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

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Who Moves Out in a divorce?

Who Moves Out of the Marital Home During Divorce, and When Do They Leave?

A question that comes up over and over again in my line of work as a divorce attorney is “When can I move out?” Or put differently, “When can I get my husband to leave?” Maybe the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Maybe your children are experiencing screaming matches followed by long bouts of silence. You may find yourself unable to think straight—to figure out what your next steps should be and how to begin a new life. Or maybe, there are even elements of abuse in your relationship. I get it. You want peace. You want answers. And finding out who moves out of the marital home during divorce can seem like the first step toward solving these problems.

But the question, when can a spouse move out, is not a simple one to answer.

If you have children, the upside is that I recommend you do nothing until you’ve spoken with an attorney. Unless, of course, there’s an emergency and you need to remove yourself from the situation for your safety. You don’t want to affect your claim to custody or marital property.

It’s complicated. Divorce laws vary state to state, but for this article, I will reference the laws of New York.

What does the law say about who moves out of the marital home during divorce?

New York courts are often reluctant to award one spouse “exclusive use and occupancy of a home.” In nonlegal speak, that means ordering one spouse to move out of the marital home—something the courts can do no matter which spouse’s name is on the deed or lease. The courts are especially reluctant to do so without a finding of violence or “marital strife.” When the safety of household members or property isn’t at risk, the courts require that your spouse has a place to live before moving out. That’s not to say that the courts oppose removing one spouse from the marital home. They often prefer spouses separate. With that said, the decision isn’t made lightly. Judges have seen it all. They haven’t succumbed to the popular belief that it is simply better to separate you and your spouse. They understand that what is best for one family isn’t best for all.

What if your safety is at risk?

But what if you can’t wait for your lawyers and the courts to battle it out? There has always been the understanding that in any divorce, separation, or annulment, the courts can’t require a spouse to move out during court proceedings unless taking such a drastic action is necessary to protect the “safety of persons or property.” To take action, courts require evidence, anything from a testimony to something physical such as photos, medical or hospital records, and broken items.

If your spouse has committed a criminal act and needs to move out immediately, you can get a temporary order of protection (in other states these are often called restraining orders) from Criminal Court, Family Court, or Supreme Court. In fact, what many may not realize is that a person isn’t limited to a single court when looking to get an order of protection. You can get orders from more than one court for the same act. If even one of the orders of protection granted is a “full stay away,” then your spouse won’t be able to live in the same home as the people listed on the order.

So, what if it’s your sanity (not your safety) that’s at risk?

Anger, resentment—they can chip away at any remaining civility between partners. The courts understand that staying together under one roof can be damaging for reasons that have nothing to do with violence. But again, you’ll have to provide evidence for “marital strife” (and your spouse will need a new place to live) before you can expect the court to make anyone move out. Before you provide evidence, you’ll have to file a petition in Family Court or a motion in Supreme Court for an order of protection in which you request a full stay away. In Supreme Court, you can file a motion for exclusive use and occupancy without requesting an order of protection.

And what about the children?

When it comes to children, how can fighting parents living in the same home be in their best interest?

In 2017, at least one judge addressed this concern. In one of the first judicial decisions to address the impact divorcing couples remaining together in the marital home has on their children, Judge Richard A. Dollinger of Monroe County found “that existence of a hostile home environment, during a divorce, runs contrary to the best interest of children.”

What is the benefit of having a court order your spouse to move out?

The obvious benefit is that you’ll finally have peace of mind and remove yourself from an otherwise difficult living situation. Some parties , however, often see a court order for one spouse to move out as a tool to gain an edge in custody battles. When both parents live together with their children, neither parent can claim to be the primary residential parent. When one spouse moves out, the parent who spends more time with the children will be entitled to child support. If you and your spouse share the children’s time equally, then the parent who earns more may end up paying child support to the other parent.

How do finances affect the court’s decision about who moves out?

The elephant in the room is the question of whether you and your spouse can afford to live in two separate homes. It is crucial that everyone involved reduces the effect of divorce on your children. Make sure you always work toward separating in a fair and reasonable manner. It can be more expensive and emotionally damaging for children to be in the middle of their parents’ fighting. To be assigned their own attorneys or go through forensic evaluations and therapy.

Divorce is complicated enough already. As a parent, it’s your duty to pick the battles you choose to fight with your soon-to-be Ex wisely. Who moves out matters less than how and why they move out.

