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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.”

8 Reasons I am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving

8 Reasons I Am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving (and All Days)

We are emerging from the midterms. The country is either celebrating or cursing, and we the people in our country remain polarized. Some of us are fearful of Thanksgiving and the oncoming holidays. Who will we be seated next to? What will come up in conversation? And how strong will our bandwidth for patience be? Will politics undermine our annual gathering as it did for a lot of us last year? Will the knife slice through the turkey and right through to the table, frustrating, infuriating, devastating us again as the political and cultural war divides us not only on a map, but also inside our homes?

I spoke to a client this week, I’ll call “Phoebe.” Phoebe, who is divorced after decades in a stagnant marriage, told me she was worried, because she’d been invited by her son and his new wife for Thanksgiving. She was excited, but especially worried. She and her son had been at a standoff for too long, not talking, and it had been a source of deep anguish for Phoebe, a mother who loves her son. Suddenly, her son (perhaps encouraged by his new wife) was extending an olive branch after two years, and asking his mother to come to their house and to join them and his wife’s family for Thanksgiving.

Phoebe is worried because she’s met her daughter in law’s family briefly not long ago. But what’s more, she’s seen their Facebook postings and, politically speaking, her daughter-in-law and her family are polar opposites of Phoebe. Phoebe is unnerved and alternately outraged. What has her son married into? …What will the father-in-law say? He’s an advocate for the NRA … There’s his postings about immigration issues ….

Just telling me what she’d seen online stoked Phoebe more. Phoebe is Jewish, and the recent, horrific killing of 11 people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh followed by the menacing shout of “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” in a Baltimore theater not long after have heightened Phoebe’s fear about rising anti-Semitism—and all isms, because she is a thinking woman.

She is also an ecumenical minister, so as much as she was starting to go there — that is open up and be raw, allowing her dark feelings to run … in a moment’s time, too, she stopped. And then …

She told herself aloud, that her mantra going into this loaded home and situation would be to just be grateful.

And if she were challenged, if something insidious was said, she would try to redirect the conversation to show that we are more than this hatred.

We each are more than this hatred.

Phoebe and I talked more, sharing how we both believe a leader will emerge who will help us, someone who will help us forge the divide. But until our next Martin Luther King Jr. arrives, we have only ourselves.

It’s on each of us.

In the spirit of the holidays and the challenges we face, here are eight reasons I am grateful for my divorce this Thanksgiving and all days.

1.  I can totally disregard all comments if I choose

I am a divorced, independent woman after all. I didn’t go through all of this only to let others bring me down again.

2.  And as a divorced, independent woman, I am grateful I can choose how I want to spend Thanksgiving and how I want to show up

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’d like to host a Walton’s Thanksgiving, on a long pine table in a room warmed by a fireplace and invite every single person I love. Every single person who’s showed me kindness, who’s showed me I was worthy in this new chapter of my life.

I’d also like to be with both my daughters, but my eldest has just moved to San Francisco and started a new job, so this year the Waltons are not in the cards. My youngest daughter and our friends will go for a hike and then have Thanksgiving dinner at a little French restaurant across the river—but I came up with the plan. I do believe in putting some effort in for the holidays. I do believe in making a plan!

3.  I don’t have to cook all day to make sure it’s the consummate experience for everyone

Not this Thanksgiving, or ever. I am not on the hook for producing dinners or meals regularly in the rest of my life. I did it. I did it well. And now I am moving on. I am grateful for that.

It’s never the table or warmth or setting or food (though, it helps) that ultimately determines the high I get from gathering around the table anyway. It’s the people, and beyond the people, it’s the joy. I endeavor to remember that joy is always there for us, if we remember where it lives in our bodies and connect to it and be still.

4.  I am grateful for having discovered me

I never would have where I was. Thus, every day is Thanksgiving.

5.  I am grateful for losing many poisonous relationships

One sheds many scales and skins going through a breakup and divorce recovery. It’s a painful but liberating process.

6.  I am grateful for all the people who came flooding into my life

As a result of the shedding!

I’ve always been lucky with good people in my life, but since stepping out of my box, I’ve met such exciting, smart, and deep people. Wonderful men and wonderful women who connect with me sometimes because I am unaccompanied, because I am unguarded. (And then, of course, there’s OkCupid.)

Learning how to converse helps. Just as learning how to converse this Thanksgiving may be very helpful for a lot of us. I recommend this piece on smart and sensitive conversations not only for social gathering but also for honing good dating skills.

7.  I can recognize flaws and vices in myself

More importantly, I can keep forgiving myself for them and keep trying. I’ve shown myself before that I CAN change things.  I am grateful for that.

8.  I am grateful that I have learned about the life-giving force of gratitude

Gratitude and the word “grace” come from the same Latin word “gratus.” When we feel gratitude, our hearts and bodies soften, and we’re able to be with the world and ourselves more fully. We feel an interconnectedness and flow. And that too is joy.

At SAS for Women, we are grateful for each and every one of you reading and endeavoring to shift your experiences. We wish you pure, distilled joy this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. Remember, for each day and its tradition, make a plan that may become a new tradition for you and those you love.

