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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.

Woman in a suit

Wait, What? Yep, Women Pay Alimony, Too

Is your soon-to-be ex-husband asking for alimony or spousal maintenance?

Actually, you are not alone, women pay alimony, too.  Official and current statistics don’t exist, but in my experience and in an informal survey of attorneys and mediators in my circle, it’s not only happening but in fact, women who will have to pay alimony is on the rise.  I see it in about ten percent of cases, which makes sense, as according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are now the primary breadwinners in one-third of all marriages.

I find that while men aren’t happy to pay alimony, they aren’t exactly surprised either.  Women are shocked and furious.  Here is a sampling of the reactions I hear to the news:

“His attorney said they would ask for alimony.  Can they DO that?”

“I make more now, but he could make more money if he tried.  He’s just lazy.”

“Why should I pay him money to sit on his a**?!?”

Under what circumstances would you have to pay alimony?

If you make a lot more money than he does, and you’ve been married for more than 10 years, prepare yourself for the possibility that you will be paying him maintenance.  You might have been working harder all through the marriage, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.

What may seem like a horrible injustice is actually just (mostly) math

In New York state (as with many others), there are guidelines and a formula to follow.  A great tool to use to get a sense of things is to check out this online calculator.

However, that’s just a place to start. The courts do look at other factors when making a decision about support, including:

• the length of the marriage

• each spouse’s age and health status

• each spouse’s present and future earning capacity

• the need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses

• whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to become self-supporting

• whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity

• equitable distribution of marital property, and

• the contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.

It sounds fair if you aren’t living it.  What is not in the formula?

• If he cheated on you

• If you were a saver and he spent all your money

• If you already feel he’s been sponging off you for years

• If he’s underemployed or worse, unemployed and you still do more of the cooking and cleaning around the house.

Unfortunately, the “fairness” of it all can’t be quantified nor corrected by the courts. In trying to create an equitable system, it turns out that lazy husbands can look to you for alimony or maintenance during separation proceedings. The simple reality is, sometimes women pay alimony too.

What to do now

If you are unsure of how your divorce will affect you financially, help is available.

A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) can work with you to project the financial implications of your divorce, while your attorney focuses on the legal issues. Setting a realistic budget and understanding the tax and investment details before your divorce is finalized will allow you to start off on the right foot financially.

Sara Stanich is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) based in New York City. She specializes in helping parents understand their options and make informed decisions surrounding the financial aspects of divorce.  Learn more or schedule a free consultation at PowerOverDivorce.com. 

Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin discussing mistakes and divorce advice

Ladies Don’t Make This HUGE Mistake When Getting a Divorce

We all know this: divorce is EXPENSIVE and time-consuming. You’ll probably be working with a lawyer to mediate the division of assets and handle court proceedings. If your divorce isn’t amicable, you might be tempted to reach out to your lawyer with every piece of evidence that paints your Ex in a bad light or to use them as a shoulder to lean on when your emotions are running high. But every minute with your lawyer spent dishing out legal wisdom and divorce advice is precious money flying from your pocket.

A lawyer’s focus is your divorce—handling all the legal aspects in as timely a manner as possible. Of course, the lawyer is on YOUR side, but did you know you have your own set of responsibilities in the lawyer/client relationship? What’s more, a divorce lawyer is not the only person you might want or need on your team during this trying time.

You need an entire support system to get you through your divorce. A lawyer is not a therapist, a divorce coach, or a loved one. And while a good lawyer or legal professional can make all the difference in how smooth and timely your divorce process and recovery is, they cannot be your everything right now, nor should they be.

In this short video, Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin discuss some often looked over divorce advice so you can avoid making a mistake so many women are guilty of (including us).

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unique challenge’s women face when considering, navigating and recovering from the divorce experience. You are invited to meet SAS through a complimentary consultation. You deserve knowing the smartest, healthiest next steps for yourself and for your family.

Thinking over divorce advice

Divorce Advice from a Woman of a Certain Age

After my divorce, I needed advice, strategies, and moral support to get through the relationship mess that I was living in. I needed to move on but felt I needed divorce advice and support to get there—someone not young but not quite old, from someone like me: a woman of a certain age.

