, the whole neighborhood, you brought up the big-bad D-word in conversation.

You’re going to need to develop strategies to block, deflect, and set boundaries

Speaking of Betty next door (you know that neighbor or family friend who likes to gossip), you’re going to need to either block conversations with well-meaning but unhelpful people or learn to deflect well and setup boundaries with notorious boundary-crossers.

Here are three helpful techniques to block, change the subject, and establish boundaries with people in your life who are like Betty.

Betty: “So, I hear you’re getting a divorce. Did your husband cheat on you?”

Block: “I don’t really want to talk about my divorce right now. How about we focus on the neighborhood watch meeting?”

Betty: “If you needed someone to talk to, I have a very sympathetic ear. Wanda leaned on me throughout her entire nightmare!”

Deflect: “I’m glad to hear Wanda trusts you so much. How has she been lately?”

Betty: “Do you really think it’s going to happen? I mean is it official? Did you try couple’s counseling first?”

Set boundaries: “We are officially over, but I really don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point.”

If Betty makes repeated attempts, keep giving her repeated answers: I don’t want to talk about my divorce right now. I don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point. I don’t want to divulge the details you are asking.

And if things progress and get far too obnoxious, you can always “lose” Betty’s number or be “far too interested” in other people’s lives at group functions and avoid Betty all together when she clearly doesn’t get the message.

Get your papers and statements organized

While what you need for divorce varies from state to state, you can search Google for the best documents to organize for a divorce. A lawyer or a financial person is going to need to look at some of those documents you’ve gathered to give you black and white answers and projections—information you will need for long-term planning and decision-making now.

If finding out if you should divorce includes giving every chance to reviving your marriage, for the sake of your heart or, at the very least, your children, consider discernment counseling to help you determine how to best progress forward.

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Shore up your resolve on Should You or Shouldn’t You Divorce? and take an action step: listen to our free video class that helps you reframe this question AND also, how to avoid the 4 big mistakes women make in divorce. Suit up and slay Considering Divorce Syndrome.

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Attend consultations and take classes

Gain a better understanding of what you’ll be going through with your divorce by joining an educative support group or class. If the group is facilitated by a professional, many of your questions might be answered and you will feel less alone, less isolated, less crazy. Whether you choose to explore discernment counseling or not, as a modern woman looking at her future, you deserve to know your rights and what you are entitled to. Coaches, experts and teachers understand that you might be smart, but you don’t know the process of divorce and what to expect. They don’t judge. They understand your situation and help you learn and feel empowered.

Take in the information at home

Let what you’ve learned mull over in your mind and see what new questions or concerns pop up later. If you are still undecided and some of your questions have been left unanswered, you can always call back the pro you met with, look for another professional for help, or seek a second opinion from another pro in the same industry. A child therapist, for example, would be better positioned to suggest the best things to do to support your kids through divorce. A financial professional who deals with divorce, would be better trained to answer your pressing questions about money.

Be sure to ask your therapist or divorce coach for direction if you feel lost or numb to the process of divorce

This becomes especially important if you start to feel that you are shutting down. You need help addressing what anxieties are causing you to feel ambivalent to your own divorce. You need solid steps and actions to take while getting a divorce or you could be facing a very rough future.

Leaving your husband is not a zero-sum decision

It’s rare that anyone facing divorce will feel that, 100 percent of the time, she is making the absolute best decision.  Instead, you will feel fed up and will reach a tipping point that tells you that it’s time. And even after you’ve made that decision and you follow through, you may have days where those feelings waiver. Knowing what you do know and acting smartly is another great reason to consult with a divorce coach through this process.

Your head and your heart aren’t always going to agree during this process

Today your head says divorce and your heart is screaming YOU STILL LOVE HIM! Tomorrow your head listens to your heart, but then your heart decides it’s not happy. Thoughts and emotions are going to clash, collide, agree, disagree, shift, and change throughout the process of divorce. Putting yourself on a set path and following through is your best plan for health and improving your life; you can’t wait for your heart and your head to align. It will happen eventually, however, if you do the work.

Be sure to develop a divorce plan with a healthy strategy

Really be sure to ask yourself: do you know what a healthy divorce looks like? You can start to form a picture by reading books on what makes for a healthy, smart divorce, or work with a divorce coach. Either way, you’ll need to commit to a divorce with intention and compassion not only for your children and your future Ex — but for yourself.

Compassion for the self starts and continues with an understanding of who you are and an acknowledgement of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Your emotions, those un-boxable feelings exist for a reason. Learning to listen to your wants, needs, feelings, fears, and hopes is what you need to do right now. Understanding that they are there, and why, helps you reframe them, do something with them and also detach from them so you can effectively navigate the black and white part of the divorce. Learning to acknowledge and detach will also help keep you on a healthy path to your newly single, independence.

The decision to divorce is painful but so is the journey to reach that decision

There are things you can do to help yourself through the pain and overwhelm once you’ve accepted, you must leave your husband. It begins with the conscious decision to set an intention. How do you want to do this? With the greatest integrity, smarts and compassion for everybody — including yourself — is a choice. Will you choose that? More steps are related 1) gaining a better understanding of what your options are, 2) knowing that no choice (except your commitment to your intention) is going to be the absolute perfect or right choice (sometimes it might feel like you’re picking the least bad in a slew of terrible choices), 3) getting educated in the process of divorce specifically in your state and for your circumstances, 4) and looking for help through direct feedback consultations, classes or support groups will support your intention in the most healthy, anchoring and life-affirming way. On that we give you 100 percent clarity.

Remember: no matter what that little voice inside your head says, you’re not trapped. Tell your fear, there are ways out and you are going to find them.