 

Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming 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 and reinvention. SAS offers all women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS for Women

How to leave your husband

How to Leave Your Husband and Slay Considering Divorce Syndrome

If you’ve been suffering from an undiagnosed case of Considering Divorce Syndrome (CDS) — where you keep revisiting the prospect of divorce in your head — there comes a point when you must decide whether to break the cycle of indecision or continue living in a painful limbo replaying what you know but doing nothing about it. Make no mistake that choosing to remain in the place you know, spinning in that cycle of Considering Divorce Syndrome, may feel safe. Yet research shows, the cumulative effect on your body can be very real and life-threatening, too. The fact is for you to recover your health, your clarity, your very sense of self, you are going to have to do something. If you’ve found your way to this post, then you’ve likely already made that decision on some level. You may know it’s time to end your marriage. But what you’re not sure about is how to leave your husband*.

After you decide something has got to change, and it may mean leaving him, it’s important to maintain your momentum — to keep pushing forward — smartly, so you have no regrets. Humans excel at getting comfortable. We rationalize and look for reasons that form cracks in our resolve. Fear seeps in. Fear tries to keep us from falling apart by telling us not to move at all, by telling us that what we should really be afraid of is the unknown. The devil we don’t know. But fear does nothing for us except hold us back. Fear is not enough of a reason to stay in your marriage.

You need a game plan. We’re here to help you determine the best path forward because you already know all the whys—now you need to understand exactly how to leave your husband.

Commit to leaving your marriage with integrity

Get educated and understand what your decision could look like. Do not waste your precious life hoping your marriage will repair itself, or that you must know with 100 percent certainty that you want a divorce to find out what is truly possible for you.

Begin by taking safe, appropriate action. Write down the most important questions you have about getting a divorce.

Review your questions, and find the professional who can answer most of them

Do this well in advance of making any real decisions, like yelling “I want a divorce!” to your husband. You’ll want your ducks in a row (those ducks being organized finances, knowing the laws in your state, what to say to your children, etc.) before you unleash your husband’s (emotional, possibly retaliative) reaction to your decision.

Back up. The fact is you have questions … and you don’t know what else you don’t know.

Going directly to a lawyer is not our suggested first step. (No kidding, you say! Having read that we are divorce coaches …)   The truth is lawyers are expensive and they are not trained to give you the total picture of what you’ll likely go through and need to decide about, to navigate smartly AND recover healthily from divorce. Besides, do you know what kind of legal model you might use to best resolve your marriage issues? Are you really a candidate for mediation? Getting educated on what your choices are first, will help you choose the right lawyer to consult with. It will save you money and also empower you to discover answers from other people who may be more aptly trained to support you and your kind of questions.

A divorce coach is the generalist who can give you the overview you need and also, the specific black and white next steps that make most sense for your unique circumstances. And their professional rate is far lower than an attorney’s. Chances are, a divorce coach can also present you with a menu of lawyers you might consider based on her experience of other clients using them. You can find coaches online who will give you a free consultation (be sure to look for coaching certification and divorce experience).

But if you’re focused strictly on the legal aspect of getting a divorce, then you may want to read 10 Things to Know Before Meeting with a Lawyer and then schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney. If you’re only concerned about assets, how you are going to divvy things up, how will you handle the debt? contact a certified divorce financial analyst.

Anyway you slice it, you need to move from an internal conversation with yourself (as well as midnight Google searches on “how to get a divorce?”) to an external conversation with someone who understands the process of divorce—an expert on the topic who can give you the answers that you need for your story.

If you are super strapped for cash, and you wonder how much will a divorce cost? Can you even afford one? Google your state or city’s divorce services, your city or state’s bar, and see what comes up (this isn’t exactly the best route, but it is a route). Many states offer reduced rate or free legal services to women who can prove income qualifications.

Warning: Anecdotal information from other people (how your neighbor’s friend’s second cousin got screwed by her Ex) does not help you understand what is possible for your life. Plus, talking to a professional is confidential and more objective, whereas Betty next door might tell Barbra, Alexis, Jen, and Meredith, the whole neighborhood, you brought up the big-bad D-word in conversation.

You’re going to need to develop strategies to block, deflect, and set boundaries

Speaking of Betty next door (you know that neighbor or family friend who likes to gossip), you’re going to need to either block conversations with well-meaning but unhelpful people or learn to deflect well and setup boundaries with notorious boundary-crossers.

Here are three helpful techniques to block, change the subject, and establish boundaries with people in your life who are like Betty.

Betty: “So, I hear you’re getting a divorce. Did your husband cheat on you?”

Block: “I don’t really want to talk about my divorce right now. How about we focus on the neighborhood watch meeting?”

Betty: “If you needed someone to talk to, I have a very sympathetic ear. Wanda leaned on me throughout her entire nightmare!”

Deflect: “I’m glad to hear Wanda trusts you so much. How has she been lately?”

Betty: “Do you really think it’s going to happen? I mean is it official? Did you try couple’s counseling first?”

Set boundaries: “We are officially over, but I really don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point.”