Randi L. Karmel has had her own Matrimonial and Family Law practice for 19 years and been an attorney for 25 years. She practices in the Criminal, Family, and Supreme Courts in New York. Randi L. Karmel, PLLC focuses on matrimonial and family law litigation and settlements. Her practice consists of preparing and negotiating agreements from prenuptial agreements to stipulations of settlement: divorce, abuse, neglect and orders of protection matters, custody, parenting time, child support, maintenance, equitable distribution, and separation. She is also certified to represent children. For more information on how Randi might assist you with your concerns, visit her website or call 212.755.0224.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.“– SAS For Women”

Grown up woman talks to divorced mom

What My Grown-Up Self Would Tell My Divorced Mom

Parents always wonder about the children when they get divorced. Will they be okay? Will they understand? What will they remember? My parents divorced when I was eight years old. My father told me he would have stayed, if my mother would have tried. My mother told me all she ever did was try. And for many years, finding out “the truth” mattered to me. I wanted someone to blame. Sometimes that person was my father. Sometimes that person was my mother. Other times it wasn’t a person at all but the very idea of love itself.

For half my childhood, my single, divorced mom raised me and my three siblings. We survived on her bookkeeper salary and the child support check my father sent (mostly) every month. As a teenager, it was easy to believe in the way most teenagers do that I knew best. That if I were my mother I would do it all differently. Now, only a couple years older than my mother was when she married my father, I’m not so sure. Her shoes fit more comfortably. So, what do I wish my divorced mom would have known? From the practical to the personal, here I go.

It’s better to lean into your pain together than hide it away.

My mother’s optimism has always impressed me, but her optimism is something that I now, as an adult, see in myself as something else: a mask. In other words, my mother was good at faking it. When I was growing up, we both faked it for the same reasons. I was a good student who read books, stayed out of trouble, and faded into the background. I said “fine” when she asked how I was doing, instead of saying how sad or lost I felt. I developed a sort of apathy and tried to unburden my mother. To take one more thing—raising me—off her plate, so, in many ways, my siblings and I raised each other. In doing so, I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

Optimism is a mask that’s hard to keep on forever. Hiding becomes a habit that’s hard to break, further isolating you from your loved ones, and turning to substances like alcohol to cope is all too easy. That’s why it’s so important to find a support group outside of your usual social circles—women who understand your situation because they are going through it too or have already been there. Wanting to “be strong” for your children is understandable, but needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, knowing when to ask for help is a great lesson for your children to learn.

As a divorced mom, your relationship with money will change, and that’s okay.

Because my mother never remarried and had no college degree, finances were often a struggle. Little luxuries, like attending ballet classes, disappeared. We stopped bringing lunch to school and instead began typing our ID numbers into keypads in the cafeteria while women wearing hair nets discreetly pointed out what food the government would pay for and what food they would not. Then it got worse—my mother explained how we were losing the house. The car went missing from the driveway one night, and again, my mother explained, only this time we learned what a repo man was.

My mother was drowning. If I mentioned anything to my father, he’d mumble something about child support and the conversation would quickly shift to a diatribe of all the ways my mother was failing us.

My mother was not failing us. She was not alone, and neither are you. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of households led by single moms are living below the poverty line. Even today, when articles rethinking the value of a college degree seem prevalent, the impact having a bachelor’s degree makes on your earning potential can’t be ignored. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median biweekly paycheck of someone with a bachelor’s degree was $928 more than a person with a high school diploma.

But if you’re drowning in debt and stretched thin, like my mother was, then attending college likely seems out of reach. Single mothers might be surprised to find out there are often more resources available to them than they think. If you’re a divorced mom, you can also take advantage of  online finance classes geared toward women where you can learn about budgeting, paying off debt, and saving.

There’s a line between honesty and therapy.

I grew up in a house full of women (and one little brother, poor him) who loved to talk. We prided ourselves on our ability to be honest with each other. Even so, as a child, if I overheard my mother or anyone else speak poorly of my father, I took it upon myself to personally defend his honor. I didn’t condone his actions, I said, but he was my father and I loved him and that was that as far as I was concerned.

