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What Women Are Doing to Divorce

Women and Divorce in Transformational Times

Those sounds you hear are the shattering of a glass ceiling and the fetters of an old patriarchal paradigm breaking wide open as something gorgeous emerges. 

That Something Is Us.

The recent election of Kamala Harris as the first woman of color to serve as U.S. Vice President has ushered in a new frontier of possibility made real. Women are bringing about massive social and political change, reaching from the Oval Office to schoolrooms and kitchen table classes across the country, where little girls—many of them future, grown women of color—are seeing for the first time a vice president who looks like them. Simultaneously, family dynamics and parental role models are rapidly evolving. Just as political and social evolution are dovetailed, women’s partnership with themselves is expanding as new social and industry innovators, like divorce coaches, empower them to consider marriage from a place of choice. This reframes marriage as not being a necessity—and a marriage’s end, not as a failure, but as rite of passage to their own next level of self.

The Long View

Consider what we’ve done: one hundred and one years ago, women in the United States still weren’t allowed to vote, and white women suffragists threw their black counterparts under the bus of that movement for the sake of political expediency and placation. But recently, not only did women vote, they helped lift a woman of color to the second-highest office in the country. We now have a female vice president for the first time in our history. American women, once considered patriarchal property, continue to shift out of the old, claiming not only new representation in leadership at the highest public level but also at the most intimate interpersonal level.

According to a 2015 American Sociological Association study, 90 percent of all divorces in the U.S. are initiated by college educated women.

Publicly, globally, through the connectivity of the internet, women are linking arms with each other and becoming more of a village. They are taking oaths of office, but they are also taking a stand on behalf of other women as they face doubt and scorn, naming their sexual abusers. They are serving as truth-seeking journalists and challenging dictators who seek to distort reality. Privately, they are choosing to have children with or without a partner, or not to have children at all, or not to marry. Continuing to break with the norms, they are leveraging their divorces as transformational ritual journeys. These women are stepping resolutely out of marriage as a primary definition of their value and worth. Or they are picking themselves up off the ground, and making real on the adage: “it’s not how many times you fall but how you get back up that matters.”

Relinquishing the Shame of Divorce

Many women are fortunate to live in countries like the United States where divorce is an acceptable option and has been so, fully, for three generations. Baby Boomers may be surging to the divorce court in large numbers now, but they didn’t always find the topic so approachable. For many Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers, the heavy stigma associated with divorce no longer exists. And it is easier to discuss divorce and go through with it successfully than ever before.

What is the first step? Women have learned it’s about getting support and recognizing they are not alone when contemplating, navigating, metabolizing, and conquering an alien terrain called divorce.

So, don’t be afraid of the noise. We are literally transforming how the world understands power, property, subject and object.  While one woman is second-in-command of a nation—joining other countries where women already serve in the highest office—thousands of others take greater command of their emotional and professional well-being. This includes their mental health, their finances, their children, their life trajectory, and themselves.

Divorce in a Transformational Time

While the landscape of divorce continues to shift in favor of liberation, women are gaining better control over their happiness and personhood. Interestingly, having divorce as an option also serves to validate the search for joy and fulfillment, whether that be living peacefully with yourself or making space to find a better-suited partner. The backdrop of history continues to progress towards greater empowerment and equal treatment of women. Socially and culturally,  the zeitgeist continues to accommodate new models of the woman that expand beyond stereotypes and reproductive utility. While there is still so far to travel, women are embracing the transformational power of divorce as a signpost for other women, and for their own personal evolution.

Notes

Jennifer Bent is a freelance writer, former print journalist and feature writer living on the West Coast. Nicknamed Verbose at a young age, she loves word craft but has to keep a short leash on her fondness for the profane. Jennifer enjoys compelling content and the liberty to write about interesting contributors and innovative ideas. Connect with Jennifer at verbosej@hotmail.com 

If you are considering or dealing with divorce, or recreating your life in its afterward, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand and schedule your free 15-minute consultation. Whether you work further with us or not, we’ll help you understand your next, black-and-white steps for walking into your brave unknown — with compassion and integrity.

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

How long does it take to get a divorce?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

Divorce is a process, not simply a stamp of finality. How long does it take to get a divorce? Well, that depends… on factors both within and outside your control.

You may want a divorce yesterday, but even the speediest dissolutions are at the mercy of your state’s divorce laws.

And, even if the court is ready to give you back your maiden name, you and your future ex could drag out the process.

When factoring in the time quotient for getting a divorce, it’s important to recognize and embrace the entire process.

Divorce isn’t a fast-food drive-thru window. There are stages leading up to it and stages coming out of it.

