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Man and woman coping with divorce

Five Steps for Choosing the Right Divorce Mediator for You

Choosing the right mediator is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the divorce process. The right divorce mediator can save you money, shorten the painful divorce process, and empower you for life after divorce—all crucial factors in your healing process.

But knowing how to find the right mediator for your specific needs can be overwhelming. There are many options to choose from, and finding the right fit can be challenging. For those of you who feel ready to start this process, I’ve offered five key steps below to find the right divorce mediator for you.

1. Interview, Interview, Interview!

Many divorce mediators offer free or low-cost introductory calls or initial consultations. Take advantage of this! You should speak with as many (and I mean, as many) mediators as you need to feel comfortable enough to make your decision.

When talking with potential mediators, keep in mind that—since mediation is a voluntary process—your partner must also agree on the mediator. Depending on your partner’s perspective, it might make sense to start by asking them to help identify and interview mediators. I’ve found that this can be especially effective in cases where one partner is hesitant about using mediation. Involving your partner in identifying a mediator both demonstrates your desire to work together—easing some of your partner’s anxiety about mediation—and reduces the amount of time it takes to start having important discussions.

If you interview and choose your mediator on your own, most mediators will ask to briefly speak with your partner prior to meeting you both in person. This quick chat allows your partner the same opportunity to speak privately with the mediator, thereby addressing any actual or perceived bias that could arise from working with a mediator who speaks with only one partner before starting the process.

Additionally, when you do speak with mediators, you should do more than learn about their credentials—you should also study your ability to communicate with them. Since mediation requires that you be your own advocate, make sure that you’re comfortable expressing yourself to the mediator you choose. And remember that you’ll also have to share the intimate details of your life—the good, the bad, and the ugly!—with your mediator. Make sure you find a mediator you can trust with those details and whom you’ll feel comfortable with during sensitive, personal conversations.

2. The right kind of experience

Not all divorce mediators are attorneys. There are many types of mediators who work with divorcing couples. Therapists and financial advisors, for example, are often willing to serve as divorce mediators. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to working with each type of mediator. However—and, as an attorney, I’m probably biased—I encourage you to put attorney-mediators at the top of your list.

The reason is that attorney-mediators—and especially those with backgrounds in family law—know the relevant laws and can advise you on how they might affect your divorce process. Attorney-mediators can draft a binding agreement and prepare and file divorce papers at the end of the process. This will probably save you money, since a non-attorney mediator will usually have to create what’s known as a memorandum of understanding documenting your discussions so that an attorney can later draft a binding document.

Therefore, attorney-mediators offer a “one-stop-shop” that non-attorneys can’t provide. In my experience, couples get a great deal of comfort from knowing that, when the mediation is over, they won’t have to hire another professional to file papers before moving forward.

That said, most attorney-mediators will strongly encourage each of you to hire a review attorney to ensure that the agreement adequately protects your interests. This is an important part of the process, ensuring that your agreement reflects the understanding that you and your partner have reached together with the mediator. But don’t worry: most attorney-mediators can refer you to a mediation-friendly attorney who won’t derail your hard work. And you don’t have to pay the reviewing lawyer a retainer fee, but an hourly fee for the review work.

3. Does the divorce mediator understand family law?

Regardless of whether you select an attorney-mediator, make sure that your mediator knows family law. Although therapists, financial advisors, and other professionals who mediate generally can’t give you legal advice, they can still provide important information throughout the process.

Some states, including New York, require specific things to be present in your agreement for the court to accept it. Your mediator needs to know what those are and make sure that your agreement includes them.

4. How does the mediator approach the sessions?

Although every divorce mediator’s style is different, there are two general approaches mediators take: facilitative or evaluative. Facilitative mediators focus more on guiding discussions without providing input. Evaluative mediators are more directive, using their own professional experience to generate options, point out potential pitfalls, and offer opinions as to what a court would decide if a particular issue were in a judge’s hands.

Although many mediators use a combination of methods—sometimes taking the lead while knowing when to take the back seat—most mediators tend to lean more in one direction. You should reflect on your and your partner’s personalities and find a mediator with an approach that will be the most productive for your style of communication.

5. Trust your gut

Throughout this process, you will, if you haven’t already, receive lots of advice from well-meaning friends and family (whether you ask for it or not!). In my experience, some of this advice can be helpful for my clients—and some of it, well, not so much.

Thus, my final and most important tip when selecting your divorce mediator is to trust your own instincts to make the decision that is right for you. You, and no one else, are in the best position to decide who is best suited to your situation. And your comfort and confidence in your choice will contribute to a successful mediation that will help you move forward to the next stage of your life.

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

Bryana Turner is a matrimonial attorney turned family law mediator. She believes divorce is hard but it doesn’t have to be war. After becoming dissatisfied and disheartened by the scars divorce litigation can leave on both the individual and the family, she founded Turner Divorce Mediation, P.C.—a practice dedicated to providing more amicable means to resolving family conflict.