I began the search by looking for a self-help book that would offer me relief. Visiting more than one bookstore, searching online, and checking out the ever-present Saturday morning yard sale for discarded but useful books (I don’t know why I like that genre), I was astounded to find nothing that offered help for the middle-aged woman.

Why is it that no books existed for the middle-aged woman experiencing un-engagement, separation, or divorce? Do writers think that women like us will just muddle through it and move on without any support?

True, middle-aged women are strong, resilient, and feisty, but, as in many other areas of our personal and professional lives, we are often ignored. I had enough. So I decided to write my own story full of tips, strategies, success stories, and divorce advice from middle-aged women who have lived through their own relationship trials and who have come through the experience with their sense of joy and self. These women have survived divorce and healed through their divorce recovery, and are now in a better state than they ever imagined they could be.

How did they do it? Here are a few teasers from my book, The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah!

Since you seem to ache and feel awful from head to toe, seek out as much divorce advice and as many, varied (no matter how weird that they may sound) types of help that you can stand. You will know when enough is enough.

Seek out a professional

One woman I know sought out a life coach to guide her through this process. Be sure that your coach suits your personality and style. Check out her training and certification. Her life coach, actually, first recommended a 60s “cure” for dealing with the stress of a divorce. This unusual strategy involved a field trip to Colorado and a cleansing ritual, but the woman in question declined. Instead, she chose something more traditional to focus and to calm her nerves: a therapist.

Consider the right professionals who abound these days. Women no longer have to reinvent themselves in the dark. You might consider a divorce coach or therapist who specializes in divorce recovery or life changes. Or even better, an educational divorce support group that teaches you about rebuilding your life and gives you a safe space to discuss divorce advice—with other women! Learning best practices and how to cultivate your confidence, address your fears, and save for retirement will advance your divorce recovery time.

Keep a journal

Many women prefer to write divorce out of their systems. Keeping a diary, just like many of us did as teens, really helped another friend of mine. She wrote whenever anger welled up in her. She wrote and wrote to keep herself from doing harm to her Ex and the new chick in his* life. She filled many books (who wouldn’t?).

When it was time to move on, about a year or so later, she contacted a Native American healer friend to assist her in the journal burning. They both knew that if these journals were ever read by anyone else that it would be bad news, so they set up a time and place for the burning of the journals. She invited a few friends who invited a few friends, and standing around her bonfire, with special added herbs, they freed my friend from her Mr. Was Wonderful and his bad karma. The bonfire has become a yearly ritual sans the bad karma and with the addition of lots of wine.

Keep the right friends around

I was talking at 9 months of age, so this strategy would have worked for me. Talk things out as long as your friends can stand it. But make sure they are the right friends. You need to trust them. They will keep your confidence. They know that you are hurting and want to offer up divorce advice and help you in whatever way they can. Set up talk times so that your words will not interfere with their lives. Do not call after 11 pm or you will both be sleep deprived on top of everything else that you are feeling. You don’t want to lose friends since losing your spouse may be about all that you can handle at this point and isn’t fair to anyone.

You can also talk to yourself, but if you start having a full-on conversation with yourself, you should probably stop immediately. A friend began talking to herself at home, but made the mistake of starting a conversation with herself in the grocery store and, boy, did she ever clear the produce section. She stopped shopping at that store and never went back again.

Your immediate neighborhood has some great people who you may have had limited contact with previously. And while you’ll want to be careful what you tell them if you are still navigating your divorce (you don’t want the information coming back to haunt you), you also never know what potential new friend is close by. After her divorce, a friend of mine found out just how rude her Ex was to a neighbor when she started up a conversation one Sunday afternoon. They became instant friends and remain close today.

Even the unexpected ones

If you are a “hater of children,” maybe try getting over that and make friends with the kids in your neighborhood or building. We’re not past the time when children will pass up the opportunity to mow your lawn or bring in your groceries (for a small fee, of course), but even the power of a friendly wave is not to be underestimated. One friend met her new beau through a neighborhood child. Even if you are not ready for this new man, stranger introductions and lifetime memories with a great guy could be waiting for you.

Volunteer—yes, you

Since you now have some free time on your hands, try volunteering. Someone may need your more than your Ex ever did. One friend volunteered at an animal shelter. Animals offer the best unsolicited affection out there. Dogs are a great judge of character and can make you feel special and loved during a time when you feel very un-special and unloved.

