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. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. Join our smart, but discreet community and benefit from 6 FREE months of email coaching, action plans, check lists, must know’s and support strategies . No junk, just smart support for you, your family, and your future self. 

Couple in courtyard thinking about divorce advice

When to Introduce Your New Beau or Belle to Your Kids

Ok, you’re finally divorced. You’ve signed the papers and made peace with your decision. You’re done listening to divorce advice and ready to start living again. At long last, you are free to do what you want, go where you want, and be with whom you want.

Or are you?

It’s not so simple if you have children.

I claim no formula or easy divorce advice

But I suppose this is as good advice as any: First, have the Newbie, or if you prefer, your New Beau or New Belle, pick you up for dates with a brief introduction to the kids. (And no, he* should not bring presents!)

If this new relationship goes on for two or more months and you are speaking to or seeing him on a regular basis, then the next step is to have the “talk” with him. The “talk” centers on how he has to be sensitive to the kids and their love for their dad, and how, in general, he can’t move too fast.

Your New Beau can begin to establish a relationship with the kids (perhaps he might offer to take them to the park, bowling, or bicycling), but activities should be neutral—things that will neither excite them too much nor dismay them. Keep it simple.

Staying over will have to wait. Children understand that sex is a whole other step towards something that might be permanent. If your children are pretty secure and your New Beau has handled this right, you can explain in your way that you are now “going steady” with your new partner and he might be staying over once in a while. If that plays badly, postpone the overnights for a few months.

No matter how many times one tells the children the divorce was not their fault, many kids still think it is. Many also fantasize about their parents reconciling. Never, ever agree that this is a possibility! Do not let them hold out hope, but rather remind them that Daddy has a new life and is probably dating some nice people. Remind them you have a new life, too, and that you and Daddy are much happier now.

It may not be easy

Your kids may weep or get angry. Comfort them, but hold your ground. It is certainly possible that other symptoms will emerge: bed-wetting, depression, sadness, and meltdowns are often typical for children of those recently divorced.

If these symptoms or behaviors continue, I recommend you talk to a professional who specializes in divorce advice and perhaps secure professional help for your children as well. This may include family counseling. Do not let it fester. Unusual symptoms are literally a cry for help. If you cannot afford private counseling, call one of the many agencies, religious or secular, who might help you find a low cost or volunteer professional.

This said, some children may very well welcome a new person, someone who can help them with homework, throw a ball around, or talk movies or hobbies. Here, too, be cautious. Unless you are certain this person is indeed your next partner, you do not want your children to become too attached to him and risk yet another disappointment. It is, for sure, a delicate balance.

If it works out, you’ve dodged a bullet and can look forward to a happy new future. But what if it doesn’t?

What if your New Beau has his own version of the “talk” with you?

The “I can’t commit” talk, or you just sense he is cooling off? Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise if you sense he is distancing himself because he probably is. This is why—like everything in life—timing is so important. You do not want your children newly invested in a relationship that will upend their world again. For if they are, you will have to start all over with your kids; explaining that you are sorry that he was not the right person for the family, but it was something between the two of you, and the demise of your romance did not hinge on them, the children, whom he thought were great.

Never let the kids think it had anything to do with them. And even while you are dealing with your own loss, and perhaps comforting your children, you must show them by word and deed that life goes on. There are movies, games, and adventures that await—all kinds of exciting and marvelous family activities that will distract both you and the kids.

Remember to learn from this relationship, too. Gauge for yourself if you brought him into the family too soon and do not make that particular mistake again. As a divorcée and mother, you must go smartly into your new life. Maybe, just maybe, there really isn’t going to be a time in your life when you should ignore good divorce advice. You are free in many ways, but most importantly, you are free and wiser as a result of your life decisions.

A novelist, therapist, mother to three, and grandmother to five, Sheila Levin is twice divorced. Find her books, Simple Truths and Musical Chairs at Amazon.com.

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.

*At SAS for Women, we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Helping Your Children Understand You’re Getting a Divorce

How do you help your children understand you are getting a divorce, when inside your head you are not clear if divorce is the right thing? Even if you are sure you want to end it, you probably have reservations . . . some that are buried deep in your heart and soul about whether this is the right move.

How does one know if it is the right thing to divorce? How do you share with the kids something that is scary and unknowneven for you?

You help your children by helping yourself first.

Let’s start with the practical part

The practical part: Can you put together a way to support yourself and your family?

Your marriage might be stone cold dead, but you still have to eat and to provide for your children. I am not saying that a lack of resources should stop you from divorcing; but you have to have a plan. You must know what you need. What can you expect your husband will contribute? Can you work more, or go back to work? What are your basic needs for shelter, utilities and food? Meet with someone who can teach you about money  so you have a practical understanding of how your life will change.

If you are lucky, and there is money available to you, then perhaps you will not have that conversation with your children about being more frugal, cutting down on Christmas presents, or cutting back on lessons or activities they presently enjoy.

Having a handle on the practical allows you stand more firmly when you talk to your kids. Like all matters of divorce, telling the children and how much you tell depends on their age, their level of maturity, and their understanding that Mom is not doing this on a lark. She is doing this to further her and their potential happiness.

The “Daddy and I both love you” isn’t going to cut it. They get it; they will know you both love them. What they will not know is why they can’t take piano lessons or have that super sled once promised for Christmas. It’s not a game for them; it’s their life. So be sure to have several (–as many as you can) talks about the practical results of an impending divorce.

When you have a good understanding on how much money you will have, there will come a time to discuss your new financial situation with your children. You can say that in this new life you and the children are approaching, one of the changes will be in the way you spend money. Depending on the age of your children (I would say not to burden them if they are under the age of ten) you can point out that there will still be money for treats, just not as much. If there is an amount you can identify, say $100 a month, that you feel you can spend on your children’s non-essentials, like fun stuff, talk with them about how that money should be spent. X amount for movies. X amount for toys, etc. In a way, it will be a matter of some pride for them to have a role in the family finances. You can start paying them small amounts for chores, remember to stress “saving,” and by sharing and showing, give them a sense of both control and companionship in what will probably be reduced circumstances.

Take advantage of every social service you can find – and there are quite a few. Government, religious and social service organizations have a wide range of help available, from therapy to help with finances to advice about medical care. Use those social services for support.

What about the less clear, less practical parts of understanding your decision to divorce?

If your husband is overtly hostile or has been abusive, it will be a lot easier for the children to understand why you want a divorce.

But what if he is just boring, or the sex is absent? He’s a nice enough guy, but not for you? That’s the really tough one. In this case you don’t need to do much more than make it clear that Daddy, while a terrific guy, is just not the right husband for you, that you have been unhappy and you deserve a chance to see if you can be happier on your own with the children. You can point out that the children are the most important things in your life, and you will definitely be a better Mother out of an unhappy marriage. Unhappiness is something children understand. So don’t try to make up reasons why Daddy isn’t working for you. Leave it at “unhappy”, “discontented,” or perhaps by drawing on some parallel friendship your child may have had with a friend that did not work out.

One common problem women divorcing share is that they “over romanticize their marriages”

After years of annoying behavior and bitter fights, suddenly your ex looks, well, better. Better than being alone and shouldering the burden of raising the children, mostly alone. This is the “devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know” fear of facing change.

Listen, don’t romanticize your marriage; remember the bad times. If the good times outweighed the bad times, you wouldn’t be divorcing. See what your relationship was for real; and don’t stay in a disempowering place that perverts the strength you have shown in leaving a bad marriage for a brighter future.

Thirty years ago, Sheila Levin left New York City and moved to Vieques, Puerto Rico to follow her dreams.  A novelist, therapist, mother to three, and grandmother to five, Sheila is twice divorced.  She knows from where she speaks. Find her books Simple Truths and Musical Chairs at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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.

Retired judge encourages medation

Retired NY State Judge Encourages Divorce Mediation

I am a Certified Divorce Mediator, Retired New York State Judge, and a former Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office who had the distinction of serving under the Honorable Robert M. Morgenthau.

During my many years on the bench, I observed the havoc and tragedy visited upon parents and children involved in divorce. All too often the most important decisions facing parents concerning their children’s lives were removed from the parents, and instead usurped by attorneys, law guardians, and ultimately by the court. The frustration that I endured as a judge in attempting to negotiate settlements in the parties best interests, was insignificant compared with the pain and suffering of the litigants during proceedings, which frequently took years to resolve and exacted a considerable emotional, as well as financial burden.

Upon retiring from the bench, I began to explore alternatives to traditional divorce, which culminated in obtaining a certification in Divorce Mediation, a faster, far less expensive, and most importantly, far less acrimonious way of obtaining a divorce in New York State. I am always delighted when divorcing parties can be assisted in making their own legally binding decisions concerning their children and their assets, outside of court proceedings that usually take months, as opposed to years to resolve, and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional divorce.

As we all know, the divorce process is an extraordinarily painful experience, which takes an appreciable period of time to heal from. It is important to fully understand not only the emotional components of divorce, but the potential custodial and financial implications as well.

The best “survivors” of divorce are those who have participated in structuring what their life will be like after divorce, not only for them, but for their children and their ex-spouse. Mediation provides the way of accomplishing that. Mediation not only diffuses the acrimony between the parties, particularly important where children are involved, but most importantly lets your voice be heard about what’s important to you, not your attorney’s voice or a judges voice.

Divorcing couples are those who understand that having control of your life is important at any juncture, and even more so when going through the emotionally charged period of divorce. A mediated divorce allows you and you alone, to have control over your future, an important survival tool. A mediated divorce reflects your decisions about all aspects of your new life, an extremely powerful tool in resolving the feelings of fear, uncertainty and helplessness that often accompany divorce.

Helen Sturm is uniquely situated as a Divorce Mediator. She has extensive experience on the bench dealing with issues of custody, support and domestic violence, in combination with the skills she was taught and employed in evaluating witnesses and evidence during her many years as a prosecutor.  Please visit Helen’s website if you would like to learn more about mediation or her work, or contact Helen at  hcs1212@gmail.com

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.
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Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

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.

How To Help Your Child Cope With Divorce

How can you help your children cope with divorce or even, separation?

There are many factors that determine the long-term effects of divorce on children. The quality of the relationships among family members has a significant impact on whether or not these long-term effects are damaging.

What we know is that when you focus on creating and maintaining a low conflict environment, kids stand the best chance of growing into healthy, thriving adults. Consider printing the list below and taping it to the inside of your bathroom mirror. The “Bill of Rights for Children Whose Parents are Separated or Divorced” was created through the work of Jill Greenstein, a psychologist at Putnam Valley Elementary School near New York City in 1997. Greenstein involved a group of students, known as the “Banana Splits” to come up with advice for parents and children going through divorce. Read this list from time to time to remind you of all the little and large things that must be done to ensure your children’s well being.

The Bill Of Rights for Children Whose Parents are Separated or Divorced

  • The right not to be asked to “choose sides” between their parents.
  • The right not to be told the details of bitter or nasty legal proceedings going on between their parents.
  • The right not to be told “bad things” about the other parent’s personality or character or behavior.
  • The right to privacy when talking to either parent on the telephone.
  • The right not to be cross-examined by one parent after visiting the other parent.
  • The right not to be asked to be a messenger from one parent to the other.
  • The right not to be asked by one parent to tell the other parent untruths.
  • The right not to be used as a confidant regarding the legal proceedings between the parents.
  • The right to express feelings, whatever these feelings may be.
  • The right to choose not to express certain feelings.
  • The right to be protected from parental warfare.
  • The right not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents.
Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.
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“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” ~ Liza Caldwell, SAS Cofounder.
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Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

Should You Divorce? 3 Things to Help You Decide What to Do

Contemplating divorce is hard. Really hard. And deciding whether or not to get divorced in the first place may be the hardest part of all.

Often when we are approaching big decisions, especially life changing decisions, we start by asking ourselves questions. We can meditate and go over it in our mind for days, weeks, months and yes, even years. This struggle is totally and utterly confusing, not to mention exhausting.

You may know something is wrong in your relationship but you don’t know what to do, or how to fix it. Perhaps you feel deeply torn and worry about how divorce will impact your family and your children. You worry that whatever steps you take will be irreversible and that the life you end up with will be way worse than the life you know.

If you feel as if you are spinning endlessly, asking yourself, “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” there are 3 things you can do that will help you to stop that spinning, and gain clarity and momentum toward a resolution:

1. Find a partner

When you are in that place of spinning, you need to talk with someone you can trust. We recommend it be a professional if possible. Whom you share with is important.

What kind of professional?
• The guidance counselor at your kids school
A consultation with a lawyer
• A therapist who will help you focus with the emotional aspects
An advisor, or coach like us, who guides you through the whole process

What if you do not have access to a professional? Ask yourself:
• Whom do I really respect?
• Who will keep my story confidential?
• Who will give me genuine, constructive feedback?
• Who will suspend her/his own vested interests in my life?

2. Educate yourself

The unknown is the scariest part. So it’s important to start gathering information. Armed with information, you will not only make more informed choices, but you’ll feel more in control of the situation.

Find out what divorce laws are in your state
• Ask your friends if they have attorneys they would recommend
• Look for support groups in your area
• Look for free information: Go to workshops and attend webinars, sign up for free eBooks and newsletters and learn everything you can

3. Take a step everyday

Often we stall or avoid things that we really don’t want to do or that are painful for us. However, this results in weeks and months slipping by without any progress. Instead, do one thing each day. Even if it’s very small, take a step:

Open a new bank account of your own
• Start a journal
• Make plans with a friend
• Schedule a meeting with an attorney or accountant
• Start looking online for a new house or apartment
• Reach out to someone you know who has been through a divorce

The key is to get out of your head and make a move, no matter how small. One step will lead to another and you will begin to see and feel things differently. Understand that taking a step does not mean you are necessarily getting a divorce. It means you are finding out about your rights and your choices, and from there you will make the right decision.

Again, the 3 Things You Can Do are 1) find a partner 2) educate yourself, and 3) take a step each day.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention.Join our smart, but discreet community and benefit from 6 FREE months of email coaching, action plans, check lists, must know’s and support strategies . No junk, just smart support for you, your family, and your future self. 

caring for elderly parents

Caring for Elderly Parents: An Important Resource

Our clients are women who seek to live their best lives by actively creating it. They are problem-solvers. Most of them are facing major life challenges. They are divorcées, empty nesters, widows, and women in transition. In some capacity, all of our clients are grieving. They are mourning the losses in their own lives, and some are also suffering the loss and changes they see in their own parents.

For this reason we share the following, important information. We know many of you are caregivers, and now, you are also caring for your elderly parents.

If you are “lucky,” you have the resources and can consider a rehab facility or a nursing home. As you consider next steps for your parents care, there is one resource you must absolutely know about.

This resource comes from our much-maligned federal government; it is a website that allows you to compare nursing homes and other rehab facilities across the country. Nursing Home Compare tells you the statistics of how each facility rates from health inspections and staffing, to overall quality measures, and complaints. All you need to know is the state and county (or counties) in which you are seeking service. The site also allows you to track the risks to overall health to patients residing in each facility. This permits you to then cross compare. The information is very current and updated every Thursday.

It’s likely that the next changes for your parents and for you are considerable, and like the smart, devoted daughter you are, you have learned to research and investigate your options for caring for your parents.

Maybe you are talking to friends and speaking with residents and staff as your tour different facilities. You are probably asking your parent’s doctors for recommendations. But this website is the Go-To place if you want to see how well nursing homes and related facilities stack up against each other. It’s in black and white.

By the way, if someone you know is in need of medical care and/or attention, you can also visit your state’s department of health website for hospital report cards.
For New York State
For New Jersey

At the time of writing this blog, not all states have this data universally available, but many do. Did you know about hospital report cards? I surely didn’t until dealing with my own family emergency and being told about these resources by a geriatrics expert. If you consult these websites, you can investigate what’s possible and where and what hospital has the best record so you start the journey of recovery right and with the best odds from the start.

Good luck to you if you are seeking information about caring for your elderly parents and are reading this page. And if you have any comments or resources that might benefit our readers as they care for their loved one, please share them below in our comment box.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.
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“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” ~ Liza Caldwell, SAS Cofounder.
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Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.
divorce papers

Divorce Papers: I Have to Fill Out What?

Perhaps the attorney you consulted (or a friend who has already been through divorce) mentioned that one of the divorce papers you will need to complete is a “Statement of Net Worth,” a “Case Information Statement,” a “Financial Affidavit,” or a “Financial Disclosure.”

Huh? Don’t panic, they are all basically the same thing.

It means you will be required to share all of your financial information with your spouse and the courts. There is no getting around it; divorce is a whole lotta paperwork.

Of all the divorce papers you will fill out, this financial one is critical, so keep these things in mind:

Every state is different

Many states have a form you can download and fill out, others simply give you a list of things you need to gather. Look online for your county courthouse website and find out what your state requires.

This document is important

It determines how you will split up your money, belongings and debt, as well as determine child support and spousal support. It literally determines your immediate financial future, so take it seriously.

You and your spouse will each have to fill out your own

If you are on good terms, you may be able to complete this task together. However, if not, you will fill it out and give it to your attorney, who will share it with your spouse’s attorney.

Everything must be accurate and complete

Be very detailed when you fill it out. Comb through your bank statements, credit card statements, household bills, online accounts, etc. Don’t guesstimate on numbers! If you don’t know the answers, do some detective work and find out the correct numbers.   If you find out new information after you have submitted it, be sure to give an updated form to your attorney right away, at any point during your divorce.

Your attorney will not be double checking this for you

So it’s vital that you are careful and thorough. He/she may look for obvious mistakes, but that’s about it.

This is a “sworn” document

Which means when you sign it, you swear you are telling the truth. If either one of you lies on this document, you will face legal action. SO TELL THE TRUTH.

Don’t wait until the last minute

It’s a lengthy and involved process to track down every dollar and cent you’ve saved or spent for years. So don’t try to fill it out in one sitting; plan on completing it over a few weeks.

Don’t hesitate to seek help on this

If you don’t feel fairly confident that you understand your finances, if your finances are complicated, or if you suspect your spouse is not being honest, get help. A divorce coach or certified divorce financial planner will be able to help you.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, practical and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. If you are looking for perspective, validation, and healthy next steps, we invite you to schedule your free 15-minute, private consultation with SAS. Whether you work further with us or not, we promise you’ll learn a resource or two as you begin clearing the debris and seeing what else is genuinely possible for you.

Questions to ask a divorce attorney

Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney at a Consultation

You are “pretty sure” you want a divorce but you have no idea how to get started … or maybe you don’t know if a divorce is what you want at all, but you are desperate for information. Either way, you think maybe you’d better speak to a lawyer. But that idea is terrifying. How will you know what questions to ask when it comes to blowing up a marriage? Or protecting your rights? How do you manage your anxiety and ask questions of a divorce attorney at a consultation?

Don’t worry, we’ll help you. The key is walk in prepared. A suggestion as well, is if you can, take a good friend, a family member, or a divorce coach with you. S/he can help you brainstorm questions in advance, go through the threshold with you, take notes and listen objectively, and afterward, give you valuable feedback on what she heard, what she noted, what she liked and did not. Before you meet with the attorney, let him/her know you’ll be bringing someone and who it is so the lawyer can discuss confidentiality with you.

As for your questions, use these here to get started. They center on what facts you should learn and what questions you should ask before, during and after a consultation with a divorce lawyer. We will also share a few thoughts with you, because we are familiar with what may be going through your head.

If you are worried about the meeting (before you even get there), consider these 5 facts:

  • Meeting with an attorney is simply about getting information. It does not mean you are definitely getting a divorce.
  • These meetings are confidential. The lawyer can’t help you unless you are really honest. Remember, it’s confidential so be open and tell him/her everything you can.
  • Most attorneys charge for a consultation and others do not. When you call to schedule your appointment, be sure to ask if there is a charge, and if so, how much, so you aren’t surprised.
  • When you make your appointment, ask what documents would be good for you to bring. Many lawyers suggest you bring copies of the last 3 years of tax returns.
  • If possible, walk in knowing what your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what debts you owe) are.

It will help if you understand what will be discussed at the meeting. In general, the attorney should touch on these 5 basic themes:

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Explore what is possible for your life wisely and healthily :: Make your decisions from an informed place …

SAS for Women’s Master Class: How to Know If Divorce is Right for You & What You Must Know to Do It

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Bring your questions. Here are 5 to get started, but be sure to add your own:

  • Do you have experience with_________________ (fill in the blank with anything unique to your situation)
  • What is my worst-case scenario? Best-case scenario? (For child support, spousal support, protecting my IRA, etc.)
  • How will you keep me informed about developments in my case if I choose to work with you?
  • What is your retainer and hourly fee? Will I be notified when the retainer is almost gone? What other costs should I be aware of? And how to pay for divorce if I have no direct access to money?
  • What is the best way to communicate with you (email or phone)?
  • What are the best ways for me to keep costs down with your firm?

Finally, reflect on the experience afterwards. Ask yourself:

  • Do you like him/her? Trust him/her? How did you gut react?
  • Did you walk away understanding most of everything you talked about?
  • Did you get a chance to ask questions?
  • Did you feel like you were heard? That you got to say everything you wanted?

Think of this initial meeting simply as research. You are there to find out information about getting a divorce (or a legal separation or a post nuptial agreement), as well as getting a sense of the divorce attorney. Could you potentially work with him or her? We promise, if you walk in prepared, you’ll walk out feeling more knowledgeable and confident in yourself — and what you can do if you must.

 
Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.