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Selling the house during divorce

5 Must Do’s for Selling the House During a Divorce

When going through divorce, one of many steps to contend with is dividing the marital assets. Oftentimes, the biggest of those marital assets is your house. However, your home is not the same as a bank account or a retirement account for many reasons, the most important being that there is an emotional connection to the marital home. Rarely do you hear of stories where people become emotional about moving their checking account from Citibank to Chase. In contrast, selling the house during divorce can be a complex process.

However, the marital home elicits a reaction that no other asset can. This holds true for your everyday person and celebrities as well. For example, Kim Kardashian West, paid a whopping $23 million to Kanye West in order to buy him out of their California property, so their children could remain in their home. You may have raised your children and made family memories there. You likely poured time, money, and love into the home to make it just that: a home. When making the decision to sell the marital home, it’s important to consider many different factors.

Here are five must-do’s when selling the house during divorce:

1.) Acknowledge your Emotions and Remain Rational

The first step in selling the house during divorce is to acknowledge that you will most likely have an emotional reaction. Because of this, it is completely normal to feel emotional about moving on.

Once you have allowed yourself to feel these strong emotions, it is important to recognize the impact they may have on your decision making. If your emotions control your decision making, you may not be putting yourself in the best position to succeed in the future. Emotions can play a role in your decision-making process, as long as you balance them with rational and reasoned analysis.

For example, take the couple that rents an apartment in downtown Manhattan. Most likely, they are paying a significant amount of money in rent every month and not building any equity in the housing accommodation. Objectively, this is not the best “business decision.” However, there are significant emotional reasons for living in Manhattan, such as the nightlife, restaurants, and the buzz that comes along with living in New York City.

If this couple has considered the financial and emotional reasons for deciding to rent in downtown Manhattan and chose to do it anyways, that decision is at least coming from a place of understanding and rationality. Taking out the emotion while going through the divorce process is easier said than done, but poor decisions are often made when emotion wins out over reason. 

2.) Make Sure Selling the Home During Divorce is the Best Financial Decision

While it may initially seem like a no-brainer to keep the home in the divorce, doing so may not always be the most financially sound decision. In the first instance, you have to determine what other assets you may be giving up if you are deciding to keep the home. Since the home may be your biggest asset, there is going to have to be a significant “give” in order to balance out the marital assets and divide them equitably or equally (depending on the state).

By way of example, if there is $300,000 in equity in the home and the marital bank accounts total the same amount, you would have to give the entirety of the bank accounts to your spouse if you were keeping the home. Understanding what you will be giving up may change your decision as to whether or not to keep the home.


If you are wondering about the house and what you should do, read more “Should You Keep the House During Divorce”.


Another important consideration is whether or not you can afford the carrying costs related to the home going forward. A home is different from most other assets in that it carries monthly cost associated with it. There are the known costs, such as the mortgage, taxes and insurance, and then there are the unknown costs like a pipe bursting or a boiler breaking down. It is advisable to work with a professional, such as a financial advisor (check out, “Smart Moves for a Woman: A Financial Consult for a Divorce”) in order to understand your ability to afford both the known and unknown costs. Doing so will allow you to make the decision to keep the home from a grounded, rational place that takes into account the future.

3.) Determine the Practicality of a New Home

If you make the decision to sell the home, whether to your spouse or to a third party, you will need a new place to live. Taking into consideration what that will look like is an important part of the equation. You should ask yourself (and your financial advisor) whether or not you can afford a down payment on a new home. If so, will you be able to qualify for a mortgage and if you can, will the monthly payment be affordable or cost-prohibitive? If not, will you rent a new place? Having this type of information in your back pocket allows you to make a more informed decision as to whether selling the home during divorce makes the most sense for you.


For a step by step approach to getting divorced, consider our popular 55 Must-Do’s on Your Modern Divorce Checklist.”


If there are children involved, there are even more important factors to consider when determining the practicality of a new home. Are you able to purchase or rent a home big enough to fit your children? Will bedrooms have to be shared? Will moving change the school district that the children are attending? Often when children are younger, the fact that they will have to change schools is less important.

However, it is important to look long-term at what their living needs may be in the future. If the children are older, you may not need a larger home because they are going away to college soon.

Matching your financial capabilities with the real (and desirable) needs of the children is not always an easy task, but if you can successfully do so you will most likely be in a better position to thrive after the divorce.

4.) Work with Trusted Professionals when Selling the House During Divorce

Determining whether or not to keep the home after divorce is not an easy process. That is why it is even more important to work with trusted professionals who can help assist you with the different aspects of the process. As discussed, it is incredibly valuable to work with a financial advisor who can help you determine if you can afford to keep the home or buy a new one.

Financial Advisor

A financial advisor can also help you crunch the numbers and  project out whether you will be able to pay for your home-related expenses, and how that might impact other aspects of your financial plan such as paying other expenses or saving for retirement.

Divorce Attorney

In addition to working with a financial advisor, it is also beneficial to work with a divorce attorney who is a creative thinker with helping you strategize how to get the best outcome regarding your house.  And elsewhere, more real estate specific professionals. For example, working with an appraiser who can give you an accurate valuation of your home is immensely important as that value will be used in your determination of whether or not to keep the home, and what other assets you might have to forego.

Real Estate Broker

If you do decide on selling the house during divorce, working with a strong real estate broker who can help to maximize the home’s value is a must. By deciding on the proper listing price, staging the home, and looking at comparable homes, a good real estate broker can help you get you a great price for your home. Additionally, that same broker can work to find you a deal on your new home.

Divorce Coach

A well-connected divorce coach can support you with helping you get organized and with learning how to evaluate your home, as well as putting you in touch with many of the right, specific experts who can weigh in with their particular knowledge. Leaning on the advice of trusted professionals is a key to making a smart and reasoned decision as to what to do with the marital home and other issues you may be contending with in the divorce.

5.) Collaboration is Key

While it may be easy to see your spouse as your adversary in the divorce process, better decisions surrounding the marital residence are made when you are able to work together. If you and your spouse decide to sell the home to a third party, your ultimate goal is to maximize its value so you each can benefit from the sale price. Additionally, if one spouse begins “playing games” and not allowing the property to be shown or disagrees with the choice of broker just for the sake of disagreeing, it ultimately will cost both spouses financially.


If you are in that place of actively moving out of the family home or you are interested in accelerating your spouse’s departure, you may want to check out “21 Steps to Moving Out of the House After Divorce.”


On the other side, if you and your spouse are on the same page, you both will benefit. Additionally, you can both overcome hurdles through collaboration.

For example, if you decide on selling the house during divorce and you cannot qualify for a mortgage on your own, the divorce agreement can include a clause in which your spouse can help you qualify by co-signing the mortgage.

Consider the example of the “delayed sale.” If you and your spouse have children who are close to college age, perhaps you can agree that one of you will live in the home until the children graduate high school, at which point you will sell the home (or one spouse will buy the other out at that time). This requires collaboration but can be extremely beneficial for both spouses.

Final Thoughts…

Deciding what to do with the marital home after a divorce is not an easy decision. By following these suggestions and consulting with pro’s who are looking at your specific story and needs, you will be in a position to make rational and reasoned decisions that allow space for your feelings. Just don’t make the decision from a strictly “feeling” place.