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, consider joining SAS’ Annie’s Group, our all-female divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Annie’s Group teaches you what a woman must know (emotionally, practically, legally, financially) about divorce.  Schedule your 15-minute chat with facilitator and SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell to learn if this education is right for you and where you are in your life. To keep the safety and confidentiality of the group, space is limited. 

 

 *We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

Freezing your eggs

Freezing Your Eggs in the Event of Divorce

Change is a reality. Sometimes, we want to embrace it to help us grow and mature while other times change comes at the worst possible moments and in the worst possible ways. Just when we think we have a handle on how things should and will go, everything goes off-kilter.

When you were growing up, you may have thought you knew just how your perfect family was going to be and anticipated the day when you would buy little booties or prepare a nursery for your first baby. Finally, you meet a guy who you’re pretty sure you want to tie the knot with forever.

However, there is a small voice inside your head that thinks maybe it’s best to spend a few years with him before making the decision to tangle your DNA and procreate.

Time passes, and it’s easy to get caught up in the daily realities of not only maintaining a healthy relationship but a successful home economy, which could dissuade you from starting a family if you’re still just getting by financially. But you’re also very aware of your body’s gradual changes.

Then, somewhere along the way, you start having more serious doubts. What if your husband isn’t “the one,” after all? If you’re considering divorce, do you even have time to have a baby?

Will you have to settle for a bad relationship just to experience motherhood, even if that means being unhappy?

Freezing your eggs could give you more choices

Fortunately, technological innovations are providing a welcomed solution to put the fears of any women feeling even a fraction of these emotions at ease. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of women electing to freeze their eggs as a kind of insurance plan, just in case the need or desire to have a child comes later in life — or with someone new.

In some cases, women are also opting to have children on their own. Divorce can lead women to feel as though they’d rather build a family without a spouse, and freezing your eggs has made that entirely possible. An Australian fertility doctor recently noted that of the 50 people that add themselves to the sperm donor wait list at his clinic every month, approximately half are women looking to pursue parenthood alone.

However, even in this scenario, the so-called clock still ticks, and therefore, women must act sooner than later if they want to preserve viable eggs. “Women who harvest eggs between 32 and 35 years of age have up to a 50% chance of pregnancy,” says resident expert Doctor Amos, adding that this percentage decreases significantly as the years go on.

The financial concerns surrounding freezing your eggs

So as women with marital issues consider this option and feel pressure to start preparations, they encounter a new set of doubts. Is freezing your eggs actually affordable as a newly divorced woman? Especially if you spent many years unemployed as someone’s wife?

This situation became a legal reality in 2013 in the case of a 38-year-old New Jersey woman who was divorcing her husband of eight years. As part of her divorce settlement, her lawyer sought $20,000 to cover “her egg freezing procedure, medication costs, and several years of egg storage” based on her expectation upon getting married that she would have children. Egg preservation has even become a part of alimony settlements.

The legal realities surrounding freezing your eggs

It needs to be said that while technology has enabled women to improve their ability to have children later in life, it can come with legal obstacles, depending on how the procedure was completed.

If the woman in a relationship froze her eggs, legally, the situation of the New Jersey women cited above would likely stand. However, if the woman were to instead freeze a fertilized embryo, the case takes on a new property ownership aspect.

Courts have been dealing with this new legal scenario by ruling that both parties who provided DNA to a fertilized embryo have ownership of that embryo. This often means that neither of those involved can use it without the permission of the other. Similarly, they cannot destroy them.

The former spouse of actress Sofia Vergara sued to “prevent her from destroying their two female embryos.” So, it’s important to consider which type of freezing procedure you desire if you’re considering divorce.

Change happens, and we can prepare for it. Technology has advanced to the point where women in unhappy marriages can choose divorce without it ending their dream of having a family.

However, these women must bear in mind the cost of their choices, both financially and legally, before making their decisions. If freezing your eggs is a choice you make, then the end of one dream doesn’t necessarily mean the end to another.

 

Christopher Barry is a freelance writer with decades of experience covering health and wellness topics. He has been featured on a number of reputable sites such as Vice, Maxim, The National Post, and many other large publications.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Schedule your free 45-minute consultation with SAS. Tell us confidentially what’s going on and we’ll give you black & white feedback, resources and suggestions for your next steps (regardless of your working further with us or not). 

credit: weheartit.com

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

“How much does a divorce cost?” is one of the first questions we often hear when a woman makes contact with us, while “how long will a divorce take?” is a close second. We wish there were a menu to refer you to, so you could evaluate your choices and pick and choose items à la carte. However, the correct, though immensely unsatisfying answer to both questions is, “It depends.”

That doesn’t mean you should stop investigating your options. It’s important for you to be educated on your choices so you learn what’s possible for your life. The following insights, shared by NYC divorce attorney Orrit Hershkovitz will help you get started on whether your divorce will cost a few thousand dollars or several hundreds of thousands, and whether it will take several months or several years.

So how much DOES a Divorce Cost?  That depends upon…

1. The process you select

There are various methods to dissolve a marriage. Mediation, in which a neutral professional (usually a lawyer or mental health professional) facilitates a resolution between the parties, is generally the most economical means of ending a marriage. Participants can be represented by counsel (their own lawyers) throughout the process. Another option is collaborative divorce, a process that requires both parties to agree in advance not to go to court, and to retain new counsel if they do. While these two models of divorce sound very appealing to most people (they sound amicable, they sound cheap) not all couples are suited to mediation or collaborative divorce, particularly if one spouse has not been, or will not be, given access to the financial information and documentation necessary to make an informed decision, or fears for his or her safety or the safety of his or her children. One or both individuals may also prefer not to negotiate directly with the other spouse.