Finding the true you after divorce

How to Move On and Discover Your True Self After Divorce

It’s tempting, and oh, so easy to believe that the hard work of divorce is completing the legal, financial, and practical steps you must take to officially dissolve your marriage. The black and white stuff. And Lord knows there’s a myriad of those logistical, challenges. You have to decide how you will divorce, how, or what kind of lawyer to use. You need to discover your ducks, get them in a row and hunt down papers, file, combine, fill out, let alone try to read.  You must develop your strategy and absorb stressful negotiations. All of which in total and individually is very difficult to navigate. Yet these steps have not transformed you. They have not delivered you to a place called Moved On after divorce.

To move on, to create a life worthy of you and filled with worth for you, you need to accept the invitation. It’s an invitation that is unspoken and easy to ignore. Yet, if you want what’s coming around your corner to be genuine, to be filled with meaning, discoveries, growth, joy, and peace, you must accept the invitation, and do the work.

Allowing yourself to heal after divorce

The unspoken invitation your divorce delivers is the opportunity to discover your true self.

Discovering the true you is a journey that not everyone opts for. Yet, the opportunity is there for everyone who divorces.

The reason so many decline or ignore the invitation is because accepting it first requires a genuine desire to heal. Some people prefer to remain bitter and angry, to remain the victim of their divorce, or to ignore healing in favor of beginning a new relationship as quickly as possible.

Although each of these responses is normal, none of them will help you cope with divorce or move on. In other words, these reactions to divorce won’t allow you to heal.

To heal properly, you need to deal with the emotional story, the wounds created by your divorce and the responsibility you played in bringing an end to your marriage.

Accepting that grief is a part of divorce

You lose a lot when you divorce. Obviously, you lose your spouse, your dreams of growing old together, and your lifestyle. But you could also lose your home, the ability to see your children daily, someone to help with the day to day tasks of living, friends, and so many other things you’ve grown accustomed to, both large and small.

And with the recognition of each loss, you’ll grieve.

Grief is a complicated emotion. It’s unique to each person which means your grief will be unlike the grief your friend may have experienced when she divorced. Grief is also nonlinear. You’ll feel like you’ve moved forward—like you are on your way to feeling better—but then something will happen. Suddenly, you’ll feel like you’ve been thrown back into the abyss of misery and you can’t get out of bed.

…And understanding that grief is complicated

The grief you’ll feel is also complicated by the fact that it isn’t just one emotion you feel before, during and after divorce but a range of them. And you probably started experiencing feelings of grief as soon as the possibility of divorce became a reality: back there when you were beginning the divorce process.  Or right now, after divorce, the grief ebbs and flows. It washes over you …

Thoughts of disbelief, that this can’t be happening to you—that’s shock and denial. Because your mind naturally protects you from taking in more information and pain than you can deal with at once, feeling this way is common when you don’t want to divorce.

You will probably suffer gut-wrenching pain about the end of your marriage and all the changes you must face during and after divorce as you work through your grief. Change is always painful, and changes of the magnitude required by divorce are often awful—at least at first.

As you continue coping with your divorce and grieving, don’t be surprised if you struggle with trying to understand why divorce is the answer to the problems present in your marriage. You might struggle with trying to assign blame.

At first you might even struggle to figure out what you did that caused your Ex to want to end your marriage. And when you think you have it all figured out, you may promise your Ex that you’ll change if he come back to you. But the firmer he stands in their decision to divorce, the more frustrated you’ll become.

Then, at some point, you may get so frustrated that you start blaming your Ex and feeling tremendous anger toward him because, in your eyes, he is the cause of all the pain and torment you’re feeling.

Another emotion you might encounter as you continue healing from your divorce is loneliness. You’re more likely to experience loneliness if you’ve lost friendships due to your divorce or if you don’t know other people who are divorced who are willing to support you through your healing process.

However, not all the emotions you may experience as part of working through your grief are negative. You can also feel hopeful about life after divorce. And when you do, you will begin to make plans for the future. These plans should not be the same as the logistical steps you needed to take to get through your divorce. These plans are things you want to do, things that make you smile and feel excited as you contemplate them.

Your grief is complex, nonlinear, and unique. You may or may not experience these emotions. That combined with the nebulous nature of healing from grief can make it seem never-ending. You can feel trapped in and at times engulfed by your grief.

Why leaning into (instead of avoiding) your grief is crucial to moving on after divorce

When you feel trapped and defeated by all that you’re going through it can be incredibly tempting to self-medicate yourself in order to numb the pain. Some people wind up declining the invitation to discover their true selves by over or under eating, drinking too much, looking for love through sex, or taking prescription and nonprescription drugs.

But the beauty of allowing yourself to experience your grief, so long as you maintain your desire to heal, is that you will continue to make small incremental steps toward feeling better.

It’s the compounding of these small incremental steps that will eventually lead you out of your grief with a new sense of who you truly are. It’s through the testing and trials you survive because of and after divorce that you learn to drop the BS, the masks, and the stories you used to hide behind.

When your emotional wound of grief has healed, you can finally face the world as you truly are—powerful, unique, lovable, and perfectly you.