After the divorce, I saw my father often. He took us to see movies and let me wander libraries and bookstores while he distracted my little brother. He listened to me, and I could tell he thought I was smart. That kind of thing mattered to me. But I wasn’t going to stay little forever. Sometimes I’d come home to my mother and vent, and it was then the floodgates would open. We became co-victims of my father’s transgressions.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason. Many of us feel better after a good talk with someone who just gets it. But after divorce, relationships with friends and family can feel strained. Because children usually deeply understand the events that led to a divorce, even if they can’t articulate everything they heard and saw, it’s easy for parents to overshare.

A common complaint I’ve heard from other children of divorce is how their parents treated them (and often still treat them) as messengers or, even, as therapists. But your children’s father will always be a part of their lives, even if he ceases being part of yours. Instead of creating a wedge between your children and their father, use divorce as a lesson in setting personal boundaries, forgiving others, and loving someone despite their imperfections. If you find yourself venting to your children, do your best to bite your tongue and speak to a friend or professional instead. Let your children form their own opinions about who their father is or isn’t.

Your children need a parent, not a friend.

As I got older, I became my mother’s confidant. The person she could talk to without judgment. Children who find themselves in this position often begin to see their parents as their equal. This dynamic grows worse if you struggle to discipline or provide structure for your children. Do they have chores? Do they have a curfew? Do you ask about their day at school, or review homework assignments together? And when mistakes are made and tantrums are thrown, how do you teach your children?

After divorce, the instinct to “do it all yourself” can be so tempting. You come home tired after a long work day. The thought of barking orders at your children or ticking domestic tasks off your to-do list seems just about impossible. So you let things slide.

When your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

But when your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

The importance of creating family moments.

I have so many happy memories, even after the divorce, but I also remember how, as we grew older, our daily lives grew more fragmented. My mother was (and still is) fun. She liked to garden and do DIY projects, anything from rehabbing furniture to making lotions and lip balms from scratch. She cooked constantly and never from a recipe. I loved helping her. I’d ask her how much seasoning to put in a dish and the reply was always the same: “Trust your gut.” These things brought us together. Later, we often retreated to our own bedrooms after school, where I’d read a book or my brother would play video games. I found myself feeling nostalgic for a past I knew I couldn’t get back to.

It’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

As a divorced mom, it’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

You can’t control everything that happens after divorce. What your children will remember more than anything is that you were there for them and that you did your best for them. Show your children that you can fail and keep going. How what’s worse than making a mistake is not learning your lesson. I remember how much my mother tried more than I remember her failures. More than anything, this is what I’d tell her—it’s what I do tell her.

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a freelance 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.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women.

 

How Divorce Affects Children and families

Divorce and Children: The Not So Secret Way to Get Through Divorce Without Breaking up the Family

Divorce is complicated. Divorce and children? That’s when uncomplicating things really matters. A “normal” family dynamic looks different to all of us. But those relationships and routines—the warmth, safety, energy, and feeling of support a family provides—is something none of us wants to lose. The benefits of a close-knit family seem obvious when you look at your children and think about what is best for them and their future.

It often feels like the whole of society dedicates itself to family ideals, to the conventional, to sizing up our families and judging how they fit into the mold. But the conventional is not reality. Most families don’t fit into the mold at all, and yet they are wonderful in their uniqueness. Every family functions its own way. Whether you’re divorced or not, if your children know that their parents are there for them, then that is all it takes to make a family.

There are many ways divorce can affect a family, but thankfully, there are also many ways your family can continue to function after divorce. This is the time in your children’s lives when they need your support, patience, and understanding the most. Parents are not the only ones who go through a divorce, and the experience can be very confusing for children of all ages.

What children of divorce need

When it comes to children and divorce, know that your kids can come through the other side of divorce as stronger people. There are positive lessons to learn even in what seems to be an endless series of negative experiences. Divorce can teach your children a lot about life and help them become the capable young adults you want them to be.

Overcoming obstacles is a huge part of life, and divorce is full of life lessons for adults and children alike. The old saying “pull together in times of crisis” rings true. Your loved ones need to love and be loved even during stressful or uncertain moments in their lives (perhaps especially in these moments). A divorce may represent the first big upheaval and genuine challenge your children face—it’s important to help them get through it.

Tell your children that divorce is unfortunate but not unusual. That both you and your Ex love your children and that neither of you is going anywhere. No one is getting left behind. Tell your children that life is full of changes, and this is just one of them. It is no one’s “fault.” In fact, leave out the details altogether until your children are old enough to understand but do respect their right to know the truth—whatever you do, don’t outright lie. Lying is never a good example to set, and no one deserves to be kept in the dark when everything they are experiencing is confusing enough already.