To learn more about mediation and the collaborative law approach to divorce, we encourage you to take advantage of your free, 45-minute SAS for Women consultation (– provided you identify with being a woman). We’ll hear what’s going on in your story and give you direct feedback on what might be the better options for your situation.

Another choice for divorcing is the more traditional approach: hiring a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.

Hiring a lawyer does not necessarily mean you and your spouse are headed to divorce court.

An agreement may be negotiated (as in an uncontested divorce), either directly or through counsel, without ever stepping foot in a courtroom. Litigation (or a contested divorce) though unavoidable in some instances, will often increase a couple’s costs.

In a contested divorce, court fees will be incurred. Such fees will include the cost of filing a divorce action and other paperwork required to obtain a divorce decree, and may include fees for making applications (or “motions”) to the court. In New York, for instance, the current filing fees to obtain a divorce amount to almost $400; the fee to make a motion is $45. Obviously, the longer the litigation continues, the more you can expect to pay for your (and possibly your spouse’s) attorney’s fees. Additional funds may be expended on the service of legal documents (e.g., summonses and subpoenas), transcripts, and the preparation of court orders (e.g., Qualified Domestic Relations Orders necessary to distribute certain retirement assets).

2. The number and complexity of the issues that are contested

Some divorces appear simple from the start. The parties, for instance, may have no children or no substantial assets or debts. Or a divorcing couple may have already discussed and agreed upon a resolution of all issues. Other cases are more complex. Not only may the parties not agree on the issues of parental decision-making and access, but they may also have assets that are not easily divisible (e.g., a work of art, a business), need to be valued (e.g., a house, stock options) or sold. But the nature of the issues themselves is only part of the equation.

Any acrimony between the parties can also delay the resolution of even the simplest issue.

By contrast, the parties’ willingness to compromise and cooperate can facilitate the resolution of even the most complex issue. Thus, as with your choice of process, you and your spouse can control the cost and length of your divorce by choosing whether, when, and how to conciliate in a dispute.

3. The lawyer you hire

The lawyer you select to represent you, and the lawyer your spouse may select to represent him or her, is another significant factor that will affect the length and cost of your divorce. The range of hourly fees charged by lawyers varies widely across the country. Even in large legal markets, hourly rates can range from approximately $250 to $750. Where a lawyer falls on that spectrum usually depends on his or her experience, reputation, and the size of his or her firm. The complexity of the case is more likely to affect a lawyer’s retainer fee, which is an advance payment intended to cover at least the lawyer’s initial work on the case.

Read this SAS post for 7 ways to pay for a divorce attorney.

Equally important as a lawyer’s fees is the fit between you and your lawyer. Your chemistry. You should not only be confident in your lawyer’s abilities, but also comfortable with how he or she is advancing your case. Do you feel protected? Understood? Is your lawyer prompt in responding to your calls and e-mails? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” not only may your choice of lawyer affect the cost and time it takes for you to get divorced, but you may also be dissatisfied with the end result.

If this chemistry issue is starting to sound like a “relationship,” it is. As in any relationship – indeed, as in marriage itself – the compatibility between lawyer and client is critical. Choose wisely.

4. Where you live

How much a divorce will cost tends to correlate with the cost of living in a particular locale. Not only will legal (and especially attorneys’) fees be higher in areas in which it is more expensive to live, but you may also have to pay more child and spousal support. If you live in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, or other major city, you can expect to pay more than someone living in Hope, Kentucky, for instance.

5. Whether you need experts

If there are substantial assets, you may need an expert to value a business or a pension, or appraise real property or personal property such as art, jewelry, or other collectibles. You may also want to consult with an accountant, financial advisor, or other experts for advice about the potential tax or financial implications of a proposed settlement. If custody is contested, the court may appoint a child custody evaluator to assist the court in making its determination. An attorney for the child or children may also be appointed.

In summary, the decisions that you and your spouse make, and how you conduct yourselves, in the divorce process can, at least to some extent, affect how long your divorce will take and how much it will cost.

Focus on the factors you can control.

Understanding and choosing a process and lawyer wisely as early as possible will help to control your financial and emotional costs. Consider making a free appointment with SAS for Women to learn your next steps, what process might be especially good for you, and for referrals to vetted legal professionals. Or make a list of your questions, your assets and debts, and make an appointment with a divorce attorney who can give you concrete feedback on your unique story.

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while navigating the divorce experience and striving to recover and rebuild. SAS offers women six FREE months of private email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Step forth. It’s okay if you fall. Life — your life — is calling you.” 

Orrit Hershkovitz, a partner at Barton LLP, represents individuals in all aspects of family and matrimonial law, including divorce, parental custody and access, child and spousal support, property distribution, relocation, enforcement, and the negotiation of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, and separation agreements. In addition to her work representing private clients, Orrit is also an active supporter of Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence. 

 

 

Woman struggling with leaving an abusive marriage

Leaving an Abusive Marriage? There Are Steps You Need to Take First

Abuse doesn’t always look the way we imagine it. No bruises are required for the abuse to be real, and you don’t need “proof” for your pain to be valid. But when it comes to protecting yourself legally and leaving an abusive marriage, it’s an unfortunate fact that both those things hold weight.

We know what physical abuse looks like because it leaves a mark, but verbal and emotional abuse are harder to detect and often go unreported. Emotional abuse might mean insulting you, making threats against you or your loved ones, controlling you, repeatedly accusing you of being unfaithful, or belittling you. Your spouse might go out of the way to destroy your self-esteem or tell you things like, “No one else but me would put up with you.”

