Forget filing the papers — the story started years ago. Most couples can look back and remember when they fell in love, just as many who are divorcing can see the slow progression of collapse. There are definite markers, warning signs in a relationship that signal your marriage needs an intervention. Here are five key things to look for:
Lack of communication. In the beginning, you share everything. Life takes a toll, however, and communication becomes work. A huge indicator that your relationship is struggling is a decrease in sharing. Put your phone down. Don’t go smoke that cigar with the guys. Look each other in the eyes and start a conversation.
Distance. After you stop talking and sharing with one another, the space widens. Having distance between couples causes them to grow apart and eventually change without one another. You’ll feel like strangers. It might be awkward at first, but get to know one another again. Rediscover why you fell in love.
Criticism. There’s constructive criticism offered in love and there’s negative criticism that undermines confidence and hurts trust. Too much of this atmosphere is damaging and one of the worst things for a marriage. Criticism can create a lack of communication and cause distance. Step back and make sure you aren’t critical to the point of alienating your partner.
Repetitive Fighting. Couples argue. Everyone has days where you are tired or hurt or just thoughtless: It happens. The issues with fighting over the same aspects of a relationship is that this indicates something isn’t going right or someone isn’t being listened to — repeatedly. Repeat offenses cause major problems and can lead to all three relationship killers listed above.
Lack of intimacy. “Sex begins in the kitchen” is a phrase I heard from wise folks who had been married and sought to pass on some key knowledge to me. A lack of sex between partners is really the end result of a systematic absence of intimacy. Intimacy needs context. Do you greet each other in the morning? Share breakfast? Do you ask each other about work, worries, dreams, and goals? See? If you aren’t nurturing intimacy in your daily lives, you aren’t going to have it in the bedroom. This is the most dangerous indicator of a dying marriage. It takes time to cultivate a trusting atmosphere, but anything worth having takes work.
Of course, IRL any one of these issues can have different origins. My point is, as a divorce lawyer, I see different couples with different reasons leave their marriages. Sometimes those marriages have lasted through deaths, moves, and children, only to end with two people who feel like strangers. Take time to evaluate your relationship. Talk to a professional. Don’t let the cares of life steal something precious.
The tumult of emotions in a divorce can often lead to a confusion in priorities. The sad truth is, children get forgotten or used in the divorce situation. While the parents bicker over custody and property, kids get treated like a possession more than they do as miniature humans. Even during a fairly smooth divorce, children are still losing the life they knew and should be given the time and space to grieve that loss. Parents need to embrace the idea of therapy not only for themselves. Children in therapy can work through a host of emotions in a healthy manner and be better prepared for issues that might present themselves in the future: therapy can help kids handle trauma.
Licensed therapist Ashley Earnhart explained that trauma is anything that causes emotional distress and divorce definitely falls into that category for a good number of children: “Many variables and dynamics play a part in how stressful and traumatic the situation is and the extent to which long-lasting emotional scars may form. For the school age child it can mean that a different parent now takes you to school, having to move to a different neighborhood, having to attend an after-school program instead of being picked up by a parent when school dismisses, having to share your time between two houses, and having to share your parents with new significant others. For adult children of divorce, they can question the authenticity of their whole childhood, be pained by reminders of happier times, and can be triangled into the parental relationship in the ‘friend’ role while their title of ‘child’ is neglected.”
A step towards healing and understanding is therapy. Earnhart explains, “Simply put, therapy is professional support in resolving emotional stress. For everyone involved, divorce involves unimaginably hard conversations, decisions, and adjustments. All families experiencing divorce can benefit from professional therapy. Individual emotional responses and the presence of additional traumas, such as affairs and domestic violence, and conflicts such as blending families, will determine the duration of therapy. Children often lose their sense of security when parents divorce. They also blame themselves often. Parents must learn to co-parent in a manner that will provide a continued sense of security for the child. The child needs to know that the parent unit is a team no matter what, or else anxiety can develop. Single parents can benefit from learning how to cope with the challenges of a child who doesn’t understand why they lost a parent. Family therapy without the child present can be beneficial in helping parents resolve conflicts that interfere with their ability to co-parent after a divorce.”