When asking “How long does it take to get a divorce?” you may have only the pragmatic, legal, sign-on-the-dotted line timeline in mind.

But the bigger picture of going through a divorce involves questions like “How long does it take to get OVER a divorce?

That may sound irrelevant when all you want to do is have lawyers and courts—and your future Ex—out of your life. But recognizing the totality of the divorce process will help you make wiser choices in what you do and how you do it.

For example, even if the legal part of your divorce is relatively quick, you may feel as if your divorce takes years. From contemplation to grieving to making lifestyle adjustments, recovering, and healing, the entire process may take three to five years.

And what if you flounder in the contemplation stage, living in marital limbo without taking action?

Even if you find yourself paralyzed in your marriage, unable to move it forward and unwilling to leave, the clock still ticks. And not educating yourself on the process and truths of divorce can keep you in denial and prolong the inevitable.

When You’ve Decided to Proceed with Divorce

But let’s say your mind is made up and you’re determined to follow through with your divorce. Now you need to know how long those flaming hoops are going to take to jump through.

The primary determinants are your state or jurisdiction, your ability to come to agreeable terms with your spouse, and the judge’s schedule.

An uncontested divorce will always be facilitated more quickly than a contested divorce. So, even if you and your spouse could never agree during your marriage, divorce could be a good time to start.

The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with your state’s divorce laws. Several factors may affect the timing and ease of your divorce, including:

If you have hired a lawyer to help you through the process, s/he will usually need a couple weeks to draw up the petition. And then your spouse will have anywhere from 20 to 60 days to respond after being served.

That means five to 10 weeks just to get the ball rolling, assuming you have met the time requirements mentioned above.

For Help, Turn to Mediators

So, how long does it take to get a divorce once you have filed and your spouse has responded?

Again, that depends.

If you have no children and relatively few (or at least uncomplicated) assets and little debt, you can potentially DIY it. Get the papers online, fill everything out, file, endure your state’s waiting period, and you’re done.

But, if you can’t agree on certain issues, you will need the help of professionals.

If your goal is to stay out of court, mediation can bridge the gap between the DIY divorce and a contested divorce. And it can be especially helpful if you have children or more complexity to your assets.

A mediator can be an attorney or even a therapist well-versed in the applicable laws. What’s important is his/her ability to help the two of you reach an agreeable solution to difficult areas such as custody.

Arbitration involves a third party who weighs both sides of the argument and decides on the settlement. While this approach keeps you out of court and waiting for a court date, it’s still a longer process than an uncontested or mediated divorce.

Finally, if your divorce is turning out to be too contentious for the above choices, there’s always court. And court means waiting for an available date in what may already be a backlogged schedule for the judge.

It also means attorney fees, court fees, and potentially drawn-out negotiations.

There’s the pre-trial. There’s the trial. There are the judge’s rulings that have to be written into court orders.

Then, if there is any disagreement with the rulings, there are appeals.

And, even after everything is agreed to and the judge signs off on your divorce, those rulings have to be carried out. Perhaps the house has to be sold or accounts have to be split or documents have to be changed.

And yes, that can mean months or even years.

You may want to do some research on the details of what happens if your divorce goes to court.

The Takeaway

If you’re starting to squirm and feel a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities, you’re not alone. Millions of women have been where you are, and each has her own story.

Leaning on women who have “been there” can be the best support for navigating this painful, unfamiliar process.

What’s the takeaway from this long answer to your question, “How long does it take to get a divorce”?

The most important realization is that you have more power than you may think you do.

You may feel challenged in exercising that power if your spouse chooses to make things difficult. But you always have the choice and the power to educate yourself and surround yourself with outstanding resources.

Ultimately, the time it takes for your divorce to be finalized will depend on you and your future Ex.

Can you bring the best, most composed, informed, prepared versions of yourselves to the table to advocate for everyone’s well-being and future?

If you can, your divorce will have to answer only to the timeline set forth by your state or jurisdiction.

And that means money and heartache spared… and a head start on your new life.

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule you FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping with divorce or already navigating your life afterward, choose to acknowledge your vulnerability and choose to not go it alone.

 

Pre-divorce checklist

A Pre-Divorce Checklist? Consider Composing Your Own During the Holidays

“He’s making a list and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.”

Make your own (pre-divorce) checklist, and check it twice. As a seasoned divorce and family-law attorney in Utah, I find the second quip a valuable, holiday-inspired idea, and one that is not coincidental. The day after Christmas, Dec. 26, marks the beginning of what is officially considered “Divorce Day.” Divorce Day, 2021 is actually Jan. 4th—the first business day after the holidays.

