Posts Tagged ‘Divorce’

Expectation Management and Divorce

When our expectations are in-check we are usually better prepared for what we encounter.  But, many people going through the transition of divorce have no idea what to expect.  And, not knowing what to expect typically escalates divorce-related stress and anxiety.  During a recent divorce mediation training program a multi-disciplinary group of professionals (Stacy Beaulieu, Mark Bilawsky, Tonya Cromartie, Mari Cullen, Susan Daniel, Ed Dieguez, Elizabeth Ermel, Adam Farber, Ruth Gordon, Susan Jacobson, Mike Kesselman, Ray Leon, Elizabeth Mackenzie, Anne Mazer, Goldye Meyer, Nicole Paulino, Lee Rubin, Dawn Saddik, Jennifer Schettewi, Donna Greenspan Solomon, Mark Solomon, Stella Suarez-Rita, Evelyn Tarud, Rick Yabor and me - Elinor Robin) created the following list.  Knowing what to expect can ease the divorce transition.  Here are eleven things you need to know.

1.  Expect change.  Your social network and your standard of living are going to change.

2.  Expect that dislike for your soon-to-be-ex will be difficult to conceal.  However, while it may not be easy, it is important that you avoid sharing this dislike with your children.

3.  Expect a sense of failure (as to the failed relationship and the “wasted” years) and loss (of clarity, identity, connection, and self-control) as well as a roller coaster of emotions – fear (psychological, physical, and financial), anger, sadness, depression, joy, relief, anxiety.  Pay attention to the duration and intensity of these emotions.

4.  Expect – but do not give into - the impetus for a knee-jerk-reaction that puts your children in the middle – where they are used as weapons.

5.  Expect more of the same.  If you have children and an on-going connection to your ex, divorce may not put an end to the negativity and “issues” that were present in your marriage.

6.  Expect that your children will be impacted by your divorce.  (Divorce impacts children of all ages.)  Keep in mind that the impact your divorce has on your children will be related to the degree and duration of conflict and negativity - before, during, and after the divorce.

7.  Expect your ex to have a different experience.  There is a big difference in the experience of the “dumper” and the “dumpee.”  The initiator has often had time to plan and/or gather information.  The other spouse is often caught off guard and needs time to catch his/her breathe after the initial shock.

8.  Expect that divorce will take you out of your comfort zone.  And, as you wade in unchartered water you will need extra support.

9.  Expect to regress into a second adolescence where dating will be difficult, dangerous, and overwhelming.

10.  Expect parenting alone to feel overwhelming.

11.  Expect that you will make mistakes.  Don't beat yourself up over your mistakes.  Instead, learn from your mistakes so that you emerge from this divorce better, stronger, and more aware.

Your Financial Divorce – Expenses

Before you create your marital settlement agreement you and your spouse will need to disclose and discuss critical financial details.  These details include information about your income, assets, debts and expenses.   This post focuses on expenses.  When you look at your expenses consider the following six expense categories.   Typically, many living expenses are fixed while others vary and can - at best - only be estimated.  Creating a snapshot of your monthly costs will help you (a) determine if alimony should be a part of your future financial arrangements and (b) create a budget.  Having a budget will help you live within your means.  And, living within your means is an important component of divorce recovery.  What do you currently spend on each of these expenses?  What do you estimate you will spend on each of these expenses once you are divorced?

Home and Utilities

Mortgage, Rent, Home equity loan, Property taxes, Home insurance, HOA/Condo fees and/or assessments, Home insurance, Electric, Gas/Oil, Propane, Water, Sewer, Garbage, Alarm system, Septic, Land-line Telephone, Cell-phone, Cable/Satellite TV, Internet access, Cleaning service, Lawn care, Pool care, Tree/Shrub care, Chimney sweep, Window cleaning, Gutter cleaning, Carpet cleaning, Air Duct cleaning, Exterminator, Interior repairs, Exterior repairs, Weatherizing, and Appliance repair contracts.

Major Purchases

Appliances, Furniture, Renovations, Extended warranties, and Computers and computer equipment/supplies.

Auto Expenses

Car payments, Car lease, License/tags, Repairs, Gas, Oil Changes, Insurance, Inspections, Tolls, Parking, Rental car, Public transportation.

Personal Expenses

Food and household supplies, Eating out, Clothing, Shoes, Dry cleaning, Health insurance, Medical care, Dental insurance, Dental care, Orthodontia, Vision insurance, Glasses/Contacts, Beauty/Barber shop, Nail salon, Jewelry, Over-the-counter medications and vitamins/suppliments, Prescriptions, Cosmetics, Massage, Health club, Hobbies, Entertainment, Sport/Exercise activities and equipment, Club dues, Entertaining, Vacation, School expenses (tuition, fees, books, etc.), Special needs expenses, Psychological counseling, Pet expenses (veterinarian, food, grooming, boarding, equipment), Professional services (lawyers, accountant, financial planner, investment advisor, stock broker), Political contributions, Charity, Tithes, Donations, Birthdays/Anniversary gifts and cards, Linens, Kitchen supplies, Bathroom supplies, Cleaning supplies, Buying club fee, Paper, Computer and printer supplies, Subscriptions, Magazines, Books, Newspapers, Music, Holiday decorations, gifts, and cards.

Children's Expenses

School tuition, Uniforms, School lunches, Room and board, Books, Supplies, Fees, Club dues, School pictures and other mementos, Religious education, Tutors, Day care, Baby-sitter, Before/after school care, Summer camp, Tutor, Clothes, Shoes, Toys, Gifts from children to others, Allowances, Entertainment, Health insurance, Medical expenses, Dental expenses, Orthodontia, Psychological/counseling, Vitamins, Grooming, Computer equipment and supplies, Travel expenses - to see the other parent and otherwise.

Financial - Debt, Taxes, Insurance, ETC.

Federal, State, City, Personal Property, and Self Employment Taxes; Interest, Payments on credit card balances, Personal loans, Unpaid bills, Penalties, Consumer loans, Delinquent taxes, Bank/credit card fees, Retirement account contributions, Fines, Umbrella policy, Life insurance, Disability insurance, Child support, Alimony, Judgments, College funds, Savings account deposits, Employment related costs - such as Union dues.

Thoughts on Divorce

I am not pro-divorce.  In fact, I wish we could use pre-marital education to bring an end to divorce.  However, it appears that for a variety of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual reasons that is not going to happen any time soon.   So.....

When a marriage is dead, divorce can bring about a life altering transformation that propels a man or woman (a) through an assessment process and (b) into a re-building phase that leads to a redesigned life, which is a more accurate reflection of the wo/man's current desires and identity.

Recently I was asked "If your business was a MOVEMENT, what would that look like?"  Here is my answer:

A movement to change the way we view divorce.  Divorce is a family problem with a legal side effect.  The court system treats it like a legal problem with a family side effect.  My movement would be about the cease fire.  In my opinion, during divorce - most of the time - there is no need for the legal investigation and adversarial attitude that is necessary when one is engaged in a fight with a legal opponent (like an insurance company).  But, many lawyers don't seem able to see the difference.

7 Tips For Parenting From Afar

7 Tips For Parenting From Afar

Whether afar is across town or across the country these tips will help any parent who is not currently sleeping under the same roof as his or her children.

1.  Remember that your child is a digital native. On the other hand, depending on your age, you may be an immigrant to their digital world.  Use your child’s advanced knowledge of technology to keep you connected.  Set up web cams on your computer and your kids’ computers.  Use video mail, Skype, and YouTube to connect.  Use My-space, Facebook, and Twitter to stay in touch, as long as you can do so privately and safely.

2.  Watch TV together. Let your child know that you will be watching her favorite show and will be ready to talk about it.

3.  Keep up with schoolwork.  Give your child (and child’s teachers) pre-addressed, stamped manila envelopes so that it’s easy for them to send you updates, schoolwork, and other paperwork.  If you hear nothing be sure to initiate communications with teachers by telephone and email.

4.  Make audio and video recordings for your kids and encourage them to make them for you.  Nothing to say? Record yourself reading a book and mail the book and the recording to your child.

5.  Remember small events. Send cards, pictures and letters for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, The 4th of July, etc.  Remember large events, like birthdays and Christmas.  Find rituals (beyond the standard Christmas, etc) that you and your children can look forward to and celebrate each year.   If possible build these rituals around an event (for instance a sporting event or a trade show) that your Ex has no interest in.

6.  Make sure that your kids have cell phones with your number programmed in. Use text messages and photos to stay in touch throughout the day.

7.  If you have not done so already, call a truce with your Ex.  Note: Your Ex does not have to take the same action.  This is the place where you are going to set the good example.  Let your Ex know that from now on you are going to focus on finding solutions that work for him/her, your children, and yourself.  And, then make good on that promise, no matter what it takes.

December 2009 – End Of The Year Update

How very fitting that my new website is going live just as we move from 2009 into 2010.   I love New Years Eve.  This is the time of year I feel compelled to assess where I am, where I want to go, and how I will get there.  This assessment process seems to lend itself to the possibility of a clean slate - a chance to begin again.

Personally, the theme for the first half of my 2009 was weddings.  Both my son and my niece got married and wedding related events kept us busy.  During the second half of 2009 my focus shifted homeward and David and I did some renovations.  It took us a long time to unpack afterwards but we are really enjoying the new look.

Professionally, as I look back on 2009 what stands out most are the wonderful people in my life.  I feel blessed by my friends and family who support me through life's ups and downs.  And, I am grateful for the wonderful professional support team David and I have working with us:  Irma, our delightful database manager; Joyce, our efficient bookkeeper; Kurtis, our wise accountant; Paul, our brilliant business coach; and Herb and Daniele, our webmasters, whose patience and commitment made this new website possible.  I am especially grateful for those who refer clients to A Friendly Divorce.  Not only are we pleased to have new business, we are honored that so many professionals think well enough of us to recommend our service.  That’s the best compliment ever.

In addition to my continued work with A Friendly Divorce and Mediation Training Group, I have two major goals for 2010.  I will finish both my "Launch Your Divorce Mediation Practice" manual and my book "Merrily Ever After: The Bride's Guide To Starting Your Marriage Off Right" this year   Please stay tuned.

Please know that I wish all of you a magnificent 2010 - may the New Year ahead bring you health, happiness, and abundance.

All the best,

Elinor

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