Don’t miss the signs or be blind to the need for therapy. Family counseling, the support of a parent recognizing a child’s need, pull a family closer and heal bonds. Evaluate where your children’s emotions are as they go through this divorce with you and be the support they need.
This blog so often deals with topics pertaining to divorce, and within most of our paragraphs we mention something about support. Not everyone finds the support needed during and after divorce, however. Sometimes family members and friends can’t choose a side; or worse, they don’t choose your side. Sometimes distance makes the level of support needed difficult and phone calls and texts are the only lifelines available. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone facing a future without their spouse deserves divorce support.
We decided to find some online support groups for those of the you who need a network of understanding.
Woman’s Divorce.com: This virtual support group offers various categories to research and read over at your leisure. It provides general information, but gives organized and helpful links for both men and women looking for more support groups. One thing we found impressive was the fact that the creators of the site included links to support groups for those who were in abusive relationships.
Parents Without Partners: This organization is listed on the site mentioned above. Parents Without Partners isn’t just for divorced parents, and the information spans the US and Canada to provide resources for single parents.
Divorce Care: Also listed on the first site, this site is devoted to anyone in need of a safe space. It offers the anonymity of the online experience, while also providing an area to search for local groups meeting within your state.
Rainbows: Around since 1983, this established organization offers support for children grieving the loss of the family they knew.
Obviously, there are many more excellent sites and groups available. We offer advice here on all manner of subjects surrounding divorce: dating, diet, finances; we saw the need to address support groups. Get the support you need as you go through this life change, and if you have any legal questions, please, call, text, or email us at Kevin Hickey Law Partners: 479.434.2414.
In the first stages of divorce it can be easy to see how the divorce will progress: couples have seen the uncoupling happening and are prepared to work together to end things as smoothly as possible, or the anger is almost palpable between the two and the fight is on. These cases can be predicted to an extent and a seasoned attorney can see the contested divorce case and the uncontested as soon as they arrive in his or her office. Sometimes, however, what can start as what seems to be an amicable divorce can grow into a feud. What’s the difference between the two and how does it affect my case?
A contested divorce can take a year or more to work through in court because a couple cannot agree on issues like alimony or child support. In this scenario, a court determines how the issues are settled. This is one reason why mediation is popular. If issues can be mediated, then time and money on both sides can be saved and an uncontested divorce can take place.
When couples work through issues and agree on asset division, child support, alimony, etc., they are privy to an uncontested divorce. Yes, they are still ending their marriage, but they have come to an agreement on everything. No spouse is proving anything against another, although serious situations could have been the impetus for divorce. Many uncontested divorces can be resolved in just a few months, allowing each party to begin rebuilding their lives sooner.
Every case has it’s own needs and nuances. Sometimes a divorce begins amicably enough and later develops some pretty big twist and turns. If you have questions about beginning the process, come talk with us and we’ll get you on the right path to rebuilding your life. Call or email us today at Kevin Hickey Law Partners: 479.434.2414.
I read in Psychology Today how the death of a spouse rated at 100 on this official stress scale, but divorce registered at 73. The author of this article, one Susan Pease Gadoua, disagreed; She thought divorce scored more like 100 and argued that the divorce experience created its own set of stressors. She created a new stressor scale specifically for those experiencing divorce.
While I’m not going to argue about whether divorce or death are the same on a scale, I am going to agree that divorce is certainly the time to evaluate your health. The author makes good points, ten to be precise, but I think the most important are these three:
Don’t take on any shame over your situation, but do express your grief. As you go through the divorce process, it’s easy to internalize negative emotions and events. Sort through the emotions, and be sure to grieve without shame and in your own time.
Build a support system. This includes the support you garner from knowledge about your situation. Support covers many aspects, so don’t neglect the support you build for yourself and definitely let others help you. You cannot be strong all of the time. You just can’t.