Notes

Ian Steinberg is a Matrimonial Attorney at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, LLP, where he focuses on the litigation, mediation, negotiation, and settlement of matrimonial and family law cases. He also specializes in the drafting of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Prior to his current role, he practiced real estate law representing property owners in courts throughout New York City. Ian’s real estate background gives him important insights into the division of the marital home when couples are separating. You can reach out to Ian by email at isteinberg@berkbot.com, via his LinkedIn, or on his firm’s website.

Since 2012, SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusion 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.

6 Ways to Be Debt Free After Divorce

6 Ways to Be Debt-Free After Divorce

Going through a divorce can feel incredibly draining: emotionally, psychologically, and—of course—financially. While emotional healing can be a long, winding road, one objective way to start fresh is to work towards eliminating your financial debts as soon as possible. Clearing your debts can serve as a powerful method of beginning a new chapter of your life, signaling to your subconscious and the world that you are capable of making positive, impactful changes in your own life. In order to tackle your debt, you must have a proper plan and thorough knowledge about the best ways to get rid of your divorce debt. To help, we are sharing the top 6 ways to be debt-free after divorce.

Reducing Your Debt

As per the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), the divorce rate is around 2.7 per 1,000 people in 45 reporting states, including the DC. The majority of the couples going through a divorce can find it challenging to deal with the debt situation. Nevertheless, you can use these methods to reduce your debt and soon eliminate it.

1. Consolidate your Debt 

The first thing you need to do is consolidate your debt to bring down your interest payments. For example, women often put the fees involving their divorce process on their credit cards because they don’t have direct access to funds. As a result, they end up paying high interest on those cards. Therefore, the first thing that you need to do is clear all those high-interest loans.

Read more about smart hacks for debt consolidation,

2. Negotiate with Creditors 

The next thing you need to do is negotiate to bring down your debt or interest rate. If you have a good payment history and a good reputation among the creditors, they will be more than willing to facilitate you in your hard times.

You can always negotiate with your lenders to bring down the interest rates if you have a good credit score and history. As a result, you can save the money you pay in interest and bring down your debt.

Let’s say you owe back tax taxes to the IRS. Contact the IRS and ask to be put on a payment plan which will reduce the interest you would normally pay had you not asked to be put on a payment plan.

3. Divide your Loan

Once you end your marriage, (even before it’s officially recognized by the divorce document) it is imperative to take responsibility for the monies or loans you are liable for.

If your spouse or Soon-to-be-Ex spouse does not make the payments on time, you will be held responsible. You will share the blame for it even if you share no responsibility in your divorce contract. This can significantly impact your credit score and history.

As an independent woman, you need to develop your credit history for the future. Therefore, if you have any joint loans with your Ex, you should refinance them. This alone is a good reason to consult with a financial person once you know you will divorce.

Paying Off Your Debt

Now that you are able to bring down your debt, it is time to pay it off. To avoid hassles, the right strategy is vital. If you throw all your savings into clearing out the loans, it could result in other financial problems. So instead, here are a few ways you can plan to fully eliminate your loans.

4. Increase your Sources of Income 

When it comes to debt elimination, increasing your income is imperative. You can use the extra money in hand to chip away at your debt and get rid of the financial burden. Although it won’t be easy, it is best to eliminate your debt.

You can look for part-time opportunities that you can take up after your job. These part-time opportunities are often called side-hustles. Maybe you have a particular talent or passion that could complement your full-time job—like tutoring others in a foreign language, or designing flower arrangements for parties, or creating website designs? You could also ask your current employer to increase your salary or look for a job with a higher salary.

In a nutshell, your strategy needs to be about increasing your income. And the good news is that divorce is often a catalyst for getting creative and practical with your life. It can inspire your ambition to find more challenging things to do and to be compensated for it.

Related: Divorce Recovery: 10 Things to Do If You are Suddenly in Charge of Your Finances

5. Look for Ways to Get More Cash 

Apart from getting another job, you can also look for ways to increase the cash in hand. For instance, you can always throw a garage sale and sell items that you do not need. What about your luxury items that may be sitting on your shelf… or parked in that same garage? Anything from watches and jewelry (wedding rings?) to handbags or vehicles. There’s often a market for your unused items and a consignment or specialty platform like eBay or Poshmark that specializes in selling these things. Investigate your options and purge your possessions wherever possible.

6. Cash in your Life Insurance 

Another way to pay off your debt is by cashing your life insurance. It can help you get the number of funds you need to clear off your debt. The best part is, even if you have beneficiaries, you can take a small amount out of the policy and leave the rest of the proceeds for the people you care about.

Before you cash out your life insurance policy, however, make sure you investigate the fees you may pay for doing so. There will be charges.

The Most Important Takeaway…

Going through a divorce and dealing with your debt situation can be difficult, and even terrifying. The massive transition from your old life to your new one will likely take some time to get used to. But the goal of getting rid of all your debt needs to be on the top of your list.

Freeing yourself from debt means no longer having to pay a huge interest fee each month. With that monkey off your back, you will feel not only financially relieved but emotionally liberated.

To summarize, remember: you should plan to consolidate your debt to get a lower interest rate and then increase your income to pay off the debt quickly.

Notes

To learn how your debt might be consolidated and what steps you can take to move forward feeling more financially free, you are invited to schedule a free consultation with Lyle Solomon, the author of this article and a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in California. Lyle graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and is a specialist helping people rid themselves of debt.

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.

Cheap Divorce Lawyers

Why You Don’t Want to Search for Cheap Divorce Lawyers

Cheap can be costly. And, when it comes to divorce, cheap divorce lawyers can ultimately drain your accounts—financially and emotionally. The temptation to team up with touted cost-cutters is understandable. But learn the risks and costs before throwing your trust (and future) into the bargain basket.

Even in the most amicable situations, the divorce process can make you feel as if you’re hanging onto a cliff’s edge by your fingernails. There are so many details to consider, with so many time-sensitive must-do’s. And, there are so many things with future relevance for parting spouses and their children.

When you start adding it all up, it’s inevitable that you’ll ask: How much will my divorce cost me, financially and emotionally? 

So why wouldn’t you strive to save wherever and whenever you can? After all, if you don’t send a lawyer’s kids to college, you might be able to send your own kids to college.

Enter that internet know-it-all, Google. A quick search for “cheap divorce lawyers” ought to get this show on the road and save you bundles, right?

(You might even be lucky enough to know someone whose next-door neighbor has a friend whose cousin is a lawyer… kind of.)

Don’t get us wrong. Frugality has its place, especially when employed with conscientious research and self-discipline.It goes “deeper than cheaper” and assumes an underlying prudence in decision-making.

Cheap, however, carries an implied reference not only to price, but to quality.

And cheap divorce lawyers are no exception.

Let’s consider some of the most important qualities of a good lawyer… and how they differ from the cheap ones.

 

  • Good lawyers are respected within their profession, even by competitors.

They are respected for their knowledge and skill… and especially for their integrity. They would never disrespect the law, let alone encourage you to lie or withhold required information.

  • Good lawyers are transparent with their clients.

They don’t bury costs, fees, and terms beneath undisclosed jargon and code. Because they act with integrity, they want their clients to know “what and why” when it comes to actions taken and the costs associated.

