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

Browse Articles on the topic of Getting a Divorce

Getting a Divorce with Children and Dealing with a “Daddy Come Lately”?

As if getting a divorce with children is not hard enough, few issues are more vexing than when a father claims, after years of non-involvement, he is entitled to equal parenting time when the couple breaks up. This is known in divorce circles as the “Daddy-Come-Lately” scenario.

How does getting a divorce with children and custody work if your husband has been absent all along?

There is a strong presumption in the law that both parents have equal rights to their children. In the context of divorce, where the parents have separated and the children are living with one of them, there is a corollary presumption that the other parent has the right to visit with the children 50% of the time. This presumption causes a problem when a father who has previously had little involvement with the children asserts that he is entitled to equal time even though he has previously not been an involved parent.

Husbands have a variety of motives to assert they are entitled to equal access with their children during or after a divorce, including a desire to “punish” their spouses, achieve a strategic advantage and evade child support.

Although a “daddy-come-lately”’s claim to spend equal time with children may strike the mother as unfair and even harmful to the children, the law is on the father’s side because of the presumption of equal parenting rights. This presumption can be overcome only if it can be proven that if the husband exercises equal access time the children will suffer. While this is possible, it is not easy and calls for homework on the part of the mother and skillful advocacy by her lawyer.

In order to overcome the presumption that the father is entitled to equal access time, you will need to have admissible evidence showing it will not be in the childrens’ “best interests.” Examples of such evidence would be proof that the father has used excessive corporal punishment, neglected or abused the children, or inflicted domestic violence on the children, the mother, or both. Unfortunately, in many cases, these factors are either absent or not provable.

Also, if parents have lived together before the divorce has started, it will be very difficult to overcome the presumption of parental equality, regardless of how uninvolved the father has been.

A hypothetical case

Suppose a husband and wife have been separated for one year during which the mother has had physical custody of two young children. The parents have worked out an informal access schedule under which the father has alternate weekends and a mid-week visit. Assume this would result in father having 25% access time and the mother 75% access time. However, because of his heavy travel schedule, the father has had to miss a lot of time with the children. The mother files for divorce and the father immediately demands equal time, claiming that even though he has to travel extensively, the mother has given him make-up time so that he has not actually missed any time with the children.

The mother is outraged because, contrary to the father’s story, he has in fact missed a lot of access time. Unless the mother can prove this, a court will most likely grant the father’s request for equal time.

Defending against the daddy-come-lately

If you getting a divorce with children and you are anticipating a custody battle with a daddy-come-lately, you can help your case by starting to gather evidence that may defeat a claim for equal access. In the case of the traveling father, you should keep a log of his itineraries which your attorney can use to cross-examine your husband during a custody trial. You should also keep bank records, credit card statements or other proof of your husband’s travels. These may show that your husband was not home enough to have exercised significant time with the children.

Always gain an understanding of what divorce might look like for you before doing anything radical. Consult for free with SAS for Women to gain critical insights, an overview of your legal options, and vetted resources, or consult an experienced matrimonial lawyer. Even if in your particular case the law is not on your side, the right lawyer may be able to level the playing field.

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

 

#DivorceonHBO poster featuring Sara Jessica Parker

#DivorceHBO Episodes 2-4: Kernels of Truth

Ok, full disclosure, I originally intended to write every week about #DivorceHBO, giving you my honest opinion as a divorce professional and offering you lots of insight as we watched the characters develop and their divorce unfold. However, as you all know by now, that didn’t happen (yeah, I know, not even close.) Well, life got in the way for a bit and now we’re on Episode 7 and you’ve not heard a peep from me. I hope you can forgive me and let me chime in now?

How #DivorceHBO tells the truth

While #DivorceHBO isn’t wildly popular (63% on Rotten Tomatoes) it is holding it’s own. I suspect that is because it’s accurate and genuine in many ways — anyone who has ever been through a divorce or is going through one now, probably knows what I mean.

Look, is it overdone at times?  Yes, it’s television, so of course. But once you look past that, there is a kernel of truth in every single episode:

Episode 2: The “Oh Sh*t, What Did I Do?” Moment.  In episode one, Frances blurts out, “I want a divorce!” at a birthday party gone awry — and soon realizes, umm, now what? There’s definitely a moment (or forty) where you wish it had never been said, once you’ve said it. Now that it’s out there though, in all its ugly glory, you have to deal with it. Even if it is actually what you want in the long run, you haven’t thought this through and you panic. “Are we throwing away a good thing?” or “Are we going to screw up the kids forever?” Often this is a time you’ll decide to try marriage counseling or “try again” by sweeping things under the rug a little while longer.

It’s completely normal to have these feelings at this stage.  It’s a huge decision and not one you should take lightly.  Rather than waiting until it comes bubbling up at the most inopportune time, we recommend you talk with a trusted friend or a divorce coach first, to help you process and think through a few things before you approach your mate.