Another friend volunteered at the senior center in her town. She learned new dance steps, how to cheat at cards, and developed a real knack for chess. Still another acquaintance took a jaunt overseas to volunteer in an orphanage. The plight of those children made her look at her divorce in a new light. All of the women mentioned here felt that they became better people because of their volunteering experiences and who doesn’t want that in her life?

Moving forward isn’t about getting just any divorce advice, it’s about getting the right kind for your unique situation. If you, too, are looking for the wisdom of a woman of a certain age, someone who has been in your place before and tried on this particular pair of well-worn shoes, than know that you can find what you’re seeking if you look hard enough. A trusted and smart divorce attorney, therapist, financial advisor, or divorce coach—no matter who you need by your side at this particular moment in your divorce recovery journey, they’re out there.

Guest post by Elizabeth Allen, author of The Feisty Woman’s Guide to Surviving Mr. Wonderful: Moving on with Humor, Laughter, and Chutzpah! a collection of break up stories, including her own. Available on Kindle or paperback through Amazon, Allen’s book is a humorous guide to helping you move through the divorce fiasco so you come out a stronger, more vibrant, confident, powerful, and totally evolved woman.

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

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

Woman on the couch ignoring divorce advice for women

Divorce Advice for Women: Get Off the Couch

Despite the never-ending amount of divorce advice out there, the end of a marriage is hard.  Divorce is scary, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting through it. Divorce means the start of a new phase of your life—one that you never planned for.

When understanding takes on a new meaning

My parents were divorced, and I was a second-wife and stepmother for 14 years. On top of that, I have been a family law attorney for 21 years. But even so, none of that prepared me for the roller coaster of emotions that came along with my own divorce. I thought I knew what to expect, and I thought I was prepared. Hadn’t I been dishing out divorce advice to clients for years? Surely if there was an expert, I was it. I was so wrong.

When your marriage splits up, you need to redefine your future, your path, and yourself.  In a marriage, you sacrifice so much of yourself, especially toward the end when all your efforts seem to be failing and you do everything you can to desperately try to save your relationship. In the midst of all that, it’s possible to lose sight of who you are—who you truly are, deep inside.

What makes you happy? What are the things you used to do just for yourself—not for your kids, your husband, or your job but just for you? Is it easy to come up with this list? Can you even remember?

My best divorce advice

My best divorce advice for women is to tell you it is time to focus on you now—to get back to your authentic self. Figure out what makes you happy and where you want your life to go. You have unlimited opportunities now. You have choices. Sure, the path you are on now is not the path that you were on before and it is not the one you expected, but you can redefine your future and you can make it better than before.

Yes, the changes to your finances are scary.  Yes, getting back into the dating world can also another kind of terrifying.  But you can do it.  You are strong, you are fabulous, and you need to get out there and show the world if you ever expect to get anywhere or meet anyone new (friends or lovers).

So, as simple as it sounds: Put away the tissues, and get off the couch. You are amazing, and you have a beautiful, bright future ahead, if only you are brave enough to stop listening to and reading divorce advice and go out there and act on it.

Daryl Weinman is a family law attorney, practicing in the Austin, Texas, area for twenty-one years. A child of divorce, a stepmother for fourteen years, a mother of two teenage boys, and divorced now herself for the past four years, Daryl has seen divorce from most every angle and can truly relate to the emotional struggles of her clients and divorced friends. To leverage her insights and smart, savvy takeaways, read her new book, Post Divorce Journey Back to Yourself available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. Or if you are in the Austin area, or a resident of Texas and would like to consult with Daryl for legal divorce advice, visit here for details.

Although SAS periodically features links to and writing by other professionals on the SAS website, SAS for Women™ is not responsible for the accuracy or content of that information. As for what is best for you and your future, SAS always recommends you speak to a professional to discuss the particulars of your situation.

Listening to divorce advice can save money

Divorce Advice: Lose Your Emotional Attachment to Money

All good divorce advice should acknowledge that there are many parts to breaking up. It would be easier if the end of a marriage could happen in one clean break, of course—if you could go to a doctor, have them reset the bones of your life, and walk away knowing that in X amount of months you could take off the cast and be healed and whole again. But in reality, there’s breaking up legally, physically, emotionally, and financially, to name just a few vital parts of the process. We can’t exactly control how long it will take to make it through to the other side of divorce or who we will be when we get there.