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender can be a victim—or perpetrator—of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together, or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation. Many of these forms of domestic violence/abuse can occur at any time within the same intimate relationship.

Once you’ve finally accepted what abuse looks like in your own marriage and that you’ll no longer put up with it, leaving is easier said than done.

You spouse is, after all, abusive—his* sense of self is tied up with his control over you. Even if you aren’t being physically threatened, it’s not entirely clear what your spouse is capable of.

Hell, it’s not entirely clear what you’re capable of. Are you strong enough to leave him? Are you strong enough to stand on your own two feet? You no longer know anymore.

You do know, though, that he will do everything in his power to make sure you never find out your strength.

If you plan on leaving an abusive marriage, there are some steps you’ll need to take first.

The following is based on my personal experience leaving an abusive marriage. Because it was so difficult, I want other women to know certain things. Among them is the importance of finding out what your rights are and what your choices are, legally.

You must know what’s legally enforceable, so you can be prepared and protect yourself. Sometimes there is no time to consult with an attorney. Instead, you must act, so you call the police. Other times, you simply think about making that call. What will be the impact of calling the police . . . for you, for your spouse, and for the kids? Find out first so that if it comes to that—and it may come to that—you are prepared and can protect yourself and your children.

Believe in yourself

Abusers are master manipulators, so the first thing you must do to protect yourself from your spouse is believe in yourself.

This can be hard, but as a “Millie,” a SAS for Women colleague (now working as a divorce attorney), shared, beginning to believe in yourself might look like reaching out to those who genuinely love you. For Millie, she realizes now how important it was for her to ultimately tell her most trusted friends and family what was really going on in her marriage:

“My first husband was an addict and I kept ‘our’ dirty secret to myself because I was so embarrassed at my poor choice in a husband. I isolated myself by making my Ex’s bad behavior associated with me. Once I finally left and then told everyone, the support was tremendous. I wasn’t judged as I thought I would be.”

No matter how hard your spouse works at planting seeds of doubt in your mind, you must grow vigilant and stubborn in your belief in yourself.

  1. Connect with safe friends, if possible.
  2. Work with a good therapist and be truthful with them.
  3. Find a certified coach experienced in supporting people like you—people who are striving to change their circumstances.
  4. Consult with an attorney to learn what your rights are and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

But ultimately, you’ll need to find the courage to leave within yourself.

Protect your finances

Abusers often use money to control their partner. If you don’t control your own money—if you don’t even have access to it or if that access can easily be taken away—you don’t have the financial security you need to leave your spouse.

If you don’t already have a bank account of your own, get one. Set your PIN to something your spouse will never guess, and if all else fails, get a credit card.

Ask a lawyer what you can do to put things in place to protect yourself. Talk to a certified divorce financial advisor to hear their suggestions. (Having that discussion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get divorced, and everything you talk about is confidential.)

Gather proof

Perhaps you don’t want things to get nasty (or nastier) or you are not sure you want to divorce, but just in case you must leave, there are different types of evidence you can gather to make a case for spousal abuse, such as photographs of injuries or broken property, documentation of emails or text messages, and testimonies from witnesses. Videos are sometimes permissible depending on what state you live in. Research your state’s laws on videotaping without permission of the subject.

When gathering evidence, try to simplify it as much as possible, but make sure to note down the time and date the abuse occurred. One way to do this is to write emails to yourself because the emails have a valid date/time stamp. The documentation is also stored in a cloud and thus safe from an abuser finding notes, photos, etc. and destroying them. The emails can be as simple as “At 8:43 p.m. Tom called me a fat bitch and that I was lucky that he didn’t leave me,” or “Tom came home at 11:35 p.m. and smelled very strongly of alcohol and pot.”

Start documenting now. It is hard to go back and track and trace. Women have a high tolerance for pain and an uncanny ability to forget it afterward. Think about it, we’d never give birth a second time if we could really recall the extent of that first experience! So, while the memory of your pain is alive, you must keep an ongoing record of it—as brutal as that sounds.

Note from SAS for Women: If you are in the planning mode, we encourage you to consult with an attorney to hear what you should be documenting as relates specifically to your situation and what your choices are to change things. What happens if you call the police during an incident? What would be expected of you afterward (going to the courthouse and filing the complaint officially)? What would happen to your spouse? You need to understand the process and what the impact of each step you take will be.

Truth be told, it’s when filing at the courthouse that most women cave . . . somehow everything starts to feel real there. You don’t want to “hurt your spouse,” you start thinking to yourself. You withdraw your complaint. As a result, your problem almost never goes away.

File a report

The fact is, reporting and filing instances of abuse to the police gives you a report, and having this report available could do much to prove your case.

If you’re truly in fear for your safety, this should be your first course of action (besides gathering proof). You can also go to your town’s family court, or if you live in New York City, for example, the New York Family Court, and request an order of protection.

It’s best to note down at least three instances when your spouse endangered or caused you to fear for your life and safety, with one being very recent. This is where your ongoing record keeping plays an important role.

With filing, be as authentic as possible, and never lie—you don’t want to do anything that destroys your case. You’ll fill out a form, wait to see a judge, and based on the evidence and testimonies, the judge will either grant or reject the order of protection. You can also bring along your attorney to fight on your behalf. The order of protection will restrict your spouse from communicating with you directly.

Note from SAS for Women: Filing an order of protection will also mean your spouse will have to leave the family home and live somewhere else.

Know that. Make sure you understand how your spouse will learn about the order of protection. Where will you be when he does? What happens after? Do you need to go home and make sure some friends come over, or do you not go home at all? You need to learn about each step, so you can imagine what your spouse will do at each juncture and plan accordingly. Consulting with an attorney is very important.

Hire an attorney

You want an attorney with a track record in divorce or separation from abusive spouses. This attorney must be available at any time and want to protect you. She will become a line of defense against your spouse. An abusive spouse may become enraged that you have taken back control of your body and mind—that you have reclaimed your integrity—and continue to lash out. But you’re doing the right thing. Hold steady. Your lawyer is good if she makes you feel protected and strengthened.

Chances are a divorce agreement may be in your future, and if it is, in that document you will want to separate yourself from your spouse in every way possible—financially, personally, and physically. Review with your lawyer and try to limit as much as (legally) possible your spouse’s rights to your apartment, car, insurance, registration, and will. Anything and everything you can think of. Review all things thoroughly with your lawyer. Ask your lawyer about the legal consequences if your spouse does not comply.

Stow away what’s important to you

There are legal documents that are important for you to gather before you leave, things like social security cards, birth certificates, insurance policies, copies of deeds, proof of income, bank statements, and more. When abuse is physical, there’s not always a “perfect” time to leave. Your escape might feel more like fleeing. What, if anything, are you prepared to leave behind?

Just in case, have a getaway plan

Find a safe place to stay, and get familiar with your husband’s schedule. When will he be out of the house? You’ve thought of the children’s schedule, no doubt, but have you made plans for the family pet? Abusers often use a pet or children as leverage against a spouse to blackmail them.

If you have kids, talk to a lawyer or the police before taking them anywhere.

Don’t rely on your phone to memorize escape routes or the phone numbers of the people or organizations you’ll need to call for help.

You might even want to establish a “code word” to let your family, friends, and anyone else who you can call for help know that you need them without letting your abuser know.

Local shelters are sometimes able to escort victims of spousal abuse from the home when they move out. Or perhaps, if you must leave the family home, you might have a couple of strong friends who can support you that difficult day.

What to do after leaving an abusive marriage

Leaving is a hard step, but after you leave, it’s important to stay on the alert. Change up your routine. If you have a new address, request that the DMV withhold your ID from the public, though they may make it available to institutions like banks. Request that the Family Court withhold your address from divorce documents.

Try to fight the temptation to isolate yourself because that’s when you’re the most vulnerable. Remember, isolation was how your spouse controlled you. The humiliation and shame you might still feel after leaving—it’s what your spouse is banking on. He wants you to believe that no one else “understands” you quite the way he does. And no one ever will.

But you are not alone.

In the US, nearly half of all women and men have experienced psychological aggression (emotional abuse) by an intimate partner in their lifetime. But because the abuse happens behind closed doors, it’s so easy to think of yourself as the outlier. If you don’t have a friend, family member, therapist, coach, lawyer, or someone else in your life you can talk to, you can and must look for professional help. You can also try calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) to discuss your situation and be connected with resources that exist for a very good reason.

You do have strength. We believe in you.

Isabel Sadurni is a motion picture producer with over 15 years’ experience in filmmaking. She collaborates on feature films and series with independent and commercial filmmakers who share the belief that a story told well can change the world. Her work includes award-winning feature-length documentaries and short narratives that have played in top-tier festivals and on HBO, PBS, and The Discovery Channel. Her focus is in working on films that are vehicles for change for people, for communities, and for the planet. 

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, 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.” – SAS for Women 

 

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as a “he.”

Woman walking on beach thinking about divorce

36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking About Divorce

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

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

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

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

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce.

SAS offers women 6, FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future.  “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women 

 

 

When it is time to divorce?

How to Know When It’s Time to Divorce

If day in and day out you find yourself unhappy with your marriage, it’s natural to have doubts. To ask yourself, “When is enough enough?” or wonder “When is it time to divorce?”

Being unhappily married is extremely uncomfortable and even hazardous to your health. You might feel off balance because you’re not fully invested in your marriage, but you haven’t yet given up either. You’re living in a painful limbo.

At times, part of you is (almost) ready to call it quits. But then another part of you takes over, and that part of you has more questions than answers. Questions like . . .

Will I be able to make it on my own?

Will getting divorced screw up my kids?

Where will I live?

Do I even deserve to be happy?

Besides my marriage, my life is great—can’t I just deal with it?

Could this be as good as it gets?

Maybe we’re just going through a rough patch?

So, how do you know when it’s time to divorce?

The truth is that everyone who has chosen to get divorced has had to make that decision on her own. That’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding whether your marriage is worth saving.

Granted, there are some pretty black and white reasons to divorce:

  • Polygamy
  • Ongoing deception
  • Abuse (verbal, physical, or emotional) of you or your children
  • Substance abuse that remains untreated despite requests to do so

But most people find themselves in situations that are shades of gray, unsure whether divorce is right for them and their family.

And yet, so many couples do decide to divorce. According to a report published by AARP asking people to identify the three most important reasons they divorced, the most common motives were:

  • Verbal, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Different values and lifestyles
  • Infidelity
  • Falling out of love
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

What’s especially interesting about the results of this survey is that most people listed more than one reason for divorcing—in fact, they gave at least three reasons. The fact that divorce almost never comes down to one thing is part of what makes knowing when it’s time to divorce so difficult.

But if you are facing one or more of these common issues, that doesn’t necessarily mean that now is when it’s time to divorce. There are couples who face the same issues, work through them, and remain married—even happily married.

Then just how are you supposed to know if it’s time to divorce?