Episode 3: The “You Need to Destroy Him Before He Destroys you” Friend.  As a divorced woman herself, Frances’s friend Dallas advises her to destroy Robert because he’s a “monster.”  Often, once you make the decision to divorce public, you’ll have a friend who will tell you to prepare for battle and to “lawyer up.”  This is because it’s likely she went through her own ugly divorce and is still a little bitter and resentful. It’s tempting to listen to her advice too, after all she’s been through it, right?  She knows more than you …

Stop right there. Do not listen to her. Well, listen politely but then do not take on her seek and destroy attitude. This will not serve you, it will only escalate the situation and make things worse, not to mention a heck of a lot more expensive. Instead, get informed about the different ways to divorce (there are several) and understand the benefits and limitations to each.  After you evaluate them, choose the process that is right for you and then consult with an attorney who specializes in that method. If you go right for the litigator, that’s the path they’ll lead you down. Litigation often means court.

Episode 4: “Nothing To It But To Do It,” Otherwise Known as Telling the Kids.  Frances and Robert (especially Frances) are struggling in episode 4 with how to tell the kids about the divorce.  They rehearse and make a plan, clearly agonized (especially Frances) about how this will go. After a painful failed first attempt, they finally sit down at a family meeting to break the news, to which their son says, “We kinda knew already.”

This is typical because we never give kids the credit they deserve, no matter their age. They always know more than you think. We recommend that you bring the kids into a family discussion on the earlier side of things, not only so they feel included, but so they don’t spend time worrying and imagining horrible scenarios, like the divorce itself is all their fault. Taking the time to have an age appropriate yet honest conversation will go a long way with your children (and help you avoid the anticipation and dread that precedes that conversation).

As I said in my first post about the show, I maintain that Frances needs a divorce coach, now more than ever.  The kernels of truth that I’m describing are also TRAPS that can be avoided with some guidance. Talking with a trained and certified coach who is experienced with the pitfalls of divorce will save you money, time, and most importantly, your sanity! If you’d like to talk with me or my partner Liza, schedule a free session and we’ll help you gain some insight to your situation.

Stay tuned for my next post and the truisms in episodes 5-7 of #DivorceonHBO.

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.

Mother helping young daughter skateboard

How to Tell Your Kids You are Getting Divorced

Have you been worried about how to tell your kids you are getting divorced for a long time now? Did you stay in the marriage much longer than you wanted, because you were so frightened of what the news or changes might do to them? Have you put off telling them anything because you just don’t know what to say?

You are not alone. Every mother will tell you the thought of inflicting pain on your child is unbelievably excruciating, and it can even be paralyzing.

However, you’ve also realized that staying in an unhealthy environment isn’t sustainable for you and it’s certainly not good for the kids either.  Having two happy or happy-ish parents has to be better than two unhappy ones who live together, right? (Yes, we agree with you!)

Telling your children about your decision to divorce is not going to be easy…but with a few guidelines in place, it can be a lot less painful and may actually open the door to a healthier and improved, ongoing dialogue with your kids.

How to tell your kids you are getting divorced: What to avoid

  • Don’t underestimate them. Children understand and see FAR more than we give them credit for. This includes reading your body language. Kids are masters at that.
  • Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Kids need to know that it’s normal, natural, and totally okay to be upset when something sad happens.
  • Avoid language like “don’t feel sad” or “don’t be scared.” These feelings are normal and associated with loss. If you discourage them, kids will keep it inside or begin to believe it’s wrong to feel that way.
  • Don’t give unnecessary or adult details. The kids do not need to know that Daddy is sleeping around or that your legal bills are piling up. Stick to telling them about the things that apply directly to them. Avoid blaming, name calling or labeling your mate. He is their father first and always will be.

What do you want to make sure you do?

  • Tell them together. Ideally, both parents will tell the kids as a couple – that means, at the same time. Keep the conversation simple and direct. Invite them to ask questions. Afterwards, talk with each child individually as well. Older kids may have different questions or need more details than younger ones, so talking individually gives you a chance to address their worries.
  • Use age appropriate language and details. When talking to all the kids together, make sure it’s in a way that your youngest will understand. You can have a deeper conversation with the older children separately.
  • Model for your kids how to express their feelings. Tell them honestly how you feel so they can feel safe doing the same. Kids will mimic you and if you act strong and show no emotion, that’s what they will try to do too. It’s ok to cry and let them know that you are sad.  Tell them what is in your heart, in simple terms and they will feel safe enough to do the same.
  • Tell the truth. Sugar coating it isn’t going to ring true anyway so it’s best to be straightforward and honest. Try, “This is really sad and it’s going to be hard at times.  But we have each other to get through it.”
  • Check in often. Feelings and understandings change as your child grows and matures. They may not feel free to talk about it in this moment, but that can change weeks, months or years later. By asking how they are, you are inviting them to share their feelings.
  • Be prepared to have the discussion more than once, possibly over and over again. Let them talk and ask questions when they are ready. Reassure them they can come to you anytime.
  • Look for outside resources to lessen your children’s sense of isolation. Find age appropriate books that discuss divorce, two households, or step families. Contact your children’s school, the administration and your child’s teacher to let them know what’s going on at home. Some schools even have after school support programs for kids whose parents are breaking up or already separated.