Take care of yourself. Eat well. Sleep. Relax. Exercise. See a therapist.
Why is this important? The emphasis on managing your stress comes from science. No joke. Stress causes certain physiological responses that ultimately damage your health. Divorce deserves its own category as far as stress is concerned, and the danger of sickness or illness due to this stress needs recognition. Too many people try to cope during divorce, but the reality is when you are divorcing, your environment becomes stressful for a long period of time. We were designed to endure short periods of stress, but long periods are damaging to your psyche and your physical health. Don’t find a “quick fix” for stress. Own it. Process it. Deal with it. You’ll be thankful later for the rewards of a healthy mind and a healthy body.
If you are divorcing and your marriage lasted ten years or longer, this blog is for you; If you are a virtual voyeur, this blog also might be for you. There’s a trend in blogs and articles now to cover a topic known now as the “grey divorce”: even NPR and Forbes have taken note. What makes this demographic so special is the length of the marriage and the age at which the divorce occurs. A growing number of divorces take place now amidst those who have been in long-term marriages. This can directly impact retirement and social security benefits.
In our aptly named blog “Divorce and Your Finances,” we discussed how finances remain a big portion of ending and settling the remains of a marriage. For this entry we highlight divorce and, wait for it, social security benefits. While not everyone divorcing is entitled to their spouse’s benefits, a good number of people qualify, even if their ex remarried. What’s more is, these folks will fall into the grey divorce category.
You might qualify to receive your ex-spouse’s social security benefits if:
Your marriage lasted ten years or longer;
You did not remarry;
The benefits you are eligible to receive are less than those for which your former spouse is entitled;
You are 62 or older.
Of course we don’t outline all the details here because legalese is boring and difficult to read, but we want you to understand you do have rights. Knowing what financial rights you possess helps in numerous ways for planning your future after marriage. Plenty of people divorcing fall under a “grey divorce” and need a secure future. Have your questions answered about divorce and the effect it can have on your finances and your future. You can take the next steps by scheduling an appointment with Blake Ray.
I’m pretty sure Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry from The Great British Baking Show would have plenty to say about the new bakes trending at divorce parties. Yes, divorce parties. It sounds pretty gauche to hold a party celebrating the end of matrimony, but how better to celebrate a new era than a party and some cake or various confectioneries?
While some of the cakes are distasteful and downright murderous, there are quite a few that range from whimsical to clever. We enjoyed them so much that we created a Pinterest board (we’ll add that soon). Divorce is serious, but you have to find some humor in darkness to help you move towards the light, right?
Aside from cakes, divorcing couples snap “divorce selfies” and an Etsy search yields gifts like candles supposedly scented with the aromas of freshly filed divorce papers; there’s even a personalized eye chart that spells out “I used to be married but I’m better now.” My favorite might be divorce albums full of the dramatic poses of those who feel they need to take the divorce selfie to the next level.
There will definitely be more than a few people insulted, enraged, offended by these new trends, but instead of criticizing, perhaps we should ask why this new industry has even developed? I think it’s because people finally realized the taboo around divorce doesn’t need to exist. We make mistakes or a situation turns toxic and sometimes the best solution is to end a marriage.
While divorce should be a last resort, it can be celebrated. Humans need some sort of event to help us process grief and loss so we can move forward. Divorce parties, cakes, candles, selfies, all meet a need that happens on a basic level — crossing a threshold.
Not a single person can move forward without letting go of the past, and if a party and some iced bakes help you, then: let them eat cake!
You decided to file for divorce. This decision might possibly rank as the scariest, bravest action you have ever taken. You probably feel relieved and guilty all at once. If you have children, you battled your decision until you knew it was the only way. Years, memories, experiences lead you to this moment; but it’s only the threshold. Now, you need to prepare.
Begin establishing new boundaries. Just in case this is an issue, begin to consider how you interact with your future ex spouse and change your boundaries. They don’t need to know everything you think, feel, do, spend, buy, experience. This sort of sharing of information can be used against you and damage you. Focus on healing and taking care of the new relationship you have with your children.