If Betty makes repeated attempts, keep giving her repeated answers: I don’t want to talk about my divorce right now. I don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point. I don’t want to divulge the details you are asking.

And if things progress and get far too obnoxious, you can always “lose” Betty’s number or be “far too interested” in other people’s lives at group functions and avoid Betty all together when she clearly doesn’t get the message.

Get your papers and statements organized

While what you need for divorce varies from state to state, you can search Google for the best documents to organize for a divorce. A lawyer or a financial person is going to need to look at some of those documents you’ve gathered to give you black and white answers and projections—information you will need for long-term planning and decision-making now.

If finding out if you should divorce includes giving every chance to reviving your marriage, for the sake of your heart or, at the very least, your children, consider discernment counseling to help you determine how to best progress forward.

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Shore up your resolve on Should You or Shouldn’t You Divorce? and take an action step: listen to our free video class that helps you reframe this question AND also, how to avoid the 4 big mistakes women make in divorce. Suit up and slay Considering Divorce Syndrome.

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Attend consultations and take classes

Gain a better understanding of what you’ll be going through with your divorce by joining an educative support group or class. If the group is facilitated by a professional, many of your questions might be answered and you will feel less alone, less isolated, less crazy. Whether you choose to explore discernment counseling or not, as a modern woman looking at her future, you deserve to know your rights and what you are entitled to. Coaches, experts and teachers understand that you might be smart, but you don’t know the process of divorce and what to expect. They don’t judge. They understand your situation and help you learn and feel empowered.

Take in the information at home

Let what you’ve learned mull over in your mind and see what new questions or concerns pop up later. If you are still undecided and some of your questions have been left unanswered, you can always call back the pro you met with, look for another professional for help, or seek a second opinion from another pro in the same industry. A child therapist, for example, would be better positioned to suggest the best things to do to support your kids through divorce. A financial professional who deals with divorce, would be better trained to answer your pressing questions about money.

Be sure to ask your therapist or divorce coach for direction if you feel lost or numb to the process of divorce

This becomes especially important if you start to feel that you are shutting down. You need help addressing what anxieties are causing you to feel ambivalent to your own divorce. You need solid steps and actions to take while getting a divorce or you could be facing a very rough future.

Leaving your husband is not a zero-sum decision

It’s rare that anyone facing divorce will feel that, 100 percent of the time, she is making the absolute best decision.  Instead, you will feel fed up and will reach a tipping point that tells you that it’s time. And even after you’ve made that decision and you follow through, you may have days where those feelings waiver. Knowing what you do know and acting smartly is another great reason to consult with a divorce coach through this process.

Your head and your heart aren’t always going to agree during this process

Today your head says divorce and your heart is screaming YOU STILL LOVE HIM! Tomorrow your head listens to your heart, but then your heart decides it’s not happy. Thoughts and emotions are going to clash, collide, agree, disagree, shift, and change throughout the process of divorce. Putting yourself on a set path and following through is your best plan for health and improving your life; you can’t wait for your heart and your head to align. It will happen eventually, however, if you do the work.

Be sure to develop a divorce plan with a healthy strategy

Really be sure to ask yourself: do you know what a healthy divorce looks like? You can start to form a picture by reading books on what makes for a healthy, smart divorce, or work with a divorce coach. Either way, you’ll need to commit to a divorce with intention and compassion not only for your children and your future Ex — but for yourself.

Compassion for the self starts and continues with an understanding of who you are and an acknowledgement of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Your emotions, those un-boxable feelings exist for a reason. Learning to listen to your wants, needs, feelings, fears, and hopes is what you need to do right now. Understanding that they are there, and why, helps you reframe them, do something with them and also detach from them so you can effectively navigate the black and white part of the divorce. Learning to acknowledge and detach will also help keep you on a healthy path to your newly single, independence.

The decision to divorce is painful but so is the journey to reach that decision

There are things you can do to help yourself through the pain and overwhelm once you’ve accepted, you must leave your husband. It begins with the conscious decision to set an intention. How do you want to do this? With the greatest integrity, smarts and compassion for everybody — including yourself — is a choice. Will you choose that? More steps are related 1) gaining a better understanding of what your options are, 2) knowing that no choice (except your commitment to your intention) is going to be the absolute perfect or right choice (sometimes it might feel like you’re picking the least bad in a slew of terrible choices), 3) getting educated in the process of divorce specifically in your state and for your circumstances, 4) and looking for help through direct feedback consultations, classes or support groups will support your intention in the most healthy, anchoring and life-affirming way. On that we give you 100 percent clarity.

Remember: no matter what that little voice inside your head says, you’re not trapped. Tell your fear, there are ways out and you are going to find them.

 

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 joining SAS’ Annie’s Group, our all-female divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Annie’s Group teaches you what a woman must know (emotionally, practically, legally, financially) about divorce.  Schedule your 15-minute chat with facilitator and SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell to learn if this education is right for you and where you are in your life. To keep the safety and confidentiality of the group, space is limited. 