What’s next?

After the initial talk, it’s important to keep the conversation going and allow them to bring up questions anytime. As changes occur, like moving out or a new custody schedule is put into place, keep the kids in the loop and informed. Discuss what it means for them (both good and bad) and find out what questions they have in order to give them an opportunity to prepare themselves mentally for the changes to come. Help them to know what to anticipate next (for example, perhaps having a family calendar posted in both homes, so kids can see where they will be tomorrow or next week and take comfort in the structure) and always, always, encourage them to express themselves.

The decision to divorce is never easy, most especially when there are kids involved. Often the anticipation of the conversation, when or how to tell the kids, is much worse than the conversation itself. You may find that they kids are relieved to talk to you about it or even that they suspected all along.

One final note

This advice applies to telling kids of ALL ages, no matter how old they are. Even if they are grown up, with kids of their own, they will want and will appreciate a chance to be part of this important family conversation. Telling your kids about your decision to divorce is an opportunity to bring your family closer together, if you let it.

If you’d like to speak to someone more in depth about your particular situation, we invite you to schedule a free 45-minute consultation with us. 

credit: weheartit.com

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

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

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

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

1. The process you select

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. The lawyer you hire

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

Read this for more on how to pay for a divorce attorney.

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

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

4. Where you live

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

5. Whether you need experts

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

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

Focus on the factors you can control.

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

Orrit Hershkovitz, a partner at Barton LLP, represents individuals in all aspects of family and matrimonial law, including divorce, parental custody and access, child and spousal support, property distribution, relocation, enforcement, and the negotiation of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, and separation agreements. In addition to her work representing private clients, Orrit is also an active supporter of Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence. For more information, call Orrit at (212) 885-8832.

 

Woman in a suit

Wait, What? Yep, Women Pay Alimony, Too

Is your soon-to-be ex-husband asking for alimony or spousal maintenance?

Actually, you are not alone, women pay alimony, too.  Official and current statistics don’t exist, but in my experience and in an informal survey of attorneys and mediators in my circle, it’s not only happening but in fact, women who will have to pay alimony is on the rise.  I see it in about ten percent of cases, which makes sense, as according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are now the primary breadwinners in one-third of all marriages.

I find that while men aren’t happy to pay alimony, they aren’t exactly surprised either.  Women are shocked and furious.  Here is a sampling of the reactions I hear to the news:

“His attorney said they would ask for alimony.  Can they DO that?”

“I make more now, but he could make more money if he tried.  He’s just lazy.”

“Why should I pay him money to sit on his a**?!?”

Under what circumstances would you have to pay alimony?

If you make a lot more money than he does, and you’ve been married for more than 10 years, prepare yourself for the possibility that you will be paying him maintenance.  You might have been working harder all through the marriage, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.

What may seem like a horrible injustice is actually just (mostly) math.

In New York state (as with many others), there are guidelines and a formula to follow.  A great tool to use to get a sense of things is to check out this online calculator.

However, that’s just a place to start. The courts do look at other factors when making a decision about support, including:

• the length of the marriage

• each spouse’s age and health status

• each spouse’s present and future earning capacity

• the need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses

• whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to become self-supporting

• whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity

• equitable distribution of marital property, and

• the contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.

It sounds fair if you aren’t living it.  What is not in the formula?

• If he cheated on you

• If you were a saver and he spent all your money

• If you already feel he’s been sponging off you for years

• If he’s underemployed or worse, unemployed and you still do more of the cooking and cleaning around the house.

Unfortunately, the “fairness” of it all can’t be quantified nor corrected by the courts. In trying to create an equitable system, it turns out that lazy husbands can look to you for alimony or maintenance during separation proceedings. The simple reality is, sometimes women pay alimony too.

What to Do Now

If you are unsure of how your divorce will affect you financially, help is available.

A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can work with you to project the financial implications of your divorce, while your attorney focuses on the legal issues. Setting a realistic budget and understanding the tax and investment details before your divorce is finalized will allow you to start off on the right foot financially.

Sara Stanich is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) based in New York City. She specializes in helping parents understand their options and make informed decisions surrounding the financial aspects of divorce.  Learn more or schedule a free consultation at PowerOverDivorce.com. 

emotional turmoil when considering divorce

Divorce Advice: How to Get Over Paralyzing Fear

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

Why is Divorce So Scary?

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

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

A: Act

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

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

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

Jack: You had an advisor?

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

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

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

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

C: Collect Information

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

Most people fear the unknown more than anything.

Deborah: Right.

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

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

T: Take Steps

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

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

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

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

Will She Ask for a Divorce

Do Women Really Ask for a Divorce More Than Men?

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

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

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

Why Do Women Want It More?

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

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

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

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

Real Life Marriage Does Not Equal Gender Equality

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

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

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

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

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

How to Pay for a Divorce:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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