Whether you are navigating the experience, or recreating after divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS For Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.

How Divorce Affects Children and families

Divorce and Children: The Not So Secret Way to Get Through Divorce Without Breaking up the Family

Divorce is complicated. Divorce and children? That’s when uncomplicating things really matters. A “normal” family dynamic looks different to all of us. But those relationships and routines—the warmth, safety, energy, and feeling of support a family provides—is something none of us wants to lose. The benefits of a close-knit family seem obvious when you look at your children and think about what is best for them and their future.

It often feels like the whole of society dedicates itself to family ideals, to the conventional, to sizing up our families and judging how they fit into the mold. But the conventional is not reality. Most families don’t fit into the mold at all, and yet they are wonderful in their uniqueness. Every family functions its own way. Whether you’re divorced or not, if your children know that their parents are there for them, then that is all it takes to make a family.

There are many ways divorce can affect a family, but thankfully, there are also many ways your family can continue to function after divorce. This is the time in your children’s lives when they need your support, patience, and understanding the most. Parents are not the only ones who go through a divorce, and the experience can be very confusing for children of all ages.

What children of divorce need

When it comes to children and divorce, know that your kids can come through the other side of divorce as stronger people. There are positive lessons to learn even in what seems to be an endless series of negative experiences. Divorce can teach your children a lot about life and help them become the capable young adults you want them to be.

Overcoming obstacles is a huge part of life, and divorce is full of life lessons for adults and children alike. The old saying “pull together in times of crisis” rings true. Your loved ones need to love and be loved even during stressful or uncertain moments in their lives (perhaps especially in these moments). A divorce may represent the first big upheaval and genuine challenge your children face—it’s important to help them get through it.

Tell your children that divorce is unfortunate but not unusual. That both you and your Ex love your children and that neither of you is going anywhere. No one is getting left behind. Tell your children that life is full of changes, and this is just one of them. It is no one’s “fault.” In fact, leave out the details altogether until your children are old enough to understand but do respect their right to know the truth—whatever you do, don’t outright lie. Lying is never a good example to set, and no one deserves to be kept in the dark when everything they are experiencing is confusing enough already.

Make sure that, when possible, you and your Ex are still present and involved in your children’s lives. Organizing regular time to spend with both parents and having similar rules for each household will help create stability for your children. Custody schedules can be a big help at this stage. While you and your children adjust to your new situation, it is better to minimize schedule changes, and if possible, avoid changing schools too. Consistency and routines are important. That doesn’t mean adopt a rigid parenting plan. You need to allow room for flexibility because no one is perfect. Just try to keep some form of routine until everyone can settle in.

Be prepared for changes

A big fear for many parents after getting a divorce is that their children will start to act out and show signs of bad behavior. It’s common for children of divorce to experience mixed emotions, stress, or anger—to feel hurt—just like you. If you notice these warning signs, you need to do the best you can to address your child’s emotions as soon as you can so that they don’t develop into behavioral problems.

If your children tell you they are okay, don’t automatically take their word for it. Make sure to check on how your children are behaving in school and speak to them as often as you can without being overly nosy. Create a safe space where your children feel they can talk to you about things openly. Speaking to an impartial person can also help your children so you shouldn’t rule therapy out. However, you shouldn’t force your children to go to therapy either. Extended relatives can be really helpful in this regard, someone close to your children but not too close for them to share time with. Children love and need every member of their family so try not to cut any of these family figures out of their lives.

That being said, be prepared for a variety of reactions amongst your extended family. It’s natural for family members to try to take sides, but this is the last thing you want. Children pick up on hostility, and it’s not fair to put them in situations where they may feel forced to choose a side. Talk to your in-laws, grandparents, and everyone else you can think of. Express your concerns and try to keep your disagreements with or prejudices against your Ex private. Focus on the positives instead.

Tell your extended families how you see yourselves moving forward together in the future. No matter your feelings towards your Ex or his family, your children don’t deserve a damaged relationship with him as this can be hard to overcome.

Divorce and children—what really matters

The experts don’t always agree about how much divorce affects families. The main thing to focus on is your children’s wellbeing in the wake of all these big changes. The end of a marriage often affects children of divorce the most, and you need to reassure them while respecting their right to their emotions. It’s impossible to completely protect children from everything. Children of divorce are stronger than you can imagine. Most children will not go on to develop problems after divorce but, like you, may have painful memories.

You, your children, and your Ex will always be a family. Your children need to realize this. It’s your job to make sure that they do. Every family is different and deals with divorce in their own way, but a family is still a family—there’s no changing that. The structure of a family can change over time, but that won’t stop you from growing together like all people in relationships do. Divorce can be healthy and so can the family relationships that blossom after it.

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

This article was authored by Krishan Smith: senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Woman searching for an online divorce support group

Joining an Online Divorce Support Group? 4 Questions to Consider Before Making Any Decisions

Divorce is one of the most difficult transitions you’ll ever face. So, it’s important for you to build a great support team to help you get through it. And one of the easiest ways to get the support you need as your marriage ends is to join an online divorce support group.