Get a plan together of how and when you will tell your family. If this decision was mutual, then perhaps you can create a plan as a couple uncoupling. If not, take time to think of family and friends and how best to announce your divorce. Take special care with any children involved and put their well-being at the forefront.
Gather up the documents and information your lawyer needs. Your attorney will have a list of financial information, like debt, assets, and expenses, as well as property to divide. Begin now, since at the very beginning you still have relatively easy access to all this information. If you wait, your ex spouse might start hiding things or become difficult to reach.
Decide your budget and begin thinking about where you will live. Your life will change. Your finances will change. A move might be in your future and you certainly need to watch every penny right now. Look at all the money coming in and going out and adjust NOW. Learn about benefits you might need. Consult with a financial adviser. Make this a priority and you can avoid huge issues later.
Don’t date. Until your divorce is finalized, it’s better to stay single. Dating can distract you from the important issues that must be addressed. A new relationship can also be used against you in court. It’s just better to try to wait.
Gather your support group. Don’t try to got through the emotions and stress of a divorce solo. You need the love and wisdom of friends and family who support you in your decision.
Talk to your attorney. Discuss fees, timelines, and professional help from financial gurus and therapists. Your lawyer is an expert in this area, correct? Get what you are paying for out of your sessions and realize that not only does your attorney know how to handle your case, but they know how to help you plan for your future — they’ve see this all before.
Compared to everything you will experience in the coming months, this list probably does not seem like much, but it will get you started. These seven things will help get you over the threshold and into the new life you and your family deserve.
We recently discussed taxes on our blog, but after reviewing the last few years of blogging, we noticed a severe lack in discussions of finances and divorce. Whoops. That’s kind of a big deal. Let’s rectify this situation, shall we?
There can be some big surprises in a divorce, but not all of them need to be financial. We came up with seven pieces of advice for the future of your finances.
Get a financial plan going. If you can, have an accountant or a financial planner work with your divorce attorney. Divorce can leave people in a precarious place financially. With careful planning, even if things are tight, you can avoid issues like bankruptcy and you can make sure your retirement plan is protected.
Know what you spend. By tracking your expenses, you have an idea of what you spend on food, education, bills, clothing, entertainment, household maintenance and repairs, insurance, pets, child care, this helps you develop a budget, but also gives your attorney valuable information. From here you can make plans for future expenses as well to take into consideration.
Locate important documents. Begin this as soon as possible! This process is boring and painful – not gonna lie—but necessary. It’s going to take some time to gather all your records and sometimes you need the help of an angry or distant spouse.
Assets and debts
Checking and savings accounts statements
Credit card statements
Income tax returns
Investment account statements
Watch your legal fees.What you spend legally all needs to be a part of #1. Know what your attorney costs and what you can afford. Many firms have payment plans of some kind. Be sure you understand what you are getting and the cost of a good attorney.
Don’t make big financial decisions. Pretty simple. Watch how you spend and save.
Get what you deserve.For the years you invested, for you future, for the future of you family, know your worth.
Get financial help when needed. It’s fine to need help. Plenty of people find themselves drowning in the stress and emotion of divorce. Add finances. Yeesh. Some people feel lost because their former spouse handled that part of the marriage. Get help from a financial planner. Ask your attorney for recommendations.
Make your finances a priority because your financial future is important for all other aspects of your future.
Unfortunately, divorce takes a toll on finances. It can take years of budgeting and careful planning to bring finances back into a comfortable place; however, it’s also important for you and your family to have fun together. We did a little research on this natural state, and found that Arkansas offers a variety of fun, breathtaking, and historical family adventures. The state’s site, https://www.arkansas.com/, boasts a travel blog, coupons, an events calendar, and a way to build your own vacation! There’s a guide to lakes, Arkansas State Parks, wineries and breweries, cabins, restaurants, and much more — all by region. Here are a few we thought might be fun and are family oriented, but be sure to check out the site: