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

Browse Articles on the topic of Getting a Divorce

9 Reasons You Should Hire a Divorce Coach

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

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

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

What’s a divorce coach?

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

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

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

Ask for help

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

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

Hire a divorce coach first

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

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

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

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

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

We Created SAS to Provide Divorce Support for Women

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

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

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

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

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

Kim’s Story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Divorce on the upper east side

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

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

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

Finding light in your divorce story

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

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

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

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

 

Understand Your Divorce Attorney: A Glossary of Legal Terms

Sometimes do you feel that the kind of divorce help you need means hiring a translator? Do your eyes glaze over as soon as your divorce attorney starts talking?  Does it sound like s/he is speaking Latin? You aren’t alone. Divorce is complicated and the law does have a very specific language. But that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out what it all means. Just like you might use a travel guide to help you communicate in a foreign country, you can decipher the language of divorce using this helpful glossary written by the American Bar Association.

 

The Language of Divorce. (Click image to view or print)

Glossary of legal terms related to divorce

 

Poor Little Rich Women?

By Liza Caldwell

As a working Upper East Side mother (and for many years before, residing there as stay at home mom) I read with amusement Wednesday Martins’ recent New York Times essay on her culture shock in living among the moneyed mothers of this demographic. I say “amusement” as in the same kind of titillation I derive (but try to deny) watching an episode of “Gossip Girls,” or the “Real Housewives” of any city. We want to believe, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “that the rich are different.”

But let’s be clear, Dr. Martin’s piece — published a week in advance of the release of her new book Primates on Park Avenue — does not advance our conversation on what modern women need to know about marriage, mothering, and attaining self-fulfillment. It’s a distraction, pitting women against women.

Here’s Dr. Martin, a mother and an anthropologist by training, describing “the tribe” she encounters when she moves to Manhattan’s Upper East Side:

 I met the women I came to call the Glam SAHMs, for glamorous-stay-at-home moms, of my new habitat. My culture shock was immediate . . . to discover that the most elite stratum of all is a glittering moneyed backwater.

. . . .The women I met, mainly at playgrounds, playgroups and the nursery school where I took my sons were mostly 30-something with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men, many of whom ran hedge or private equity funds; they often had three or four children under the age of 10. . . .. (A)nd they did not work outside the home.

Instead they toiled in what the sociologist Sharon Hays calls, ‘”intensive mothering,” exhaustively enriching their childrens lives by virtually every measure, then advocating for them anxiously and sometimes ruthlessly in the high-stakes games of social jockeying and school admissions.

Does Dr. Martin mean to imply that all stay at home mothers deserve her contempt, or just the rich ones? Is the decision to “stay at home” inherently sexist?

I thought we women had attained the right to choose here, and in so many other domains — not only for reproductive rights — but how to live and raise our families, if we are lucky to have the choices?

And what makes this tribe different from wealthy women across this country, be they in New York City, rich suburbs, or Silicon Valley? Aren’t they living out the values of our rich, industrialized society?

These women are not poor, as you and I would readily agree. Like you and me, and countless women across this country, they made and continue to make life decisions based on what society tells us is important: getting into the best schools, working hard, and choosing mates for their ability and potential to provide. It’s basic and makes perfect sense from an anthropological viewpoint. The question that arises is does this formula guarantee for happiness and self-fulfillment? Does it make for happy women and men, and grounded, centered children?

I would argue that these thirty-year olds are smart, but still young. They are trying to be good parents, keep up with their peers and do what their social circles expect. It doesn’t mean that they are not individual women who behind closed doors are still wrapping their heads around what their daily lives look like and the compromises they have made. Or that, they are not questioning themselves and what it is to be a modern woman. But for the time being, they are mothers caught up in the values of our system that tells them their kids must excel to thrive; and it’s their job to ensure these goals are successfully attained. Whether their kids will or will not depends very much on the moral compass that exists in that house and the kind of partnership they have with their mate.

The problem with this this “tribe,” or these women, is the same problem that exists everywhere. If the marriages are not a shared partnership, if the wife does not feel respected like an equal partner but an employee, servant, or maid, then the power is not equal and the relationship, regardless of the money, is feudal-based. If ultimately, she feels trapped for being out of the workforce for years, then she might feel imprisoned with an outdated skill set that gives her no way out if her marriage begins to spiral down. Frustrated and stuck, she may become a poor role model for her kids, a self-justifying martyr, a depressive, a drunk, or an angry (for being unheard, unseen) woman. Just like so many of our moms.

What is unique to this tribe is the self-recognition of privilege; the simultaneous investment and compromises one has made to get there and the hidden shame one sometimes feels for having arrived there and not feeling altogether satisfied as a person.

How then to reconcile having so much with feeling so little?

If you’ve spent most of your lifetime investing in what society tells you should be attaining, then to question your decisions and where you are now is to question everything the tribe stands for, it’s tribal-cide. It’s embarrassing, especially when you know there are others in this world who have far less, and mustn’t their lives be so much harder? How dare I complain? These are just a few of the disempowering messages we tell ourselves as women. Shut up, and get over it. Shame, denial, fear of the unknown keeps us spinning for years, or maybe, forever.

As a divorce coach and advisor who assists women from all walks of life, I know the question for all of us is about happiness and self-fulfillment. Forget gender, class, ethnic background, or the social constructs that are used to divide us. It’s about each and every one of us, our basic human right to live a life fully — and authentically.

Staying in an unlived life, playing a small game as dictated by society, limits our impact and shuts down our future. What is truly possible for you, your children, your community, even our shared world, if you were to understand who you are, what your real values consist of, and then unleash that wisdom in the form of your unique, individual power?

Porter Magazine agrees in their current Summer Issue 2015. In a feature entitled “Modern Love,” Porter says that women are increasingly, no longer buying the dictates of society. They are doing things differently from their tribal elders. Educated and Internet adept across the board, women have become skilled in problem solving by sourcing support and advice. Women are finding their mates, seeking out information and experts for sustaining their relationships, and when these relationships begin to unravel, they are turning to others to guide them. Which is how Porter found us.

As cofounders of SAS for Women, Kim and I understand all the hard-learned externalities and personal challenges of changing a life and running against the currents of society. If you are considering upturning the tables and facing the social stigma of divorce, there are all the unknown tactical and logistical decisions to contend with, and also the internal conflicts we have with ourselves. It’s not clear how to proceed, how to breathe, how to get on, how to grapple with the pain, and move through it. This is to say nothing about your fears of how divorce will impact your children.  However, let us remind you, we are modern women. Most of us do have choices — though we might not see them — and there are ways to mitigate the pain for you and your family.

Like the cast from any reality show, the tribe on the Upper East Side can be reduced to superficial stereotypes. What’s more important is to recognize that even now, no matter where you are on the social scale, women are still struggling with achieving equality in the workforce and at home. If your mate supports and respects you, and you have an understanding of how you will achieve mutual fulfillment, whether one of you stays home or you both work, then you stand a good chance of dividing and conquering life’s challenges and raising healthy children. If it falls to women to play second-class citizens, if we continue to not unite across all social constructs of class and color and way of life, then we are destined for these divisive, ongoing, internal, external, and tribal conflicts, these fruitless conversations. We will never get to the root of the problem of inequities and how to redraw them. What is worse, our children are destined to repeat them.

 

Liza Caldwell and divorce coaching celebrated in Porter Magazine

Porter Magazine Explores Divorce Coaching and Modern Women

Women today are more educated than ever before in history. Now the majority gender graduating from colleges and universities, many of us — no matter our age — have more access to information than ever in our lives, thanks to the Internet.

But the flip side to this advancement is that we are also, now programmed for instant gratification. We want to understand everything there is to understand – quickly. From analyzing a subject as a whole to breaking it down to subparts, we want our instant takeaways. Because Google says it’s possible, we seek the right formula for the best outcomes so we can move on with our To-do list.

Next!

But, when it comes to divorce, and if and how you should do it, is it wise to proceed in all haste? Once you’ve researched it up and down, and read and read, can you seek divorce gratification?

Many women who come through our doors at SAS are smart and edgy. They have done their research. They’ve read about mediation and contested v. uncontested divorce models. They’ve evaluated lawyers’ websites and counted the stars. They’ve listened to friends and their divorce tales. But in their quest to disprove or readily self-apply a recipe, women contacting us have reached an impasse. There is something telling them to double check, to look for critical insight to their own particular story: the way their divorce will or is already impacting their kids, or affecting their job, or their health, and their foundering meaning for living. “Support” is one thing some ladies say they need; while others, bewildered and confused, admit they don’t know what they are looking for: they don’t know what they don’t know.

For all of them, one word rings true. “Guidance.” They are looking for safe and seasoned guidance for their divorce challenge — and for all the other parts of their life that are affected.

As the founders of SAS, Kim and I know, among the most important insights we share is to give our clients a sense of real time and what is possible. Those who harness the courage to connect with us are often on overdrive in a frantic cycle of self-preservation or paralyzed by all the unknowns and fears that surround life-changing decisions. Our job is to slow you down and dispel the fog of information-overload so you understand right now where you are and what real choices you face, so you can see more clearly to take the right step for you and your family. Our job is also to tell you, you can’t know it all.

There are no ready-made answers to divorce. It is a life reckoning that is also an awakening, a process, and there is a learning curve. As for instant-gratification, you cannot digest it in two meetings with a lawyer or multiple sittings in front of a computer. You must travel it. Yes, there are many aspects and milestones that will mark your progress on the road, and knowing exactly where you are helps you prepare for what is potentially ahead. The fact remains, you must still navigate the road, the exact destination of which cannot be fully predicted.

No matter how much you study or cross reference, you cannot have all the answers at once and seeking divorce gratification risks too much. The impact of hasty decisions, “just to be done with it!” may negatively impact your children, increase the threat of litigation and court, and impair your long-term mental, physical, emotional health and your financial well-being; all of which ultimately undermines your ability to live the way you choose once the dust settles.

But knowing what you don’t know is hard.

This is why we are honored to be recognized by Porter Magazine as one of three women influencing the conversation on modern love today. Porter states irrevocably that compared to our predecessors, modern women are doing things differently when it comes to love — and, yes, the resolution of their relationships. Women are not only accessing information (and their mates) through the Internet, they are also seeking professional support for nurturing, and sustaining their relationships. And when things spiral down, women today are thoughtfully seeking professional support for the pain and heartache that comes with it. In their Summer Issue 2015 (pages 194, 197-98), Porter endorses divorce coaching and celebrates SAS for Women as the go-to model for thoughtfully and healthily bringing closure to a relationship.

The message is clear: armed with information and the right guidance, modern women are moving beyond the stigma of divorce and doing it their way. Because they are committed to themselves and their families, they are investing in the here and now for their best future.

Note to Reader: Created by Natalie Massenet, the founder of the 400 million-dollar-a-year online retailer, Net-à-Porter, Porter Magazine is the new, glossy, and revolutionary addition to the fashion magazine scene. Directed and run by smart, empowered women, Porter is doing something new. The quarterly combines the visual concepts of fashion magazine with online-catalogue marketing while also offering great interviews and fascinating stories for and about women. It is digitally-protected, however; which means if you wish to read the Modern Love article and interview with Liza Caldwell of SAS on page 198, you must go-online and purchase the magazine or read the pdf here.

Money under a mattress

How to Pay for Your Divorce

When I was growing up, every Friday night, my father would give my mother her “weekly allowance” when he came home from the office.  It wasn’t really her money, but rather the cash she needed each week to pay for groceries, gas, her hair dresser, and whatever other necessities she had for herself and for the family. Out of these funds, my mother always put aside some undetermined handful. This was her “Piska” money, she told us.

Don’t ask me what the real translation of “Piska” is, but my mother also referred to it as her Rainy Day Fund.

Years later, when my sisters and I were cleaning out our parents house before moving them into an apartment, my mother told us to make sure we looked for an old suitcase in the attic. When we found it, we were to look inside and find its pocket and not just throw the suitcase away. When we did, we found stacks of dollars. My mother at the age of 85 was still saving for her rainy day. When we brought the suitcase downstairs to our mother, she immediately confessed that Daddy didn’t know about this money and there was no reason to tell him.

Knowing about saving for a rainy day since childhood, and growing up in a traditional family where mom stayed home raising three daughters, and cooking, cleaning, car pooling in support of the general welfare of our family, when I started working and later married, I, too, always had a designated account for my own use.  While not afraid of a rainy day, I also wanted money for me, money, which I did not have to account to for anyone.

Today, there are many highly educated and functioning women who are fearful when their marriages are falling apart. They wish to leave the marriage but panic because they have no “war chest” to fight their spouses with if it turns adversarial; or they are afraid they will be cut off from marital resources and not be able to afford a divorce.  How to pay for divorce is keeping them in an unhealthy place.

Regardless of the state of your marriage, it’s important for you to consider yourself. Today’s electronic banking and tracking system does not mean there is not a viable method for a woman to secure funds to pay for a divorce. Even if it means taking $50 from the ATM and stashing the cash at your office, a drawer, or your best friend’s house, there are ways for you to know you will have the security to engage a lawyer and will be able to eat if your vindictive partner cuts off the monetary funds.

If it is too late to start “saving ” money, there are other ways to engage counsel.

Many lawyers or mediators accept credit cards these days. Alternatively, most credit cards have cash advance limits if you prefer not to leave a paper trail. If your spouse has more money than you, you can request that your spouse pay some or all your legal fees. If your spouse does not agree to this, you can ask a lawyer to help you initiate the legal means to securing your representation. Before credit cards, there were always other ways women helped themselves. These means are still viable. You can turn to a good friend or family for loans (offer to pay them interest), or sell assets, like jewelry or art that may belong to you. The important thing to remember is to not stay in a hopeless place because you think you can’t afford your exit.

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 with your concerns, visit their website or call 212.355.4149.

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.