Yet, easy support doesn’t always mean quality support or even the type of help you need. Not all online divorce support groups are the same.

Some support groups are simply unmoderated chat rooms. Others are part of a large organization that provides a standard set of materials for facilitators to use. And then there are groups like the ones you might find on Meet Up that fall anywhere in between.

Due to the immense differences in what defines an online divorce support group, you need to spend time researching what each group has to offer before participating.

Here are four questions you’ll want to consider before joining any online divorce support group.

1. How will the group protect your confidentiality?

One of the main purposes of joining a support group is to give yourself a safe space to share what you’re going through. You’ll need to know there’s zero chance of someone in the group using something you’ve said against you.

Only in a very secure environment will you dare to be honest and vulnerable, which is important to your divorce recovery. By owning and understanding your vulnerability you will begin the process of healing.

Some groups provide confidentiality by asking members to use pseudonyms instead of their real names. They also prevent members from connecting outside of the group’s online environment.

Other groups offer no provision for confidentiality and rely upon each member to police herself. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to do the healing work you need to do because you may not feel safe.

Another way online divorce support groups offer confidentiality is with an agreement you enter upon joining the group. The group facilitator may have a document each member must sign to join, or s/he may make the agreement part of the underlying terms of membership.

Whatever method of confidentiality the group provides, it’s up to you to decide whether those terms make you feel safe in your vulnerability.

2. Who is facilitating the online divorce support group?

If the group you’re interested in has a facilitator or two, you’ll want to know more about them before joining.

The best facilitators are those who have a deep understanding of divorce. They are typically divorce coaches, therapists, or seasoned facilitators who have been through divorce themselves.

Another vital role the facilitator plays is keeping the group on task and focused on the topic. Due to the nature of divorce and the emotional drama involved, it’s natural that some participants have a hard time not talking … on and on. A good facilitator will listen for those who are not speaking and encourage them to share, while also managing those who dominate so the group progresses, feels fair, and stays on point.

You’ll want to contact the facilitator before joining the group to learn more about his/her background and experience. By interacting with the facilitator, you’ll get a good feel for who this person is and whether the group is right for you.

If the facilitator does not provide a means for you to contact or interact with him/her before joining the group, then don’t join. That means the facilitator is not interested in getting to know you as an individual. They are more interested in filling their group up and getting paid.

3. Does the group have a clear structure?

The best online divorce support groups are carefully organized and not just open forums for kvetching.

Ideally, you’ll want a group that has a regular meeting time so you can count on getting support. A regular meeting time makes it easier to plan around your job or find childcare (should you need it). A regular schedule forces you to make time for yourself, this subject, and your growth.

To get the most out of the group, it’s critical to know the topic of each meeting in advance. This will allow you to not only verify that the topics meet your needs but also to prepare for each session.

You should also look for the stated outcome of participating in the group. A meaningful program will have a specific intention for each of the members to achieve. It’s this intention that will give you greater insight into how the facilitator will guide the group.

4. How does the group build a sense of community?

Joining an online divorce support group is about becoming part of a community so you don’t feel so alone and isolated. Ideally, the group is full of individuals who are willing to give and receive support by honestly and respectfully relating their experiences, questions, and insights.

But a community isn’t created just because you attend meetings together.

You and the other group members build a community within each session by openly discussing questions and sharing experiences. Outside of each session, you continue to do so by sharing challenges (if desired) and supporting one another.

Joining a good, vetted (look for testimonials) online divorce support group can be one of the best gifts you give yourself if you are considering, or have decided to, end your marriage. The group can provide you with the safety, camaraderie, resources, convenience, and experience you will likely need to navigate knowledgeably the transition from married to divorced.

Yet, because not all divorce support groups are the same, you’ll need to do some research before joining any. Will the group provide you with a safe place to heal, learn, and build the foundation for the next phase of your life?

 

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through this emotional and often times complicated experience. For support, guidance and next steps now, consider joining SAS’ Annie’s Group, a divorce support online, learning community teaching you what a woman must know as she considers, or navigates divorce. Please know space is limited and class begins at different times throughout the year. Schedule your chat to learn if Annie’s Group is right for you.

Self care after divorce means listening to your inner music

Self Care after Divorce: Loving Our Bodies, Ourselves

Taking care of ourselves can be challenging on our best days. Work, children, aging parents, pets, email, the car, smartphones—all of them competing in a dizzying buzz for our attention. Yet, self care after divorce is crucial. There’s no one around to casually remind you it’s time for another teeth cleaning or that you seem to be carrying a backpack of rocks between your shoulders. Still, the things that support, nourish and safe guard you need to be taken care of, perhaps more than ever. Because so much of life that is good, so much of life that must be maintained, is on us! Including our own well-being. No matter how old I get, it still feels odd and a little unfair that the outside world doesn’t come to a screeching halt when I feel upended. But stomping my feet and demanding the world JUST STOP won’t get me anywhere. For in the end, the problems we face are almost never as bad as they feel like they’re going to be at the start.  The trick is to start.  (But, you probably learned that in your last phase, when dealing with the divorce and facing things you never ever wanted to. Still, you pushed through.)

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, part of the challenge is not knowing where to go or whom to turn to for trustworthy information. Try to relax in front of the telly at night, and we are bombarded with commercials for prescription drugs and other advertisements, all continuing to feed us the myth that medicating is the answer. We can’t rely solely on doctors or the manufacturers of pills or popular culture with its subliminal messages to make the right decisions.

Christiane Northrup, MD, wrote the book on women’s health, and it’s called Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. She’s a board-certified OB/GYN and past president of the American Holistic Medical Association. (Which means you can trust her advice.)

Diet comes first when it comes to self care after divorce

Food is often overlooked when discussing personal well-being. By and large, if it grows in the ground, it’s probably something you should be eating. If it doesn’t—if it, say, makes a satisfying fizzy sound when opened or has to be ordered from a teenager attending a drive-thru window, then don’t eat it. Fast food is destroying America.

Statistically speaking, women outlive men, and it’s no secret, girls are taking over the world. Women living long, healthy lives, passing their strength down to the next generation and making this planet a better place, is a necessity. But we have to be healthy to do this.

The simpler we eat, the healthier we will be.

The dairy and beef industries have sold us on the idea that milk is good for us and red meat is All-American. The truth is neither milk or red meat is good for women’s bodies and eliminating them from your diet can help make going through menopause or dealing with PMS less of a headache. Caffeine and sugar are also culprits, as they throw your body’s natural balance off, affecting everything from hormone levels to anxiety.

Andrew Weil, MD, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, provides readers with a wealth of information like this in his monthly newsletter. He backs his advice up with research and studies but doesn’t bog the reader down with too much information. I like newsletters—as you can probably tell, like SAS’ Day Break, because they funnel the information I want and deliver it right to my inbox. In the case of SAS’ weekly coaching letter, you’ll receive practical to emotional to girlfriend advice, helping you understand and even forgive yourself as you aim to rebuild and recreate the life you deserve. Learning how to self care after divorce (indeed, self care in general) shouldn’t be another chore.

Benefits of exercise (you actually want to do)

Find some movement you enjoy. Enjoyment is key for those days when motivation seems nowhere to be found. I think of the tango dancer who once had a fear of intimacy but now dances with strangers in tightly choreographed movements. Who even met her current beau in a dance class, a spark quietly ignited through the art of dance. (The new beau an added benefit, of course.)

There are also simple exercises you can do that don’t take up much time. Jumping on a rebounder, a small trampoline, is a daily exercise that cleans out the lymphatic system and strengthens your heart. This is a low impact exercise involving gentle bouncing. Only a few minutes is enough to release toxins.

Making your health a priority

Examine what else, besides food, you allow your body to consume. Quitting cigarettes, for instance, is as much about vanity as it is health. Smoking cigarettes ages your skin by breaking down connective tissue and depriving it of oxygen. It thins hair by constricting blood vessels and disrupting hormone levels. Nearly half (yes, half) of all smokers are diagnosed with gum disease by sixty-five, according to the American Dental Association.

Stay on top of all doctor appointments. In 2015, The Journal of the American Medical Association published guidelines advising women to get annual mammograms starting at age forty-five. Once a woman turns fifty-five, she is advised to cut back to once every other year. Other appointments, like visiting the dentist or gynecologist, should happen on an annual basis regardless of age, while general physicals and eye examinations should take place every other year. Preventive care is proven to keep people healthier, longer.

Life after divorce should be all about putting yourself first—that includes your health. A life of freedom and fun is within your grasp, but safety and education come first.

Surgical intervention as a form of self care

People love to bash on celebrities who reveal their newly enlarged breasts or smaller noses. But there’s a world of nuance and a menu of options that exist for the discerning woman.  There is nothing wrong with cosmetic surgery as long as it’s done for the right reasons. If giving “the girls” a little lift as a certain self care after divorce makes you feel better, then who am I (or anyone else) to judge? To comment?  No, rather I might ask, “Who did it for you?” You get one life, so live it.

But before you schedule any cosmetic surgery, make sure you understand surgery will not cure you of self-loathing. It will not ensure a long term loving relationship. Once they have you on their examination table, surgeons may try to sell you “additional surgeries” to enhance the “new you,” but you are not an experiment. Some people—perhaps many people—will never be fully satisfied with how they look, even after surgery. Do NOT change your body to please someone else, when you’re the one who has to live in your skin.

Do your homework. Research all about your surgeon. There are ways to read reviews and cautionary tales about doctors on the internet. Find out as much as you can about women’s real experiences and how they were treated by the doctor before making any decisions.

Perimenopause, menopause & postmenopause

As early as a woman’s 30s, but more likely in their 40s, her body begins to undergo perimenopause. During this time, you still have menstrual cycles and can get pregnant—but the body is preparing for the changes to come. Menopause is diagnosed when twelve consecutive months pass without a woman having a period. The ovaries no longer release eggs, and estrogen levels drop off. Cue hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.

But as we know, women’s bodies are strong and capable. Preparation is key. Even simple lifestyle changes (many of which are already mentioned above) can make this transition smoother. Think, drink and eat soy, too.

Last but not least, when it comes to self care after divorce, don’t be afraid to say NO. Saying no is one of the most liberating exercises of all. It’s like saying YES to you.

 

Whether you are navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, or in that confusing but fertile place of recreating the life you want to lead, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of  “After Divorce.”  “A successful divorce requires smart steps through and beyond the divorce document.” Learn what we mean and how it will benefit you in a free 45-minute consultation.

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

learning how to hire a divorce lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiring a divorce coach

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

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

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

Shopping around for a divorce lawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Woman in satin slip with no rings

When Do You Sell Your Wedding Ring? And How?

Frustrated … or ecstatically done? Maybe you are strapped and desperate for cash? No matter the scenario, you are in good company if you are wondering, “When …how …. where do I sell my wedding ring?”

There might be an urgency to your question. You are probably yearning to put the past behind you … TO MOVE ON. Or, and let’s tell it as it is, there’s often the practical real–life necessity of “Let me get some value from that *#[email protected]!*& thing!” All these feelings and needs we know well both as divorce coaches and women who have been right where you are. But it is your needs and feelings that must be genuinely considered … if you are really, truly interested in the right answer.

Are you interested in the right answer? When do you sell your wedding ring?

Then hold on before you start fantasizing about the how, where, and how much you will get for it, because it’s worth taking you through the paces that bring you to the question.

Selling Your Wedding Ring: The Emotional Component

First, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Are you really ready to part with your wedding ring?
  2. Are you really done with your relationship?

If you answered YES without hesitation, then by all means scroll down to “The Practical Steps of Selling Your Wedding Ring.” If you paused, then keep reading. Your wedding ring is of course, a symbol of your union or what your union was. It represents (and possibly, might still) all your hopes and dreams. Your Happily Ever After.

Have you really done everything to save — which means work — on your marriage?

No doubt you’ve done some things. But to make sure, check out our suggestions in 36 Things to Do if You are Thinking about Divorce just to make sure you’re not embarking out of haste or making this enormous life decision from an explosive or depressed place. It’s not easy to divorce, nor should it be. You’ll want to be sure (well, as much as you can be — refer to step number 29 in 36 Things.)

Already Divorced?

You may no longer be married, but still holding on, holding on to that ring, the jingle, the jangle, the pearl necklace, the pin he gave you from your first trip away together. They are all kept safe in that special satin-lined box you keep hidden in your lingerie drawer. You might be feeling guilty, or simply not ready to say goodbye to them. Because on some level it would mean saying goodbye to your dreams. You are in mourning, and Sister, mourning is a complicated thing.

  1. Are you still, or just now starting to come to terms with everything you have lost?
  2. Are you still feeling the pain and trying to understand what’s brought you to being single all over again?

Make no apologies – to yourself or to anyone else! Just understand. This stage of divorce recovery is fraught with people wanting the best for you, wanting you to “get over it,” but not quite understanding you. Indeed, YOU may not be understanding you right now. Allow yourself to be where you are. For if there’s one thing you’ve earned now on the other side of the divorce paperwork, it’s the right to be calling your own shots. If you are not ready to part with your ring, DO NOT. Take a few steps on our divorce recovery stairway and learn what else you can do to heal and begin to live again.

The Practical Steps of Selling Your Wedding Ring

Alright, alright, you say, you don’t want to hear any more about leave-taking or mourning. In fact you skipped those paras because you’ve got bigger fish to fry, like paying off your legal fees, the credit card debt, or taking that longed-for trip to Phuket. You’ve always heard that you could flip your ring … or that “Jewelry is a good investment.” So surely this ring that has kept you lassoed in place this long has got to be worth something? Right?

 

Where do you sell your wedding ring? How much can you get?

First, let’s get clear: it’s likely not your wedding ring that is worth selling so much as it is your engagement ring. But here’s the bracing cold fact behind that: the value of your jewelry, and in particular your engagement ring, is likely not worth what you think it is. Yes, we know. We hate being the bearer of bad news … someone probably paid a lot for it. But the price paid for your ring reflected the design, the brand, the artistry, and time involved in creating it. When you go to resell, buyers are only interested in the value of the stones and metals. Not your ring in toto.

Sigh, if you like. You are safe with us. But then be smart and savvy about trying to get as much for those stones and metal as you can!

Follow these steps to sell your ring

1) Have your ring graded

While we are all for supporting your village tradesman and local economy, if you walk into your local jeweler you are hostage to what s/he says your diamonds and gold are and what they may be worth. The best is to have your ring graded by a GIA or IGI-certified jeweler so you learn and document the real characteristics of the stones and metal before you try to sell. (Note: the proper word is “graded” and not “appraised.” An appraisal is used for insurance purposes only and is not a resell market price.) Learning the true facts about your ring is the first step to understanding its value.

