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Toxic marraige

27 Cautionary Signs You’re in a Toxic Marriage

Just like the proverbial frog in the pot, it’s nearly impossible to tell when you’re in the midst of marriage conflict that’s gone from warm to boiling, or when that humorous bite that initially makes for playful conversation begins to break the skin instead. There are the occasional stings of a partner who’s had a long day, and then there are the continual sniping, punitive remarks that spill over into damaging abuse, making your marriage toxic.

We’re hearing the term “toxic” a lot these days, referring to everything from environments to people to work places to marriages. Toxic simply means that something is poisonous, or has become so. Each of us can probably identify and add some of our own particular twists on what toxicity looks and feels like, or how it’s showing up in the people around us, or within ourselves. (We all have some toxic traits. No one is without a shadow side). It’s worth spending some time thinking about toxicity, because the more examples of it we identify, the more we can define this concept and see its insidious nuances and impact. When it comes to our relationship, understanding what constitutes a toxic marriage will help us decide if we’re going to leave the marriage or find a way to turn down the heat.

Check out the following 27 markers of a toxic marriage and consider their examples.  As you read, determine how present each one is in your life and what you will do  about it.

1. Excess Defensiveness

Perhaps you’ve tried to be patient: “Your husband is just acting this way because he’s* feeling vulnerable or stressed or working too hard these days,” you might say to yourself in the face of yet another snide comment. When your non-confrontational responses meet with repeated jabs, it’s hard not to get offended. And when you or your spouse hear criticism in even innocuous statements and questions, it becomes impossible to communicate. Moreover, constant defensiveness usually means your spouse has stopped taking responsibility for his behavior. It’s like trying to enter the flow of traffic next to a driver who only speeds up or slows down in order to block your efforts to merge.

2. Dismissiveness, Contempt, Condescension and Chronic Impatience

We can all get cranky, be less than tolerant, or even lose our tempers, especially under prolonged duress. But there is a demeaning quality to these communication styles, an implied attitude of superiority that suggests that the other person is beneath notice, not only not to be taken seriously but really seen as less important, less intelligent, and unworthy. Contempt diminishes—whether it is eye-rolling, smirking, sarcasm, or a blank stare followed by curt dismissiveness. Whatever the strategy is, the means of communicating these attitudes are myriad, and they are designed (consciously or not) to make the person on the receiving end feel stupid, worthless, or to undermine their confidence in their position.

Defensiveness and contempt are two of the four communication styles that the Gottman Institute identifies as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” for a marriage. However, of the four, contempt is identified as the attitude most likely to lead to a divorce or split. The other two of the four horsemen are criticism and stonewalling.

3. Criticism

Criticism goes beyond just voicing a concern or complaint, which tends to happen on a case-by-case basis. It is more apt to be ongoing, and is directed at the other person’s character rather than at their behavior. It is often an assertion of an agenda and is generated in part by the same need for control that is at the root of contempt. Constant criticism is a practice of routinely finding something wrong with or in need of improvement in the other person. You might say that defensiveness and stonewalling are the toxic responses to contempt and criticism.

4. Projection

Projection is the result of anticipating criticism before it happens, or hearing it when it doesn’t exist. Defensive redirection is a version of the idea that the “best defense is a good offense”, but it occurs when there’s not actually a reason for it. Projection is one of the responses to childhood psychological trauma, where unpredictability and chronic undermining of confidence or other dysfunctional patterns create a running inner dialogue that is turned outward, like a song on repeat. A spouse may ask a perfectly benign, kindly intended question about how “a projector” is liking work these days, and hearing an echo of that inner critic, “the projector” might put some edge in her voice, or snap, or ask why they want to know or stonewall with a monosyllabic pout, thus putting an end to the conversation and alienating her spouse.

Projection is turning that negative inner voice outward. Instead of recognizing that the voice is our own, we unconsciously “hear it” coming from others. By making the “attack” come from someone else, we avoid the understanding that the person we actually need to confront is the one in the mirror.

5. Addiction

Addictions include dependencies on food, shopping, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, exercise, gambling, sex, anger or even a belief system. It can be an attachment to status or social media. Addiction is a common reason for divorce and it really doesn’t matter what the addiction is. When an attachment to something overrides your ability to be constructively present to yourself and your partner, to the point that you or your spouse chronically and compulsively choose whatever that thing is over the marriage, it is a form of infidelity—an emotional affair.

An addict will face losing you and choose that thing over you anyway. They will usually find a way to justify it until they reach a point where they can’t cope with the consequences any more. At this point, they have to address their addiction and give it up, or keep doing it while giving up other parts of their life, from jobs and friends to spouses and children. Losing a spouse who you love is a consequence, but sadly, looking down the barrel of that loss is often not enough to keep the addict from engaging in the behavior. It’s never too late to give up an addiction, but it is sometimes too late to repair a relationship with a partner who came in second place to that addiction one too many times.

6. The Need to be Right

This tends to go beyond a partner who is just being a Know-it-All. There is a profound and constant need to be right, to be the “good guy” in the dynamic that seems to come from a deep-seated need to be in a position of authority, stemming from a need for control. It isn’t necessarily something the person is conscious of and can originate from trauma hangover, fear of loss, and/or a deep-seated, foundational insecurity, etc.

We might think of it as “White Hat” or “Podium Syndrome”, and it seems to incorporate everything from chronically talking over the other person in a conversation to condescension or maintaining an attitude that they know you better than you do. Inexorably analytical, the need to be right is defensiveness with a Ph.D. It is a polite war of attrition. It is scrutiny that’s done its homework.

7. The Power Differential

We live on a dualistic little planet: male-female, good-bad, dark-light, Republican-Democrat, God-Devil, happy-sad, yin-yang, dominant-passive, and on and on. We embrace shades in between; far more mainstream now are third and fourth gender assignments, the value of a multiple-party political system, the concept of many paths to “God” or however we define divinity, or don’t, and on we go. But we humans love our compare-and-contrast. In that vein, there may be a leader in a relationship, one partner who may be more alpha, or who has more influence in the ways we assign practical power. But unless that comes with an equal balance of power in the other partner somewhere else in the relationship, the scales are tipped to one side.