Spending the energy to create a pre-divorce checklist is positive and constructive, unlike speeding to a lawyer’s office or venting on social media. The slow, deliberate movement of checklist making adds perspective and informs your ultimate decision of whether or not to add to the divorce rate across the United States or Canada, or wherever you may be.

Making a pre-divorce checklist is, perhaps, the best free divorce advice I give my Utah clients during this season. In the spirit of giving, I’d like to share some additional insight to SAS readers. Consider this your go-to guide for “meta pre-divorce checklist” information.

The Financial Point of View

In his “Survive Divorce” writings, Jason Crowley, CFA, CFP, CDFA offers what seems like a frustratingly detailed list. While the checklist process is indeed intense, it gives a hint of how the process for divorce may be, depending on your circumstances.

Crowley is a financial expert. His list, though, goes way beyond the typical financial considerations.

He advises taking the time to compile your personal information. The “your” here is plural—both your own information and that of your spouse. In the mix: everything from social security numbers to information about previous marriages and where to serve papers to a spouse.

Did you and your spouse see a therapist? Has either party in the relationship encountered marital problems like infidelity, sexual incompatibility, or legal or illegal drug addiction? Log these details, Crowley advises.

If children are part of your family, assemble birth certificates and costs for everything from lessons to school tuition.

You’ll need to gather current Social Security calculations, details on debts, personal and marital property information, and monthly budget figures. Do you keep safety deposit boxes? Has either party received inheritances? All of these details need to be part of a divorce checklist.

If you are looking for a less stressful, pre-divorce checklist, check out this list suggested by the good women at SAS: Thinking About Divorce? Be Prepared.

The Legal Point of View

From a legal perspective, the law firm Rosen Law suggests including action steps that will result in making you more independent. For example, plan to get a post-office box for personal or divorce-related mail. Confirming login details for joint bank accounts is another tick point. Updating a will is another item to add to the checklist. The firm also emphasizes getting copies of agreements, trusts, wills, and certificates and licenses. (Some of these steps you cannot complete without getting a divorce first, however.)

The firm recommends not just setting up a new bank account or accounts, but depositing funds to cover a few months’ living expenses. Securing one or more credit cards in your name alone (if you do not have such) is another to-do item.

As you make your own pre-divorce checklist, realize that action with these different steps deepens your awareness and possible commitment to divorce from flirtation to surety. Knowledge and being prepared = power.


If you are thinking about or beginning the divorce process, consider Annie’s Group. This is SAS for Women’s virtual group coaching program for women looking for support, structure, and a safe community. A new cohort (with you as a welcomed participant) is starting soon!


Consider Your Home Property

Ready to go deeper? Beyond the bank account, you’ll also have to consider your home. If you have not previously done so for your home insurance, take pictures of each room. Make sure each room’s contents are displayed as part of a more thorough listing of assets. With the home, your own accounting is not all that counts. Getting an appraisal can be beneficial as well, so add that to your list. Renting mother-in-law apartments in a home is common these days (all the more so in a Covid climate). Make sure to get copies of leases for in-home or other rental properties. Your to-do list grows!

Legal Pre-Divorce Checklist Tips from across the Pond

Communication planning is a unique aspect of Rebecca Jones’s list. Jones is a London-based family lawyer. Her divorce checklist includes letting everyone from family dentists and opticians to utility companies know about a divorce, if enacted. That’s something you can consider to do, if you go through with the divorce.

Here are some other pre-divorce checklists I recommend: 

  • SAS for Women’s “36 Things to Do If You are Thinking About Divorce.”
  • Donna Fulscado, Investopedia, Oct. 28, 2019 “Divorce Planning Checklist: What You Need To Know”
  • Shawn Leamon, CDFA, Divorce and Your Money: How To Avoid Costly Divorce Mistakes, March 1, 2017  “The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: What You Need To Prepare”

‘Tis the Season for Making a List and Checking it Twice!

Yes, it may be the holidays, but if you are in a troubled marriage, the holidays may be anything but merry. Breathe deeply, think clearly, and be informed on the next steps in your divorce action plan. Coil Law wishes Seasons Best to all, and to all a good night.

Notes

Jill L. Coil is Utah’s leading female family law and divorce attorney and invites you to hire her before your spouse does. She is admitted to the Utah and Texas bars and has contributed to case law by successfully arguing a landmark case before the Utah Supreme Court. Coil is a 2019 Super Lawyer and an author featured on Amazon, contributes actively within her community, and is the proud mother of four children.

SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to rebuilding their lives on their own, healthiest terms. If you are recreating after divorce or separation, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation. Whether you work further with us or not, we’ll help you understand your next, black-and-white steps for walking into your brave unknown—with compassion, integrity and excitement.

contemplating divorce can feel like you are spinning

Contemplating Divorce Can Keep You Spinning

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really, I’m stuck. What do I do?” 

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

“I am GOING to leave!”

“My heart hurts.”

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

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

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.  Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce. “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” ~ SAS for Women.

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take

Divorce Coaching: The Female Take 

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

To listen to the complete show, click here.

What’s different about divorce coaching at sas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divorce coaching vs. therapy

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

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

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

Why doesn’t SAS work with men?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.
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.

6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

7 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 for Women.

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.

7. Start saving now

Even if you do not think divorce is happening soon, but you think it may be in your future, start saving now. 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. Asking the right questions and learning 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.

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.
Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

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

Your Emotional Quandary: A Separation or a Divorce?

Let’s talk about what brings you to this dilemma, ladies. Are you like I was, wanting to take baby steps to resolve your marriage problems? Are you thinking that “separating” will lessen the impact of your needing to try things differently? Does the word “divorce” sound too frightening? Don’t bother answering that last one. I know the answer.

“Separation” sounds kinder

I was there. I thought if I pursued “separation” (I was desperate to avoid “divorce”), that the implied space apart would give my husband and me time to reflect, to cool down, to consider how we might live without conflict. The first step in my mind, and what I so critically craved, was to have space and peace, and for sure the “D” word sounded too final. It meant crossing a line of “No Return.” No, no, no, if only we could have peace and time apart, we might see things differently. The toxicity would blow over, and behind it, there might be a space preserved for us — a hope, that we could reconcile.

Finding out what your rights are is not a one-way road to divorce

It’s natural that you don’t want to rush into finalities, but let me share with you a few things from the other side of the bridge. Finding out what your rights are and attaining information in terms of a separation, divorce, or a post-nuptial agreement, does not mean a one-way road to DIVORCE. As a fully living, grown and thinking woman, understand this, you are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. You are allowed to find out what is possible and what different paths might mean for you and your family. Learning does not equal doing.

In the past, in order to divorce, one person in the marriage had to prove the other was guilty of wrongdoing. At the time, legal separation was a means to establish these grounds for divorce. Now, however, all 50 states honor “no fault” divorce, meaning a couple may divorce for any reason and this knee-jerk reaction that you must separate first may be passé.

Separation may be an un-needed expense

For some women, particularly of a certain age, a legal separation may be the answer for financial reasons. And sometimes, it’s in the interest of everybody, especially the children, for the parents to not be under the same roof — as soon as possible — because it is a war zone. However, no one should move out of the house without a written agreement in place to protect each of your interests and concerns. In fact, if you simply move out without this agreement, you may be putting yourself at risk, and be accused of abandonment.

If you decide to legally separate, you will need an attorney to help you draft this legal document that delineates how the finances will be separated and how the children will be cared for during the separation. It is important to consider that going through all the steps of a legal separation is time consuming and costly. So if you think you will eventually pursue a divorce anyway, the hassle of a legal separation may simply not be worth it. (For insights to the legal processes and differences between a separation and divorce, read our interview with a well-respected NYC attorney. Or for more on what to ask a divorce attorney, visit our list of suggested questions.)

Divorce itself is not a fast process

If you are like I was, you are really using separation as an emotional crutch, a means to slowing things down before you have to decide whether or not to divorce. But realize this, divorce itself is not a fast process. You will have time to reflect whether or not this is really the right path for you. As women, we like time. We like “outs,” because we want to believe there is still hope for alternatives. Understand that by embarking on the divorce process, if at any time you want to abandon ship and reconcile, it is possible (of course, he has to be willing. But Richard Burton was, even after the divorces were final!). The point is to recognize that you have arrived in a place in your relationship where you have accepted on some level that something must change. The Same Old is not working. You must consider and eventually construct something new, and to know what that new thing is requires an education.

So do not get hung up on the words, separation or divorce. Talk to a lawyer about your circumstances. Like divorce, a legal separation varies from state to state, so obviously it’s important to get the advice of a divorce attorney licensed in your state to determine if a legal separation agreement or a divorce is more viable for you. Or, talk to a divorce coach like us. We can help you with the emotional space you may find yourself in right now, give you an overview of the various paths, and can even connect you with the right attorneys, mediators, and financial advisors you may need to understand the nuances to your specific story. You deserve to know what is possible for you and your family so you can make the right decision when the time comes. Remember, learning does not equal pulling the trigger.

 

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.