 

2) Decide what is worth your time

Once you know the size, the cut, the color, and the clarity of your diamond, you are better prepared to figure out what is worth your while. Maybe if the stones are not as valuable as you’d hope, you will do nothing or you’ll repurpose them into something you actually like? Or you will sell them to the jeweler or pawnshop that will give you the most for them? If the latter, shop around for the best offer. If your center stone is 1.0 carat (ct.) or more, it’s in your interest to find a legitimate resource for reselling. Go ahead and search the web or use a well-reputed jeweler you know.  You are now a savvy seller looking for the best deal.

 

You may be on the OTHER side of the divorce document, but life after divorce still means finding your way and handling all the practical, logistical, and emotional things that keep landing in your lap. Reach out to SAS for a free consultation on how we can support your prioritizing what comes first, what comes next, and what will foster your most beautiful, next chapter.

 

 

 

Yellow house with picket fence, cat and roses on vines

Should You Keep the House During Divorce?

Should you keep the house during divorce? Well, it’s not just about the house, is it? There is no way you’re letting go of the car, the jewelry, the investments, your pension, your hard-earned income, or the Baccarat crystal goblets either. And you’re pretty adamant your divorce attorney will agree.

Unfortunately, the law and recent statistics are not in synch with you. According to financial studies, divorcing individuals need a more than 30 percent increase in income just to maintain the standard of living they had before the divorce. Divorce is like that. It’s really about loss and opportunity. But the fact is the loss is harder on women.  One in five women fall to poverty as a result of divorce, while men experience a loss of between 10% and 40% to their standard of living. As devastating as those statistics may sound, divorce is not just about the economic leveling. Sometimes your life and the quality of your inner peace is more important than the house with the gourmet kitchen. Divorce could also be an ideal opportunity for you as a couple, and then as an independent woman, to face reality and get out of debt, or to finally sit down and work out a long-term financial plan for your children’s education.

What follows is a practical conversation about whether or not you should keep certain assets in the divorce. How you are going to come to terms emotionally with this division of assets, or how you are going to take steps to protect yourself and rebuild your life is better discussed in a series of coaching sessions or by reading this article about divorce recovery.

Divorce & the Family Home – Pros and Cons of Keeping It

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself where the property is concerned. The first is whether you would be able to keep up with the payments and maintenance of the property on your own and whether you would have enough cash to buy your partner out or qualify for a loan to do that. If this is going to place you under pressure, you may want to consider downscaling a bit in order to still live a comfortable life.

The advantages of keeping the home in divorce include:

  • Continued stability for the children
  • Maintaining an asset that will form part of the estate
  • The frustration of moving is not added to the stress that a divorce brings

The disadvantages of keeping the home in divorce include:

  • Mounting financial pressure due to loans or reduced saving
  • The full cost of the maintenance of the property rests on a single pair of shoulders
  • The possibility that there is no access to funds to buy the other spouse out, which could cause ongoing financial pressure

Until You Decide What to Do

Whether the proceedings are quick and amicable or long and drawn-out, it’s important for both parties to take responsibility for the property and their other financial obligations. Falling behind on mortgage payments following a divorce, could cause serious financial implications. Both parties risk losing their creditworthiness, which means they may not qualify for a mortgage, whether it is for the family home or not.

It is also crucial to maintain other payments, such as credit cards, tuition fees, levies, car payments, and insurances. Failure to maintain payments on these items could have a far-reaching effect on future applications.  At this point, couples may also want to look into making use of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). A CDFA will assess the financial situation to ensure that both parties remain on an equal footing for a long period. This is especially handy where one party earns a lot more than the other, or one of the spouses is unable to enter the job market as they need to raise the children. During the calculation, the analyst will determine whether one spouse’s assets will grow and the other’s will deplete, and adjust their recommended asset split accordingly.

If Neither of You Wants It or Can Afford It

When you’ve made your calculations and neither of you qualifies for finance, or neither of you wishes to remain in the family home, the obvious choice would be to sell it. But what happens when the value of the property is far less than the actual bond with the financial institution? This is what a short sale is, but it really shouldn’t be the first option as it will have a negative rating on the credit scores of the spouses. When their FICO scores are affected, they may have to wait a few years to enter the property market again.

Other Debts and What to Do

Joint accounts and divorces go together like a tracksuit and heels. They don’t. The moment there is a whisper of divorce, it’s important to let the banks and financial institutions know. This is to prevent the spouse from running up the debt and getting out of town. Although a loan may be in both names, both parties are responsible for the repayments in full. If you’re left with the repayments and you’re struggling to keep it under control, you will need to contact the bank to make a payment arrangement.

Sit down with the finances and prioritize payments. List the expenses in order of most important, which would include mortgage or rental payments first, then food and utilities,and finally tuition and insurances. The rest will follow. Try to pay debt off as the items clear instead of running up a bill again, but don’t necessarily close the accounts in case the alimony and child support payments come in late. Only use debt for emergency purposes.

And for those issues that fall off the balance sheet … your emotional needs, concerns, your sense of injustice, not to mention how you will begin to rebuild your life and help your kids get through this, contact SAS. We will help you put a system in place to come to terms with what you’ve lost, but also what you will discover. Take advantage of our free consultation so you begin your healing now.

Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

Protesters holding sign that says "Have you no sense of decency sirs?"

SAS Survey: Is the Current Political Climate Impacting Divorce for Women?

Are you feeling it, too? A study published by the American Psychological Association in mid-February (2017) has found that two thirds of all Americans feel anxiety over the future of the country. The analysis, called “Stress in America,” also discovered 57 percent of the nation reported that politics were either somewhat or a very significant source of stress in their lives.

In our work at SAS for Women, a practice dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional and logistical challenges of divorce, we are not surprised. While January, February and March are commonly referred to as the “divorce season” in the family law industry (with the theory being that couples bury their conflict during the holidays and file for divorce in the new year) the start of 2017 feels especially divisive. Since Mr. Trump’s ascent to power, we are hearing more and more about a certain type of stress women are facing, and in particular how it’s playing out beyond and behind the marital chamber’s door.

Our question is how much is this current administration and the daily barrage of headlines proving to be a lightening rod and moving women toward divorce? Is the current political climate impacting divorce overall?

The Survey on Political Climate and Divorce

To learn how much the current political climate is influencing women’s feelings and behavior about divorce we polled the SAS for Women Community — women who are thinking about, or navigating divorce.

Survey showing impact of political Feb 2017 political climate impacting women and divorce

Design: Ashley Nakai

Of the 100 women polled, 53 percent say they are influenced by the political climate. More than a third (35 percent) rate themselves 5 or higher on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the primary reason or trigger they are divorcing. 6 percent of the women who participated indicated they were a “10.”

What Women Said:

Many women in the SAS Community did more than simply self-assign a number. They shared comments and thoughts about their dilemmas, circumstances, and outlook for the future:

Answered “3”: “Women’s rights and freedom are in jeopardy as long as Trump is in office and the cabinet and Supreme Court are staffed as they are now. Single mothers are at high risk for poverty, which not only negatively affects them, but also their children. And yet, women must have the option to leave abusive or otherwise unhealthy domestic partnerships without fear of becoming homeless, hungry, etc.”

Answered “9”: “My soon to be ex has always been a Republican and we clashed during presidential elections before (Bush), but he was a Trump supporter and it really pushed me over the edge to the realization that our values and interests were completely different. Upon my announcing I wanted a divorce in October, he immediately became a Hillary supporter and tried to tell me that he agreed with every position I ever had and that I just misunderstood him or didn’t know him. While it was not the primary reason for my seeking a divorce ( I have been unhappy for many years!), it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Answered “1”: “Political factors influence very little of my day to day decisions. My divorce, my children, and my career consume the entirety of my energy. I will not waste limited energy on those things that do not directly benefit my children or my career or me and moving ahead with our lives.”

Answered “7”: “Problems before…but a perceived wider gap in our overall politics (and general direction we are both leaning) has made the possibility of divorce even greater.  I am left shaking my head about who it was I fell in love with 25 years ago and who is in my bed tonight …”

Answered “1”:  “America goes about its business day after day, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I personally take responsibility for my actions and feel that I have the greatest impact on myself and others by owning what is mine, the good and the bad. Politics will always have good and bad realities that will either enhance or detract from our lives and our choices, but that is something we are lucky to have!”

Answered “8”: “The political attack on everything I hold dear and all that constitutes my core values as a human being and a woman recalibrates the tolerance of a husband who is not truly supportive of those values either. I can’t have this President in The White House and be trapped in marriage to someone who is not shook up, too.”

Answered “1”: “Politics have nothing to do with my pending divorce or how my ‘husband’ treats me.”

Answered “8”: “I was just speaking about this to my therapist. I feel so outraged by the misogynistic administration and the misogynistic  culture of the election that preceded this corrupt administration.  I’ve realized that our society is more misogynistic than I had felt and that my husband is not a feminist. It has become clearer to me.”

Answered “2”: “My decision was made way before the current political situation which only strengthens my determination. However, the impact is not that great as the determination was there to begin with.”

Answered “10”: “I am exiting a relationship with a narcissist, after 25 years of believing his spin, his alternative facts, his hostage holding (beholden to keeping kids emotionally safe). It was actually a relief to hear the descriptions of Trump as it clarified the behavior I was looking at but still couldn’t see.”

Conclusion

While 47 percent of the SAS Community self-assigned themselves a “1,” thereby indicating their feelings and actions about divorce are not impacted by the political climate, it is clear that more than half of the women polled claim they are influenced. More than a third of this community feels very much impacted by the current political climate and what it means for them, their families and the future.

What do you think? We would be interested to know — as would our Sister Readers! We invite you to share your comments and thoughts below.

SAS for Women® is uniquely positioned to understand women as they confront the realities of divorce around the world. Our education and coaching services — action and outcome-drive — focus on the healthy approach and appeal to women who are committed to being smart and educated in their decision-making. To learn what is possible for you and your life, schedule your free consultation with SAS by visiting here.