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A family dealing with parental estrangement walking on a dark path alongside a building

When is it Parental Estrangement and When is it Parental Alienation?

Divorce is full of big words—the ones the lawyers and courts toss around, the ones your friends and family are scared of, and the ones your divorce coach and therapist use to label processes and behaviors that seem almost incapable of being contained so easily. When it comes to divorce and children, two common terms parents become aware of are parental alienation and parental estrangement.

Even the smoothest divorces can impact your relationship with your children. But it’s not always easy to pin down the source of your specific issues. Your mind starts racing. Is it something I said during the divorce? Are my children angry with me? Or disappointed? And which is worse? And when the answers to these questions don’t come quickly, you begin slipping down that slippery slope. Have I broken them somehow? Maybe it’s not anything I’ve done at all—maybe it’s him*. What has he been saying to them?

Two different things could be happening here, and you have more control over one than the other.

But what exactly is the difference between parental estrangement and parental alienation?

Parental estrangement

The source of parental estrangement can be murky. Your children have cut off contact with you or, at the very least, there is a growing distance between you. You get a sense that your children are blaming your for something but what that blame is for is less clear, especially if your children aren’t the type of people to freely share their feelings and opinions. But with estrangement, your children’s feelings are their own. They have not been influenced by their other parent (even if that other parent, coincidentally, shares many of the same feelings).

If you feel estranged from your children and they’ve communicated to you why that is, you might feel defensive, but as hard as it may be, we recommend you keep those feelings from your kids. Children often see things as black or white and right or wrong. Little moments or impulsive actions take on vast meaning. Your children are experiencing so much for the first time, and divorce has a way of dredging up all of it—the good and the bad. Even if you can’t understand where your children are coming from, you must respect their point of view and work with them from that perspective.

Know that it’s okay to accept each other’s differences, but as the parent in this situation, you should defer to your children’s point of view to repair your relationship. Whether the reasons your children are distancing themselves from you are real or perceived, they are still their reasons.

Are you experiencing parental estrangement?

Think through your divorce: Were there times where you let your stress levels get the best of you? Did you get depressed and disappear? Did you get angry and lash out? Did you turn to substances to numb your pain? In what ways did your divorce disrupt your children’s lives? A new home? A new city?

Did someone hit pause on your lives? Have you remembered to press play again?

Have you been giving your children space? Maybe it’s actually too much space. Maybe what they really need is a more hands-on form of support. Sometimes if you wait for your children to “come around on their own” they just, well, never do. They learn, instead, to get by on their own. They take your space as a hint: You’re alone now. Time to suck it up, and grow up. Make sure your children understand that you are still their parent even if the dynamics of your family have changed. Play an active role in repairing and creating a new relationship with your children.

Sometimes parental estrangement feels a lot like parental alienation (more on the latter below) because “the symptoms” of both situations overlap in some cases. Both situations are isolating, for the parent and the children. And both situations can have long-term effects on your relationship with your children. The key difference? With estrangement, there isn’t another parent behind-the-scenes working against you.

Parental alienation

With parental alienation, you know exactly who the perpetrator is: your Ex or, perhaps, even yourself. In this situation, one parent is actively campaigning against the other parent, both manipulating their children and monopolizing their time to foster negative feelings toward that other parent.

It’s a subtle difference, but it’s one that matters. While this is nothing short of devious, it’s hard to repair the rift without causing more mental harm to your children in the process.

You can’t, for instance, outright call their other parent a liar because that plays into the same mental games of alienating your children from their other parent. You can’t get the courts to cut off or reduce visitation without proof that your Ex is actively working against you, and to gain said proof would mean pressing your kids to testify against their other parent. Perhaps worst of all, even if you do “fix” your relationship with your children, those achievements are likely to be temporary—your Ex, after all, is still out there waiting for his next moment to strike.

Are you experiencing parental alienation?

Parental alienation can be hard to distinguish from parental estrangement. You can’t know what your Ex is saying to your kids, and for obvious reasons, you shouldn’t ask your children to divulge private conversations—it can be hard on them to repeat the negative (and perhaps genuinely horrible) things that your Ex may have said.

But there are some telltale signs of alienation: One parent constructs a negative narrative around their children’s other parent. They list off reasons for the divorce, for instance, and always put the blame on the other parent. Or they suggest that the other parent doesn’t care about their kids because they don’t spend as much time with them. Or maybe it’s less deliberate—one parent consistently vents to friends and family members about their Ex and the children overhear, or post-divorce, one parent is depressed or otherwise in a bad spot while the other parent is seemingly thriving.

Regardless of the specific ways in which you’ve become alienated from your children, the rift will grow worse over time. Your Ex is, in effect, poisoning your relationship with your children, and like most poisons, they grow stronger the more a person is exposed to them.

Parental estrangement vs. parental alienation

Parental estrangement, then, is when you can look back at your actions throughout your divorce and recognize that you’ve made choices that have left your children feeling unsupported in a time of need. Even if you can’t recognize this yourself, your children have likely accused you of doing so.

Parental alienation is when your children’s other parent is actively poisoning your relationship with your children. It’s an ongoing psychological battle that isn’t about your children’s best interests or yours or even your Ex’s, really. It has more to do with power than anything. But here’s the other thing we haven’t mentioned yet about parental alienation—over time, it becomes an actual syndrome. By that, we mean that parental alienation syndrome is habitual. A pattern develops, routines settle in, and your children may no longer play passive roles in the damage that’s being done to your relationship. Instead, they begin to see the world through the eyes of the parent who’s targeting their other parent.

What you can do in the case of parental estrangement

If your life involves parental estrangement or you’re hoping to avoid it, there are some things you can do to start to repair your relationship with your children. (Depending on the specifics of your situation, some of these may help in cases involving parental alienation as well.)

  • Has your child spoken up about the growing distance between you? Don’t wait for them to “get over it” or “come around.” Address your children’s concerns directly by listening to them, trying to understand, validating their feelings, and telling them that you want to work on their concerns with them so you two can repair your relationship.
  • Don’t wait for your children to contact you to repair your relationship with them—you are the parent. Even if your children have hurled insults your way, ignored your messages, or placed an unfair amount of blame on your shoulders, you need to take the first step and reach out. Even if your children have crow’s feet and their fair share of grey, this particular dynamic will never really change. Your children may eventually come around on their own, to be sure, but you may lose more time than any of us is comfortable with if you wait too long.
  • If you’re struggling to get through to your children, know that persistence is key here as are the words you use—let your children know you love them, that you want to repair your relationship, and that you’ll keep checking-in with them so that they know you’re there when they’re ready to talk to you. We’re not suggesting that you harass or stalk your children, to be clear. There are ways to reach out that feel less invasive than a text or call, like a letter, for instance.
  • Don’t violate your children’s boundaries. Don’t show up unexpectedly at their school or other parent’s house to talk or force your company on them. This can backfire and cause your children to feel even more distant from you.
  • Do not give up on communicating with your children—no matter how long they ignore you. You might feel abandoned, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. But, again, you are the parent in this relationship, and your children were never here to emotionally support you. Call your children on their birthdays and holidays even if they don’t answer. Set an example of the type of relationship you want to have with your children, and in time, they may grow to appreciate that you never gave up.
  • If your children do come around and feel ready to speak with you, they might want to talk about the aspects of your relationship that made them distance themselves from you in the first place. Whether you agree with their side of your story or not, you must do your best to react neutrally and find a way to work together to overcome your past. An unwillingness to see your shared history from your children’s perspective is just one reason you may have been cut off from them in the first place—and while that may seem harsh, it has more to do with your children feeling as though they are living in one reality while you exist in another. There is no greater distance than that.
  • Be ready to admit your shortcomings to your children. Of course, we know that we’re simply humans—we’re far from perfect. But your divorce and how you handled the aftermath may have been the first time in your children’s lives where they really came to understand this firsthand. Don’t sweep your mistakes under the rug. Own your flaws, and let your children see you work through them.
  • You might be ready to move on, but your children might need more time to be angry or sad or confused. To just feel and experience whatever emotions are flooding through them. If you children are acting out, don’t punish them or push them to get over their feelings. Instead, make sure they know that their emotions are valid and that you are there for them whether they are ready to move forward or not.