 

 *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 and depression

Divorce and Depression: What to Look for and How to Cope

Divorce and depression are inseparable for almost everyone. The ending of—or even the thought of ending—your marriage is incredibly sad because it’s the death of your dreams of being happy together and basking in the love you thought you had found.

But depression caused by divorce is not the same as what we commonly think of as depression. It even has a different name. It’s called situational depression.

Situational depression is typically short-term and a stress response to a specific event or situation. Relationship problems are some of the most common causes, so it’s easy to understand how divorce and depression go hand in hand.

Another thing to keep in mind is that situational depression differs from other types of depression in that it’s never just biologically or psychologically based. There is a specific event or situation at the root of those feelings.

But knowing the technical difference between divorce-induced situational depression and other types of depression doesn’t really change the realities of either. For most people, the experience of situational depression and other types are indistinguishable from one another.

Take a look at some of the more common symptoms of situational depression:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to enjoy normal activities
  • Crying
  • Consistently feeling stressed out or worried
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Trouble doing daily activities
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Ignoring important matters like paying bills or going to work
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

There’s nothing in this list that is exclusive to situational depression and not to other types of depression.

But there’s one thing that’s very important to remember when you’re dealing with divorce and depression: situational depression is the result of a specific event or stress, and that means you can do something about it.

Before jumping into what you can do though, it’s also important to recognize how depression might be affecting you while you’re on your divorce journey—because it can be so easy to ignore the symptoms or chalk them up to something (or, someone) else.

Thinking about Divorce

Even before you start thinking about divorce as a solution to your marital problems, you could be struggling with situational depression.

You might have trouble connecting with or even wanting to connect with your spouse. You might constantly feel stressed out or worried. And you might be forgetting things that you normally wouldn’t. This is often how situational depression first appears when you’re having relationship troubles.

Coping with Divorce

If you’re coping with divorce, it can be fairly easy to identify your symptoms of depression from the list above. However, the symptom that is the most frightening to experience is thoughts of suicide.

For most people dealing with divorce and depression, thoughts of suicide are way outside of their normal experience. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that something must be very wrong if you’re having thoughts like this.

What I want you to know is that these thoughts are very common. If you can easily recognize them as thoughts that you’d never act on, then there’s nothing more to do. However, if thoughts of suicide become more persistent or you start making plans, then you need to reach out for support immediately or call 911.

There’s absolutely no reason for you to struggle with divorce and depression on your own.

Recreating after Divorce

One of the surprising times people can still struggle with divorce and depression is when they’re recreating after divorce. Even in the midst of creating a life you love, you can still struggle with situational depression.  And if you are someone who never wanted the divorce to begin with, your recovery after divorce can be especially painful.

You might be triggered by hearing a certain song. You might experience waves of sadness and difficulty when the date of your anniversary rolls around. This is all a normal part of the healing journey.

How to Deal with Divorce and Depression

Regardless of where you are on your divorce journey, there are things you can do to ease the pain and struggle of your situational depression.

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

Exercise regularly

Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or a yoga studio. It can be as simple as going for a walk or dancing to your favorite song. Exercise is about moving your entire body in ways that you normally wouldn’t.

Exercise helps with situational depression because it puts your focus and attention on your body. When you’re focused on keeping your balance, lifting weights, or just putting one foot in front of the other, you’re not dwelling on your pain. When you have a respite from your depression, you will find it easier to deal with the challenges of your life as you process your thoughts about and experience of divorce.

Get more rest, relaxation, and sleep

Believe it or not, it takes a lot of energy to deal with divorce and depression. Yet many people believe that the way to get through it all is by staying active and “putting their life back together.”

If this is you, then allowing yourself time to rest, relax, and sleep will help you pause and replenish your energy. Don’t use the time to dwell on the pain you’re experiencing or as an excuse to not move your body. Rest, relaxation, and sleep are about replenishing your energy, so you can move through the depression and on to making the decisions you need to make and living your life.

Eat healthy snacks and meals

Ever heard of the divorce diet? It’s common for people to lose their appetite when they’re coping with divorce and depression.

Although it’s easy to turn to junk food because it’s convenient and tasty, your best bet for helping yourself heal is to focus on eating healthy snacks and meals. When you make healthy choices, you’re providing your body with the food it needs to function well.

Talk with your doctor about medication

If your symptoms are getting in the way of you taking care of your everyday responsibilities and activities, you should talk with your doctor. She can prescribe medication to help you cope with your divorce journey.

Reach out for help

You don’t have to go through your divorce journey alone. There are plenty of people who are able and willing to help you put the pieces of your life together in a way that makes the most sense for you. Of course, these people include your family and friends. But they also include helping professionals like therapists and divorce coaches.

Consider reading: “How to Get Through a Divorce and Heal: The Surprising X Factor of a Divorce Coach”

Remember, reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of tremendous strength because you know what you need the most and you’re willing to bravely look for help.

Divorce and depression are inseparable for nearly everyone. That’s because relationship problems are often the cause of situational depression.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do about it. You can cope with the depression you feel by accepting it and then acting … doing some fairly simple things and securing the help you need.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while navigating the divorce experience and striving to recover and rebuild. SAS offers women six FREE months of private email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Step forth. It’s okay if you fall. Life — your life — is calling you.” SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell

 

When it is time to divorce?