  • Good lawyers advocate for you.

They give you the assurance, by their actions, that you are in good hands. They will go to bat for you and not cut corners when your future is at stake. Most importantly, they will also listen to you.

  • Good lawyers care about you and the outcome of your case.

They are vested in your case. They want you to succeed, not just as a source of their paycheck, but for your future well-being.

  • Good lawyers know how to handle complicated cases. 

They have a thorough understanding of the law and years of experience applying it. They know how to resource information that can resolve even the most intricate matters. In other words, they know how to get things done.

Cheap divorce lawyers, on the other hand, are cheap in part because they can handle only simple cases.

  • Good lawyers are accessible.

They respond to your phone calls and outreach in a clear and timely way. They also keep you abreast of any updates in your case.

Cheap lawyers take on a lot of clients to make as much money as possible. This means they don’t return your calls, they don’t remember your story when you are talking with them, and they’re not prepared when they speak with you… or the judge. And before getting to court, they often don’t educate you on what your choices really are, because they want to be finished with you as soon as possible. Next!

  • Good lawyers keep you on track and on time.

Divorce, in a very pragmatic sense, is a process of checking off a long list of requirements.

It’s also a process of meeting deadlines and staying on time.

A good lawyer will keep your case on time and you informed of all that is required of you.

Cheap divorce lawyers, on the other hand, aren’t always motivated to look after your timeline.

And what does that mean for you? You guessed it. Fees, penalties, and more money out of your pocket.

It also won’t make you fare well in the eyes of the court if you aren’t organized and punctual.

So where does this leave you when money is an issue, but quality is critical?

You actually have a number of options, most of which will depend on the ability of you and your soon-to-be-Ex to cooperate.

We always encourage our readers and clients to handle as much of their divorce as possible without litigation.

This means understanding, first and foremost, the difference between an uncontested and contested divorce. Every bit of contention in your divorce will come with a price tag and a protracted timeline.

If you and your soon-to-be-Ex are agreeable and amicable in your communication, you may be good candidates for mediation. But before choosing mediation or which method you’ll use to divorce, we strongly urge you to have a private, educational consultation with a reputable divorce attorney. We want you educated on what your rights are and what you are entitled to as a woman BEFORE you go to the mediation table and start making decisions dividing things up.

For this initial consult, here are the best questions to ask a divorce attorney to get you started.

After that meeting you can think about your husband’s personality and what model of divorce might be right for both of you (DIY, mediation, collaborative divorce, traditional approach, or litigation.)


Or get fully educated first.

Consider joining us for Annie’s Group, where it’s safe to learn what is possible for your life, legally, emotionally, financially, and practically, before you jump or make any big decisions.

 


Why is mediation often a good model after you’ve been educated privately as a woman?

Because it’s an “interest-based” approach to divorce as opposed to a retribution-based approach.

You are both coming to the table with your current and future needs and interests. And, if you have children, you are looking out for their well-being, both now and in the future.

Mediation is a favorable way to keep your divorce out of the courts. And the best part is that, instead of a judge deciding your settlement, you (and your STB ex) do.

But what if we agree on some things but not others? You may wonder. Believe it or not, you can actually use mediation for parts of your divorce and legal representation for the rest.

Even if you choose to use mediation for the entire process, you can still retain legal counsel for guidance before and review during. (And here is another distinction between good and cheap divorce lawyers: An attorney worth your consideration will not be threatened by your choice to use or incorporate mediation.)

Here is an essential guide for preparing for divorce mediation.

Another non-litigated approach is a collaborative divorce. Both mediation and collaboration have their pros and cons especially as relates to women advocating for themselves. So do your research and be honest about what is likely to be most workable for both of you and your circumstances.

You also have the choice to do a DIY divorce, utilizing resources online. If you choose to consider that approach, know that DIY is really best for short-term marriages, or marriages where there are not any children, little or no debt, and few if any assets.

What’s the big message here?

Your divorce, as awkward as this sounds, is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment in your children’s futures.

What you choose, how you choose, and why you choose what you do carries a lot of weight.

As difficult as it may be to lead with a business mind and not emotions, doing so is critical to your success.

Divorce cuts deeply into your life, emotions, and self-esteem, even when it’s not an “ugly divorce.” It unearths inevitable questions, doubts, regrets, and fears.

The way in which you navigate your divorce will be a statement of value that you make about yourself and your life. It will also forge a lasting memory and influence for your kids.

And no value statement is louder or clearer than the people you draw into your circle.

Money-conscious? Smart woman.

Cheap? Never.

Notes

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 or not you work further with us, we’ll help you understand your next, black-and-white steps for walking into your brave unknown — with compassion, integrity, and excitement.

 

breadwinning women and divorce

Breadwinning Women Face an Uphill Battle When Married and When Divorcing

A recent University of Chicago study* found that marriages with breadwinning women are 50% more likely to end in divorce. Surprised? Women who earn more than their husbands are not! Let me tell you why.

Breadwinning Moms Do Not Get Equality at Home

There is still widespread practice of women taking on more of the family caretaking and household chores. This custom has not gone away even with the advancements women have made toward gender equality in other areas of our life, such as career and education.

According to The Atlantic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that “married American mothers spend almost twice as much time on housework and childcare than do married fathers.” Moms spend even more hours each day on childcare today than did mothers in the 1960s. Now consider that women are also much more likely to be working than in past decades. Has marriage equality actually back-pedaled over the last 60 years?

Even more shocking, a recent study by the Journal of Family Issues found a traceable connection between income and hours spent doing housework. The more a wife out-earns her husband, the less he does at home.

The European Social Survey found that the men who do the very least to support their family in and outside the house are unemployed husbands.

You cannot make this stuff up! No one would believe it—except breadwinning women and the researchers who studied this issue. In other words, women’s career and financial success are penalized at home.

The More She Makes, the More Likely He is to Cheat 

There is another important issue for women who support their family financially—their husbands are much more likely to cheat. Funny enough, this proclivity for cheating is not seen in breadwinning women. Maybe our commitment to our spouse is enhanced by our lack of energy after working 12-hour days at the office and taking care of the kids. Perhaps few can muster the energy to have an affair. Some women have shared with me in confidence that while they are not happy in their marriage, they also do not feel they have enough time to get divorced!

Many high-earning women do not feel supported, which can lead to tension, fighting, and ultimately, divorce. According to the Huffington Post, “one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that marriages with breadwinning wives are often ‘less satisfying’ and more likely to end in divorce.”

More and More Women Are Making the Money

This situation does not only affect women. We are seeing more and more women balancing supporting their families, financially, while managing childcare, dinner prep, doctor’s appointments, and more.

About 29 percent (nearly one in three) of married women in the United States make more than their husbands, and it’s a group that is steadily growing.

In addition, women continue to surpass the number of men in obtaining college degrees. As a result, many of us are flocking toward typically male-dominated fields such as medicine, technology, and finance.

Financial Consideration for Women Who Make More

There are several unique economic issues that the female primary breadwinner should bear in mind when considering a legal separation or divorce. Laws are in place to protect the lesser-earning spouse during a divorce so that they are provided for, financially, once the marriage is over. These laws pertain to both sexes. However, paying child support or alimony is a tough pill to swallow for women who bore most of the responsibility of raising their children, managing the house, and toiling in a demanding career – a very different situation from that of most divorcing men in a bread-earning role. It is understandable why many women resent paying alimony when their spouse has not done equal time in the house with domestic chores.

Splitting Assets Is Not Straightforward

Equitable distribution, which is the dividing up of marital assets, has implications for breadwinning women, as well. Money earned during the marriage by either spouse is subject to division regardless of who earned it. However, the law presumes that each person made equal sacrifices and played a vital role in the marriage and, as a result, deserves to partake in the earnings and assets accumulated during the marriage.

This is another area fraught with controversy. Some matrimonial lawyers argue that the asset split awarded to their husbands should be less than 50/ 50. They point to their more significant role in the marriage’s success at home and in the workforce. Unfortunately, these situations are ripe for litigation in a “he said, she said” battle for who held the lion’s share of responsibilities at home and at work. Legal bills may accumulate at astonishing rates as arguments escalate. She can also find herself picking up the tab for her husband’s lawyer’s hourly charges, which is like pouring salt on an open wound.

Don’t Give It All Away

Against our advice, some women are willing to give a larger asset split to their husbands to make them go away, stem the cost of the divorce, and move on. One of our clients admitted, “I don’t have time to deal with him. I work a million hours as a marketing executive at a technology company, and I also have custody of the kids. Really, I would rather just give him what he wants and move on with my life. I just put myself forward for a promotion to take on a bigger role at work because I need to make up for everything that I have lost from my retirement. I also have 8 more years of spousal support payments in front of me.”


Learn more about getting healthily and smartly educated about divorce or separation if you are a woman…


Know What You’re Worth

Just because she makes more does not necessarily mean that the wife controls the finances. Some women are so busy making money that all the bill paying, investing, and financial decision making is left to her husband. This situation can put her behind the eight ball when it comes to a divorce. Not knowing the complete picture of the family’s financial situation can make her even more vulnerable during negotiations about how money should be divvied up post-divorce. Understanding the growth potential and tax impact of each asset is key, as well as the family’s lifestyle costs.

Parting Words…

There is little that is straightforward in a divorce when a woman makes more. While there is some case law that pertains to female breadwinning divorces, this is a relatively recent societal shift. While divorce is not easy for anyone, women who earn more need to plan their divorce thoughtfully and hire a team that works frequently with women in this situation. Breadwinning women have unique financial issues, and the financial stakes are high.

 

Notes

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™ is the President and CEO of Francis Financial, a fee-only boutique wealth management, financial planning, and divorce financial planning firm dedicated to providing ongoing comprehensive advice for women in transition such as divorce or widowhood. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®), and Certified Estate and Trust Specialist (CES™) with over 20 years of experience in the financial industry. Stacy is also the founder of the non-profit, Savvy Ladies™. 

If you need financial planning and wealth management guidance, feel free to reach out to us to schedule your complimentary consultation. You can view our website at www.francisfinancial.com.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women has helped women face the unexpected challenges that arise 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.

 

* Read the University of Chicago Study here.

Living on less after divorce

Living On Less After Divorce

The statistics about a woman’s financial well-being after a divorce are notoriously grim. There is no question that divorce often leaves women with a sharply reduced income. And if they have primary custody of their children, which is sometimes the case, they are more hamstrung in their ability to earn than they would be with no responsibilities other than themselves. Living on less after divorce becomes a matter of survival.

Grim, yes. Equally encouraging, though, is the fact that even though divorce means they are living on less, their actual lives are happier anyway. 

When contemplating divorce, many women ask: can I maintain my lifestyle and that of my children by staying in the marriage, or do I pursue my own happiness and model fulfillment for my children by pursuing divorce? Do I deny myself and my children the opportunities and security that money can buy? And, less noble but often just as compelling, do I abjure the status, comfort, and privilege that also come with that purchasing power? Or do I risk all that for the sake of joy and a life on my own terms?

It’s not an easy choice, even if it is a question of lifestyle and status vs. actual survival. And if it is about survival, the choice is much harder.

The Financial Impact of Divorce

Let’s consider the numbers. The net worth of each person in a marriage increases approximately 77 percent over their years together, yet divorcees experience an average wealth decline that is just as steep: 77 percent.

While men tend to see their incomes rise more than 30 percent after divorce, divorced women typically see a 20 percent decline in income. Poverty rates for separated women are about 27 percent, which is almost three times higher than divorced men. 

An estimated one in five women becomes impoverished as a result of divorce. This stems in part from the fact that while they’re still married, women are more likely than men to leave paying jobs outside the home to care for the couple’s children. Sixty-one percent of women say that raising children or caring for other family members kept them from taking paying jobs, as well. Only 37 percent of men claimed the same story.

A woman often puts in round-the-clock shifts as a mother. She may receive financial support from her husband. But should she and her husband divorce, she may see that financial backing all but disappear. Additionally, her work within the home not only generated no income for her but also earned her no work history and nothing to put on a resume.

Reframing Our Attachments to Status

Staying married for money isn’t always just a matter of survival, though. Whether they have children or not, some women become attached to the status that wealth confers, especially here in a capitalist country that idolizes the rich and famous. Often, the dopamine rush that purchasing power confers becomes a substitute for love and an emotional connection that isn’t there. That’s a powerful draw, and also makes for a powerful manipulation tool for the marriage partner who holds most or all of the financial cards. 


If you are struggling, worried and frightened, you are not alone. Seek solace and read our Facing the Fear of Divorce.


By the same token, having wealth and status can easily become a person’s identity, and what should remain a net worth becomes the measurement for self-worth. This seduction is difficult to spot, difficult to leave, and reduces a person’s value from who they are to the things they have.

But living on less after divorce often leads to the intriguing paradox of living better simply because the life itself is made of self-actualized freedom rather than the trappings of a lifestyle bought with the help of a husband’s money and a bartered self. 

Getting Help From the Professionals

A more meaningful life, one that isn’t cluttered with material possessions, is a worthy goal. Bone-deep happiness that isn’t dependent on an outside source is always a worthwhile pursuit. Living with less after a divorce can work beautifully, but that isn’t to say you should just toss it all to the wind without considering what your future will require of you. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is a key player to have on your side. When it comes to divorce, maintaining status isn’t the only issue. You are untangling the assets you share with your soon-to-be Ex, and that requires an inside view on all the numerous and complicated ways that money is used in building a marriage

There is a multitude of subtle financial details that can make or break a women’s future after a divorce. Most people, no matter how intelligent, aren’t aware of many of these key financial details. Far beyond a list of expenses, important details and loopholes include retirement benefits, assets, property, labor on behalf of the household, expenditures, and much more.

A CDFA may even have an insider’s understanding, not just of wealth division and how to do it fairly, but also of why a woman would choose to trade financial security for happiness. 

Even living with less after divorce and the second-guessing that can come with that choice, fewer women than men regret it.  Seventy three percent of women report having no regret over being divorced, while 61% of men say the same.  Further, 75% of women say they’d rather be alone and happy than stay in an unhappy marriage, while only 58% of men hold that same view.