This hallmark of a toxic marriage leaves one person to stand and beat their chest, and the other to hobble along or be carried. If the more powerful partner seems to be actively engaged in maintaining a position of authority and keeping the power differential tipped toward them, this is where the marriage becomes toxic. Conversely, if the less dominant partner is engaging in learned helplessness or playing the victim–thereby wiggling out of carrying their share of the relationship’s workload, that is also toxic.


What action steps can you take (without risk of regret) if you are contemplating divorce? We’re so glad you asked. Consider our 36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking about Divorce.


8. Cross-Examination vs. Conversation

There are questions of interest and mutual understanding, and a give and take in an exchange of ideas, plans, thoughts, observations. Cross-examination on the part of a spouse, however, is not a sign of interest. Rather, it’s the mark of someone who not only has something to prove, but also who believes themselves to be in a position of authority. There’s room for rhetorical questions in the context of a philosophical debate or sharing of perspectives, but a constant barrage of “point-proving” questions—whether they are rhetorical or cross examining—has nothing to do with wanting to understand someone better. It’s an extension of the power differential, and another sign of a toxic marriage.

A cross-examination takes the fun out of relationship banter and backs a spouse into a corner. This disempowers and confuses. It creates self-doubt and only gratifies the ego of the questioner.

9. Insecurity

It doesn’t matter what form insecurity takes, and we all have a sense when we’re being insecure. Insecurity is the Wendy Whiner Within, it is the chronic need for reassurance. We all have insecurities; we all need occasional reassurance. Occasional. The trick in being healthy about our insecurities is to talk ourselves away from them rather than constantly asking our partner do it, or ask them to curtail any activity that “makes us feel” that way. (Keeping in mind that we are making ourselves feel that way more often than not). Sometimes we need a boost, yes, but the operative word there is sometimes. We are responsible for our own insecurities; our partner is not. And in fact, there is no way to make up for foundational insecurities.

For example, a husband’s insecurity shows up as a fear of his wife cheating. As a result, he insists that she is cheating, thinks about cheating, wants to cheat, used to cheat, and therefore will again… you get the picture. Sometimes, the more she tries to reassure him, the worse the insecurity becomes, because he then starts to wonder why she’s trying so hard to convince him and twists that into further “evidence.”

Trying to fill the hole of insecurity is like trying to dig quicksand out of a pit. If it’s a chronic issue, you just have to step out of the role of filling it and say, “I’m sorry you’re contending with this, but it is yours.”

10. Jealousy

Jealousy is a symptom of insecurity and can include jealousy of someone outside the relationship or inside it. Most of us can relate to the concept of jealousy, and if we’re not personally familiar with the scenarios that draw it forth, we can imagine them. Perhaps you may have a good male friend and confidante whom your husband doesn’t like you spending time with. Perhaps your husband has an attractive female boss or student he spends time with, both at work and in networking after hours, and you don’t like it. Or perhaps you are under-realized professionally and your husband lands a promotion or makes a creative move that ends up being wildly successful while you continue working in a job you barely tolerate.

You may do a fairly good job of showing enthusiasm on his behalf and pride in his accomplishment, which would be a healthier way of responding to your jealousy. On the other hand, perhaps you undermine his joy by pouting or drawing the conversation back to you by saying something like, “Well, I’m glad one of us is making it,” with a tremulous half-smile. That is a mark of toxic jealousy in a marriage. Also, it’s an act of putting a negative spin on your partner’s positive accomplishment and making the situation about you when it is not about you at all.

11. Manipulation

Manipulation is another off-shoot of insecurity or fear. Sometimes an abused wife may have to use subterfuge or manipulation to extract herself from the situation, which we might think of as justifiable manipulation. But other times, manipulation is dishonesty in a pink bow. For example, a wife might say, “Well, I just want you to think I’m pretty” when her husband asks why she spent $300 from their monthly budget on a pair of jeans. She wanted the jeans but made a desire to please him the reason for the purchase–and put a little dollop of guilt on it just for good measure.

Sometimes a manipulation is relatively benign and in fact managing people or personnel has an element of manipulation to it. The definition of manipulation is bending or shaping something to achieve a desired effect, which doesn’t have to have malignant intention. In a toxic marriage, however, manipulation often has malicious intent, such as controlling your partner physically or mentally, or prioritizing your own needs over theirs.

12. Testing

A form of manipulation, this is where one person—unconsciously or not—creates a highly charged scenario almost guaranteed to push a partner’s buttons. When the reaction occurs, the other person steps back and remarks on how uncalled for it was, even though they intentionally created the scenario. This is closely related to gaslighting, and is a form of emotional manipulation aimed at making a partner mistrust their own feelings so that they must rely on their partner’s version of reality.

13. Lying

If you have to lie to your spouse just to navigate the relationship, that’s a fairly good indication that, at the very least, there’s an imbalance. As with manipulation, a woman who is trying to extract herself from an abusive marriage may have to lie in order to achieve that. However, if you are lying to avoid day-to-day truths you don’t want your partner to know, such as flirting with an ex-boyfriend on Facebook or applying for a new credit card because you know you just maxed another one out, this is feature of a toxic marriage. Whether it has immediate negative consequences or a build-up of disrespect for yourself and your partner over time, this level of toxicity can become very destructive.

14. Walking on Eggshells

You avoid talking about something, meaningful or otherwise, simply because you fear your partner’s reaction. Perhaps you went to lunch with that male friend of yours who your husband is jealous of and you decide on your way home not to tell him, but he sees the restaurant receipt in your purse, and now you’re holding your breath in anticipation of a tantrum or an accusation that you’re attracted to your friend, or worse, cheating.

Or perhaps your husband doesn’t tell you about getting passed over at work for a promotion because he knows you will spend the next two hours taking it personally, and then the next few years nagging him about why he didn’t get it. Those are eggshells.

Either way, this withholding of information is a sign that your marriage may have become toxic, perhaps with other factors playing into this dynamic.

15. Anger

It’s one thing to get angry at something your partner does that hurts you or is unfair. This may include getting mad over the disregarding of a boundary you’ve established in your relationship, or something that has a detrimental impact on your children or your household. We all get angry from time to time. But if anger is your go-to emotion, if that’s your regular modus operandi, then you will have a corrosive effect on everyone around you. It’s also an element that can quickly contribute to creating a toxic marriage.