How to Know When It’s Time to Divorce

If day in and day out you find yourself unhappy with your marriage, it’s natural to have doubts. To ask yourself, “When is enough enough?” or wonder “When is it time to divorce?”

Being unhappily married is extremely uncomfortable and even hazardous to your health. You might feel off balance because you’re not fully invested in your marriage, but you haven’t yet given up either. You’re living in a painful limbo.

At times, part of you is (almost) ready to call it quits. But then another part of you takes over, and that part of you has more questions than answers. Questions like . . .

Will I be able to make it on my own?

Will getting divorced screw up my kids?

Where will I live?

Do I even deserve to be happy?

Besides my marriage, my life is great—can’t I just deal with it?

Could this be as good as it gets?

Maybe we’re just going through a rough patch?

So, how do you know when it’s time to divorce?

The truth is that everyone who has chosen to get divorced has had to make that decision on her own. That’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding whether your marriage is worth saving.

Granted, there are some pretty black and white reasons to divorce:

  • Polygamy
  • Ongoing deception
  • Abuse (verbal, physical, or emotional) of you or your children
  • Substance abuse that remains untreated despite requests to do so

But most people find themselves in situations that are shades of gray, unsure whether divorce is right for them and their family.

And yet, so many couples do decide to divorce. According to a report published by AARP asking people to identify the three most important reasons they divorced, the most common motives were:

  • Verbal, physical, or emotional abuse
  • Different values and lifestyles
  • Infidelity
  • Falling out of love
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

What’s especially interesting about the results of this survey is that most people listed more than one reason for divorcing—in fact, they gave at least three reasons. The fact that divorce almost never comes down to one thing is part of what makes knowing when it’s time to divorce so difficult.

But if you are facing one or more of these common issues, that doesn’t necessarily mean that now is when it’s time to divorce. There are couples who face the same issues, work through them, and remain married—even happily married.

Then just how are you supposed to know if it’s time to divorce?

If you find yourself living in that gray zone, you owe it to your marriage (and to yourself) to exhaust all other avenues—to do your absolute best to resolve the issues in your marriage—before you decide whether it’s time to get a divorce. Only then will you be able to leave limbo, either by recommitting yourself to your marriage or by deciding that the best path forward is divorce.

What does it look like to exhaust all other avenues before deciding to divorce?

You’ll talk with professionals (a divorce coach, therapist, or couples counselor) who can help you gain the necessary clarity to decide whether to save your marriage. You’ll make your best effort to implement their suggestions not only for improving your marriage but for improving yourself.

Consider watching SAS for Women’s free webinar on this confusing subject . . . “Should I or Shouldn’t I . . . Divorce?

You’ll read books and articles about how to make a marriage work and then implement the ideas that make sense to you. And for those that don’t make sense, you’ll research to understand if you are best served by discarding them.

You’ll talk with people who have made their marriages work for the long haul. You’ll respectfully and fearlessly ask the questions you need answered. There’s a good chance that you’ll learn something about how to improve your marriage and maybe even something to help you with your own personal growth.

You’ll talk with people who are divorced and understand the challenges they and their children have faced and overcome. Then, you’ll understand the reality of divorce. That reality may give you the determination to try harder to save your marriage. It may give you the knowledge that you’ll be OK regardless of whatever decision you ultimately make. (Tip: Make sure you speak to divorced people who are healed—people who have done the work to fully recover from their divorce. They’ll give you the best perspective and not transfer their wounds to you.)

What you’ll notice when you learn and start implementing the ideas you glean from exhausting all those other avenues besides divorce is that you’ll be presented with countless opportunities for self-examination. As you learn more and try different things, you’ll naturally see yourself and your marriage differently.

That still doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly have a lightbulb moment, that the world will send you a sign telling you divorce is right for you and that now is the time.

The truth is that you’ll gain clarity but not 100% crystal clear clarity about the fate of your marriage by taking the time to understand all the options and possibilities for your life both in and out of your relationship.

However, deciding when it’s time to divorce is rarely about being 100% certain you’re making the “right” decision. Instead, it’s more about understanding your options—all your options—so that when and if a tipping point comes, you’ll not only recognize it but be prepared for it.

So, if you’re asking yourself “When is it time to divorce?” you owe it to yourself and your family to explore those options. Roll up your sleeves, exhaust every possibility of repairing the issues in your marriage, and gain the clarity you need to feel comfortable—if not confident—making the decision to divorce.

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

Divorce with kids can be challenging.

8 Things to Get You Through Divorce with Kids

It seems a truism that parenting is hard. But when you’re in the midst of a divorce, or trying to rebuild your life as a newly-single parent, the challenges multiply and can even strike you unawares. For support and solace — to get through a divorce with kids no matter their age — follow these important suggestions and practices below. Doing so will lessen the bumps as much as possible for you, for your children, and for the entire family.

Retain some consistency

Research shows children thrive on consistency. Wherever possible, bring a sense of familiarity to their changing lives. This can apply to your own decisions, big and small—like whether to move within the neighborhood or keep dinner at the usual time. It can also mean working with your Ex to create consistent rules and habits between both your households.

Put your children’s well-being first

In some cases, you may need an emergency or temporary custody order from a court to ensure your children stay out of harm’s way. Or perhaps the opposite is true, and you need to admit that allowing your children to spend time with your Ex is for the best, even if you don’t personally like it. In every decision, ask yourself what would most benefit your young ones.

Find common ground with your Ex

As much as you can, put the past aside so you can focus on the best future for your children. Compromise wherever you can, so you don’t get caught up in “winning.” The more divorcing spouses are able to come up with their own solutions, the faster the legal proceedings can end. Maybe you’re in a deadlock over who gets the house, but can you at least start by agreeing that the kids should remain in their school?

Make a detailed parenting plan

Everything you and your Ex agree on regarding coparenting should go into a parenting plan for approval by a judge. To avoid confusion or debate, make your plan as detailed as possible. Think about specifics like who can apply for a passport for the kids or how long you’ll wait if your Ex is late for a pickup. A parenting plan template can walk you through commonly included items so nothing is missed. Include anything important to you, so there’s no room for ambiguity.

Consider your children’s ages

Children process divorce differently depending on their developmental stage. Make sure your conversations about the divorce are age-appropriate, as is the coparenting schedule you select. Infants and toddlers need frequent contact with parents to develop secure relationships. Older children are able to handle longer periods away from each parent, but need their social lives accounted for.

Know and understand, that regardless of your children’s age, they are entitled to certain rights regarding their relationship with you and their father.

Be flexible

Even long after your divorce, unanticipated situations will arise. If you and your Ex can make decisions together as you go, rather than returning to court or mediation, life will be much easier. Your parenting plan itself may need to change, too. Coparents often modify their plans multiple times as their children grow.

Attend coparenting counseling

Coparenting counseling combines parenting education topics (child development, disciplinary methods, etc.) with counseling specific to your situation. The counselor can help you and your Ex work on things like communication and emotion management together or separately. Sessions can lead to a smoother transition not only for the two of you but for the whole family.

Get help wherever possible

Resources are plentiful for women going through divorce with kids. Don’t be ashamed to use as many as are helpful to you. Go to a large bookstore and look in the self help section. Often you will find a divorce section and in particular, books about divorce and kids: adult book and children’s books. Have you contacted your children’s school and asked what resources they recommend? Investigate them. Your court’s self-help center can help explain the legal processes of divorce with kids. Custody software like Custody X Change can help organize your coparenting. You also have support groups and classes at your fingertips.

This article was authored by Shea Drefs: senior editor and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to 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, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

 

Getting through a divorce

Getting Through a Divorce: How to Keep Your Head Straight

Getting through a divorce will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. And your difficulties will start at the very beginning.

If you were the one who decided that divorce was the best way to change the difficulties in your marriage, you know the agony you experienced in coming to your decision. You second-guessed yourself again and again, and throughout your struggle to reach a decision, you faced uncertainties and fears.

Yet, because of your uncertainties and fears, you gathered information, worked through some of your emotions, and maybe planned a bit to make your transition from married to singledom easier.

Easier, but not easy. Telling your spouse you’re finished is definitely not easy. And once he* knows, things will get more difficult because it isn’t just about you anymore — and what your thinking and feeling internally. Now you’re both dealing with the repercussions of your decision. But your partner, or soon-to-be Ex, will not be in sync with you. He’s going to need time to metabolize what all this means.

If your divorce has been forced upon you, then the beginning of your divorce journey was probably shocking. Maybe it was upsetting because you never thought your spouse would actually go through with it. Or maybe you never even saw it coming.

And because your divorce isn’t of your choosing, you’re stuck playing catch up. You must find some way to not only make sense of what’s happening but to begin taking the necessary legal steps to end your marriage.

You also need to accept that you’re not in sync with him. He has been preparing for divorce emotionally, practically, and maybe even legally before you even knew what was happening.

Whichever side of the divorce decision you were on, there are times when you’re probably thinking, “It’s not fair.” And you’d be right. It’s not, but fairness has nothing to do with the realities of getting through a divorce—only (hopefully) with the legal divorce process.

So, no matter how your divorce journey begins, getting through a divorce is not intuitive. It’s difficult emotionally and logistically.

Yet, there are concrete thoughts that you can hold onto that will help you as you continue on your divorce journey:

You’re getting divorced for a reason

It’s heartbreaking to think about ending your marriage when you consider the shared hopes and dreams you and your spouse had at the start. Yet there’s still an important reason your divorce is happening right now; your marriage is broken beyond repair. So, take a deep breath and remember you are here, going through a divorce. It’s in motion.

Seeking justice for your emotional pain will not serve you

No-fault divorce is a very good thing. It means that people can get divorced without having to prove that one or the other has done something so reprehensible that it requires the marriage to be dissolved.

What it also means is that the courts don’t care about your emotional pain. They know divorce hurts. They know that getting through a divorce is probably one of the most difficult things you’ve ever faced. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are no laws to help you extract justice for the hurt you’re feeling.