As financial experts who work with women, we know that women in particular must recognize that all these parts come into play when divorcing, but at the same time, women must strive to separate them. This is especially true when it comes to money.

You must aim to separate your emotions from your decisions. In fact, you must treat the financial part of your divorce as a business transaction.

Find professional support

But this is easier said than done. A lot of women have anxiety about money precisely because they have an emotional relationship with it. So our first piece of divorce advice is to find support (a coach or therapist who specializes in divorce) to help you learn about your emotions and how they impact your decisions.

A professional can help you learn how to understand, harness, and compartmentalize these emotions. Again, this is particularly important when it comes to money.

Ensure you understand your financial outlook

Our second piece of divorce advice is to work with a financial expert who will take the time to educate you on what your real financial choices are so that five years from now you are in the best financial place you can possibly be in.

The key to managing your money throughout your divorce negotiations and, more importantly, the long-term is to keep your emotions in check as best as possible and focus on looking at your financial FUTURE. A forward-looking focus gives women the greatest chance at getting the best possible divorce settlement. And her best financial settlement will usually avoid spending a lot of money on attorneys and going through a lengthy court process.

You must aim to separate your emotions from your decisions. In fact, you must treat the financial part of your divorce as a business transaction.

The benefits of keeping your emotions in check

One of our clients felt a lot of anger at her husband* when he decided to move out. This ratcheted up further when he did not always live up to his custody obligations, leaving her in a lurch and disappointing their eight-year-old twins. Although their relationship was strained, the couple agreed to try the collaborative divorce process. When giving out divorce advice, I often tell clients this is an excellent and cost effective way to for them to divorce, but it also requires good communication.

Our client worked hard at keeping her emotions in check and the yelling to a minimum. Whenever she needed to speak to her husband about issues, she held her tongue and remained civil. When they hit a tough negotiating bump, trying to work out the amount of child support she would receive and who would pay for the twins’ educational expenses, her relationship with her husband was stable enough so that she called him directly and had a productive conversation.

Our client often shared with us (and her therapist) how difficult and painful each and every interaction with her husband was and how hard it was to keep her emotions in check. Due in large part to her self-control, the negotiations moved along quickly and her financial settlement was equitable. He ended up agreeing to pay a bit more monthly alimony and child support than the guidelines indicated. He also gave her a little more of the joint cash than she expected.

Now six months post-divorce, she has a smile a mile wide. We often use this example he anger and injustice that dominated her thoughts during the process seem like a distant memory, and she relishes the feeling of financial security that comes with winding up with enough money to live a reasonable lifestyle.

The pitfalls of being unable to let go of the past

Contrast this experience with that of another client. She and her husband had a second home in Connecticut where the family spent their summers, and it held special memories for her. When the couple separated, her husband made the Connecticut home his main base, and soon after, his girlfriend moved in. He wanted to buy our client out of her half of the house as part of the settlement. He offered her 10 percent over the market value to move the process along. Angry at him for living there with another woman in seeming bliss, she demanded that the house be sold. She admitted to us that the house had become tainted in her eyes, and she would never want to step foot in it again. But she was determined that he should not get to live there.

We showed her that financially it made no difference whether she received half the value of the house from him as part of the settlement or half the value of the house when it was sold. Unable to let go of her demand despite recognizing the financial reality, she spent the next nine months and tens of thousands of dollars only to have a judge ultimately rule that he could keep the house and pay her half.

The outcome of financial negotiations will dictate what lifestyle a woman will be able to live for years after her divorce. The importance of obtaining the best reasonable financial settlement cannot be emphasized enough. To achieve a good financial outcome requires a cool head and following the divorce advice of professionals who have been in your shoes.

Writers, Ellie Lipschitz and Dorian Brown are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA’s).  Their specialty is working with women on the business side of their divorce. As CDFA’s, they educate and assist their clients to understand the financial aspects of their divorce so they can confidently negotiate an optimal settlement. 

 

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.” ~ Liza Caldwell, SAS Cofounder.
Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

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