16. Passive Aggression

People employ passive aggression when they want to look like they’re taking the high road but are really taking the low road and hiding it under a layer of soft-spoken words. These words often point indirectly to the source of resentment without someone actually saying what’s on his or her mind. These can be couched as jokes or light commentary but are actually designed to be punitive. Because passive aggression can easily be denied, it’s often used as a covert way to do damage without taking blame for it—a hallmark of a toxic marriage.

17. Resentment

Resentment is often at the root of passive-aggression and usually has its root in anger over an issue that’s not been addressed. It could also be part of an underlying jealousy in the relationship or perceived imbalances in power. Either way, resentment (like contempt) is a highly damaging element of toxic marriage and needs to be resolved for the relationship to survive.

18. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a toxic behavior that’s complex enough to need its own article. This is an insidious and subtle form of emotional and psychological manipulation aimed at causing an individual to mistrust their own self-worth or emotions. A gaslighter invalidates their partner’s feelings and perceptions and instead forces them to rely on the gaslighter’s version of reality. This form of psychological control is a highly damaging sign of a toxic marriage.

Named for Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play “Gas Light,” in which the husband’s character kept dimming the lights in the house and telling his wife it was her imagination until she went insane, gaslighting is the province of someone who has a deep-seated need for control. Sometimes it’s purposeful manipulation and sometimes it’s the unconscious defense mechanism of one who needs to be right and has a difficulty taking responsibility for their own damaging behavior.

Gaslighters need to be right and may have a difficult time accepting they are capable of hurtful behaviors. Their strength is knowing their partner’s insecurities and areas of self-doubt; they can be very clever at leveraging those to undermine their partner’s perception, judgement, and self-confidence.

Common gaslighting phrases can be things like, “It’s just your imagination,” “I never said that,” “That was never my intention,” etc.

Whether it is purposeful or not, gaslighters employ subtle wordplay to resist having to acknowledge that they, like everyone else, have issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes, we are being too sensitive and sometimes a joke is just a joke, and that is where it gets tricky with a gaslighter. This is why this particular form of toxicity is difficult to combat.


For more information on how to access your marriage and your own sense of worth, read our popular  “Overthinking When to Leave Your Husband”.


19. Never Taking Responsibility for One’s Own Behavior

This sign of a toxic marriage shows up in many ways, by gaslighting, redirecting, playing the victim, making excuses, or playing the martyr. Those who do not take responsibility for their own behavior project an attitude of “being exempt.” It’s difficult to maintain a healthy relationship when one half of that relationship can never take responsibility for their actions.

20. Sabotage

Sabotage in a toxic marriage can have many forms. You drink too much to spend time with your partner, and then are too hungover the next day to help around the house. You promise to go to an event with them and then work out so hard that you injure yourself and can’t go. Maybe you promise to contribute to a household expense, project, or gift and instead spend the money on something frivolous for yourself then claim you forgot. You procrastinate to the point that you lose opportunities and income, thereby negatively impacting your family and everybody’s hopes for moving ahead.

You commit to an event but create so much drama around it that you end up not being able to participate after all. Your partner has an important interview coming up, but because you fear he might actually get the job and thereby rise and become successful and leave you in the dust, you purposely pick a fight with him the night before so he’s too disturbed to study or even sleep. Clearly, this toxic behavior is not healthy and can cause a lot of damage in a marriage.

21. Exclusion

Do you get the impression that your spouse’s co-workers don’t realize you exist? Does he take vacations and trips home to see his family without you, spending money on unnecessary collectibles instead of offering to buy you a plane ticket? Does he leave you out of his Facebook page? This is a bit of what exclusion looks like, and is an indication that there may not be full commitment, that he’s hiding the relationship from others or just himself. It is not so much a sign of disrespect, but more one of disregard or lack of cherishing.

22. Ignoring Your Own Self-Care

Perhaps all of your time and attention gets pulled into managing and meeting your spouse’s needs, to the point that you continually push aside the healthy practices you’d normally engage in—working out, preparing healthy lunches ahead of time, going to your women’s group, meditating, or journaling.

We all cycle through phases with our self-care, but when it’s chronically shunted aside, or you are clearly trying to keep up the practice but your partner evinces a cavalier or even insulting attitude about it, this is not only a sign of disrespect on their part but also a self-centered lack of love or caring.

For example, you are trying to come up with a time to complete a task or do something together, and when you ask for a different start time in order to work around your women’s group and they make a cutting remark about it. That is a clear sign of a toxic marriage. Or, you might be a Stay-at-Home-Mom, whose entire day is subject to the schedules of your children. You know you have a certain time to get the kids to school and then hurry home to complete household chores. You also know that the only time you can possibly go for a jog (your mental, physical, and emotional outlet) is during a particular window of time each day.

But your husband calls you when you’ve just laced up your sneakers, wanting to remind you to process the health insurance bills today. You are quick to say you’ll get to those bills but right now, you need to go for your run. Your husband stops you cold with, “How selfish of you, prioritizing yourself again.” You hang up the phone. Do you go for your run or do you angrily go find the health insurance folder?

23. Physical Illness

Stress can cause physical symptoms, whether that stress stems from emotional, circumstantial or self-created situations. For example, physical illness may occur in the form of a migraine or low back pain when one person is doing the bulk of the work in the relationship and is the only one putting forth the effort to move it forward. Perhaps everything in the household revolves around an illness-prone spouse whose “flair-ups” somehow occur whenever something that threatens her sense of control or need for constant attention happens. The other spouse then has to take up the slack, and in the face of the added work and pressure, overdoes it and ends up with a slipped disc, pneumonia, or adrenal fatigue.

Physical illness is often the cumulative result of chronic stress and living inside a toxic marriage. (Tip: Schedule a doctor’s appointment.)

24. Draining

Self-created, physical illness is one way that married people can drain each other. We often create our own illness with our lifestyle choices. For example, a drain on the marriage might be a husband or wife who continually engages in self-sabotaging behaviors, like over-consumption of alcohol or unhealthy foods. You know this will make you feel lousy and lead to things like sleep deprivation or excessive weight gain, thus negatively impacting your relationship and yourself, but you do it anyway. That is a drain. Likewise, corrosive emotions like anger that are a constant presence are also draining. A chronically negative, bitter, or pessimistic attitude is draining.

Talking over your spouse, to the point that you drown out what they are saying so that you don’t have to face an uncomfortable truth about yourself, is draining. Other drains might be having to provide constant reassurance to an anxious spouse; catering to one person’s chronic and bottomless need for admiration, affirmation, attention or rescuing; constantly interrupting; brow-beating; playing the martyr; playing the victim…

25. Lack of Empathy

All of us can be selfish, and the ability to see and feel the truth of something from someone else’s perspective is sometimes hard-won, especially if it means we have to take an uncomfortable look at ourselves. There are people, though, who either can’t or won’t take any interest in what someone else might be experiencing. They see those around them as only existing to serve them.

Not only do they not care about the feelings of the people in their lives but they often see those people as characters in their play, so to speak. You might know them as narcissists, a well-known buzz word these days.

26. Exploitation

The same individuals who lack empathy or feel entitled to the spotlight may even co-opt a spouse or a child’s accomplishments as their own—seeing the people around them in supporting roles only. If the people in their lives stop performing well—thus reflecting on them poorly—or balk at serving their agendas or their needs, they withdrawal love, withhold approval, or issue some other consequence. Narcissists often form relationships on the basis of how the dynamic will serve them. They also do not possess the ability to see their own narcissism.

27. Lack of Listening

If one person in a relationship is doing most of the talking, particularly if they are “always right,” it’s probably going to be difficult for them to hear from the people in their lives that their behavior is hurtful. We all have behavior that is toxic or hurtful at times, so the ability to hear others when they ask us to address our own behavior is foundational to healthy relationships. Toxic behavior involves telling other people how they can improve but showing inability to take direction.

Despite all the ways that people and relationships can be toxic, though, they can heal, provided both people commit to doing the work. Whether it’s couple’s counseling or self-help, both parties must be willing (and able) to do the work required to negotiate healthy boundaries and communicate in a way that makes everyone feel valued.

Notes:

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

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women has focused on the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

*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 Judgement

What is a Divorce Judgement?

There are many legal documents you may face during the course of the divorce process. These may include those certified or sworn by the parties and the judge’s orders. This article will explain what a Divorce Judgement is as well as what other legal documents you may encounter.

Keep in mind that a Divorce Judgement can also be called a Divorce Decree, a Judgement of Divorce, or a Final Judgement of Divorce. This language depends upon the state in which you file your divorce proceeding. This information about Divorce Judgements is from the office of a busy Philadelphia divorce attorney.

How Does a Divorce Unfold in Court?

How a divorce judgement unfolds legally will depend upon whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce. This is the determining factor of whether or not you go to court. An uncontested divorce is when you and your spouse agree to:

Note: An uncontested divorce can also occur when one party files for divorce and the other party fails to file an Answer or officially acknowledge receipt of the papers.

Uncontested Divorce

Even in an uncontested divorce, it is not common for couples to agree on a solution to every single issue that must be resolved as part of the divorce. This is the work of the divorce attorneys. Their job is to negotiate on behalf of their clients until both parties agree upon terms. If the parties refuse to come to terms, the court may get involved in disputed matters. Regardless, you can expect that an uncontested divorce will finalize much more quickly than a contested divorce. 


To understand more about an uncontested and contested divorce, read How Much Will My Divorce Cost Me, Financially & Emotionally?”


The timeline of the divorce process will vary according to the procedure in each state. However, a couple filing an uncontested divorce can expect to divorce in as little as four or five weeks or as long as a year. This timeline depends upon the family court docket backlog–or how busy they are at your local courthouse

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is another matter entirely. The term “contested divorce” refers to a divorce proceeding in which the couple adamantly disagrees about any or all of the following: 

  • Whether to get divorced
  • Who was at fault (in an at-fault state)
  • The terms of the property settlement agreement in general
  • What assets are considered community property (in a community property state)
  • The terms of the parenting time arrangement
  • Whether child support should be paid
  • The terms of the child custody arrangement
  • The amount of child support that should be paid
  • Whether spousal support should be paid
  • The amount of spousal support should be paid

The length of time it takes to resolve all of the issues in a contested divorce will vary greatly from case to case. If the parties enter into mediation or arbitration, that may help speed up the process. If the parties cannot agree and must make their arguments to the family law judge and let him or her decide for them, those hearings will proceed as quickly (or as slowly) as the court’s docket allows.

Typically, family law courts are busy. It is not unheard of for a contested divorce to take at least a year to conclude, and in some cases, to drag on for years.

So, a tip to the consumer: when you are asking questions and interviewing lawyers, and feel very strongly about a particular issue, make sure you ask the lawyer how winnable that issue will be for you and what the ballpark cost might be if you have to go to court to win it.

What Legal Documents Arise During a Divorce Proceeding?

The Plaintiff (and his or her attorneys) create the following legal documents:

  • Complaint (or Petition) for Divorce
  • Case Information Statement
  • Certification of Service of Process on Defendant/Respondent

Note: Some states refer to the Plaintiff as the Petitioner.

While you may be the one filing for divorce, it’s possible that you are instead on the receiving end of a divorce filing from your spouse. Don’t panic! Instead, educate yourself about what to do if you are served divorce papers.

These are considered legal documents, and those filing must certify or swear that the information contained within them is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.

What Happens After I File Divorce Papers?

Upon receipt of the filing, the family law judge will then issue a Joint Preliminary Injunction (JPI) preventing either party from selling or giving away marital assets, including the joint bank account. 

Assuming that you are the one filing for divorce, your spouse (the Defendant, or Respondent) will have a certain amount of time to file his or her Answer to the divorce papers (Divorce Judgement). Again, your spouse must certify or swear that the information in their Answer is true and correct.

After receiving the divorce papers, if your spouse agrees with your filing or otherwise fails to file an Answer within the allotted time, the Plaintiff receives a Judgement by Default and a Final Judgement of Divorce. This will include a Child Support Order if needed, a Spousal Support Order if needed, and a Property Settlement Agreement providing for the distribution of the marital assets.

If your spouse disputes your divorce claim or requests different agreement details, he or she must also file a Case Information Statement. This statement discloses their financial situation and must also accompany a Certification of Service of Process.

In a contested divorce where your spouse expressed issues with custody, support, or distribution of marital assets, the court will then issue orders while you negotiate. Once both parties resolve all issues, the court will memorialize them in the Final Judgement of Divorce.

Are There Legal Documents That Come After the Divorce Judgement?

Yes. Additional court orders may occur if disputes continue. Such orders include:

  • A modified Child Support Order
  • Modified Spousal Support Order
  • Modified Child Custody Agreement

If either party is not complying with the agreed terms, the judge might also issue an order for Contempt of Court or an Order to Pay Attorney’s Fees and Costs. Additionally, if a party fails to appear in court, the family law judge may even issue a Warrant for Arrest.

Lastly, if there are allegations of spousal or child abuse or harassment, the family law judge may issue a Temporary Restraining Order or a Final Restraining Order.

In conclusion, a divorce judgement finalizes your divorce but is not the only important legal document stemming from your divorce process. Your divorce judgement also may not be the last legal document governing you and your Ex. If there are disputes over child custody agreement, properties, or support amounts, more documents may follow. Also, if the financial circumstances of either spouse changes, this may affect the divorce agreement.  Lastly, if there are allegations of abuse or harassment, there may be additional court orders following the Final Judgement of Divorce.

 

Notes:

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia, USA. She frequently works with Lee Schwartz, a noted Philadelphia divorce lawyer.

Since 2012, SAS for Women has helped women face the unexpected challenges of considering divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.

How to file for divorce during uncertain times

How to File for Divorce During Uncertainty

Divorce is an obstacle course of flaming hoops, even under the simplest and most amicable conditions. But knowing how to file for divorce when you’re still uncertain is its own form of uncertainty.

There’s so much to figure out. Do you stay and work it out when you’re unhappy and unmotivated? Should you start planning for divorce but stay quiet about it? Do you tell your spouse you want a divorce before doing anything?

Or do you take matters into your own hands and start proceedings?

And what about all the chaos and uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic?

Sheltering in place can certainly foster much needed family and relationship time. But it can also confirm stirring doubts if a marriage is unhappy or unhealthy.

Even if you know that divorce is the way you have to go, the circumstances of this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic fuel their own doubts.

And where do you even start? Divorce is complicated enough without having limited access to necessary resources and agencies.

There’s something about certainty that provides clarity. It’s as if the path ahead clears itself in anticipation of your next move. You’ve decided. You’re focused. You’re driven.

But permanent, life-changing decisions like divorce are rarely so clear-cut.

You may be overthinking whether to leave your husband. Perhaps you’re terrified of the loss of financial security, social approval, and custody of your children. Maybe you’re stuck remembering the good times, unsure of how to move on.

You may be determined to go through with a divorce, but the current circumstances brought on by COVID raise new questions and concerns.

For example, many courts and legal services were closed in the early months of the pandemic. Even those that have reopened may be playing catch-up for a long time. Then there’s the uncertainty of whether the courts and legal services will remain open as the number of COVID cases begin rising again. You will have to think about how that could affect the timing of your divorce and your access to needed services.

Additionally, you or your spouse may have lost your source of income. Your investments may have taken a big hit, especially if you have had to rely on them for survival. Any changes in employment and finances during this time could make your settlement more difficult to negotiate.

Even the pragmatic issue of physical separation could prove problematic. Most realtors and landlords have resorted to virtual property tours to avoid in-person contact, potentially making a home search more difficult.

How could your kids be affected by a divorce or physical move at this time?

If you have children, you know that schooling has become more complicated, even from school to school. Some have returned to in-person attendance, some are virtual, and some are a blend of the two.

There are countless reasons to feel overwhelmed with uncertainty at a time like this. And that overwhelming feeling can make it difficult to focus on learning how to file for divorce if and when you decide to do so.

The less confusion and fear you have about the process itself, the more clarity and security you will have about your decision.

Just as importantly, that clarity will keep you from making mistakes that could cost you heartache and money now and down the road.

As tempting as it is to be easily triggered and reactive, wisdom would advise you to convert that energy into making a plan.

Educate yourself on the various stages of divorce and what it takes to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. And know the consequences if you overlook something.

It’s important to know upfront that every state has different laws. From residency requirements within your county and state to waiting periods, every state has its own divorce process.

Here is an overview of the divorce process, regardless of what state you’re in. This can serve as an outline for guiding your questions and helping you get educated and prepared.

  1. Prepare a divorce petition. 

One spouse has to file for divorce, which starts with a divorce petition.

Every state provides couples the option of filing a no-fault divorce, which can make an uncontested divorce much simpler (and less expensive).

  1. File the divorce petition.

The petition for termination of marriage must be filed with the correct court within your district.

  1. Ask for temporary orders if necessary. 

Perhaps the required waiting period isn’t possible for you. You may need a court order to secure child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Other temporary orders include status quo orders, temporary property restraining orders, and restraining orders.

Depending on your situation, you should become educated on all of these orders and their possible necessity in your divorce.

  1. Serve your spouse with the appropriate documentation. 

There are laws governing the serving of divorce papers and reporting it to the court. There can also be consequences for not following the required procedures and deadlines.

  1. The recipient files a response. 

The recipient response, whether agreement or contest, must also be filed within a certain amount of time.

  1. Negotiate a settlement. 

Obviously, your divorce will go much more smoothly if you and your spouse can negotiate your own terms. Division of assets, child custody, and support, alimony (if applicable)—the list is long and should be thought out in detail.

Even if you and your spouse are able to be agreeable, you would still be wise to seek professional guidance for this stage.

  1. The hearing. 

Depending on your and your spouse’s ability to work agreeably, you could have either an uncontested hearing or a trial.

  1. The final judgment. 

Just what it sounds like, this final step is the first step to your new life. It’s also the point at which you will want to feel secure that you have done everything right leading up to it.

If all of this sounds daunting, know that your feelings are only natural. You’re considering the end of a marriage and a change in life for your entire family.

But now is the time to channel that consternation into preparedness. You’re seeking clarity so you know your options and can best prepare for and protect your future.

Learning how to file for divorce when there is so much uncertainty will be easier if you surround yourself with experts knowledgeable about the process.

Clarity comes from knowledge. And there are plenty of resources with the knowledge you will need to navigate this life-changing process.

You may not have a clue how to get started, but you can build a trustworthy team to guide you.

A divorce coach, for example, can serve as the hub of your wheel, directing you through both pragmatic and emotional decisions.

A financial expert can help make sense of your marital finances and lay the groundwork for an equitable settlement and a plan for your future.

And a good family law attorney that specializes in divorce will provide sound legal guidance and walk you through the legal process.

Here are some tips for how to file for divorce when you’re feeling uncertain.

  • Grab a journal.

Give it a hope-filled title if that will inspire you to make it your constant companion. The important thing is that you get used to documenting… everything.

You don’t have to be on the verge of the War of the Roses to justify documenting everything that is or could be relevant to a divorce.

This journal is your private, dedicated space for logging questions to ask a divorce attorney, answers, research, resources, events, conversations, and concerns.

When you have this vital information safely written where you can easily access it, you can let go of some anxiety. You will also be prepared for discussions with lawyers and other consultants.

  • Get organized.

Now is the time to start collecting and organizing copies of all information that could affect your settlement and therefore your future.

This is also one of the first vital steps if you’re asking, What should I do to leave my husband? 

In the context of fear and uncertainty, organization is incredibly clarifying and empowering.

Buy an accordion folder and organize all your documents. Make copies of any documents that pertain to both of you.

If you have been in the dark regarding your marital finances, be sure to get access to all relevant information. Investments, accounts, retirement (401(k), IRA), life insurance, social security, past taxes, children’s records (medical, education), mortgage and home expenses, etc.—it all matters.

  • Consider hiring a divorce coach.  

According to the American Bar Association, “Divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through a divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs, and concerns.”

The more upheaval and uncertainty you feel as you look to the possibility of divorce, the more essential a divorce coach becomes.

An experienced divorce coach will be able to advise you as to whether a traditional, pro se, mediated, or collaborative divorce is best for you. And she can also help with aspects of the process that an attorney can’t or won’t.

From pre-divorce to post-divorce, a divorce coach can be your link to sanity and hope. Some coaches offer not only private coaching, but educational, divorce support groups, which can lessen the expense of working with a coach and give you a much-needed community so you feel less weird, less alone.

  • Talk to an accountant or financial advisor.

Find someone who can do a thorough analysis of your financial situation and help you prepare for the future.

Women commonly enter into a life of lowered income post-divorce, so they need prudent guidance in forecasting their situation and future needs.

The longer you have been married and the more complex your marital finances, the more important it is to have expertise on your side.

  • Find the right lawyer. 

Whether or not you want to do your divorce on your own, at least consult with a family law attorney. Have your questions and concerns listed in your journal and bring your portfolio of documents.


If you are wondering what else you can do BEFORE you file, read our “36 Things to Do If You are Thinking About Divorce”


Being organized and prepared will not only help with legal expenses but will help you to hear the answers more effectively.

  • Update your resume and start researching employment. 

Whether you have been actively employed or have been out of the workforce raising kids, this is the time to look ahead.

Update your resume, polish up your relevant skills, and do some research on the job market, even if you currently work.

If you have lost work during the pandemic, you may find that your options are limited. Or you may be forced to change the way you work.

Working from home, for example, may not be as simple as it sounds if you’re starting divorce proceedings.

Entering the job market during the cultural uncertainty of COVID could be challenging. It’s therefore important that you have a firm grasp on your gifts and skills and are prepared to be creative in their use.

You may not have had to worry about things like health insurance and retirement funds in the past. But now you could be on your own without those safety nets.

  • Get your credit in good shape. 

Know where your credit stands. Get a copy of your credit report and review it before sharing concerns with your accountant.

You may have credit issues tied to your spouse. And you may have debts accrued by your spouse but reflecting on you.

It’s imperative that you know where you stand and how to protect your credit going forward. You will need good credit to secure essentials like housing and credit cards in your name.

Now is the time to work on rebuilding credit in your name, even if you simply start with a secured credit card.

  • Don’t jeopardize the outcome.

Simply put, mind your p’s and q’s. Don’t do anything that could give your spouse ammunition to use against you in your divorce.

Don’t start dating. Avoid making large or unnecessary purchases. Don’t start pitting your kids against their father. And don’t unilaterally change your parenting practices.

Knowing how to file for divorce during uncertainty starts with a focus on achieving clarity.

Just because you research the divorce process and prepare yourself for the possibility doesn’t mean you’ve signed off on a divorce.

It simply means you will step confidently and wisely into your future if you do decide to end your marriage.

 

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

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

 

35 divorce books on divorce for your head and heart

35 Best Books on Divorce: How to Think Smart and Protect Your Heart

Are you in that awful place of looking to teach yourself about divorce? Do you want to help your children with the gut-wrenching issue? Or have you a friend who is going through an especially grueling break up and you’d like to support her/him with several books on divorce, speaking to their specific circumstances? Your instincts are good. Divorce is hard to understand and get a handle on, mostly because it’s not just one thing happening, but an ongoing process of things to navigate, consider, decide about, and heal from. Depending on who you are and what stage of divorce you or your friend is going through, divorce can impact a person in many different ways. And while divorce coaching and support groups can be empowering and healing mechanisms, sometimes the privacy of reading books is a more comfortable start. Thank goodness we live in this modern age, where now more than ever, there exists extensive guides, workbooks and how-to books on divorce and especially, divorce recovery.

That said, how do you choose the right books on divorce? It’s not like the subject is pleasure reading, or as if you had all the time in the world.

That’s where we come in. Throughout the course of our divorce coaching practice, we’ve often been asked if we can recommend “the right book.” So below is our list of the best books on divorce.

Whether you’re an avid reader, a loving parent, a thoughtful friend, a gung-ho problem solver, or someone looking for help with a specific aspect to divorce (splitting from a narcissist, perhaps?), you’ll find our seasoned recommendations for the best books on divorce below. Among all of them, you’ll find an emphasis on navigating your divorce not only smartly, but healthily. And if you are looking to be distracted from your situation and inspired by heroines who suffered and survived, we’ve got you covered there, too. We want you to know the right books for inspiration and distraction; for it is our wish you will find something that points to hope in your story, too.

Beginning the Process of Divorce

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71jncarvagL.jpg 1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. Should you try to save your marriage or is it un-saveable? From the inside, it can be really hard to tell. Kirshenbaum’s book helps you ask questions of yourself so you come to understand and navigate which sins are forgivable and which ones are deadly. This book, a new “classic” is highly recommended by SAS for Women for those who keep asking themselves what’s the criteria for staying or to go?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/514u5MgMSfL.jpg 2. Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. Are you having problems making sense of the chaos that is your marriage? Do you feel manipulated, controlled, lied to, or the focus of intense, violent, and/or irrational rages by your partner? Your partner may have borderline personality disorder and the decision to live with or leave that relationship can be even more complex than others’ experience. This book, highly recommended by SAS for Women, is important for those confused by their “reality.”

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41RyV-G0PnL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 3. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Ever After by Katherine Woodward Thomas. No matter what the reason behind your divorce, moving on can be difficult. In this step-by-step guide, Katherine aids her readers in finding peace through five steps. SAS for Women loves this book for it giving you permission to reframe divorce on your terms. You can break up in a more meaningful, thoughtful and compassionate way.

 

Using Your Head While You Divorce

Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by [Schoonover, Linda] 4. Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by Linda Schoonover. Emotions run high during divorces; it’s a natural thing. Schoonover, a former judge, helps you keep your head grounded in the process with thoughtful, rational, and easy to follow guides that tackle questions on divorce: from how to prepare for a temporary hearing without an attorney to how to choose between mediation or collaborative divorce.

 

Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by [Cooper, Pegotty, Mishkin,Kimberly, Wilson Gould,Kira, Levey,Marc, Reeves,Glenys, Burton-Cluxton,Lori, McNally,Lisa, Dykes,Pamela, Callahan, Tracy, Marhan Dropkin,Marie, Chacon,Kurt] 5. Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by Peggy Cooper with a contributing chapter from SAS Cofounder Kimberly Mishkin. Sometimes taking your emotions into consideration is exactly THE smart thing to do. In this book, taking care of your emotional well-being comes first, because divorce is an emotional and costly experience that can have repercussions not only on your fiscal future but your emotional future as well.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41tgjd9DjeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 6. The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Divorce: A Therapist and a Lawyer Guide You through Your Divorce Journey by Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge Esq. This compassionate divorce book is written by two experts from different fields—psychology and law. From helping your children cope and strategies for successful coparenting to tips and tricks to help you with obstacles in the courtroom, this book touches on every aspect of divorce and gives you a way to navigate through them.

 

The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps To Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by [Licciardello, J A] 7. The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps to Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by J.A. Licciardello. Divorce is hard enough but splitting assets and negotiating a settlement can be especially difficult. You’re not just letting go of who you thought would be your life partner, but you’re now negotiating for your present and future finances once that split is over. This book can help you keep your finances in mind, even when you have a heavy heart.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/416P5C5ndbL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg8. BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns by Bill Eddy. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with social media, emails, text messages, tweets, DMs, etc. We live in an age of technology where, when one soon-to-be-former partner is frustrated, there’s a plethora of social media and digital means of communication for them to harangue, harass and embarrass you. If you’re dealing with that, this book is for you!

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JB90CDQEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg9. Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues by Cari B. Rincker, Esq., SAS for Women, and additional divorce pro’s. This is a comprehensive divorce and family law book that is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the perspectives of attorneys and important professionals like SAS divorce coaches Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin as they discuss a myriad of family and matrimonial law topics, including how to divorce, what the legal process looks like,  custody issues and how to avoid court.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51QiRlkhxdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg10. Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are, by virtue of their diagnosis, especially good at manipulation and projection. If you find yourself facing or engaged in the battleground of divorce with a narcissist, this book will help you stay prepared and steady.

 

Caring For Your Heart

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZzCmz3WtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg11. Getting past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott. Focusing on the hurt and loss in your life can leave you drained and unready to move on. But Susan’s book gives you a step-by-step guide on what to do after your divorce to start you on your journey of healing: from putting up boundaries between you and your Ex to focusing on yourself rather than your loss.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MzAZ5Lz5L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg12. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brené Brown. Being vulnerable is seen as a weakness, but Dr. Brown uses this book to illustrate that vulnerability is anything but weakness. Vulnerability is one of our core emotions, like love, joy, fear, etc., and when we expose our vulnerability, we are actually showing courage and can find empowerment through it.  This book is highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91oqnZRdz5L.jpg 13. This Is Me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe. When you love someone deeply, even when divorce is the right thing to do, it’s hard to let go. This collection of essays is a fantastic tool for living with your feelings and understanding that love sometimes isn’t enough, even when we want it to be.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41WIbflfG2L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 14. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Sometimes the pain you are feeling really is only in your mind—you suffer because you think you are suffering. If you want to challenge logical pain and find joy, happiness, and love, look no further than within this book and within your heart. Through learning to embrace your day-to-day life and living within the present, the pain in your head will slowly fade away and will be replaced by a connection to our “indestructible essence” within.  Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LrftXWyrL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg15. Grieving the Loss of Love: How to Embrace Grief to Find True Hope and Healing after a Divorce, Breakup, or Death by Dr. Eleora Han. Grief is a very real emotion—one you’ll more likely be feeling after your divorce or the loss of a major relationship in your life. But grief doesn’t need to be a bad or negative emotion, and Dr. Han offers readers a path to recovery from grief that includes embracing the feeling of grief and loss and directing it in healthy, life-changing ways.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51TS0mIIqbL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg16. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. When your world feels like it is crumbling around you, it’s hard to carry on and live through the pain, anxiety, and fear. In this book, Chödrön illustrates that the path forward isn’t through our heads, but through our hearts. Through Buddhist wisdom, Chödrön gives her readers the right tools to navigating troubling times within their lives.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51dZiYV4emL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 17. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Author Hay believes that we are responsible for all the joy and all the pain we experience in our lives. When pain starts to outweigh your joy, this book has first-hand experiences to help you heal, internally, and to overcome the obstacles, externally, that take you away from your ability to live life to its fullest.

 

 

Helping Your Children

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51YdVutKtlL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg18. Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride. McBride, a family therapist with over 25 years of practice, has helped many children going through their parent’s divorce. In this book, McBride offers the tools and encouragement needed to help your children deal with your divorce. This book will empower you to have emotionally honest and open conversations with your children and will help ensure your child’s emotional wellbeing. Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51A%2BiUP1tZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg19. Co-Parenting Works by Tammy G. Daughtry. Imagining your children’s life after divorce never brings up happy images—but, there is a way to navigate a seemingly impossible situation. Through your children, you and your Ex are forever linked and building a strong coparenting relationship not only benefits you but helps your children lead a healthy, happy life post-divorce.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513yoFu4awL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg20. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman and Patricia Romanowski. Divorce can be especially rough on children, but this book is designed to help you help your children cope. This book includes tips from building a coparenting relationship that benefits your children and age-appropriate scripts for addressing sensitive issues, down to what to say and do when one parent moves away.

 

It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce (Lansky, Vicki) by [Lansky, Vicki]21. It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce by Vicki Lansky. If you have younger children, it can be especially difficult to communicate what a divorce is, why you are going through it, and, most importantly, how it is not their fault. This book, a classic, specifically designed for younger children, can help them come to terms in an age-appropriate way with what’s happening during a divorce.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51fQwgijgdL._SY457_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg22. Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton. In preparation for your divorce and future as a coparent, this book is fantastic at illustrating what living in two households is like for a young child. This book helps younger children understand that no house is a part-time house but two loving homes for them to be a part of.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mRRWPhJbL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg23. Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children by Dr. Azmaira H. Maker and Polona Lovsin. This multi-award-winning book isn’t for you but for you to read to your younger children. This beautifully illustrated children’s book helps children grasp the changes that are about to come about in their life and that change isn’t something to be afraid of. This book is designed to help ease a child through a difficult time in their life.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51a1qqGqdHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg24. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe Stern and Evan Stern. This upbeat book is by two children of divorce, Zoe and Evan, whose parents divorced when they were 15 and 13 years old. Instead of turning that experience into something negative, the siblings worked together to create this book to help other children of divorce handle the situation in a positive way. With the help of their mother, the teens tackled topics from anger, guilt, fear, and adjusting to two different households.

 

For Yourself

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nruTM3RfL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg25. The Awakening by Cate Chopin. Discontented, Edna Pontellier lives in New Orleans with her husband and two sons. While on vacation with her family, Edna falls in love with a mysterious man who is not her husband. When she returns home, she misses him deeply and when her husband goes away on a business trip, things will never be the same for Edna again.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Nr1ldFFRL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg26. How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor. This honest memoir is Theo’s story of kicking her husband out for his gambling problem and dealing with being alone with two young daughters. Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Theo not only has to figure out how to provide for her now husbandless family but also how to rebuild and move forward in her own life.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51BIxac7uFL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg27. Evening by Susan Minot. Known as a daring exploration of time and memory, Minot’s novel will whisk you away into the life of Ann Grant. At 65, Ann is experiencing illness which brings her in and out of lucidity. Throughout the novel, Ann slips into memories of the past from her first time falling in love at the age of 25 and through her three marriages and five children.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-pvNep7bL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg28. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, this novel not only captivates with a love triangle, a rebellion, and a smothering dose of tradition but also transports you to 1920s high society through the characters of Newland Archer, Mary Welland, and Countess Ellen Olenska. Forced to choose between obligation brought about through tradition or love, Archer, engaged to Mary and in love with Ellen, must navigate a world of social pitfalls and taboo to see if he can have both love and marriage, or forever being denied passion.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pqc%2BDV-qL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg29. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This new classic is a classic for a reason—it’s just plain old good. Wrap your head and your heart around Elizabeth’s journey across Europe and Asia to find herself after divorce. This book will not only captivate you as Elizabeth tries to find herself and her happiness but will make you hungry. Be sure to order yourself a pizza, pour yourself a glass of wine, and wear your comfortable sweatpants while reading.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Rqbzlu8VL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg30. Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison. Never believing in fairy tales nor happy endings, Morrison grew up with the idea that hard work and ambition would be her path to a happy life. But her world view was challenged when she realized that no amount of work could save her marriage. This book is Morrison’s lightly humorous journey through divorce and learning how to love again, how to forgive, and how to live through a divorce.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41BGrvQV%2BTL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg31. Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Life seemed perfect for Rachel Samstat. She loved her husband dearly and she was about to have a child with him, but, while she was seven months pregnant, Rachel discovers her husband Mark has been cheating on her. Therapy comes in all forms, and in this novel, Rachel turns to cooking and writing recipes to cope with Mark’s infidelity and her own feelings about their marriage and future child. Ephron conveys things we all feel, but reading her is more: it’s both hilarious and cathartic!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-rwApY85L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg32. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Told in the age of industrialization of Russia and called “the best novel ever written” by Faulkner, this is the story of Anna and her two loves: her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and her lover, Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. Anna is torn between her love of two Alexeis, between obligation and freedom, between her role as mother and the dictates of society and her own need for fulfillment through love. This stunning classic will both capture and break your heart through its beautifully-told journey.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513x35SHFTL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 33. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman. This story is that of Rita leaving all her worldly possessions at the age of 48, on the brink of divorce, and deciding to walk away from everything and become a nomad. Rita traveled the world from Mexico to the Galapagos to Borneo and everyplace in between as a way of not only seeing the world but discovering herself.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41rcED%2BzQAL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 34. Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. If you enjoy poetry and are also going through divorce, SAS for Women highly recommends this collection. Olds penned these complicated, nuanced and moving poems during the end of her own marriage and opens her heart to the reader. Through beautiful words, Olds reveals the strange intimacy that comes with the separation of a man that was 30 years her mate.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41hP1UGDzSL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This autobiographical book takes you on the journey Cheryl went through to become the person she is today, starting with her mother and her divorce. Cheryl falls into a dark place and, to save herself and learn to move forward, decides to hike over a thousand miles on the Pacific Coast Trail alone. Sometimes what you need is a really good book to lose yourself in, one you can learn and grow with just as the protagonist learns and grows. Wild is that book.

 

While there’s no guarantee you (or your friend) will connect with each and every one of these books on divorce, we’re willing to bet at least a few will resonate. Maybe one of them will teach you how to do  something step by step, while another will inspire you and remind you that in fact, you are not alone.  Hearing what the experts know or learning from other people who have gone through a divorce, can lessen your learning curve, bolster your own confidence and give you insight, tips, tricks, and strategies to make this process a little bit easier and less emotionally devastating.

What books on divorce do you recommend? By all means we invite you to share it in the comment box below so other women can benefit. Do tell us what made the book meaningful for you. We love learning from other women and their hard-won experiences! By all means, too, if you did not find a particular book on this list of “best books on divorce” relevant, good, or it did not serve you, let us know that, too.

 

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

 

* Please know, we recommend these books on divorce based on our experience with them and the feedback we’ve received from clients who have read them. The links to each book in this blog will take you to Amazon and should you purchase one using the Amazon links here embedded, SAS for Women will receive a few pennies commission. Though the links are designed for your convenience, you are welcome to buy the books from anywhere you like (your local bookstore perhaps?); just get the education and support you deserve and begin taking care of you.