All that insisting the courts make your spouse pay in some way for the pain you’re feeling will get you is higher legal fees. It will never ever truly ease your hurt.

Create goals that you can stay focused on

In general, goals are like guideposts. They allow you to channel your energy and thoughts toward achieving them.

When you’re going through a divorce, good solid goals can be the touchstones that remind you to stay focused on the big picture.

For example, if you have children, you may want to make their safety, security, health, and happiness throughout and beyond your divorce a goal. To reach your goal, you’ll want to develop your list of nonnegotiables. You’ll also want to know where you can be softer in your negotiations.

Remember your children are watching and learning

As you’re getting through a divorce, you are modeling for your children how to deal with stress, disappointment, and monumental life changes. Would you want your children to behave and react as you are?

If you don’t have children, get clear on the image of you and who you want to be

At one extreme you could be the woman who is completely unclear about what she wants outside of wanting her soon-to-be Ex to suffer horribly not only through the divorce but for the rest of his life. You might be willing to do whatever you can to ensure his suffering.

At the other extreme, you could be the leader through this challenge. You could focus on what you want and go about making it happen.

Keeping these thoughts in mind will definitely help you get through your divorce.

Yet, it’s almost impossible to do on your own

The real key to getting through a divorce is having someone you can turn to for support, someone who is your partner in thinking through every step of your divorce. A thinking partner is someone who can help you not only make it through your divorce but put the plans in place so you can thrive after it, too. A thinking partner has perspective.

The mistake most people make is using their lawyer as their sounding board. There are a couple of real problems with doing so. First, a divorce lawyer is an expert in the law—not how to help you get through your divorce. Second, when you use your lawyer as your thinking partner for anything other than legal issues, you’re wasting your money and energy—both of which are precious.

Having a strategy for how to think is just part of what you need to keep your head straight as you’re getting through a divorce

You also need to know it’s not only OK but necessary to let go of a few things:

  • Ancillary characters in your life and their less than helpful opinions. Save your energy, and do not overshare.
  • Continuing to be a superstar at work and everywhere else throughout your divorce. You cannot do everything well right now. Pick and choose where you put your efforts.
  • Being available to everyone for their needs. The simple truth is that you can’t be everything to everyone else right now. You’ve got to focus on you, so you come out strong in the end.

Without question, getting through a divorce is hard. However, you know now what’s important to keep straight in your head. And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to take the appropriate actions and make the appropriate decisions to get through your divorce, lessening the pain and diminishing your risk of regrets as much as possible.

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

 

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

How to get through a divorce and heal

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

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

You’re probably familiar with the more practical aspects of working with a divorce coach, for coaches are particularly good at helping you understand and navigate the black and white logistics of divorce. Often, those parts are easier for people to understand.

For example, a certified and experienced divorce coach will help you understand your options when it comes to finding the right divorce process for you and your family. The right process is critical to achieving an outcome that will allow all of you to not only survive the process in one piece but to move on, rebuild and thrive 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, your divorce coach will help you find the right lawyer to consult or work with. A key piece your coach will help you with is making sure you ask the right questions. 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 Manhattan with her three young boys. “We’ve 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 from 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.

She’ll support you in making smart financial decisions that take into account your specific situation and goals. She’ll also introduce you to exceptionally qualified and reliable financial experts should you need their expertise.

“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, 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 a divorce. Armed with that knowledge, you can make the best decisions possible.

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 can also 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’ll 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.

“There might be times you hardly recognize yourself,” says Rebecca, who runs her own photography business in Brooklyn. “A divorce coach can teach you how to release or rehabilitate those emotions in a positive, productive way instead of lashing out at your soon-to-be Ex.”

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 buoy during the storm. She will help you hold steady and recognize your truth along the way so that you don’t drown or wallow in negativity.

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 divorce coach is an expert at promoting and embracing compassion. She will share her skills with you and teach you how to see your world with a compassionate perspective. This skill will serve you again and again as you face other challenges in your future. You cannot fully heal 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 transition. Sometimes those opportunities disguise themselves as problems. But with her experience, your divorce coach will help you see what she sees as being possible for you.

A divorce coach is one of the best sources of holistic support you can have as you figure out how to get through a divorce on your own terms. 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 heal so that, moving forward healthily and wholly, you blossom in your next chapter of your precious life.

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

Image about breaking up with a narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist? Here’s What You Need to Know

Calling someone a narcissist is so commonplace these days that, in many ways, the term has become nothing more than a buzzword. People use it loosely to refer to someone who’s behaving “selfishly”.

But a true pathological narcissist is a person who’s much more than selfish. According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder “is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

Most women who fall in love with a narcissist do so because narcissists are so charming. They’re incredibly loving and affectionate. They treat you like no one has ever treated you before and sweep you off your feet. They seem too good to be true.

And that’s the truth of it—they are too good to be true, and their personality and behavior will change dramatically over time.