If you find yourself living in that gray zone, you owe it to your marriage (and to yourself) to exhaust all other avenues—to do your absolute best to resolve the issues in your marriage—before you decide whether it’s time to get a divorce. Only then will you be able to leave limbo, either by recommitting yourself to your marriage or by deciding that the best path forward is divorce.

What does it look like to exhaust all other avenues before deciding to divorce?

You’ll talk with professionals (a divorce coach, therapist, or couples counselor) who can help you gain the necessary clarity to decide whether to save your marriage. You’ll make your best effort to implement their suggestions not only for improving your marriage but for improving yourself.

Consider watching SAS for Women’s free webinar on this confusing subject . . . “Should I or Shouldn’t I . . . Divorce?

You’ll read books and articles about how to make a marriage work and then implement the ideas that make sense to you. And for those that don’t make sense, you’ll research to understand if you are best served by discarding them.

You’ll talk with people who have made their marriages work for the long haul. You’ll respectfully and fearlessly ask the questions you need answered. There’s a good chance that you’ll learn something about how to improve your marriage and maybe even something to help you with your own personal growth.

You’ll talk with people who are divorced and understand the challenges they and their children have faced and overcome. Then, you’ll understand the reality of divorce. That reality may give you the determination to try harder to save your marriage. It may give you the knowledge that you’ll be OK regardless of whatever decision you ultimately make. (Tip: Make sure you speak to divorced people who are healed—people who have done the work to fully recover from their divorce. They’ll give you the best perspective and not transfer their wounds to you.)

What you’ll notice when you learn and start implementing the ideas you glean from exhausting all those other avenues besides divorce is that you’ll be presented with countless opportunities for self-examination. As you learn more and try different things, you’ll naturally see yourself and your marriage differently.

That still doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly have a lightbulb moment, that the world will send you a sign telling you divorce is right for you and that now is the time.

The truth is that you’ll gain clarity but not 100% crystal clear clarity about the fate of your marriage by taking the time to understand all the options and possibilities for your life both in and out of your relationship.

However, deciding when it’s time to divorce is rarely about being 100% certain you’re making the “right” decision. Instead, it’s more about understanding your options—all your options—so that when and if a tipping point comes, you’ll not only recognize it but be prepared for it.

So, if you’re asking yourself “When is it time to divorce?” you owe it to yourself and your family to explore those options. Roll up your sleeves, exhaust every possibility of repairing the issues in your marriage, and gain the clarity you need to feel comfortable—if not confident—making the decision to divorce.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, 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.” – SAS for Women

Divorce porn is living vicariously through another's divorce.

Divorce Porn: 4 Types That Are Almost Never a Good Thing

Ever wonder why we pay so much attention to how Angie and Brad split up? Or if Beyonce and Jay Z are really going to stick it out? Or, will she do it this time? The world is watching …Will Melania take 45er’s hand as they board Air Force One?

Turns out, we are secretly fascinated, drawn, repelled and addicted to watching how others struggle in their relationship. It’s a momentary release, allowing us to escape our own relationship (and any problems we’ve been enduring). Love is powerful, so we’re really interested when others mess it up.

Please, mess it up good! Because, even better, we relish spectating in divorce.

Some call it divorce porn—vicariously living through another couple’s divorce. The term became popular and, indeed, symbolized by the release of the movie Eat Pray Love. The heroine’s story was heady, hearty, lusty stuff for us women. Elizabeth Gilbert’s character “seemingly had it all,” but gave it up to wander through Italy, India, and Bali in a journey of self discovery.

What? Leave everything and walk out? Leaving it all behind sounds damn good to many women thinking about or getting divorced, whether they have it all or not.

There’s that, and the fact that this journey was no celibate wander. Let’s remember the story culminated with bonding up, because completion (as popularly defined by finding your soulmate) sells. The prince arrived, once again.

But, wait, back it up. Divorce porn starts back there when the heroine is combusting and falling apart. It’s the particularly juicy part that feeds our culture’s obsession with break ups – and more specifically failing marriages.

Though “divorce porn” may be what we’re calling it these days, the phenomena isn’t new. We all know the experience, don’t we? Even back in high school and college—long before any of our friends were married—the breakup of one beloved couple in our friend group sent ripples throughout the circle, bringing some of us closer together and pushing others away and apart.

From our perspective as educators and divorce coaches, we know this too. And that this coming together or pushing apart effect can be seen through four specific types of divorce porn.

Divorce porn is the kind that brings couples together

Have you ever looked at someone else and thought, “Well, at least I’m not that bad.” We all do it. We grow up hearing phrases like “no matter how bad things get, remember, someone else always has it worse.” This is supposed to make us appreciate what we have, of course, not promote the celebration of other people’s lack.

And so, when a friend or family member has marital troubles and gets divorced, sometimes that impulse to be grateful is the first one we have.

Grateful, that is, that we’re not the ones getting divorced.

Sandy (not her real name) tells us how in her 20-year marriage, when another couple got divorced in their social circle, she and her husband—who had all kinds of strife in their own marriage—would often turn to each other and embrace, clinging to each other tighter than ever before. “It was like ‘Phew, we survived! We’re not as bad off as them. They’re getting divorced!’ We were just so grateful it wasn’t us,” explains Sandy. “Because, on so many levels, we were sure dancing on the edge.”

But, then again, the divorce of a friend or family member can also have the opposite effect on your marriage or relationship.

. . . The kind that’s contagious

Sometimes divorce spreads through social circles like an affliction, as if marital problems were contagious. A friend vents her frustrations and the challenges she faces in her marriage, or maybe she reveals that her husband has been less than faithful, and you start comparing and reflecting on your own situation . . .

Suddenly, you start to notice the same flaws in your own marriage—suspicion spreads like fine cracks on a windowpane.

Or maybe it’s simply the very fact that your friend did it! She got divorced! She and her husband were the first ones in your social circle to do it, to get divorced, and now, it was as if she’d given a pass to everyone. Everyone’s doing it! She normalized it and so now, you can do it, too.

In a 2013 Pew Research study, researchers found that participants were 75% more likely to become divorced if a friend is divorced and 33% more likely to end their marriage if a friend of a friend is divorced. So the idea that divorce might be contagious is one backed by science, much like the next type of divorce porn discussed.

. . . The kind that brings out people’s voyeuristic side

You see? When we witness a fight—whether it’s a violent eruption or a slow simmer—so often our first impulse is to break out the popcorn and pull up a seat. This voyeuristic tendency extends to our obsession with tabloids and soap operas. We celebrate budding celebrity relationships, but we also dig the demise. Part of us craves the drama. Science suggests the human brain is hardwired for gossip because information is a form of power.

Through gossip, we come to know a person, even if that image is flawed and one-sided, and we learn who we can trust. But more importantly, gossip gives us a way to learn from other people’s experiences, potentially sparing ourselves the heartache that comes with making the same mistake.

So when a friend or family member gets divorced, we react much the same way that we do when we read tabloids, watch dramatic TV shows, or gossip about other people.

On some subconscious level, we want to understand what it takes for a marriage to fall apart, what pushes a person over the edge, so that we better understand ourselves.

But the need for gossip can become addicting.

. . . The kind that’s literally, well, pornographic

The effects of watching porn regularly have been debated. But the fact is, no matter what the science or research says, both men and women have reported that porn has negatively affected their relationship and sex life. Recent studies have suggested that married couples who watch porn are twice as likely to divorce as those who don’t.

The “high” someone gets when they watch porn is one the regular viewer needs to chase—they seek out different types of porn to satisfy their desires. Videos that once did the trick eventually lose their appeal. And all this leaks into their real-life relationship. The regular porn viewer might begin to place a set of unrealistic expectations on their partner or create an environment in which tension and jealousy is likely to brew. There may also be the experience that there is no real relationship or marriage anymore. People shut down.

Most people usually start watching porn not because they are necessarily dissatisfied with their marriage but to relieve stress or escape a difficult home life.

Interestingly enough, porn seems to be less of a problem for couples who watch together.

Which brings us to our last point.

Remember, divorce porn is almost never a good thing

Communication (with each other) can help alleviate challenges divorce porn can create. Some couples, for instance, report that porn actually has a positive impact on their marriage. They say that watching porn together makes them feel more comfortable discussing sex openly and without shame.

Other couples have no communication or connection in their marriage as a result of pornography. In a 2002 informal survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (aka divorce attorneys), 60% of the 350 attorney asked, reported that internet porn played a significant role in the divorces they negotiated, with “excessive interest” in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases. At SAS for Women, we are not surprised. Many of our clients cite pornography as a major issue in the downfall of their marriage.

If you think you might be suffering from the effects of divorce porn, remember that there is nothing wrong with appreciating your spouse, discussing frustrations and challenges, or escaping reality every now and then, but, of course, it’s important to reflect on the events that you act upon:

  1. Make sure that you aren’t sensationalizing aspects of your own marriage—strengths or weaknesses—and comparing yourself to friends and family members. Don’t be unfair to yourself because every one of us is different.
  2. Make sure that you listen to and support those close to you because, as they get divorced, they’ll need you more than ever. (But also, remember that pesky biology and don’t feel too guilty about any unwanted emotions you experience.)
  3. Always be aware of the children. If you are unable to avert your eyes from another couple’s divorce, just remember that offhand comments can be overheard and are confusing to children—yours and theirs—and it’s the kids who are the hardest hit by gossip.
  4. If you are a woman dealing with divorce porn (however you define it) and you would like to hear what else is possible for your life, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with SAS. We’ll share stories of inspiring women and what they have done.

Divorce porn, much like divorce itself, is nothing new and the fact that we all need support as we go through divorce isn’t either.

SAS for Women ladies are those amazing women you meet who are entirely committed to experiencing divorce on their terms. Women facing a divorce, or contemplating it, are invited to schedule a confidential chat. “Divorce requires a one moment at a time approach” ~ SAS for Women

Working with a divorce coach ... the good and the bad

What You Need to Know About Working with a Divorce Coach (the Benefits … and the Downsides)

As you navigate through the thoughts of divorce, dealing with divorce, or recovering from divorce, a divorce coach might be your best source of comprehensive support. That’s because an experienced divorce coach knows divorce is not just a legal or financial dilemma.  It’s a whole life challenge that requires your making diverse but smart decision—and not just for you, but for your family and your future.

No matter where you are on your journey, there are two things your divorce coach will consistently do for you. She will help you understand and cope with the wide range of emotions you’re experiencing, and she will help you answer the questions that are preventing you from moving forward.

A divorce coach will provide you with support tailored to your unique situation.

Thinking about divorce? A divorce coach can help you:

1. Gain clarity about your situation and your choices

Just because you’re thinking about divorce doesn’t mean getting a divorce is the best solution for you. Your divorce coach can help you understand what you must know about divorce so you find your way forward with integrity, so you can feel good about the decision you’ll ultimately make.

2. Understand your legal choices if you decide to divorce

One of the most confusing aspects of divorce is how to do it. What model of divorce do you choose? Mediation? DIY? Collaborative? Traditional litigation? Your circumstances and the feedback you receive from a coach can help you choose which model is best for you—and which models definitely aren’t. This saves you from embarking on the wrong and potentially costly path.