 

Gains in Happiness

In another sampling of more than 1,000 divorced individuals, 53 percent of women said they actually are “much happier” after divorce, while only 32 percent of the men interviewed made the same claim. A similar canvassing of women in the United Kingdom found that 35 percent of them said that they felt “less stressed” after their marriages ended. While only 15 percent of men felt higher self-esteem after divorce, 30 percent of women felt they had grown in that regard.

Simply put, in living with less, women often find that they are more.

Halloween is right around the corner, so (just for fun) let’s look at living on less after divorce this way: forsaking the status and wealth that comes with marriage is a bit like making a Jack o’ Lantern. The original purpose of a Jack o’ Lantern was to frighten, but here is its paradox: carving one out, much like a new way of being, you cut away the things you don’t really need. Scooping up the insides, you find something nourishing in what you used to throw out with the trash. Instead, you use it to make dessert. Lighting the candle in its belly, you burn away your belief in an illusion of happiness that hinges on a zipcode or a platinum card.

And instead of sending you away, the grin that comes from turning fear on its head becomes a beacon that leads you home, to yourself.

 

Jennifer Bent is a freelance writer, former print journalist, and feature writer living on the West Coast. Connect with Jennifer at verbosej@hotmail.com 

Notes

SAS helps women rebuild their lives after divorce—on their own terms. If you are a discerning, newly divorced and independent woman, you are invited to consider Paloma’s Group, our powerful virtual group coaching class for women consciously rebuilding their lives. Visit here to schedule your quick chat to learn if Paloma is right for you.

Moving Out Of The House After Divorce

21 Steps to Moving Out of the House After Divorce

The process of divorce can be tedious and overwhelming. Not to mention, it’s also emotionally draining. Everything requires planning, timing, documenting, and money. And moving out of the house after a divorce is no exception.

You would think that deciding who moves out of the marital home during a divorce would be left to the soon-to-be-exes. After all, they’re the ones who have decided they can’t be married anymore. Shouldn’t they know if it’s better for one person to leave during the divorce process?

Unfortunately, the who/when/where of moving out of the house after divorce (and especially during the divorce process) isn’t that simple.

There are ramifications to everything during this time. What you do and don’t do can have legal, financial, and even custodial consequences.

With that in mind, keep this mantra at the forefront of your brain: When in doubt, ask.

That’s why having your team of experts—legal, financial, emotional and practical—is so important before you dive into the detailed essentials of your divorce.

Finding Legal Support

If you haven’t yet hired a divorce attorney, now is the time to secure one—or least schedule a legal consultation dedicated to you and your specific needs and rights as a woman. Visit our helpful guide to hiring a divorce lawyer for suggestions on finding the right attorney for you.

Not sure what to ask a divorce attorney during a consult? We’ve got you covered on that, too.

All that’s to say, don’t be packing your clothes—or throwing out your husbands’ clothes—before talking with your attorney.

If you read your own Miranda Rights before making any big decisions, you will be much more inclined to consult before leaping.

Think, “Everything I say/do/spend can and will be used against me in divorce court. Consult first.”

Because the marital home is your primary asset, any movement to sell or separate will complicate everything regarding division of assets.

It could also become a factor in determining a custodial arrangement for children, as well as child support now and in the future.

*Important note: If you and/or your children and pets are in any kind of danger from your spouse, your safety comes first. Please contact your attorney, divorce coach, and domestic violence hotline to devise a plan for getting you to safety while working on your divorce.

Let’s look at 21 steps for moving out of the house after divorce.

The last two steps pertain to you especially if you are dealing with an unwanted divorce.

Before you move…

    1. Talk to your attorney about what to do with joint property or property you assume is yours. Should you move out or request he move?
    2. Begin to plan for the move (his or yours) by reviewing all these steps, and then following the steps most relevant to where you are on your timeline. Don’t let the planning scare you away. “Remind yourself who you are,” says a recently separated SAS client, “and know your own work ethic and ability to provide for yourself is there and in your control.”
    3. Budget. If you are good with numbers and will be moving out, figure out how much money you will have to spend on housing so you know what you can and cannot afford. If you have no idea, ask a friend to help you crunch the numbers so you understand your options. Or consult with a good financial advisor who can help you plan.
    4. Make lists of your belongings, joint accounts, individual accounts, etc.
    5. Start thinking about what you want to surround yourself with in your new life. As another SAS client enrolled in Annie’s Group told us:

“As I started to plan for my move, I walked around our marital home considering how I wanted to live going forward. I decided to bring things that gave me a sense of peace and joy. I evaluated these things deeply, then I used this opportunity to start to purge and downsize before moving out. Next, I began getting rid of things that were weighing me down: clothes that I was no longer wearing or I had ‘overworn’, paperwork that didn’t need saving, mementos that were just too heavy for my future, and the many items I had received and collected over the years.”

Before talking to your spouse about divorce …

    1. If possible, start cleaning and purging before announcing your desire to divorce. You will get more done not dealing with the stress of his reaction, trust us. And the more non-essentials you can clear from your plate, the better. As suggested above, get rid of clothes you don’t wear or need and tchotchkes collecting dust. Most importantly, tidy up your files and make copies of essential documents. Think of this process as getting both prepared and lighter for your next chapter.
    2. Make 5 categories to guide your organizing and purging. These five categories include: Trash; Donate; Take (your must-haves for immediate survival); Give to Him; and Storage (the nice-to-have items, sparingly selected, for down-the-road). Next, with the things you will be keeping, giving to him, or needing to discuss, inventory and stash in labeled boxes — if your circumstances allow you to. (If not, you will do it later.) Consider color-coding with stickers on the boxes to quickly recognize “his” and “hers.” For example, you can use blue and green stickers for boxes and for later, going through the house and marking who gets what. And here we go with the “document, document, document.” Yes, you need to document everything, preferably in a dedicated journal. Identify what is in every box (“kitchen drawers near refrigerator”) and to whom it belongs. (You’ll thank us later!) Putting a number on each box to correspond with its number in your ledger will make cross-referencing a breeze.

Your mantra for this step? Let it go. Cue the music and sing out loud if doing so inspires you to toss.

Give it to your ex, donate it, or toss it. But lighten your load. Would you rather write your next chapter on a blank page or between the lines of one already filled?

Get your things in order, literally…

    1. Take things to the thrift store, recycling, or trash. Ask for a receipt at the thrift store if you itemize for tax purposes.
    2. Protect special items. Things like photo albums and special mementos can be the source of some tug-of-war in divorce. Take good care of these items. Put them in a safe, protected place. And, wherever possible, consider copying and/or scanning and saving your favorites. If you have children, remember that your civility to their father is your civility to them. And protecting items directly related to their family heritage is a gift to them, no matter which homes the items remain in.
    3. Work at your own pace keeping positive thoughts in your head when possible.

After you have “the talk”…

    1. Pick your timing, but talk to your Soon-to-Be-Ex about any items he might have an emotional attachment to and or any large items (a piano? A camper? Paintings? A special collection of CD’s or records?) that will need to find a home. Will the large items go to one of you, or will you sell the baby grand and split the proceeds? Make the necessary arrangements.
    2. Understand that there are no hard rules or laws about ownership of household items collected during a marriage, but some common ways to decide ownership is if one spouse received a gift personally, like a birthday present from a relative or an engagement ring, that spouse gets to keep it. Gifts made to the couple are typically divided equally. Keep in mind that jewelry your spouse gave you (except your engagement ring) is a marital asset as surprising as that sounds. When in doubt check with your lawyer (see step 1).As for things you already owned before coming into the marriage, those are usually viewed as “yours.”
    3. Make a plan for children and pets. What will the custody arrangement look like? What will the children and pets need for living space? If you have bonded pets, think compassionately about their happiness and welfare before splitting them up like material assets.
    4. Line up supportive friends for assistance with helping you organize or move out of the house post-divorce (if necessary) or taking things for storage.

Maintaining fairness and civility…

    1. Split items equitably. Those blue and green stickers you bought? Now is the time to go through the house together and take turns claiming your major possessions by affixing your colored stickers. If an item becomes a point of contention, either put it on hold… or take a big breath and let it go.
    2. If you get “stuck,” and can’t just let it go, agree to donate the item to Goodwill or to give it to one of your children. Do not seek justice in court. If you do, you will be greatly frustrated, because the court will likely say, sell it and split the proceeds.
    3. Keep the kids out of it. They don’t need to witness this, nor participate in the split-up of things, nor help you move. If they are younger, they need to see constancy, even if it’s only in the form of their bedrooms, toys, and daily routines. So, make plans for what items belonging to the kids will be moved, what will stay, and what may need to be duplicated.

Managing the logistics and your heart …

    1. Hire professional movers. You will be relying on family and friends enough during this journey. Moving out of the house after divorce is something best left to objective, non-emotionally involved movers.
    2. Make sure your utilities and internet are turned on in advance of moving to your new place. Yes, we are speaking from experience… Candlelight is divine for bubble baths, but not so much for finding the wooden spoon you need to stir your soup.
    3. If you’re dealing with an unwanted divorce and are alone, ask close friends and family to help. Keep your children out of this process. Make arrangements for them to spend the night with friends. Or take care of the move while they’re in school and doing after-school activities. Professional movers may be ideal, but you may not have that financial option.
    4. Try to move to a new place if possible. Yes, it’s a lot of work to move. But you will soon realize how emotionally interconnected everything is. This is a time to think “fresh, new, renew(ed).” You don’t need to spend the next chapter of your life steeped in a home you built with someone no longer there.

Understand that moving out of the house after a divorce is not only logistically and physically challenging, but an enormous emotional step in an already difficult process. There is a lot to think about, and yet, you don’t want to get trapped and weighed down by memories and “things.”

This is a time for prudence, wise counsel, strategic coaching… and letting go.

 

Notes

Whether you are navigating the experience of divorce, or that confusing place of recreating the life you deserve, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and often times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. SAS offers all women six free months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you and your precious future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

Divorce Mediation

6 Essentials for Preparing for Divorce Mediation

Deciding to divorce is hard, and there are many big and little choices behind the ultimate decision. But there’s one question that many don’t grapple with: how do I want to divorce? This question is often left unaddressed because many believe that they’re doomed to have a litigious divorce. When most people think about divorce, they imagine the war-like scenario so often portrayed in popular culture. In this, one party is victorious, and the other is the loser. This image often involves mudslinging and scandal. While this route is one path to divorce, it’s not the only one. Moreover, it’s often not the best way to navigate an already difficult process. Divorce mediation offers an alternative solution.

What is Mediation?

One approach that’s continuing to grow in popularity—and is typically more cost-efficient—is mediation. In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third party who guides them through the decisions that form their separation agreement. Mediation is an interest-based approach where the parties, together with the mediator, work to understand each other’s underlying motivations. Together, they generate creative resolutions to resolve any impasse. For that reason, mediation is not focused on retribution for marital grievances; instead, it’s a future-focused process intended to set the parties up for the next chapter of their lives. And most importantly for many of my clients, mediation provides absolute control over the outcome to the parties. This is because they—not the mediator—make all final decisions.

Who Should Mediate?

I truly believe that everyone (with limited exceptions) should attempt mediation before engaging in a traditional divorce model. Mediation is intended for (and should be used by) all who desire a less combative divorce process. Mediation also allows for more control over the timeline, cost, and outcome of the process.

Ideally, parties should attempt mediation before asking for court intervention. However, mediation is flexible and can be implemented at any stage of the process.

Mediation also can be used to resolve any issues relating to the divorce or a limited set of disputes. It can also be used for one issue, like custody. Thus, even if you’ve already begun a different process, you can still mediate—it’s not too late.

It’s especially important for parties who have children to attempt mediation. As I always tell my clients, children bind you for life, and the coparenting relationship is one of the most important relationships you will have—it does not end when your child turns eighteen. You and your Ex will forever have celebrations and life events that require you both to be present (graduations, weddings, and the birth of grandchildren, to name a few) so it’s best for all involved to try to learn how to move forward and get along.

The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

In fact, even if you don’t succeed at resolving your disputes in mediation, the mere act of engaging in the process produces positive results in the long run. A 12-year study conducted by Dr. Robert Emery shows that just five hours of mediation prompted parents to settle their divorce outside of court—and had positive effects on the coparenting and parent-child relationships. In fact, after just 5 hours of mediation, non-residential parents were more likely to speak with their children on a weekly basis and see their children more frequently. Moreover, the primary residential parent “graded” the other parent more highly in every area of parenting, including discussions related to coparenting problems.

Who Should Not Mediate?

There are three factors that make mediation an unsuitable process for some people to divorce. Since you are probably a woman reading this blog post on SAS for Women, you’ll want to understand them.

First, mediation should not be used if there is a history of domestic abuse (including physical, emotional, verbal, cyber, or financial abuse). A truly voluntary (and thus, enforceable) agreement cannot be made under threat or fear of abuse.

Second, parties who are not willing to be open about their finances are not suited for mediation. Since mediation does not include a formal discovery process, each party must be willing to produce documents necessary to illustrate the full financial landscape. Again, this is because a truly voluntary agreement cannot be reached if one party is not privy to all relevant facts.

Finally, mediation will be unsuccessful if a party is unable or disinclined to express themselves without an advocate present.

SAS Note: So, if you feel bullied in your marriage, if you’ve not had access to the money, don’t understand how the finances worked in your marriage, and/or your husband will not/would not share financial information with you, mediation may not be right for you. This is because you are not coming to the table at the same level of power as your husband. You may need an advocate, like a lawyer.

You’ve Made the Decision to Mediate, Now What?

1. Interview Several Mediators

Do your research and speak with several divorce mediators, either independently or together with your Ex. If you are speaking with the mediator separately from your husband, understand that the mediator will not be able to discuss content with you, but can discuss the structure of mediation and answer general questions. How to choose? Remember, you will share some of the most intimate details of your life with your mediator so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. Moreover, not all mediators are attorneys, so make sure you understand the mediator’s background and whether they’re the right fit.

SAS Note: We recommend that the mediator you hire be a licensed divorce attorney. The truth is you want someone who really understands divorce law to help you complete this document. If your mediator is not a licensed attorney, you will pay extra to have it edited by a lawyer to make sure the document is legally tight before it gets sent off to court.

2. Gather Necessary Information

Create a file of your most recent financial statements (including statements related to bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and mortgages). Your mediator may request documents dating further back, but having your most recent statements will be sufficient for your first session. If you are unable to gather all of your documents, a list of assets and liabilities will often give your mediator enough background to get started.

3. Make a List of Monthly Income and Expenses

Recreate your marital monthly income and expenses based on historical data. At a minimum, these amounts should be based on an average of three months’ worth of data. Being knowledgeable about the family income and expenses will help you and your Ex have realistic conversations and expectations relating to spousal maintenance and child support.

4. Meet with a Financial Advisor or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

If you feel unprepared to speak about finances, you should speak privately with a financial expert. This person should be experienced with understanding how your money will be impacted by the divorce. This is the case no matter what model of divorce you and your spouse choose. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (“CDFA”) will help you understand the marital finances and prepare you for the finance-related conversations that will occur during mediation.

5. Consult with an Attorney

At any point in the mediation process, you can consult with OR retain independent counsel. This helps ensure that any tentative agreements you’ve made or are considering make financial and practical sense for you long term.

This attorney will help you understand your rights and obligations under the law, before or during mediation. The attorney can even review the proposed separation agreement on your behalf. You should note, though, that not all attorneys favor the mediation process; it’s important to retain an attorney who is committed to your goal of succeeding in mediation. On the upside, more and more attorneys are willing to frame their mediation services as “unbundled services,” which are different than the traditional divorce retainer.

6. Adapt the Healthy Frame of Mind

There is no winning when it comes to divorce–even if you go to court. The sooner everyone comes to understand this, the better. When coming to mediation, be prepared to compromise and to come to an agreement. To help you do this, you’ll need to set aside your personal feelings. You’ll need to prepare to go to the “mind side of the wall” and prepare to work rationally. Your spouse may need to be reminded of this too.

Because making the decision to pursue a divorce is so challenging, it’s easy to forget that you have choices. For an increasing number of people, mediation offers a better path forward than traditional divorce models. As such, mediation has helped many families begin the next stage of their lives.

Notes:

Bryana founded Turner Divorce Mediation, P.C. after seeing firsthand the detrimental effects that litigation can have on a divorcing couple and their children. Through her mediation practice, she provides clients with a friendlier approach to divorce so that they are better equipped for a positive future. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about mediation, you are invited to email Bryana or you can visit her website.

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.

How to Divorce a Nice Guy

How to Divorce a Nice Guy

Divorce may often be a painful and complicated process. When we’re leaving a lousy guy, the choice can be easier. We tend not to doubt what we want when all we want is Out.  But what if we need to divorce a nice guy? 

What if we’re wed to a good man, one who does marriage so much better than all the Horror Story Husbands we hear about?

He’s not a drunk or a cheater. Instead of condescension, infidelity, or abusiveness, he’s kind, loving, and devoted. He hasn’t lost three jobs in one year; he’s stable and good with money. Far from being indifferent to the children or annoyed by them, he adores them and raises them well. He’s fit, handsome and he thinks we’re gorgeous. 

The required fields are checked off. Everything about him tips the scales into the “good egg” box, and you know you never have to worry about him.

But you also know you’re unfulfilled. So, how do you divorce a nice guy?

This is where the concept of divorce becomes so much murkier. You are married to a stand-up guy. Maybe you even still love him as a friend. Perhaps he is your best friend. You trust him, you respect him… you just don’t want to be his wife anymore. 

The attraction, the connection, the pull to him has fled the bedroom. Something is calling you out of the marriage and you can’t continue to rationalize it away. But you can’t bring the ax of divorce down on your vows, either.

The Gamble of Marital Security vs. Personal Fulfillment

This inner conflict is normal and far more common than we realize. It’s also trickier to get out of because there’s no bad guy to rally against. But some women who take this gamble become the bad guy. They become the brunt of criticism by friends and family, particularly those who are highly pro-marriage.

People ask them why they’re throwing their marriage away. These people might strongly suggest therapy, or they might tell the “Bad Guy” woman she’s being fickle or selfish. According to this “conventional” view, staying married is the ultimate goal. For them, happiness can be sacrificed. And it takes an authentic, courageous woman to leave a perfectly good marriage and a perfectly good man.

It takes knowing ourselves well, and it requires the understanding that our soul’s most foundational nourishment lies within us. Perhaps it means deciding what we want, not what we think we should want.

How History Has Affected Divorce

It also helps to recognize that many of the practical reasons for sticking with a passionless marriage no longer exist. Few options existed for women in the past. In the early 1900s, American women were still legally designated as property. By the 1950s, the Betty Crocker generation still tended hearth, home, and children almost exclusively, with only a small percentage of women working outside the family dwelling.

That is not the case anymore. Relatively speaking, there are fewer barriers between American women and their careers. These careers often bring them excitement, social identity, and value beyond the picket fence, as well as the ability to make their own money–and plenty of it, in many cases.

That means that if they are unhappy in their marriage, they are not financially stuck in it. They can divorce even when their husband is otherwise a “nice” and financially supportive guy.

Women now do not have to settle for a good provider who can keep a roof over their head simply because he’s willing and able to do that. They have the power to leverage themselves out. They may feel awful about divorcing that really nice guy, but feeling guilty about something doesn’t mean we are actually at fault. 

Comparison Kills: Her Story is Not Your Story

“Women confide in me all the time that once they start researching divorce and hearing others’ horror stories about being abused, or mistreated, or how they’ve endured years living with a ‘narcissist,’ women in less dramatic situations feel their power dwindle and their guilt mount. How can they divorce a nice guy? Shouldn’t they just suck it up?” said divorce coach and SAS founder Liza Caldwell.

Guilt-stricken women describe their situation as platonic. They like their husbands but just aren’t sexually compatible with them. Instead of a union, the marriage feels like living with a roommate. And, in the midst of all this stifled uncertainty, guilt, and dissatisfaction, women may become passive-aggressive with their very nice guys. By staying in the marriage because they feel they should, they run the risk of becoming not-so-nice themselves. And in doing so, render an emotional disservice to their mate. This is how many come to divorce the typical “nice guy” husband.

Yearning for a Balanced Marriage

In some cases, women even feel sorry for their husbands. Perhaps he doesn’t make as much money as she does, or he is more in love with her than she is with him. 

Women can often empathize… almost to their detriment.  Pity is not love, and it is even less an aphrodisiac. A sense of emotional obligation is a strong tether to break, though.

“The ability of a woman to empathize with others, to stay in that place of constant caregiving to others, can be the death of her individual progress,” said Caldwell. “And while a part of her might be okay with sacrificing herself, what she doesn’t see is that she’s not showing up whole for the ones she is caregiving for.”

Women feel guilty, not justified, undeserving to act in any way that prioritizes their own needs or well-being. If they are mothers, I will often ask them: if their children were in this same situation, what would they tell their kids to do?”

“Then, women have absolute clarity,” she said. “They say, ‘I’d tell my daughter she deserves to be happy.’ So then, it’s really a question of us honoring ourselves, and valuing ourselves and our own lives as dearly as we tell our daughters and sons to do.” 

Leaving Your Best Friend

My partner of 13 years was a very good friend and an amazing man in many ways. He was intelligent, deep, forward-thinking, well-employed, good with money, MacGyver-smart about fixing things, honorable, very funny, talented, athletic, attractive, great in bed, and the best listener I’ve ever met. By all standards, I divorced a nice guy.

I know. Most of you are probably wondering if you can get his number.

Of course, he had his faults. He could be a U.S. Grade A Prime *%#hole. But overall? My Ex was a very good guy whom I loved.

Regret

A mate may fit well with one phase of our personal growth but not another. I don’t regret the decision to end our partnership, but I do regret some of my decisions leading up to it. By the time I made the choice to leave, it was the best one and has put a high dive under my self-development. But there were times before that–critically important choice points–where I could have made more effort. I could have been much more self-examining, more fearlessly committed to my own evolution. This could have made our commitment to each other stronger, our partnership richer. We also might have come to the same end result, but now I will never know. 

And having done some good Man Training for his new wife was, for a while, cold comfort.

It’s important to make sure we know what is really driving the choice to leave a good man. We need to honestly evaluate if we are the source of our own unhappiness. What are our real Primary Motivators, our true Deal Breakers? If our ego’s neediness is pushing this decision, it’s more likely we may regret the decision later. Refusing to deal with ourselves first, before looking at our husband’s effect on us, is a mistake. If we don’t confront the ways that we make ourselves unhappy, they will come back to bite us down the road.

How many women are blasé about their marriage and cope with it by stepping out and having an affair?  Is that fair to your Nice Guy? Does staying in a marriage and being unhappy, passive-aggressive or a grudge-holder serve your Nice Guy?  If you are not fully in the marriage and he is, is that fair? Does he deserve it? Or does he deserve the chance to meet someone who will meet him fully and lovingly, as he deserves to be loved? For many, the answers to these questions tell them that it’s time to divorce their nice-guy husband.

What about what you are modeling to your children?  How can you advise them to follow their own authentic selves and seek happiness compassionately with the world if you are not living that, too?

No one outside ourselves can “make us” happy, at least not for long. Lasting happiness only comes from within, and only from being fully and authentically present with ourselves. 

“Forever Love” or an Ever-Evolving Love?

Modern marriage takes a lot more flexibility than the original “institution” it was built for. People are beginning to shift the idea of marriage into one that allows for renegotiation. We are recreating it with a sense of dynamic yet committed impermanence. Instead of thinking in terms of “forever,” we are thinking in terms of ever-evolving.

This is what we are seeing develop from a mixed bath of infidelity numbers, the Living Apart Together trend, ethical non-monogamy, or not marrying at all but still engaging in loving, monogamous companionship.

We are pioneering a new marriage paradigm and recognizing that even “nice” and “good” may not last. What and who works now may not work later if each spouse is not growing into their potential and fully authenticated selves. And hopefully, we are learning to allow for that and accept it with grace.

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 wordcraft 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.

Since 2012, SAS for Women has helped women face unexpected challenges that arise while considering, navigating, and rebuilding after divorce. 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.

The Truth About Divorce for Women

The Truth About Divorce for Women

It’s unique for every couple and every individual going through it. You know that— with your head, if not with your heart. But the truth about divorce for women (and men) is painted with both broad and fine brushes. And seeing the big picture is as important as seeing the details.

Being lost in the microcosm of an unhappy marriage can be all-consuming. Little things are “everything,” and the thought of going through a divorce can seem as insurmountable as the thought of staying married.

You have friends and acquaintances—and perhaps family members—who have gone through a divorce. You see it played out on screen and in the tabloids of daily life.

And no doubt you have witnessed the full temperature spectrum of divorce, from amicable to contemptuous.

Even under the best circumstances, divorce isn’t for the faint of heart.

Nor is it for the unprepared.

Because SAS for Women is just that—for women—we will be discussing the truth about divorce for women specifically. The good. The difficult. The possible.

What Statistics Say About Women and Divorce

It’s important to revisit what you may find to be a surprising statistic: Women initiate divorce almost 70% of the time compared to men.

Add a college degree and that statistic skyrockets to 90%.

Why do women take the initiative to divorce their husbands more than the other way around? And why are the scales almost equally balanced when it comes to break-ups of non-marital relationships?

Obviously, there is something remarkable about the institution of marriage when it comes to uncovering the truth about divorce—for women, specifically.

In general, women are more vested in the expectations of marriage. Once-traditional roles are no longer applicable, especially as most women are pulling their weight both inside and outside the home.

They invest more. And they want more. The connection, the communication, the fidelity, all of it.

And education only makes them more astutely aware of what they can do and have in life and relationships.

It also makes them unwilling to tolerate less.

Education, after all, is as much about learning how to think and access resources as it is about stockpiling knowledge: a big advantage in today’s marriages.

Education is also a big advantage for women going through a divorce.

The Impacts of Divorce

When it comes to the truth about divorce for women, knowing how to create solutions and where to find help can be lifesaving.

And nowhere is that more true than in the areas of finances and single-parenting.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest shocks of divorce is what it does to women financially. All the upfront preparation often can’t prepare women for the long-term financial struggle they statistically face.

Countless factors influence this possibility, of course.

Women are far more inclined than men to sacrifice professionally in order to prepare for or raise children.

By the time they divorce, they have often lost critical years in the workforce. And they can’t make up for lost time on the earning-front—both in income and benefits.

This is why it’s essential that women have expert financial guidance and heed the most important financial steps after divorce. They have to think ahead to the unknown future in order to make wise decisions in the present.

Difficult as it is to face, the truth about divorce for women means they need to be savvy, both upfront and for the long haul. What may sound like a great settlement at divorce time may not be enough to secure even a comfortable lifestyle down the road without a struggle.

Single-parenthood can be another difficult reality check for women, especially if they’re already dealing with diminished financial status.

On top of doing everything alone, there is also the emotional component of not being part of their children’s daily lives.

And then there is the likelihood that their exes will find someone new to love and marry. And that means a new maternal influence in their children’s lives.

But the reality of divorce isn’t all bad. There is plenty of good on the other side of divorce.

Hidden Benefits of Divorce

If you’ve been trapped in a marriage that has suppressed your dreams and gifts, divorce can open the door to self-rediscovery. It can expand your consciousness of who you are and what you want in life.

Divorce can also offer exhilarating freedom. Not because marriage in and of itself is imprisoning, but because one or both partners can lose perspective of marriage’s liberating, elevating potential.

Perhaps the most positive truth about divorce for women is the sense of empowerment and independence it engenders.

Yes, you can come out of divorce struggling with your sense of self-worth, especially if your spouse was unfaithful, abusive, or neglectful.

But there is power—and potential—in knowing how long to stay and when to go. And being a steadfast advocate for your own dignity, even when it has suffered a blow, is a statement of promise for your future.

As you start to rely upon your own strength, ideas, and resources, in the context of your deepest values, your power magnifies. You realize there is more you can accomplish and dream about.

And in that reaching, stretching, and holding your own, you build resilience. You become an example, not only to your aspiring self but to your children and those who bear witness to your journey.

Divorce, even in the best circumstances, isn’t a do-over with a blank slate. What presents itself as new, free, and self-directed is still seasoned by marriage loss.

What you needn’t lose, however, are its lessons. And, out of its lessons, your resolve to rise, just as a tree adds to its rings while rising toward the sun.

The truth about divorce, for women on their way and women already there, is ultimately seeded in one unbreakable vow: to live into their highest selves for their highest good.

Notes

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