If you recognize the following as being “normal” in your marriage, you know you’re divorcing a narcissist:

  • Your husband* is controlling.
  • He doesn’t listen to or care about your opinions.
  • He makes everything about him.
  • He lies often.
  • He is emotionally abusive.
  • He has no emotional connection to your children.
  • He blames others for his actions.
  • He is manipulative.
  • He is exceptionally aggressive—perhaps dangerously so.
  • He is unaware of his bad behavior.
  • He feels entitled to what he wants.
  • He sees himself as perfect and worthy of unconditional admiration.
  • He rejects change initiated by anyone but himself.

Because of this last point, divorcing a narcissist is extremely challenging. He will fight you every single step of the way. He believes he is a victim and is willing to do just about anything to prove it.

Some of the biggest and most predictable challenges of divorcing a narcissist include dealing with the following behaviors and beliefs:

  • A narcissist MUST “win.” Because of this mindset, negotiating in good faith with a narcissist is impossible. He must prove he is right and a victim—regardless of what the truth is. He doesn’t care what it takes to “win” the divorce, even if that means depleting the marital finances (except for money he’s hidden), destroying relationships, and destroying you.
  • A narcissist will play games with you as long as he can. He needs to feel in control. He does this by being manipulative. He will keep you off balance by making false accusations, criticizing you one minute and telling you how much he loves you the next—anything to wear you down, so he can win.
  • A narcissist doesn’t care how anyone else feels about his actions, including his children. Narcissists only care about their own needs and desires. If someone can help them get what they want, then they will use that person without regard for the consequences.
  • A narcissist will use you to feel good about himself. By engaging you in a court battle (which he will absolutely do), he is using his control of you to make himself feel powerful. He wants the divorce process to take as long as possible. Yes, that does mean he will lie to prolong the process. It’s unlikely he will stop trying to use you after the divorce settlement—even if he is in another relationship. The more people a narcissist can control the better.
  • A narcissist wants you to admit defeat. He wants you to give in to his demands and bow to his power. But not just once—he won’t ever get tired of you surrendering to his superiority.
  • A narcissist wants everyone else to see him as a victim. No matter how horrid he is behaving toward you (and maybe even his children), he craves the pity and support of others, so he can use that pity against you.He will lie repeatedly and quite convincingly (especially if he is charming and wealthy) to perpetuate his role as victim and paint you as a heartless villain. He will even lie to your children and family about you. He wants to turn those closest to you against you because he wants you to have nothing left.
  • A narcissist will attack your weaknesses. That usually means he will go after your children and money. He will remove you from joint accounts or withdraw all the money from them. He will hide money. He will run up your bills any way he can think of. He will also do his best to turn your children against you.
  • A narcissist will take you back to court again and again. As far as he is concerned, the battle is never over so long as he has some leverage. And the leverage is usually your children. He will register the children for activities during your time with them without consulting you. He will “forget” to pick up the kids when he knows you have other plans. He will return the children later than agreed to. He will not respect the custody agreement.

But since you now have an idea of what divorcing a narcissist is like, you can prepare for the battle ahead instead of being ambushed.

Here are some steps you’ll want to take to minimize the damage you suffer during and after your divorce:

  • Make sure your attorney is aware of the problem and is proactive. You want your attorney to have experience dealing with high-conflict divorces and know what to expect from a narcissist. When they’re properly experienced and prepared, they can shut down at least some of the standard tactics a narcissist will use in court (if you must go there).
  • Get a therapist who specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you were married to a narcissist, your marriage was full of emotional abuse. Any kind of abuse can lead to PTSD. You will probably want to consider working with a therapist to help you regain your emotional footing.
  • Hire a divorce coach. Learning how a divorce coach can help you stay anchored (and using one!) could be one of your most important moves for securing perspective, strength, and support. Your divorce coach will also help you process the grief, loneliness, anger, and other tumultuous emotions you’ll have before, during, and beyond. If necessary, your divorce coach can even join you throughout the court proceedings. But your “beyond” is critical. Your divorce coach is going to make sure you stay mindful to creating the life you DO deserve.
  • Keep copies of EVERYTHING. Especially when it comes to expenses, you’ll want to keep detailed records of everything. It’s VERY likely that you’ll be going to court repeatedly. The only way you’ll be able to quickly put an end to each new drama when it arises is to have indisputable facts. And that’s what the detailed records are—indisputable facts.
  • Assume all communication with a narcissist is risky. Whenever you communicate with a narcissist, keep things direct, to the point, and non-confrontational. This is the only way to prevent him from using your written or spoken words against you.

When divorcing a narcissist, you must prepare for war. You will face many battles because a narcissist wants to destroy you at virtually any cost.

But when you understand more about a narcissist’s profile (what you can and cannot expect from him) and begin to value your own self-worth—getting the full support you need and deserve—you will eventually have the peaceful life you’re looking for, the life you were meant to live.

 

SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to navigating divorce—on their own terms. If you are considering or dealing with divorce, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand and schedule your free, 45-minute, private consultation. Whether you work further with us or not, we’ll help you understand what your next, black and white steps are for walking into your brave unknown—with compassion and integrity.

* SAS for Women fully recognizes same-sex and common-law marriages. But for the sake of simplicity in this article, we refer to your spouse or mate as “he,” “him,” or your “husband.”