3. Evaluate your choices by providing you with unbiased and honest feedback

When you talk with your friends and family about your options, no matter how much they love you, chances are good that they’ll be biased because your decision could impact them or what they want for you. When you work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach, you will have both a sounding board and a guide who isn’t concerned with how your decision might impact her.

4. Consider all the practical, financial, and legal challenges you may face regardless of your ultimate decision

Your divorce coach knows the challenges of putting a marriage back together again and of ending a marriage. With her knowledge and experience, she can guide you in defining your values and goals. She’ll encourage you to envision your future, so you can make your decision with a full picture of what lies ahead.

5. Connect you with the right people

You may need the services of a financial advisor, lawyer, mediator, accountant, or a parenting specialist. A divorce coach can attend those meetings with you, if necessary, or join you on phone calls as you gather the information you need to make your decision.

If you’re dealing with divorce, the benefits of working with a divorce coach include:

1. Helping you strategize the necessary steps (and when to take them) so you efficiently move through the divorce process and prepare for your life after divorce

With her knowledge and experience, your divorce coach will be able to help you step-by-step through the divorce process. She will help you consider your options—how they will impact you today and in the future. This saves time and money, so you don’t need to learn things the hard way.

2. Helping you deal with stress and navigate the overwhelming

You’ll experience so many different emotions because of this major life transition that at times you’ll find it difficult to think. Yet you still need to make decisions because the divorce process demands it. Your divorce coach will help you cope so you can make the best decisions possible for your family and your future.

3. Supporting you across every obstacle, challenge, and experience

As part of your divorce journey, you might experience sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, and anger. You might also be at a loss when it comes to looking for a new place to live, finding a job, or juggling the challenges of being a single parent. Your divorce coach will know exactly how to help you deal with every physical, emotional, and practical challenge you face as you’re dealing with your divorce.

4. Teaching you how to communicate effectively with your soon-to-be Ex

Despite the fact that you’re divorcing and emotions may be running high, you will still need to communicate with your former spouse. At a minimum, you’ll need to discuss coparenting and the division of property. Your divorce coach will share tools and tips with you to make the necessary discussions easier.

5. Connecting you with the right people

Financial advisors, lawyers, mediators, accountants, and parenting experts—since it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the details involved with getting divorced, your divorce coach can even accompany you to court and any meetings with other experts on your team to take notes and provide support.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re dealing with divorce is to have the right team of experts support you. Your divorce coach will advise you when and if you need to add additional experts to your team and how best to communicate with them.

If you’re recovering from divorce, working with a divorce coach can:

1. Help you deal with your grief about all that you’ve lost and all that will never be

There’s no doubt that you lose many things when you divorce—including your hopes and dreams for the future. It’s natural to grieve the losses. Your divorce coach will support you as you let go of the past.

2. Help you reboot and create your best life starting now

She will gently remind you of the reasons you divorced so you can focus on the present and your future instead of getting stuck in the past.

3. Help you see the lessons your marriage has taught you instead of allowing you to feel like a failure

Your divorce coach will help you find and focus on the lessons your marriage taught you, so you begin your recovery and healing … so  you can move forward and create your best next chapter.

4. Help you embrace your new freedom instead of fearing it

Divorce is a major life-changing event. Your divorce coach can help you frame your experiences as exciting challenges instead of terror- or anxiety-inducing ones.

5. Help you rediscover your true self

Compromises are part and parcel of marriage, and it’s easy to lose your true self as a result. Your divorce coach can help you revisit and define your personal values and goals, as well as envision and create your future.

Despite all these benefits, working with a divorce coach isn’t always a good idea.

What are the downsides to working with a divorce coach?

1. You will need to take action to overcome the obstacles and challenges you face

Many people just want a sounding board to vent their emotions and thoughts to because doing so makes them feel placated. The problem is these people don’t actually want to do anything besides talk. If this is you, working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

2. Working with a coach can make the conversation about divorce “too real”

Meeting with a divorce coach does not mean you are necessarily divorcing: you are getting educated about your options. But as you learn more, you gain clarity, which may compel you to take action. If you don’t want to change your life, then working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

3. You will need to do your research and select an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach

Not everyone is a good divorce coach. You want a coach who is certified and experienced—possibly even specialized. (Everyone who has been through a divorce thinks she’d make a good coach, and that’s simply not true.)

4. You will receive good and bad feedback

If you are intimidated by feedback of any kind, a divorce coach may not be for you.

5. You will hear the truth—not just your version of it

If you don’t want to hear the truth, then you don’t want to work with a coach.

6. You will have to make your own decisions

If you’d like someone else to make decisions for you, working with a divorce coach is not right for you. A divorce coach’s job is to help empower you, so you become the best decision maker possible.

7. You will have her, and potentially a team, available to support you throughout your divorce journey

If you believe you can and should handle everything on your own, then you shouldn’t work with a coach.

A relatively new profession, the role a divorce coach plays is not widely understood in our culture. But her relevance as a “thinking partner” and guide through the challenges of divorce is making divorce coaches increasingly indispensable as you navigate through a journey fraught with complexity.

And yet, a divorce coach is not for everyone. If you’re ready to face your situation and your possible divorce journey now, with integrity and an eye toward minimizing the impact on everyone, choosing to work with a divorce coach is the best decision you can make.

Whether you are considering divorce, already navigating the experience, or recreating the life you deserve, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Schedule your free session to learn about your possible next steps to a better day of living with courage, compassion and integrity.