Make sure that, when possible, you and your Ex are still present and involved in your children’s lives. Organizing regular time to spend with both parents and having similar rules for each household will help create stability for your children. Custody schedules can be a big help at this stage. While you and your children adjust to your new situation, it is better to minimize schedule changes, and if possible, avoid changing schools too. Consistency and routines are important. That doesn’t mean adopt a rigid parenting plan. You need to allow room for flexibility because no one is perfect. Just try to keep some form of routine until everyone can settle in.

Be prepared for changes

A big fear for many parents after getting a divorce is that their children will start to act out and show signs of bad behavior. It’s common for children of divorce to experience mixed emotions, stress, or anger—to feel hurt—just like you. If you notice these warning signs, you need to do the best you can to address your child’s emotions as soon as you can so that they don’t develop into behavioral problems.

If your children tell you they are okay, don’t automatically take their word for it. Make sure to check on how your children are behaving in school and speak to them as often as you can without being overly nosy. Create a safe space where your children feel they can talk to you about things openly. Speaking to an impartial person can also help your children so you shouldn’t rule therapy out. However, you shouldn’t force your children to go to therapy either. Extended relatives can be really helpful in this regard, someone close to your children but not too close for them to share time with. Children love and need every member of their family so try not to cut any of these family figures out of their lives.

That being said, be prepared for a variety of reactions amongst your extended family. It’s natural for family members to try to take sides, but this is the last thing you want. Children pick up on hostility, and it’s not fair to put them in situations where they may feel forced to choose a side. Talk to your in-laws, grandparents, and everyone else you can think of. Express your concerns and try to keep your disagreements with or prejudices against your Ex private. Focus on the positives instead.

Tell your extended families how you see yourselves moving forward together in the future. No matter your feelings towards your Ex or his family, your children don’t deserve a damaged relationship with him as this can be hard to overcome.

Divorce and children—what really matters

The experts don’t always agree about how much divorce affects families. The main thing to focus on is your children’s wellbeing in the wake of all these big changes. The end of a marriage often affects children of divorce the most, and you need to reassure them while respecting their right to their emotions. It’s impossible to completely protect children from everything. Children of divorce are stronger than you can imagine. Most children will not go on to develop problems after divorce but, like you, may have painful memories.

You, your children, and your Ex will always be a family. Your children need to realize this. It’s your job to make sure that they do. Every family is different and deals with divorce in their own way, but a family is still a family—there’s no changing that. The structure of a family can change over time, but that won’t stop you from growing together like all people in relationships do. Divorce can be healthy and so can the family relationships that blossom after it.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

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

Woman celebrating after surviving a nasty divorce.

How to Survive a Nasty Divorce (And Take Care of You, Too! )

Every divorce is heartbreaking because it abruptly ends the dream of living happily ever after together. But a nasty divorce is doubly painful because of the ongoing onslaught of your Ex’s aggressive behavior.

Aggressive behavior during (and after) a bad divorce can take many forms.

Purposeful cruelty

People who resort to purposeful cruelty do things that range from petty to dangerous. At the petty end of the scale, your Ex might spread rumors about you or flaunt his* new relationship.

However, some Exes seem to lose their common sense and do hurtful things simply out of spite. They can get so wrapped up in hurting you that they’ll destroy property, kill beloved pets, or even deliberately attempt to cause you (or your children) physical and/or emotional harm.

If your Ex is behaving in dangerously cruel ways, be sure to get the help you need to protect yourself and your children. Do you need to file a restraining order? Talk to your divorce attorney to hear more.

Making false accusations

Other tactics Exes use in a nasty divorce include calling the police to falsely report you as being abusive, filing restraining orders against you for actions you’ve never taken, and accusing you of stealing marital property.

On the other hand, his accusations can be less legal in nature. He may denounce you for wanting to make his life miserable, for only being concerned about money, or some other perception he has that is not based in fact.

Unpredictable rage

Divorce and anger often go together. However, when you’re dealing with a nasty divorce, it’s a bit different. Your Ex will regularly explode for no apparent reason and be unable to speak to you in a civil tone unless he is compelled to.

His rage can strike fear in you and/or your children. And in the worst instances, his behavior can be emotionally abusive. If this is the case for you, get the protection and support you need to heal.

Each of these behaviors is an attempt to control you. A nasty divorce is all about control.

Your Ex may even use the divorce process to attempt to dominate you. He may refuse to communicate with you to drag out your divorce. He may petition for primary custody when all he really wants is joint custody or simply visitation, and he may refuse to pay support until required to do so by the court or until you do something he wants.

The list of cruel tactics someone who is out for revenge in divorce will take is virtually endless. Feeling hurt by any kind of cruelty is normal.

However, what makes a nasty divorce especially painful is that the person you thought would always have your back has turned on you. He is using everything he knows about you as a weapon in his hate-filled arsenal. He knows your vulnerabilities and is ruthlessly exploiting every single one of them.

It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that the person you married is behaving this way. And addressing this thought is exactly where learning how to survive a nasty divorce begins.

The fact is the person you married is not the person you are divorcing. The person you married does not exist anywhere except in your memories.

The person you are divorcing is someone else—someone who is filled with thoughts of revenge and making you pay for the end of his marriage even if he is the one who wanted the divorce.

Once you begin acknowledging that the person you’re divorcing is a virtual stranger, you’ll find it easier to distance yourself from the nastiness of your divorce by doing the following:

1. Accept that your Ex’s behavior will be unacceptable at times.

He will push your buttons because it’s how he can control you. He will be cruel and vengeful. And the longer you remain a victim of your emotions, the longer you will be vulnerable to his attacks.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel hurt by your Ex’s actions. It simply means that you begin expecting that he will behave in abhorrent ways. That way when he does something terrible you aren’t completely derailed for a lengthy period of time.

2. Don’t let his behavior change you.

It can be incredibly tempting to treat your Ex the same way he is treating you. But don’t. If you do, then you’ll only escalate the situation, and your Ex will have achieved his goal of hurting and controlling you.

Instead, keep your cool. Remember to continue to behave in ways that you’ll be proud of years from now.

3. Get a support team.

Surround yourself with people who are on your side, can help you navigate the unfamiliar landscape of divorce, AND can help you keep your cool. Choose to confide in and count on friends, family, a legal professional, a therapist, and/or a divorce coach who can help you achieve your goals.

4. Keep your focus on your kids (if you have them).

Concentrating on helping your kids get through this major transition in their lives is another great way for you to navigate your nasty divorce.

You’ll want to keep in mind that no matter how heinous your Ex’s behavior is, your children still love both of you. And it’s up to you to respect your children’s love.

You’ll also want to avoid putting your children in the middle of the mess which means they aren’t your spy or messenger.

5. Keep communicating with your Ex.

The only way to get through your divorce is to do what needs doing which includes interacting with your Ex.

Although it may be tempting, stonewalling or ignoring your Ex will work against you. Refusing to communicate about any of the details required to move things forward will only inflame him more.

6. Shore up your Achilles’ heel.

Your Ex knows your weaknesses and is looking to exploit them. If you’re concerned about finances, he can control you with financial threats. If you’re concerned about spending time with your children, he can control you with threats of taking the children away from you.

Whatever your Achilles’ heel is, ask your support team for help to put together a plan to make you less vulnerable.

Even after you’ve accepted that the person you’re divorcing is not the one you married, each of these ideas can still be challenging to act on. You’ll do better some days than others. This is your normal and human process as you continue to heal in your divorce recovery.

So, make it a point to practice self-compassion. Don’t expect yourself to do everything perfectly—just do enough.

Dealing with your Ex’s aggressive behavior will be difficult no matter what you do. However, by disengaging from your Ex and taking care of yourself you will survive your nasty divorce.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

*Disclaimer: We fully understand and respect same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we have indicated your Ex as a male.

Woman searching for an online divorce support group

Joining an Online Divorce Support Group? 4 Questions to Consider Before Making Any Decisions

Divorce is one of the most difficult transitions you’ll ever face. So, it’s important for you to build a great support team to help you get through it. And one of the easiest ways to get the support you need as your marriage ends is to join an online divorce support group.

Yet, easy support doesn’t always mean quality support or even the type of help you need. Not all online divorce support groups are the same.

Some support groups are simply unmoderated chat rooms. Others are part of a large organization that provides a standard set of materials for facilitators to use. And then there are groups like the ones you might find on Meet Up that fall anywhere in between.

Due to the immense differences in what defines an online divorce support group, you need to spend time researching what each group has to offer before participating.

Here are four questions you’ll want to consider before joining any online divorce support group.

1. How will the group protect your confidentiality?

One of the main purposes of joining a support group is to give yourself a safe space to share what you’re going through. You’ll need to know there’s zero chance of someone in the group using something you’ve said against you.

Only in a very secure environment will you dare to be honest and vulnerable, which is important to your divorce recovery. By owning and understanding your vulnerability you will begin the process of healing.

Some groups provide confidentiality by asking members to use pseudonyms instead of their real names. They also prevent members from connecting outside of the group’s online environment.

Other groups offer no provision for confidentiality and rely upon each member to police herself. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to do the healing work you need to do because you may not feel safe.

Another way online divorce support groups offer confidentiality is with an agreement you enter upon joining the group. The group facilitator may have a document each member must sign to join, or s/he may make the agreement part of the underlying terms of membership.

Whatever method of confidentiality the group provides, it’s up to you to decide whether those terms make you feel safe in your vulnerability.

2. Who is facilitating the online divorce support group?

If the group you’re interested in has a facilitator or two, you’ll want to know more about them before joining.

The best facilitators are those who have a deep understanding of divorce. They are typically divorce coaches, therapists, or seasoned facilitators who have been through divorce themselves.

Another vital role the facilitator plays is keeping the group on task and focused on the topic. Due to the nature of divorce and the emotional drama involved, it’s natural that some participants have a hard time not talking … on and on. A good facilitator will listen for those who are not speaking and encourage them to share, while also managing those who dominate so the group progresses, feels fair, and stays on point.

You’ll want to contact the facilitator before joining the group to learn more about his/her background and experience. By interacting with the facilitator, you’ll get a good feel for who this person is and whether the group is right for you.

If the facilitator does not provide a means for you to contact or interact with him/her before joining the group, then don’t join. That means the facilitator is not interested in getting to know you as an individual. They are more interested in filling their group up and getting paid.

3. Does the group have a clear structure?

The best online divorce support groups are carefully organized and not just open forums for kvetching.

Ideally, you’ll want a group that has a regular meeting time so you can count on getting support. A regular meeting time makes it easier to plan around your job or find childcare (should you need it). A regular schedule forces you to make time for yourself, this subject, and your growth.

To get the most out of the group, it’s critical to know the topic of each meeting in advance. This will allow you to not only verify that the topics meet your needs but also to prepare for each session.

You should also look for the stated outcome of participating in the group. A meaningful program will have a specific intention for each of the members to achieve. It’s this intention that will give you greater insight into how the facilitator will guide the group.

4. How does the group build a sense of community?

Joining an online divorce support group is about becoming part of a community so you don’t feel so alone and isolated. Ideally, the group is full of individuals who are willing to give and receive support by honestly and respectfully relating their experiences, questions, and insights.

But a community isn’t created just because you attend meetings together.

You and the other group members build a community within each session by openly discussing questions and sharing experiences. Outside of each session, you continue to do so by sharing challenges (if desired) and supporting one another.

Joining a good, vetted (look for testimonials) online divorce support group can be one of the best gifts you give yourself if you are considering, or have decided to, end your marriage. The group can provide you with the safety, camaraderie, resources, convenience, and experience you will likely need to navigate knowledgeably the transition from married to divorced.

Yet, because not all divorce support groups are the same, you’ll need to do some research before joining any. Will the group provide you with a safe place to heal, learn, and build the foundation for the next phase of your life?

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. For support, guidance and next steps now, consider joining SAS’ Annie’s Group, a divorce support online, learning community teaching you what a woman must know as she considers, or navigates divorce. Please know space is limited and class begins at different times throughout the year. Schedule your chat to learn if Annie’s Group is right for you.

Husband and wife asking who pays for a divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authority of the court to decide who pays for a divorce

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

Application to the court to award payment of legal fees

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

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

The court’s decision to award legal fees

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

The calculation of legal fees

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

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

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

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

 

 

Single mother lifting her daughter

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

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

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

Stay focused

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

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

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

Stay positive

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

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

Get organized, but be flexible

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

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

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

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

Communicate often and effectively

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

 

Woman blocking door when served divorce papers

What to Do When You Get Served Divorce Papers

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

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

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

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

Do Not Hide

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

Get a Good Attorney and the Right Support

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

Being Served Vs. Serving Divorce Papers

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

Get Prepared

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

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

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

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

 

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