Understand that a “repaired” relationship with your children may look different than you thought it would. If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that you can’t change the past and you can’t return to it. Before divorce, you didn’t have to deal with things like a custody agreement, a different home, or your Ex’s new partner. Your relationship with your children—indeed your entire lives—have changed in fundamental ways that you simply can’t ignore.

What you can do in the case of parental alienation

There are a few additional things you can do to try to repair your relationship with your children when your Ex is actively working to poison it.

  • Let your children know that their mental state comes first. Explain that they might feel upset or pressured or mad at you but that’s okay—they don’t need to tell you why, but if they ever want to talk, you are there for them and will always love them unconditionally.
  • See if your Ex will agree to therapy for your children. This way there’s a third party there to help your children navigate their relationship with both parents and work through any negative feelings they may have in a safe environment.
  • Don’t worry about being right or about proving your Ex wrong—instead, model healthy parent-child behavior by not crossing that boundary and focus on things that are within your control. Focus on strengthening your relationship with your children and not tearing apart their relationship with their other parent. Forcing your children to be the middlemen between you and your Ex will only isolate them further.
  • Work on good coparenting skills with your Ex. This is especially true if the alienation is accidental more than purposeful (though in either case, we realize this isn’t always easy, especially if some sort of betrayal was responsible for your divorce). If your Ex is in a bad place mentally and is using your children as a therapist, talking to them about what’s going on and appropriate places for help might work wonders in repairing your relationship with your children.

In general, you want to be clear with your Ex about the fact that, post-divorce, you two have every right to be upset and vent about one another, but that, for the sake of your children, that should be done privately. And because children have a way of overhearing things they shouldn’t, it’s best to vent your feelings when they’re not at home.

Why is the difference between parental estrangement and parental alienation important?

Name your demons, and maybe then you can face them. Divorce is different for everyone. It’s the naming of each part of the process—contemplation, finding a lawyer, awaiting your divorce decree, to list a few—that makes us feel like we’ve arrived somewhere and are now standing on firmer ground. The more information we have, the more prepared we feel to face whatever comes next.

But naming your demons isn’t enough. You have to take ownership of them or you will never feel like you are truly in control of them. And that’s why knowing the difference between estrangement and alienation is so important.

With parental estrangement, feeling in control means being honest with yourself: Do you want a relationship with your children? Then stop making excuses for yourself. You know now that you and your children can live without one another, but is that what you really want? Whatever attempts you’ve made in the past? They didn’t work. Think long and hard about why, and next time, approach things differently.

With alienation, feeling in control means exercising an extreme amount of patience and accepting that, ultimately, you’re not actually in control. It means learning when to let go and focus on you for your best divorce recovery. Understand that you simply can’t change other people or push the clock forward so that time heals everyone all at once—it’s simply not an option. So let it go.

We choose to focus on what we can control, and we recommend you do the same. Even though it may feel like it, you’re not the first person to weather this storm. Meet up with other divorced women. Use this time to travel. Lose yourself in nature so that you might find yourself again. Reach out to a divorce coach who can help you understand your choices and the actions leading to the results you really want—so you, your children, and your relationship with them make it safely through this time in your life.

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unique challenges women face when dealing with divorce or navigating its afterward. Discover the smartest, and most educated, next step for you and your family. Schedule your FREE, 15-minute coaching session with SAS now.

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

divorce process

The Divorce Process: What You Must Know as a Woman

We work with smart women, and because you’re here, we know you’re one of us. During the divorce process, we also know that sometimes, smart women believe they can outthink their pain, outlogic it. If their pain were a landmark on a map, a deep river splitting the ground in two, they’d lose whole days planning a route around it. But with divorce, the river is never ending, and the only way to get around it is to jump in and swim through.

If you’ve gone through a particularly bad breakup before, it’s easy to underestimate just how difficult the divorce process can be. It’s not just the emotional upheaval it brings to your life—for you may “get over” being married quickly. You may even move on to other romantic partners or physically reside in different homes, but none of this changes the fact that your union, your relationship, is legally recognized, something that may differ from relationships in your past. Your marriage isn’t truly over until the courts say it is.

These two sides to the divorce process, the emotional and the legal, require different things of you.

You’re on a journey, but this journey may sometimes feel like it’s pulling you in different directions, asking you at times to bury your emotions and focus on the practical and then demanding that you confront your demons so you can exorcise them.

Knowing when, where, and how to handle the myriad pieces of this divorce process is half the battle. Below is the easy-to-digest breakdown of the divorce process. As you read about and, even, journey through, keep in mind you don’t have to have all the answers—only some of them. Divorce professionals, the right kind of friends, constructive support groups, and family can help you get through the rest.

Decide what you really want

And that word really is important. We’re not talking about figuring out what you used to want. Or what you kind of want. Or even what you think other people want you to want.

We’re asking what you really want. Getting that honest with yourself can be absolutely terrifying because acting on whatever your truth is might mean tearing your world apart and putting it back together.

If you want a career that your husband doesn’t support, then for you each to be happy, you may have to leave him. If you want a lifestyle your husband doesn’t buy into, then you might have to leave him. If you want a marriage built on open communication but, instead, your husband would rather close parts of himself off and keep secrets, then you might have to leave him. If you want to be happy and your husband thinks “happiness” is a different thing than you, then you might have to leave him. No matter what problems you are having in your marriage, everything hinges on that question of what you might have to do and the fear that’s keeping you from doing it.

Sometimes deciding what you really want means making it a point to get in touch with friends or family members who know you best, who will be honest with you and who, in turn, you can open up to. Other times it means getting still and quiet, digging down into the depths of yourself and taking a look at what you find there.

Of course, there will be pain as you “go there.” But chances are there’s already been a lot of pain, which is what brings you to reading this page.

Get the support you need before you act

We recommend a woman get fully informed on her choices in life before she makes any big decisions, including telling her husband she wants a divorce. And that the best first stop for that, strategically and economically, is with a seasoned divorce coach—a “thinking partner” who can you help you understand both your emotional and legal journey, what your choices truly are, and what good decision-making looks like.

A coach will bring down your stress levels by helping you understand what questions you must answer first and which ones can wait, or what type of divorce (traditional, mediated, collaborative, or DIY) is right for you. And if you’re not sure about getting a divorce—if you’re just wondering what “normal” even means in a marriage—a coach can help you with that too. (That’s right, meeting with a divorce coach does not mean you are necessarily divorcing.) A coach will also be able to make good referrals, like the best lawyer for your circumstances or the name of a well-respected mediator to interview.

Depending on the circumstances of your marriage, you may have the impulse to punish your husband throughout the divorce process in any way you can. Maybe I’ll blindside him, you’ll think to yourself. I’d love to see the look on his face when he’s served with papers. But doing this starts the divorce process off with nothing but charged emotions, ill will, and resentment—and that’s a bad recipe for both your own recovery and any relationship you and your Ex might have in the future. To say nothing about what it could do to the kids. A divorce coach will help you understand what to do with your anger or sense of betrayal, so you don’t lead from a reactive emotional place that often leads to worse, spiraling lawyer costs and wasted energies.

Consult with a divorce lawyer

A divorce lawyer isn’t just going to file paperwork for you and represent you in court—a good one will also help you set expectations so that you understand going into the divorce process what you’ll be facing. Divorce laws vary state by state, and every case operates on its own timeline. If your soon-to-be Ex isn’t being cooperative or there are circumstances, like abuse, that make protecting both yourself and your children especially crucial, then your attorney can help you by taking steps with the court, like an order of protection or, at the very least, ordering your husband to move out of the marital home.

Prepare as much as you can before filing

Prepare, and then prepare some more. The more knowledge you have throughout the divorce process, the more in control you will feel. But don’t just stop there. Get copies of family photographs or other mementos that you’re sentimental about. Set up your own bank accounts and credit cards if you don’t already have them, and change the passwords to your accounts so that your husband no longer has access to them.

Gather important documents, like birth certificates, mortgage statements, and insurance policies, and make sure you understand your financial situation. If you’re working with a divorce coach, she can put you in touch with a certified divorce financial analyst who can help you understand the big picture, like if you can afford to keep the house. After divorce, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to maintain the lifestyle you led as a married woman, and the more that you prepare for this new future, the better off you’ll be.

