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

Browse Articles on the topic of Contemplating Divorce

learning how to hire a divorce lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiring a divorce coach

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

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

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

Shopping around for a divorce lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whether you’re navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or recreating the life you want, one thing that makes a big difference for women is choosing not to do it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. Learn how we can help you in a free, confidential consultation.

contemplating divorce can feel like you are spinning

Contemplating Divorce Can Keep You Spinning

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really, I’m stuck. What do I do?” 

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

“I am GOING to leave!”

“My heart hurts.”

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

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

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

#Metoo in calligraphy

#MeToo. In My Own Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should you divorce, a question this woman struggles with

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

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

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

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

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

Should you divorce? Yes, if:

Abuse is in the picture

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

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

He refuses to do anything different

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

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

You’ve gotten professional help and exhausted all avenues

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

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

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

Women studying for Divorce in New York

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

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

1. Have a legitimate reason to divorce

Until recently, the usual reasons or ‘legal grounds’ for divorce were based on one spouse doing something wrong, like adultery or abandonment. Today, in regard to divorce in New York State we have ‘no fault divorce’ which is one spouse swearing in an affidavit that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for a period of six months or longer. If you and your spouse are able to arrive at an agreement about all issues related to children, finances and property, you can proceed directly with a ‘no fault’ divorce. If, however, you and your spouse need to negotiate these issues, you may still file and proceed on this ground, but will also need the help of an attorney and/or a mediator to help you arrive at reasonable terms.

2. Meet the residency requirement before filing

With some exceptions, either you or your spouse need to have been living in NYS for a continuous period of at least two years immediately before starting your divorce. Provided certain other requirements are met, you can still file for divorce in NYS even if you were married in a different state.

3. New York State Supreme Court grants divorces, not Family Court

Family court rules on child custody, child support and other family-related issues, however, only the Supreme Court can grant you a divorce. Every county has its own Supreme Court with a matrimonial clerk’s office that processes divorce paperwork. Total court fees are approximately $450.00.

4. Make sure your spouse is properly served with divorce papers

Generally, papers must be served on your spouse a) within 120 days after you file, b) by hand-delivery in person by almost anyone but you, and c) almost anywhere and anytime but not on Sunday. Violating the rules of proper service can have potentially damaging legal consequences down the road For more on being served divorce papers — and next steps, check out this SAS article. 

5. Be patient

The length of time it takes for the court to grant your divorce varies according to whether your divorce is uncontested or contested. Each county also operates slightly differently; some have more clerks and judges while others are more overloaded with cases. Ensuring that paperwork is complete and on time is something you can do to help avoid unnecessary delay.

6. When ruling on custody of children, judges do not declare winners and losers

Judges adopt the prevailing legal standard known as “The Best Interests of the Child”. Therefore, your strategy in your negotiations with your spouse, or in court, should not be to argue why you should ‘win’ but rather, to present a persuasive statement about what you believe is best for your children and why.

7. Keep accurate records of your income and expenses

Children have an absolute right to financial support from both parents until age 21. A 50/50 custody arrangement does not relieve the higher earning parent from their obligation to pay child support, which is calculated not only by what comes in, but also by what goes out for expenses. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to pay a total of at least 17% of combined parental income for one child, 25% for two, and 29% for three.

8. Unlike children, spouses do not have an absolute legal right to support

Legal ideology has shifted away from ‘the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed’ to ‘maintenance’. Simply put, unless one spouse is destined to become a public charge, the courts are unlikely to impose an order of spousal support that differs from what the spouses already agreed to.

9. Equitable does not mean equal

Generally speaking, regarding the law for divorce in New York everything a spouse had before marriage is their separate property; everything acquired afterwards is marital, subject to equitable division, based on factors such as one’s earning potential and assets. Taking inventory of all your ‘stuff’ and assigning a value to each asset will go a long way towards reaching a fair settlement.

10. You are not alone

Now that you have some of the basics, you are ready to select your divorce coach, lawyer, your financial adviser – even your friends. These are the people who will walk beside you during your journey, and who can help you become the person you wish to be on the other side. For more education — if you are thinking about or preparing for divorce, here are 36 other things to help you stay informed and centered.

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

 

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

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. If you are thinking about divorce or beginning the process, you’ll want to know about Annie’s Group, our live, virtual divorce support & educational group for women.

“Annie’s Group has made me feel I can choose any path and come out the other side happy & complete. The program is amazing. Knowledge truly is power.” – Maddie D., New York

Visit here for more information on Annie’s Group.

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

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

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

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

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

The Survey on political climate and divorce

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

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

Design: Ashley Nakai

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

What Women Said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Watching HBO Divorce

Are You Contemplating Divorce and Secretly Hooked on #DivorceHBO?

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

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

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

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

Divorce is the ultimate unwelcome opportunity

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

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

1. Connect with your kids in new ways

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

2. Try new things

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

3. Try on a new personality

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

4. Do things over with the benefit of hindsight

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

5. Have sex with someone new

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

6. Choose to do divorce the healthy way

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

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

What do you choose?

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 and rebuilding their lives afterward. Schedule your FREE 15-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.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church walking on railroad tracks with train coming

#DivorceonHBO Episode 1: Why Frances Will Need a Divorce Coach

I must admit, as a divorce coach, when I learned that HBO was coming out with a new series called “Divorce” I was pretty geekily excited. I was eager to see how television would capture what I see on a daily basis: The strange, messy, sad and frustrating thing it can be to unravel a marriage and the hard work it takes to put your life back together again.  However, it wasn’t only for selfish reasons I was happy to see this show premiere.  For me it was proof that divorce is coming out of the shadows…that the stigma of failure and doom is lifting and that it’s not only okay to talk about it, it’s okay to laugh about it, too! Divorce used to be the thing no one talked about, the shameful little secret couples were forced to hide behind attorney doors until they emerged from battle and slunk off their separate ways. Finally, it’s out in the open as a fact of life. Divorce happens.

In the pilot episode, we meet Frances, wife, mom, and career woman, like so many of us.  After a shocking display by friends who are awkwardly and painfully clearly unhappy in their marriages, she breaks it to her husband that she wants a divorce, or as she put it, “I want to save my life while I still care about it!” (Love that line by the way.)

I see it all the time ( — and lived with it myself for years) that vague sense of unhappiness, the dissatisfaction, the feeling of “there has to be more than this.” It’s like a tiny toothache that gradually worsens until your entire jaw is swollen and throbbing and you are forced to recognize that it’s there, and now you have to do something about it.

Cut to the scene where Frances is telling her girlfriend Dallas that she broke the news to her husband last night.

“Oh there it is,” I thought. “Classic mistakes of divorce. Don’t do it, Frances, don’t do it!”  Frances says, “Well, I won’t be on my own anyway.  He is the only thing that has kept me sane this last year. I love him, I think.”

(Oy.) Too late…she’s bet the farm on a new relationship.

Frances goes on to admit (grinning like a schoolgirl the whole time) that there is someone else. While her friend Dallas just laughs along, she knows as well as I do this is a mistake.

Any good divorce coach will tell you that (a) we see people make this mistake all the time and (b) it’s bigger than you think.  Why, what’s the big deal?

1. Hormones, hormones, hormones

When we meet someone new, our bloodstream is flooded with powerful hormones like adrenaline, dopamine, and oxytocin, all of which dictate your love-drunken behavior. In fact, cultural anthropologist Helen Fisher studied couples in “lust” and found that dopamine has a similar effect on the brain as cocaine.  You are literally high when you are in this early stage of love. Do you really want to be making life- changing decisions while you are high as a kite?

2. Clouded decision-making

When you are raging with hormones and sneaking off to have hot sex at your every opportunity, trust me, you are not able to think clearly.  Your judgment is clouded and yet this is a time where you have such big decisions to make.  Where you will live, how the kids will manage the transition, how your finances will be handled…these are not small things! Now more than ever you need to have your wits about you.

3. You don’t live in a bubble

Yes, the feeling of being adored is completely addictive and the sex is beyond excellent with someone new and exciting (hormones remember?) but you must realize, this is not just about you. Are you really ready to introduce this person to your kids? Your parents? Your oldest friends, the ones who were in your first wedding?  In our oxytocin-induced haze we tend to gloss over questions like these.

4. You can’t possibly have had time to mourn the end of the marriage

And mourn it you must, because it’s not just about the relationship with your spouse that ends here. In fact, you may not be all that sad about that. But what about your family as you know it? And the hopes and dreams you had for the marriage?  It takes time to find closure and meaning in what caused the marriage to end. If you run to the next relationship too soon, when will you stop to reflect on the last one?

5. Wrapping your happiness up in someone else is the biggest mistake of all

Isn’t this what got you there in the first place? You thought that your husband wasn’t making you happy, so you went searching for someone who would? Hear this: It isn’t the man’s job to make you happy. It never was. That’s always been your job. If you aren’t happy, you aren’t doing something for yourself and that’s what you have to figure out.  No one else has that power.

As the episode end draws near, Frances realizes it’s not as easy as telling her husband she wants a divorce and now she can cozy up to her lover as the details sort themselves out. As she realizes this, she backpedals, scrambling to shut her Pandora’s box.  Too late of course, and this is why Frances is going to need a divorce coach.

Stay tuned.

As divorce coaches at SAS, Liza and Kim work with women from all over the world who are either exploring the idea or facing the practical realities of divorce. Will #divorceonhbo accurately portray divorce as we see it unfold in real life? We’ll report back and let you know if it’s just entertainment or pointing to something honest. In the meantime, if you want to explore what divorce may or may not mean for you, in your real life, we’d welcome a chance to talk with you. Schedule your free consultation and we’ll figure it out together.

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take 

Read excerpts from SAS Cofounder and Divorce Coach Kimberly Mishkin’s interview on “Women’s Rights in the Workplace” (Progressive Radio Network, January 2015) as she discusses the ideas behind SAS for Women®, the specific needs women have facing divorce, and the unusual role of divorce coaching with PRN.com hosts Jack Tuckner and Deborah O’Rell.

To listen to the complete show, click here.

What’s different about divorce coaching at sas?

Jack Tuckner: Kim, are there any other professional practices in the country that do this type of work you are doing?

Kimberly Mishkin: Not exactly the way we’re doing it. There are a number of divorce coaches, but we consider ourselves {SAS} to be a hybrid model, unique — we’re not only coaching, but we also address all the practical and logistical matters that come along with divorce.

For example, somebody might come to us and she may need to sell her apartment, or she may need to go back to work — having been out of the workforce for a number of years — or she may need help locating an attorney she’s comfortable with, or help going through her finances. We spend time on all those practical things to help her move forward. At the same time, she’s broken emotionally, and that’s where our coaching component comes in.

We help women tap into their inner strength. Things have to be getting done of course, but at the same time they feel drained. And so we help fill them back up with strength to get them on the road to recovery.

Jack:  Do you bring a certain kind of encouragement to help women see the light at the end of the tunnel?  You help address all the issues?  

Kimberly: Yes, absolutely. We look at the whole woman. We look at about ten specific areas of her life … and then we start making a plan and creating a situation where there’s accountability as well. So we’ll say, “Call me when you’ve done that. Let’s talk next week about how you’ve done on your list of five things that you wanted to tackle since we last met.”

We create a bond with them. We are their partner but we’re not emotionally invested in it as, say, your mom might be, or your sister, or somebody who has a stake in it. We can be  more objective and create a path for them that will not only get things done and get them moving in a certain direction, but also we’re helping them look way ahead.

Most of the time they’ll come to us and they’re so overwhelmed with what the lawyer said, or what paperwork they have to fill out, or how their kids are going to handle this; all of those things are just swirling through their heads. So we help sort through it, but we’re also thinking ahead for them because we’ve come across that bridge and we know how great it feels to be back to that independent whole person.

We hold that beacon up and say, “We’re going to get you over here and don’t forget: we want to continue thinking about what your goals for five years from now are, not just getting you through this immediate crisis.”

Divorce coaching vs. therapy

Jack: What’s the distinction between that broken emotional person —  what you do as a certified coach and what perhaps a licensed social worker, or psychologist would do? What’s that line?

Kimberly: We often work with people who are in therapy at the same time that they’re working with a coach. I’m not a therapist nor I do I pretend to be, and if there are deeper issues going on; clinical depression perhaps … that’s not something we’re equipped to do.

Therapy is about looking back at your patterns and your life that has come before and understanding it. Coaching is all about what you’re going to do now and next. So we concentrate, we don’t try to diagnose. We try to say, “What’s going on? And what’s the very next thing you can do to move toward your goals?”

Why doesn’t SAS work with men?

Jack: Okay. So the gender issue. Hey, I was divorced a bunch of years ago. I was a mess. I’m a cry baby. I was the one who had to go to the shrink. I was the one who could have probably used your services and if I called you, you’d say, “Sorry. Girls only.” So why is that? 

Kimberly: …. I think the very genuine answer is that I’m a woman. I went through it as a woman and I know how that felt. And my partner Liza Caldwell … felt the same way, that we couldn’t speak to what the male experience was. So we started there. What we found since is that, I think we’re right, women deal with break ups and divorce very differently.

Jack: Why is there a male experience and a female experience in divorce coaching?

Kimberly: Well, I just think we’re built differently …. And I think that’s what we’re experiencing in our company. Women come to  us looking for connection, looking for advice, looking for the village, and so we are providing that to women. And I joke all the time that when I get to the point where our company is big enough and we can open a new division, we’ll hire a really smart divorced man to run our men’s wing, but it shouldn’t be me.

For more on this interview, read “Divorce Advice: How To Get Over the Paralyzing Fear” or listen to the complete interview here.

SAS helps women figure out how to start living again. Schedule your free consultation and walk away with a mini action plan. Even if you never speak with us again, you will know what next to do.