Be kind to yourself

There’s the end of your marriage, and then there’s the end of your marriage. By that, we mean, there’s the moment you truly realize your marriage is over. You’re not in love anymore, or maybe something has happened—a betrayal, for instance—that you can’t come back from. And then there’s the moment you actually do something about the end of your marriage—you talk with a divorce coach, consult with an attorney, you negotiate the terms of your divorce, and you file the paperwork.

Everything we’ve covered so far deals largely with the practical, legal, and financial aspects of divorce, but mixed up in there are a whole lot of emotions. Even if you feel a sense of relief now that your marriage is ending, you’re feeling so many other things it’s almost impossible to pinpoint your exact mood from one moment to the next.

Are you happy? Maybe. Are you miserable? Always, except when I’m not. Are you lonely? Even in a crowd. Are you angry? Oh, yes, there’s a lot of that to go around. Are you keeping it together? I have to.

Much of the divorce process is riding out these highs and lows until the road evens out again, the journey becomes smoother, or maybe you just become better for all of it.

Get ready for life after divorce

Your divorce is final when you receive your signed divorce decree, or judgment of divorce, from the court. After that you can change your name, if you want to, and take further steps to separate yourself as much as possible from your Ex financially, such as removing them from insurance policies or your will.

But if you have children, then coparenting them can be another obstacle you must learn to overcome—hopefully together, with your Ex.

Even with DIY divorces or mediation, the divorce process can be long, and the ending of a marriage can feel a lot like grieving. But what, exactly, you are actually grieving feels uncertain. Your relationship with your husband? Your sense of family? Your ability to trust others? The image you projected as the perfect couple, the couple your friends liked? Or what your marriage could have been?

After divorce, all of it seems to have gotten so far away from you, and perspective takes time. Be patient with and kind to yourself. We recommend practicing self-care throughout this journey (and really, always) and taking steps to find your support network if you don’t already have one.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce and divorce recovery. Experience SAS firsthand. Schedule your FREE, 15-minute consultation to hear perspective, next steps and the best resources that will honor your life and who you are meant to be.

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

The reality of divorce in New York

The Reality of Divorce in New York

People know New York for its glitz, glamour, and grit. Everything’s loud, over-caffeinated and fast-paced. For some who experience the loneliness of all this, there can be the feeling of being left out, of never being enough, of someone else always lining up to replace you. But despite all of this, or in response, New Yorkers are equally known for being tough and seemingly invulnerable. Even when it comes to romance. Romance, New York style is often over the top or of the quirky variety, the kind of love that sweeps you off your feet. Think Carrie and Mr. Big. Harry and Sally. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park. It’s the kind of romance they write love songs about. Until it’s not. But divorce in New York? Well, in most of our minds, breakups are equally cinematic. Flash to messy scenes from the Real Housewives of New York, or nuggets of gossip passed privately through whispers, then splashed across Page Six for anyone to see.

Yet, for all those clichés, in reality, divorce in New York State is far more mundane than any image you carry in your mind. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the divorce rate in New York in 2011 was 2.9 for every 1,000 residents. That’s a lower rate than most states in the country!

Of course, when the divorce is happening to us it doesn’t have to be the literal end of the world to feel like it’s the end of ours. Your divorce might come as a complete shock, or it may seem like a long time coming. Either way, it can all feel surreal, like you’re having an out of body experience. How you wish it were just a movie! Yet, this is your life. You are getting a divorce. And throughout your divorce, the surprises may keep coming, bringing out the worst and the best of you.

You may not be feeling so much like Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City—young and colorful and ready to take on the world—as you are Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s Divorce, a little jaded and angry, feeling dull around the edges but looking for reasons to hope.

If that’s you, if you’re done considering divorce or have had divorce forced upon you, then here’s a primer highlighting what to expect when getting a divorce in New York.

Divorce law in New York

In New York, there are two kinds of divorces, a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, the most trouble-free approach, you and your husband agree about the need for a divorce and you believe you will come to terms on how your property gets divided and how your children are cared for. On your own or with the help of lawyers or a mediator, you and your husband come to an agreement on everything and do not need the court to get involved to divide assets or make decisions about spousal or child support or custody.

Typically, an uncontested divorce moves more quickly through the system. It’s less complicated and less expensive. You will likely never set foot inside a courtroom with an uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce, you and your husband are not in agreement about any or all of these things. (Hello, your marriage?) If there are disagreements, and often there are, you will likely need the help of a legal professional(s) to resolve them. The more intense the disagreements, the more expensive the process can become and the greater risk you run of having to go to court to have a judge decide.

Many couples will begin the process of a contested divorce and then, before trial, reach an agreement. This is a settlement.

Thanks to the Internet, though, it’s become increasingly popular to consider a Pro Se or DIY divorce and thereby eliminate the costs of lawyers. Couples who do this successfully are couples who are almost always in agreement. (Hmmm.) They are doing an uncontested divorce.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you and your husband really in agreement about everything?
  • What are the critical issues?
  • Do you understand the finances?
  • Do you understand spousal support?
  • What about child support?
  • What are your options for custody arrangements?
  • How are you going to handle your debt? Whose debt is whose?

Our experience is that most women do not know these things, nor do their husbands—but the idea of saving money on legal fees (or being bullied into the DIY process) blinds them from finding out what they are each entitled to by law. There’s a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and it couldn’t be more aptly used for this scenario.

How can you split things up if you don’t understand what you’re splitting — like the finances (are you aware of their long-term tax implications?) Or what negotiated variable is going to benefit you more in the long run? You need feedback from someone who’s an expert on your situation.

In short, we recommend you NOT consider a DIY or online approach unless you have no children, there is no debt and little or no assets, and the marriage has not been for very long. And if you do pursue a DIY model, we encourage you to consult with an attorney privately at least once (but preferably throughout your completing the paperwork).

Divorce facts in New York

New York also allows you to get either an at-fault divorce (you must prove your husband is responsible for the need to divorce) or a no-fault divorce.

For most people, it’s easier to seek a no-fault divorce. You don’t have to prove anything other than the relationship is irretrievably broken. “To qualify” in New York, the relationship must be broken for at least six months. Also, New York usually requires that you or your spouse have lived in New York State for at least one year before you can file for divorce.

New York is often associated with all things progressive and liberal, but it was actually the last state in the country to allow no-fault divorce. That means that until 2010, getting a divorce in New York almost always meant that one spouse had to prove the other spouse did something wrong and is to blame. What’s more cinematic than a jilted lover or “cold-heartedly” calculating your actions to create a case where you are the wronged party? It’s a recipe for disaster, for heightening emotions and irrational behavior—for people to lash out and for proceedings to get ugly and expensive and to heighten the risk of going to court.

This said, you can still get an at-fault divorce in New York. To do so, a spouse must have the “legal grounds,” which usually involves adultery, cruel or inhuman treatment, or abandonment. Most divorce lawyers in New York will advise you not to go the at-fault route no matter the dramatic details you may throw their way. It is generally considered a poor use of resources to have a trial on grounds now since the system no longer requires it.

With this in mind, you will want to make sure you understand why your lawyer is pushing for an at-fault divorce, such as “cruel and inhuman treatment,” and how it will benefit your situation as opposed to pursuing a no-fault divorce. We had a client, for example, whose husband had serious mental health issues and refused to seek treatment. Her lawyer filed an at-fault divorce for “cruel and inhuman treatment” as a strategy to protect the children and to impact the custody arrangement, so the children were not left alone with him until he was fully recovered, healthy and functioning.

New York is an equitable distribution state

In New York, assets (the things you own) get divided through “equitable distribution,” meaning, in general, everything you owned prior to getting married is your separate property and everything acquired after your marriage gets divided as fairly as possible.

The separation of property—how you will divide it up—is negotiated between you and your husband, or more likely, by your lawyers after they have consulted with each of you, or with the help of a mediator. But it has to be done well and fairly enough that the court will sign off on the agreement.

These are just a few of the facts that come into play when discussing divorce in New York. There is more you’ll want to know before you proceed further. But we don’t want to contribute to sensory overload.

What matters most is that you are not going to do it all at once, but you will want to be in a position to learn and come to understand what your options are before you make decisions about your property, the debt, child support, custody, spousal support, legal fees, insurance, and more. You might need an order of protection if abuse is a concern, which complicates matters even further.

This is why, whether you pursue a DIY approach, or go to mediation, or use a collaborative attorney, we urge you to get educated on what your choices are first.

Read Divorce in New York: 10 Things to Know Before Seeing a Lawyer

Divorce court

You must know that about five percent of all divorce cases go to full-blown trial. Less than five percent. So turn the television off. The standard way people divorce is still the traditional one, of your hiring an attorney to represent your interests and your husband hiring an attorney to represent his. Your lawyer meets with you individually, as does your husband’s, and then the lawyers negotiate the settlement through phone calls or meetings.

Divorce negotiations are different from negotiations in most other legal matters in that clients usually attend the meetings—known as “four-ways”, with their lawyers. If one side fails to negotiate or settle, then the risk of going to court does increase, and both parties must attend every court appearance with their lawyers. This traditional approach is still the best way for the less-moneyed or less-powerful spouse (the one who lacks money or knowledge about the finances) to get a fair share.

Diversify your insight into how you will divorce

On the plus side of living in New York is that the city and the state can often be frontrunners of change. Just by virtue of your living within New York’s boundaries, there are far more resources available to you than people living in other parts of the country. Take advantage of those resources, like law schools that offer free legal aid, or referral services offered by the New York Legal Bar Association.

You don’t have to rely on visiting a lawyer and learning things the expensive way as most people have done in the past. There are now people like us, the divorce coach, who can help you learn about divorce (and yourself) before you commit to anything. A certified and experienced divorce coach can also connect you to vetted lawyers and other experts — like a certified divorce financial analyst (who can help you answer the money questions). How you choose to divorce matters for your children and your own recovery.

How long does a divorce take in New York?

Okay, we know, you are maxing out. You want to hear how long this is going to take. If we are talking only about the legal aspect to the divorce and not your recovery and healing, than the time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on two things: how motivated you and your spouse are to organize your papers and documents and to push your attorneys to negotiate the agreement and how busy the court that receives and officializes your settlement agreement is.

For some people, it can take as little as six weeks, for others, six months or more for an uncontested divorce. With a contested divorce, there is no way of forecasting it, but certainly, a deciding factor would be when the money runs out.

What’s certain is that divorce anywhere is a (long) process, and while that wait can be frustrating, it also means you won’t be able to jump into anything without thinking it through first (and that might just be a blessing in disguise).

Divorce support groups for women in New York

There are over eight million people living in New York City and more than twice that in New York State. You are not the only one “feeling lost in New York,” or like everything’s falling apart even as you try to put it back together. We say this a lot but only because it’s true: You are not alone. If your couple friends have disappeared and disappointed you, you are lucky to live in a city and state where there are many divorced women and men—and the stigma of divorce is not as pronounced as it may be somewhere else.

Your job is to connect with those people who understand what you are going through and get educated on what your choices are and who you want to be as you make these important decisions. You might consider joining an online education-driven support group with other women who share similar experiences and who seek to find their voice and change their circumstances for the better. Women just like you.

Remember, divorce in New York rarely looks the same as it does on TV, where the drama’s amped to increase ratings and to get you coming back. This is a process none of us wants to experience even once, let alone come back to. Your divorce doesn’t have to be so dramatic. You can choose to let go the theatrics because they don’t serve you, your Ex, or your children, and to focus on what you do control: getting educated fully before you commit to any one path or decision, and to move through the process smartly and with the greatest sense of integrity and compassion for everybody — including you. 

For more steps to help you with divorce join us for your free 45-minute consultation.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Schedule your 15-minute chat to learn if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

 

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues and creativity. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs.

*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 to bring up divorce

How to Bring Up Divorce

Divorce is not—no matter the circumstance—going to be an easy subject to bring up with your soon-to-be Ex. While you might be fed up with your husband* and, without a doubt, want a divorce, you’re afraid that using the dreaded D-word is going to hurt or shock your partner. You want to bring up divorce, but walking down that path seems as terrifying as Snow White running through the woods, all your fears clinging at your skirts. Once you mention divorce, as soon as your partner hears that word, you know you’ll have to stop running and confront those fears one by one.

This post is for you, the woman who’s ready to stop running. Because maybe you’ve tried counseling. You’ve used your words. You’ve turned the other cheek (or not). You’ve looked past his faults and have worked on your own. But you still aren’t happy. “Happy” is a long way off.

It’s time to stop dwelling on exactly how to bring up divorce because there is no one right way, and instead, reach within yourself for the strength you’ll need to have a frank and open conversation with your partner about what is real and the decision you have come to.

We have some general tips on where, when, and how to have this conversation, but remember, divorce isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. You understand your situation and your soon-to-be Ex best. The tips below are merely suggestions—it’s up to you to decide how to best adapt them to your specific situation.

The setting

This is a tricky thing to think about, but it is one of the best places to start: where are you going to bring up divorce? Going out might seem like a good idea—a way to minimize your partner’s ability to have a big, possibly dramatic reaction—but that can often backfire. You can make your husband feel as though you’ve tricked him by bringing him out on a date only to drop the D-bomb on him.

As divorce coaches, we do recommend going out to have this conversation but to a neutral place so you are not reminded of domestic triggers or distracted by routine interruptions. A neutral place is not a restaurant where you can be interrupted by waiters or even friends who might see you. Instead, we like the idea of sitting on a park bench or taking a walk on a quiet path. Breathing fresh air and moving around helps you gain perspective and lowers stress levels.

If you are in counseling or have a couple’s therapist you can speak to, a session would also be a safe and appropriate place to bring up the D-word. Your counselor’s office is both a public and private place where you’ll have someone available to help you along during the conversation.

If you choose to bring up divorce at home, make sure your kids are in bed or—better yet—out of the house with a trusted loved one or at another activity. If there is yelling or crying, you don’t want your children to witness your fight. You might want to have a meal prepared and a space you feel comfortable in before you speak to your partner. Your talk with your spouse might be long and involved, or it might be short and simpler than you think—either way, choosing a space where you feel safe is crucial.

The timing

While you can argue that there really isn’t ever a great time to bring up divorce, there are plenty of very not good times that you should probably avoid, like an anniversary, a major holiday, a child’s birthday, or while your kids are applying to college. (“Thanks, Mom, I didn’t get into Harvard because you — and your springing divorce on Dad!”)

With all of that said, sometimes the conversation needs to happen sooner than later—sometimes ending a relationship feels especially time-sensitive, rightfully so, if your soon-to-be Ex has had an affair or brought an STI into the bedroom. Is there domestic abuse? The timing of the divorce really depends on the urgency and necessity of divorce.

Even the time of day should be taken into consideration. If your partner is leaving for work in 15 minutes, for instance, it’s not the right time to bring up divorce because you won’t have time to thoroughly talk it through and, instead, he’ll be at work all day ruminating on divorce. He’ll come home upset and in a state of mind that isn’t helpful when having a serious conversation like getting a divorce. Similarly, bringing up divorce right before bed can lead to a night of restless sleep in which you and your future Ex spend the night discussing the same issues over and over again rather than actually sleeping.

One of the best times for bringing up divorce might be over dinner on a Friday, or really any day when you and your partner don’t have to get up and go to work the next morning. This way, you can talk, rest, or think without worrying about putting on a good face for others.

The script

When the setting and timing is right, it’s time bring up divorce. Your tone, overall, should be empathetic—you know this isn’t going to be an easy conversation, and you aren’t asking to get a divorce out of anger or malice, so let your tone convey that.

Try to remove any accusatory language from the conversation. Don’t try to assign blame to your Ex, either, even if the divorce was brought on by something that he did or maybe even many things that he’s done. Instead, use “I” language, like “I feel like we’ve tried various way of getting our relationship back, and it’s not working. I don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s time we talk about divorce.” This makes the conversation about moving on and not about assigning guilt or blame for the end of your marriage.

While you want to have an empathetic tone and you want to use “I” language to avoid assigning blame, you also want to stand firm on what you want and follow through with your plan to pursue a divorce. Your husband might be upset and plead with you to give him another chance. He might promise you that he’ll change—but hold firm and let him know the time for change has passed. While you might be sure he can work on himself and improve in the future, it will have to be for himself or his next partner, not you.

More on tone

As divorce coaches, we like to recommend to clients that they also reassure their partner, because the word “divorce” induces all kinds of nightmare scenarios. While we believe you do not have to have all the answers on how you will divorce (what you will ask for, how you will split the 401(k), etc.) to have this difficult conversation, it is wise to endeavor to set a certain tone for the conversation and your interactions going forward.

Reassure your partner you don’t want to end your marriage as their adversary. You might say, “I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how we’re going to do this exactly. But let me reassure you for the sake of both our lives (and our children’s), I want to do this the healthiest way possible.”

This may bring the temperature down between you and your partner, who may worry you will try to keep the children from him or you will try to be vindictive or cruel, resulting in a divorce that costs a lot—both financially and emotionally.

When you feel that you’ve said what you must say (keep it simple) and that your soon-to-be Ex understands your feelings and what this means for your relationship, it’s time to end the conversation. This can be a really difficult spot to feel out, but once you do, it’s time to set a future meeting date to talk about how you might separate or divorce — traditional approach, mediation, using the “collaborative divorce model” or DIY.

Caution

This conversation—the one in which you bring up divorce—shouldn’t be the lets-get-it-all-done-now conversation. That’s far too much to talk over at first. You and your soon-to-be Ex need time to process what just happened before you take the next steps in getting a divorce.

It’s an important thing to remember that it’s taken a lot of time, pain, and thought to arrive at this place of discussing divorce with your partner. On some level, you’ve been preparing for this day for a long time. But your partner has not.

Chances are things have not been good, but if you are saying divorce first, it’s important to give your partner time to really take in the fact that you are serious. If you’ve said “divorce” before but then caved, remember that he’s been conditioned to believe you don’t really mean it. If you do mean it (and we do not encourage you to use it as a threat unless you really mean to follow through) expect your partner to have an emotional reaction to your truth. He will need time to metabolize what you’ve said and what it really means.

The aftermath

After all is said and done, you have just taken a big step toward making your divorce real. It’s not an easy journey, even if your conversation with your Ex goes well. Even if you and your Ex seem to be on the same page during the start of your divorce, you will likely need ongoing support discovering and staying focused on your most meaningful goals—and not getting caught up in the emotional drama.

At SAS for Women, we like for a woman to be educated on what her rights are and what getting a divorce might look like BEFORE she decides fully decides to divorce or has this momentous conversation with her partner. A good divorce coach can help you not only figure out if you want to end your marriage, but what your choices genuinely are, and how to bring up divorce with your partner. A certified, seasoned divorce coach can help you figure out all the little and big decisions throughout the divorce process, too. You’ll want the right support shepherding you through these challenges to the new place you’re headed to, the place where you actively pursue your happiness and rebuild your independence.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, helping you move forward the healthiest way possible, consider Annies Group, our virtual divorce education, support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Learn what your choices and goals really are. Schedule your 15-minute chat to find out if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

How to recover from a divorce break up if you feel abandoned.

Divorce: How to Get Over a Breakup When You Feel Abandoned

Often when you are reading about divorce and the woman’s perspective, many stories assume that the woman was unhappy and that she was the one who left the marriage. The research supports this, that women initiate divorce more often than men. And at SAS, we certainly work with women who feel and act on this. But let’s not hide the fact that for many other women, you’re not the one who wanted the divorce. You did not initiate this.

  • You might have been thinking it, but he acted first.
  • Or you knew things weren’t great, but you never thought it would come to this.
  • Or, you’ve been blindsided.

In any of these scenarios, but especially the last two, you don’t feel so empowered.

You feel betrayed, left, rejected, abandoned. This is a traumatic experience. When your husband*, the man you committed your life to, is doing the abandoning, the feelings welling up inside you may seem insurmountable. But they are surmountable. You need to hear this, you can heal.  But it’s not going happen today. It will be a process. Right now, you need perspective, support, and to know that you are not alone. There are women who’ve experienced this trauma, too, and know what you are feeling. These women want you to know your healing process will not look the same as that of women who left their husbands. In this piece, we’ll discuss how to get over such a trauma, a breakup of epic weight. Your marriage.

Let’s begin by saying you may find yourself unsure of how to start, how to move forward in your now (or soon to be) independent life. How can you forget about him? How can you begin again? How can you trust again? Are you worthy of being loved?  Being abandoned or rejected would suggest you are not. This truth seems to cut to the heart of your being.

Dealing with the aftermath, the grief

Some people think of grief as a process connected only to death, but it’s a natural reaction to loss of any kind. Grief is what happens when the familiar is broken, when we reach out for someone only to find their essence gone.  They are absent. When we’ve been abandoned by someone we love, all of our feelings—abandoned, angry, betrayed, struck, shocked, sad—tend to converge and ebb and flow in a wave of emotions we desperately attempt to pick through and make sense of.

You must be with these emotions.  You must let them ebb and flow. They exist for good reason. You need to pick through, process, and give meaning to them. You must mourn.

When your husband said “I want a divorce,” the first wave hit. You might have felt, or continue to feel shock. You might feel numb. You might not be able to sleep through the night, or remember the last time you were hungry. You might think you didn’t hear him right. He was talking about the neighbors, they’re getting a divorce. It can’t be you. Doesn’t make sense, what do you know about the world, if you don’t even know the man you’ve committed your life to? Yesterday, you felt safe. Today, your legs just got kicked out from underneath you.

The thing about grief is that you might also feel none of these things. There is nothing about grief that is universal.

What we do know is that unresolved grief is real, tragic, and avoidable.

Refusing to explore those questions—Who can I trust? Am I worthy? Why do I feel like my right arm was just cut off?—by believing that time will heal all your wounds will not serve you.

When you don’t process your grief, you simply make it a part of your story. This results in your building walls between yourself and the rest of the world in an effort to protect you from ever being hurt again. This stunts you. You prevent yourself from experiencing anything deep and meaningful, even happiness.

Figuring out how to get over a breakup is different for every woman

Even if you understand rationally that you must metabolize your grief—the future can still seem lonely and it can be difficult to find direction and especially, to find yourself after divorce. Especially because, people don’t understand you. They want the best for you. They say things like, “You’re so much better off without HIM! Now get yourself out there, Girl, and have some fun! Meet some good guys who are going to appreciate you.”

And you have no interest.  No interest of any sort because you’re still spinning from the shock and trauma of being left.  The divorce document may be signed, or because of your pain, it’s hard for you to focus (so the divorce is actually being drawn out). But this grief you are feeling is nonlinear. Maybe you still love him.

First and foremost, you must give yourself time to grieve and to complete your grieving. There are steps to your divorce recovery, which will help you clear your path after heartbreak, but understand everyone’s timeline is different. You might feel ready to go out to social events like you used to as a couple in three months or six months or two years time. You may decide you will never do anything like you used to, and this includes those kind of social events you and your Ex went to. You may or may not ever wish to date again either.

Whatever amount of time you feel is right should be the amount of time you allow yourself to do what you want to do.

Putting yourself first

You begin by putting yourself first. You must recover YOU. When you were in your marriage, your “I” and “me” become “us” and “we.” For so long, Friday nights weren’t for you but about spending time with the family or going out or staying in with your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “What do I want to do?” and then go do it. It’s really that simple. And that hard.

Think about things you’ve always wanted to do, like go on a retreat, volunteer somewhere, or take a painting class. Can you even remember what used to turn you on? You can, if you give yourself the time to think about what still excites you, what calls you, what opens your eyes?

Sometimes it’s hard to get started, and at first, you might feel selfish about “finding yourself.” But this is your job now. By pursuing your own wants and interests it’s not about abandoning your family, or responsibilities, or habits—it’s about taking stock of one’s life now. What activities, people, behaviors no longer serve you? What new things, goals, and endeavors are calling you to explore and follow through with?

Discover yourself more by getting outside yourself

Finding yourself means looking for yourself and looking at yourself in different ways. Resilience studies show that people are more resilient—they recover from traumatic events more effectively than others—when they have strong support networks of people to help them cope with crisis. So surround yourself with those who love and care for you.

However, you can achieve an even bigger boost of resilience by offering support to others.

This sounds counter-intuitive, like the last thing you’d want to do when you are feeling tapped out and kicked to the curb. But any way you can reach out and help other people is a way of moving outside yourself and your story.  This gives you perspective and cultivates your sense of empathy and connectedness with others. It helps you feel meaningful and purposeful. This does not necessarily mean volunteering for two years with the Peace Corps but aligning yourself with a mission outside your own personal trauma. The mission must have meaning to you and make you want to push through adversity on its behalf. 

The importance of finding support

If you feel like you need help, though, ask for it. Surviving loneliness after divorce can be a constant battle. Certain friends or family members, specific types of divorce groups, and professionals who understand the process like therapists and divorce coaches can help you heal. It’s okay to cry or wallow for a while. Maybe your Ex isn’t worth your tears, but the loss of the marriage, the magnitude of that shared identity, the comfortable life style you enjoyed, is what the pain is about. Maybe you need to mourn the fantasy that was your marriage or the time you invested in it trying to make it work. If you feel like you’re in pain, let yourself be with the pain in a safe place. Just don’t get lost in your pain and suffering and start looking for an easy way out—ask for help navigating your way through it.

Support can be especially important if you are navigating divorce—the legal and financial process—at the same time you are flooded with emotions of denial or rejection. Hitting pause to heal may not be possible for you right now. And that’s okay, because after the document is negotiated, you will be better positioned to focus on yourself. That is really the best time to come to terms with your emotional loss.

During divorce

If the divorce is happening now, you must get your game face on and consider the negotiation (as much as possible) as a business transaction. You cannot afford to be make legal and financial decisions from your wounded heart or from your sense of injustice (you never saw this coming, damnit! He should pay! He’s been living a double life fooling around with this other woman?) Why? Because looking for justice for your broken heart is never going to happen legally. And it will definitely cost you more—more money, more time, and, especially, more pain.

Divorce coaches can help you understand what to do with your heart as you face the black and white logistics of divorce. They understand the emotions and what you must do with them. They may even help you learn to rehabilitate and reframe those feelings we most often associate with shame, anger or weakness.

After divorce

Time can help with the wounds, but time alone will not heal them. You must do something. Take time to understand what you are healing from and to really be with those feelings. After you go through the grieving process, which is part of the healing process, a lot of those initial feelings that came with being dumped—abandonment, betrayal, rejection and feeling like you can never love again—will fade and be replaced with a newfound sense of who you are: independent and resilient.

Let’s not forget you are human. You may be scarred, but those scars will be less fragile and new—your skin will be thicker and tougher—as you move into the next chapter in your life. Those scars will talk of living, loving, recovering, and recreating.

There is no magic formula to help you recover from a breakup as momentous as divorce…But if you take time to understand what the journey of divorce really looks like and what you must do to legally protect yourself, you will give yourself the space and time to lean into your emotions and to learn what this story of loss means for you. You will reclaim you. You will heal.

Whether you are navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or in that confusing but fertile place of recreating the life you want to lead, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of “After Divorce.” “A successful divorce requires smart steps through and beyond the divorce document.” Learn what we mean and how it will benefit you in a FREE 15–minute consultation.

*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.”

Divorce coach can help you heal

How to Get Through a Divorce and Heal: The Surprising X Factor of a Divorce Coach

The idea that a divorce coach could help you figure out how to get through a divorce and also heal might surprise you.

You’re may have heard of the more practical aspects of working with a divorce coach, because coaches are particularly known for helping you understand and navigate the black and white steps of divorce. Often, those steps – those logistical parts — are easier for people to understand.

They seem more obvious.

For example, a good divorce coach will help you understand what your criteria is for really deciding if you should divorce or what your options are when it comes to finding the right legal process for you and your family. The right process is paramount for achieving the best outcome, one that will allow all of you to not only survive the process in one piece but to move on and rebuild afterward.

How to get through a divorce: the nuts and bolts

After helping you understand the different ways to divorce, and which may be the right approach for you (mediation? litigation? traditional approach? DIY?), your coach will help you find the right lawyer or mediator to consult or work with if that seems appropriate. A key piece your coach will help you with is making sure you ask the right questions when you get in front of a legal professional — based on your story and its unique factors. You’ll appreciate having somewhere to go after speaking with a lawyer, too—as you begin the process of metabolizing what the lawyer actually said; and then, developing your strategy for moving forward.

When it comes to the financial aspects of the divorce itself and your life post-divorce, your divorce coach can play a vital role.

“It’s a sad fact that even today many women aren’t especially financially literate,” says Trisha, a divorced mother living in Madison, Wisconsin with her three young boys. “Some of us have allowed our spouses to control the money while we focus our attention elsewhere. When we’re on our own, it all becomes so overwhelming—like we’re starting back at square one.”

It’s because of this that your divorce coach will be invaluable in helping you understand the impact your divorce will have on your finances – and this is different from the legal process ending your marriage.

A divorce coach will support you in making smart financial decisions that take into account your specific situation and particularly, your goals. She’ll also introduce you to exceptionally qualified and reliable financial experts should you need their expertise – during the divorce when it comes to understanding your financial negotiations, and importantly, for building your life as an independent woman.

“Your divorce coach will help you figure out how to make all the moving pieces of your daily life work together—a new living situation, a job, health insurance, child care. Even car maintenance!” says Trisha.

In other words, throughout the confusing, frustrating, and frightening process of divorce one of the critical roles your divorce coach will fill for you is being your “thinking partner.” She will be there with you every step of the way to help ensure that you understand the nitty-gritty details of how to get through the divorce strategically, economically and healthily. Armed with the right knowledge, you can make the best decisions for your future.

But how to get through a divorce and heal? That is another proposal.

A divorce coach can help you more than you realize . . .

Your divorce coach can help you do so much more than deal with the practical nuts and bolts of how to get through a divorce. She’ll help you understand the journey you’re on and the kind of healing that must take place to really recover from your divorce  This path of healing and recovery is very, very different from the logistical, legal, or financial paths that you must also take.

Each step of your divorce journey will evoke powerful and unfamiliar emotions

These negative emotions are often volatile and messy—they live outside the tidy boxes of logistics and documents. And at times, these emotions make us feel ashamed, like they are not normal. We are not “normal.”

“There might be times you hardly recognize yourself,” says Rebecca, who runs her own photography business in Brooklyn, New York. “A divorce coach can help you understand the value of these emotion and teach you how to release or rehabilitate them in a positive, healthy way instead of lashing out at your ‘was-band’.”

Your divorce coach will help you discover who you want to be during and after divorce

She will gently remind you of who you are and what you really want when the overwhelming emotional realities come crashing down on you. She will be your life-line helping you hold steady and connected to your truth along the way so that you don’t drown or wallow in negativity.

“I was so freaking hurt,” said Millie, a Los Angeles woman who had been married for 32 years before her husband asked for a divorce, “that I couldn’t get over my own victimhood, my rage and my incredible sense of betrayal. I look back and I see I needed those emotions at the time, to get through it all, to feel like I had been wronged, that he was the villain. I didn’t know what being whole again would feel like. I didn’t know what constituted ‘being healed.’ Working with a coach made me realize so much about myself — that I had a powerful journey to complete, to feel restored, to move on! I am sure I saved time having an incredible guide. Hell, I may have saved my life.”

Forgiveness is another important part of the divorce journey. Unfortunately, forgiveness is also a very misunderstood act. Your divorce coach can help you realize what forgiveness really is. She can also help you decide who in your life deserves your forgiveness, so you can move on without being haunted by the past.

Experiencing and moving through grief is another part of the divorce healing journey

There are so many things to grieve when one chapter of your life ends—and it may not be grieving the absence of your Ex. Your coach can help you understand what grief is and how to identify and process each and every facet of its confusion. To free yourself from the grasp of what was and could have been, you must embrace a new future for your family and yourself.

One of the key components of healing from divorce is compassion. Ultimately, it’s what will allow you to rise above the strife of this huge life change. With that said, compassion is almost impossible to embrace on your own when you’re in the throes of turmoil.

Luckily, your coach knows the redemptive power of compassion. She will share her skills with you and teach you how to see your world with a compassionate perspective — starting with yourself. This skill will serve you again and again as you face other challenges in your future.

You cannot fully recover from divorce without compassion.

Because your coach will assist you in discovering who you want to be after your divorce is over, she’ll also help you identify the opportunities that are unfolding as a result of this huge life change. Sometimes those opportunities disguise themselves as problems. But with her guidance, your divorce coach will help you see what she sees as being possible for you.

For the right person, a divorce coach can be one of the best sources of complete support you can have as you figure out how to get through one of the biggest, if not the biggest challenge of your life. She is someone who not only understands all the legal, logistical, and financial aspects of the dissolution of a marriage but will compassionately help you embrace your emotions and heal as you invest in yourself so that, moving forward healthily and wholly, you blossom. You become who you are meant to be.

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. 

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women

All women — no matter your economic profile or location — are invited to schedule a free consultation with SAS where you will learn of resources and the best next steps you might consider that honor your life.

 

*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.”

Working with a divorce coach ... the good and the bad

What You Need to Know About Working with a Divorce Coach (the Benefits … and the Downsides)

As you navigate through the thoughts of divorce, dealing with divorce, or recovering from divorce, a divorce coach might be your best source of comprehensive support. That’s because an experienced divorce coach knows divorce is not just a legal or financial dilemma.  It’s a whole life challenge that requires your making diverse but smart decision—and not just for you, but for your family and your future.

No matter where you are on your journey, there are two things your divorce coach will consistently do for you. She will help you understand and cope with the wide range of emotions you’re experiencing, and she will help you answer the questions that are preventing you from moving forward.

A divorce coach will provide you with support tailored to your unique situation.

Thinking about divorce? A divorce coach can help you:

1. Gain clarity about your situation and your choices

Just because you’re thinking about divorce doesn’t mean getting a divorce is the best solution for you. Your divorce coach can help you understand what you must know about divorce so you find your way forward with integrity, so you can feel good about the decision you’ll ultimately make.

2. Understand your legal choices if you decide to divorce

One of the most confusing aspects of divorce is how to do it. What model of divorce do you choose? Mediation? DIY? Collaborative? Traditional litigation? Your circumstances and the feedback you receive from a coach can help you choose which model is best for you—and which models definitely aren’t. This saves you from embarking on the wrong and potentially costly path.

3. Evaluate your choices by providing you with unbiased and honest feedback

When you talk with your friends and family about your options, no matter how much they love you, chances are good that they’ll be biased because your decision could impact them or what they want for you. When you work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach, you will have both a sounding board and a guide who isn’t concerned with how your decision might impact her.

4. Consider all the practical, financial, and legal challenges you may face regardless of your ultimate decision

Your divorce coach knows the challenges of putting a marriage back together again and of ending a marriage. With her knowledge and experience, she can guide you in defining your values and goals. She’ll encourage you to envision your future, so you can make your decision with a full picture of what lies ahead.

5. Connect you with the right people

You may need the services of a financial advisor, lawyer, mediator, accountant, or a parenting specialist. A divorce coach can attend those meetings with you, if necessary, or join you on phone calls as you gather the information you need to make your decision.

If you’re dealing with divorce, the benefits of working with a divorce coach include:

1. Helping you strategize the necessary steps (and when to take them) so you efficiently move through the divorce process and prepare for your life after divorce

With her knowledge and experience, your divorce coach will be able to help you step-by-step through the divorce process. She will help you consider your options—how they will impact you today and in the future. This saves time and money, so you don’t need to learn things the hard way.

2. Helping you deal with stress and navigate the overwhelming

You’ll experience so many different emotions because of this major life transition that at times you’ll find it difficult to think. Yet you still need to make decisions because the divorce process demands it. Your divorce coach will help you cope so you can make the best decisions possible for your family and your future.

3. Supporting you across every obstacle, challenge, and experience

As part of your divorce journey, you might experience sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, and anger. You might also be at a loss when it comes to looking for a new place to live, finding a job, or juggling the challenges of being a single parent. Your divorce coach will know exactly how to help you deal with every physical, emotional, and practical challenge you face as you’re dealing with your divorce.

4. Teaching you how to communicate effectively with your soon-to-be Ex

Despite the fact that you’re divorcing and emotions may be running high, you will still need to communicate with your former spouse. At a minimum, you’ll need to discuss coparenting and the division of property. Your divorce coach will share tools and tips with you to make the necessary discussions easier.

5. Connecting you with the right people

Financial advisors, lawyers, mediators, accountants, and parenting experts—since it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the details involved with getting divorced, your divorce coach can even accompany you to court and any meetings with other experts on your team to take notes and provide support.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re dealing with divorce is to have the right team of experts support you. Your divorce coach will advise you when and if you need to add additional experts to your team and how best to communicate with them.

If you’re recovering from divorce, working with a divorce coach can:

1. Help you deal with your grief about all that you’ve lost and all that will never be

There’s no doubt that you lose many things when you divorce—including your hopes and dreams for the future. It’s natural to grieve the losses. Your divorce coach will support you as you let go of the past.

2. Help you reboot and create your best life starting now

She will gently remind you of the reasons you divorced so you can focus on the present and your future instead of getting stuck in the past.

3. Help you see the lessons your marriage has taught you instead of allowing you to feel like a failure

Your divorce coach will help you find and focus on the lessons your marriage taught you, so you begin your recovery and healing … so  you can move forward and create your best next chapter.

4. Help you embrace your new freedom instead of fearing it

Divorce is a major life-changing event. Your divorce coach can help you frame your experiences as exciting challenges instead of terror- or anxiety-inducing ones.

5. Help you rediscover your true self

Compromises are part and parcel of marriage, and it’s easy to lose your true self as a result. Your divorce coach can help you revisit and define your personal values and goals, as well as envision and create your future.

Despite all these benefits, working with a divorce coach isn’t always a good idea.

What are the downsides to working with a divorce coach?

1. You will need to take action to overcome the obstacles and challenges you face

Many people just want a sounding board to vent their emotions and thoughts to because doing so makes them feel placated. The problem is these people don’t actually want to do anything besides talk. If this is you, working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

2. Working with a coach can make the conversation about divorce “too real”

Meeting with a divorce coach does not mean you are necessarily divorcing: you are getting educated about your options. But as you learn more, you gain clarity, which may compel you to take action. If you don’t want to change your life, then working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

3. You will need to do your research and select an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach

Not everyone is a good divorce coach. You want a coach who is certified and experienced—possibly even specialized. (Everyone who has been through a divorce thinks she’d make a good coach, and that’s simply not true.)

4. You will receive good and bad feedback

If you are intimidated by feedback of any kind, a divorce coach may not be for you.

5. You will hear the truth—not just your version of it

If you don’t want to hear the truth, then you don’t want to work with a coach.

6. You will have to make your own decisions

If you’d like someone else to make decisions for you, working with a divorce coach is not right for you. A divorce coach’s job is to help empower you, so you become the best decision maker possible.

7. You will have her, and potentially a team, available to support you throughout your divorce journey

If you believe you can and should handle everything on your own, then you shouldn’t work with a coach.

A relatively new profession, the role a divorce coach plays is not widely understood in our culture. But her relevance as a “thinking partner” and guide through the challenges of divorce is making divorce coaches increasingly indispensable as you navigate through a journey fraught with complexity.

And yet, a divorce coach is not for everyone. If you’re ready to face your situation and your possible divorce journey now, with integrity and an eye toward minimizing the impact on everyone, choosing to work with a divorce coach is the best decision you can make.

Whether you are considering divorce, already navigating the experience, or recreating the life you deserve, 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. Schedule your free session to learn about your possible next steps to a better day of living with courage, compassion and integrity.

Women starting over after divorce

5 Simple Tips for Women Starting Over After Divorce

Marriage should be a mutually beneficial arrangement for two people. Love, of course, matters, but historically, women had finances and their future stability to consider when choosing a husband. And over the past hundred years, our concept of marriage has changed—not just in America, but in many parts of the world. Today, women no longer marry to survive. Instead, independent women tie the knot for love and self-realization. But love and self-realization are also increasingly becoming reasons for getting a divorce.

According to a recent study conducted by WP Diamonds, one in ten marriages ends due to a lack of freedom. Once divorced, this newly-won freedom can seem a little frightening to even the most independent women. The important thing is to stay focused on your goals and assert your wishes. Starting over after divorce is about taking control of your new life.

Fight for your dreams, and take control of your life

Maintain a positive outlook, and when all else fails, remember that independence doesn’t mean never asking for help. Realize how much other people value you—your colleagues, friends, and family. Allow your positive thoughts to fuel you and help you build up your inner strength. If you need more support during this difficult time, you should get that support. Your real friends and family will stand by you through hard times. Talk to your friends, other divorced women, or a professional to get the divorce advice you need. In fact, one out of every four people going through a divorce would consider seeking professional help from a therapist.

And that’s good. For if there was ever a time one should turn to experts, it’s during the life crisis of divorce. Those same people who’d “consider a therapist” might benefit from learning about the steps resulting from working with a coach. For at some point, you want to stop talking about your situation and DO something that is appropriate for your circumstances. And without regret.  Appropriate action lessens anxiety and can relieve stress.

Independent women know this. We know how to make the best out of what life gives us, to speak up, and to take control — all of which takes a certain boldness and action. This also means taking control of our mental wellbeing and making decisions that are in our best interest.

Stand up for your rights, and carefully think about your next steps

Parting with someone close to you can be an emotional and painful process. Making rational decisions during this time is difficult but essential. If you can do so now, your future will be more stable—both emotionally and financially. Many women find it helpful to create a plan to follow during and after the divorce so they don’t lose track of what is important. As a divorced woman, you have rights. Create a checklist of your next steps. Here are a few examples of tasks you can add to your checklist:

  • Seek professional, emotional divorce advice
  • Find a good financial advisor
  • Ensure your children understand the changes they’re experiencing

It is not always easy, but it is ever so important to be honest with your children and to talk to them about what is going on. Your intention might be to protect them, but this is a hard time for them as well. Now more than ever, they need to know that they are loved and that they don’t need to choose one parent over the other.

Not sure what steps you need to take? Here are some more tips for newly-divorced independent women.

Be yourself, and gather your strength for the future

In all stages of life, you should remain true to yourself and follow your own path. This is also very important when it comes to starting over after divorce. Remember: You are not just a wife or a mother. You will always be, first and foremost, you—an individual, an independent woman. You can decide for yourself where to go, what to do, and which values you cherish after divorce.

Sometimes the stress of going through a divorce can bring out our ugly sides, and a person can turn to intimidation and other forms of manipulation to get what they want or to spite their Ex. If you remain fair and refuse to fall into this trap, you will increase your chances of coming out the other side a much more positive and emotionally stable woman. Stay true to yourself and surround yourself with people who are important to you—people who love and support you. Celebrate the good times rather than dwelling on the past.

Take these 46 steps to ensure your divorce recovery.

Be patient—starting over after divorce takes time

Deciding to divorce was likely a long process, after all. The decision to part ways with the person who was once your other half is not taken lightly. The wait for the divorce to finalize can also be excruciating. Depending on how long you were married, the prenuptial agreement, children, and many other factors, the divorce process can take several months or years. This is not always easy so when you hit a low moment picture your life after divorce and what it will feel like to be in control again. If your divorce has just finalized, know that once the dust has settled life after divorce will get better.

Your reward: your new life after divorce

Life goes on. As you contemplated divorce, filed the paperwork, and waited for your attorney to tell you it was finally over, daily tasks and responsibilities continued to pile up. Your job, your children, your home—each of them needs your attention. Divorce is rarely easy. You might have even asked yourself, “How will I move on after divorce?” The truth is that starting over after divorce will bring up a lot of emotions, but mostly, women feel like taking a great sigh of relief. Both before and throughout the divorce process, it can feel like you’re holding your breath. Are you ready to let it out? Your life as an independent, divorced woman is waiting for you.

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 afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.“– SAS for Women.

learning how to hire a divorce lawyer

How to Hire A Divorce Lawyer (The Right One for You)

Whether you’re contemplating getting a divorce or ready to act, your first step is NOT to make any immediate decisions but to get educated on what the divorce process looks like and how to hire a divorce lawyer.

You have choices, and you need to understand what they are. Divorce laws can change quite a bit once you cross state lines, so the best place to start your research is a search engine like Google. Type in keywords like “divorce laws in [your state]” to learn how getting a divorce will affect your life. Spend time learning about different divorce models. Decide whether you’ll work with a mediator or an attorney, for instance. Ask yourself which model is right for you, your spouse, and your circumstances.

After you’ve done a little fieldwork, it’s time to meet with the experts.

Divorce isn’t as simple as understanding your rights. Divorce is a line drawn in the sand, and once you pass it, many aspects of your life that go beyond your marriage will change. So yes, learn all about your rights. Find out what you are entitled to. But then drill down further.

Let’s face it—when it comes to divorce, especially when children are involved, many women are most concerned about two things: money and custody. What custody decisions will I have to make? How will I support myself? How will I pay the bills, put food on the table, and be a good mom all at the same time? All on my own, no less? That’s where a financial advisor comes in. Or even better, a certified divorce financial analyst who will explain exactly what will happen to your money, assets, and—you guessed it—debt.

Again, divorce is not simply a legal or financial issue but a life-changing event that throws even your sense of identity off balance. It’s crucial to seek guidance from someone who can break everything down for you without losing focus of the big picture. Someone who will listen when you tell them where you want to be, and then point you in the right direction. But who do you turn to for this kind of guidance? Who is going to give you vetted and appropriate referrals based on your actual situation?

Hiring a divorce coach

Of course, we believe the best professional suited for this role is a divorce coach because they can teach you about divorce (like how to hire a divorce lawyer) but above all, how to get through divorce the healthiest way. A divorce coach can help you overcome the emotional challenges as well as the practical ones, and by doing so, they help you save money and time. Mistakes happen, but with a divorce coach, the chance of those mistakes occurring is significantly reduced.

Divorce coach or not, it is critical to have a guide—someone who knows there is an end in sight because they’ve been in your shoes. They’ve experienced the self-doubt and second-guessing, the isolation and fear. It’s even more critical this person understand the journey of a woman, as they’ll be the one who helps you navigate and set yourself up for your best life.

If reaching out to a divorce coach is a step you’re not quite ready for, reading these articles about contemplating divorce may help you answer the questions you have and learn what else you should consider before you even start figuring out how to hire a divorce lawyer.

Shopping around for a divorce lawyer

Now if you’re still with me, then you might be ready to take the leap. You may even be shopping around for an attorney (as you well should). But what should you be looking for? What questions should you ask? Below are a few tips.

  • Get vetted referrals and consider them carefully
  • Find out if the lawyer specializes in family law
  • Find out if they are a skilled negotiator
  • Ask if they know the other lawyer(s) involved and how established the relationship is (this will help with negotiations)
  • Ask yourself if there’s chemistry between you and any potential hire (this means understanding your issues and values—making sure you feel heard
  • Ensure your lawyer can explain your “best and worst case scenarios”
  • Find out if they settle often
  • Ensure you understand all costs (the retainer, hourly rate, and payment structure)
  • Consider asking a friend or family member along to take notes and give you feedback after any meetings

Hiring the right divorce attorney or mediator is no easy task. But remember: you owe it to yourself to find the right representation. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions—just make sure they’re the right ones. And interview more than one professional (remember, it’s your right to shop around).

Be sure to read our article on what questions to ask a divorce attorney for more on how to hire a divorce lawyer, how to prepare for that meeting and how to pay your divorce..

And, of course, once you have hired a lawyer make sure you don’t make the mistake so many do of “misusing” her.

What else MUST you know about how to hire a divorce lawyer?

  • No one is ever really happy with her divorce lawyer because both parties always have to compromise
  • Try to settle out of court by putting your emotions aside and asking yourself if what’s upsetting you will still be important in ten years?
  • A good settlement is one in which neither client walks away entirely happy. Begin the process of managing your expectations, realizing what’s truly nonnegotiable, and understanding what all these decisions mean for setting up your next, better chapter of your life.

Whether you’re navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or recreating the life you want, one thing that makes a big difference for women is choosing not to do it alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. Learn how we can help you in a free, confidential consultation.