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Dealing with divorce is tough enough.  When you throw in the kids and everything you have to do to maintain a sense of normalcy, it can feel like you are balancing the weight of the world on your shoulders.

But you still have to do what’s right for your kids.  And, what is right is having both extended families present to celebrate milestones—especially birthdays.  That means step one in the entire planning process is to put your feelings aside—no matter how much baggage is left over from your divorce.

So, what’s the trick to having a birthday party with your ex and their family?  Host it away from home. Then, neither of you will have to feel like you are imposing on the other’s personal space.

Here are five tips for hosting your child’s birthday party away from home.

Plan Early

Don’t wait until the last minute.  First of all, you are juggling two different families.  So, you need to be sure that you give enough notice so everyone can attend.

Next, you need to find a venue.  You will need plenty of space. So, you should start looking for banquet halls or a theme-oriented site.  Since it’s a child’s party, a sit-down restaurant is probably not the best place to reserve. And, more often than not, swimming parties, skating parties, and other kid themes party venues don’t give the kids enough time to visit with both sides of the family.

Parks and picnic shelters are a great place to start looking—if you are willing to make the weather a factor in your planning.  They are affordable, and they offer plenty of space. You don’t want to have to worry about the number of guests attending when you are dealing with your ex.  Things could easily get misinterpreted, and it could lead to unnecessary fighting.

Instead, start looking for the ideal place early.

Put Everything in Writing

When you are communicating your plans with your ex, it’s wise to put everything in writing.  Communicate via email instead of phone calls. Text messages are another great way to have a communication trail.

This way should something get mis-communicated you have a paper trail to prevent any arguments with your ex.

Also, put everything in writing when you are communicating with your ex’s family.  They will want to help, and you should let them.  If you use email and/or text messages to carry out the necessary communication, you can avoid any type of argument that may occur due to miscommunication.

Remember, the goal is to put on a party for your child, not to stir up drama with the ex and his/her family.

Divide Up the Jobs

Both parents and their family members will likely want to be involved in putting on the party. Don’t be afraid to ask the other side for help. Who doesn’t need help when hosting a party? The more support you get, the better.

Not only will it extend an olive branch, but it will also show your kiddos that you care about all of their family.

Stay Focused on the Child

This is easier said than done, right? Divorce can be ugly. And, it can leave behind some deep wounds and big scars. But nevertheless, you have a responsibility to make your kids’ birthdays about them—period.

So throughout the entire process—from planning to hosting to cleaning up—you need to put all the baggage aside and focus on the kids.

Speak to Everyone

This is never easy after a divorce. But, you have to make sure that you don’t allow anyone to feel unwelcome. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will have to swallow your pride. But again, it’s not about you.

The more you speak to everyone, the faster the ice will break, and the more comfortable future parties will be to host. It’s that simple.

Both you and your ex must let the past stay in the past, and you must move forward and try and create a co-parenting relationship. This is more than inviting all the people who are important to your children to their birthday parties. It means building an inviting atmosphere for everyone as well.

After all, the goal of a birthday party for your kids and their guest to enjoy themselves. And, if you are hosting the party, it’s your job to create that type of environment—even if it’s hard.

Hanging out with the ex and his or her family tops no one’s list of favorite things to do. But, when you have kids, it’s not about you. Your little ones want to have both of their parents around to celebrate their birthdays. And more importantly, they want you to get along for the day. So, suck it up and do it—even if it’s hard.

Despite your feelings towards your ex and his/her family, it’s your job to make it work.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Discount Party Supplies.

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Figuring out how to better manage your credit score through your divorce sounds like a boring topic and I would tell you that a boring credit score is a good thing and especially during the end of your marriage.

BUT, that’s often not what’s going on in divorce. Frequently, this is when people are looking at their credit scores and freaking out when they start to see the impact of closed accounts and missed payments. It’s also when the start to understand the impact of their credit score on things like getting new loans such as for a car or a home and even trying to open up a new credit card.

So how does getting divorced impact your credit score? Why do many people find their score plummeting at this time? What can you do to protect yourself?

Joining me for this Conversation is attorney John Heath from Lexington Law. Heath is an expert in this area and his firm offers a free credit consultation – call 1-844-422-0817.

Listen in below or keep reading ….

What Is A Credit Score?

It sounds a bit like a riddle … what is something that every adult has but nobody applies for, something you don’t pay for but has a huge impact on your life without you even knowing it? That’s your credit score and with most credit card companies providing free access to the scores, more and more people do know what it is.

“It’s a report card regarding your financial life,” said Heath. “It’s going to relate to how you perform on making payments, your obligations and even the types of credit you have.”

You should know that there are different credit score products. FICO is one of them and Heath says it’s the one that most businesses use. If you’re looking at the credit score that your credit company provides, that may be different from the score that another potential lender is using.

The scores from different providers are probably not gong to be drastically different and they will be impacted by the same events. But the breakpoints in scores could make a big difference for example, if your score with one provider is in the excellent category but is in the very good category with a different provider.

Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?

Your credit score affects not only whether you’ll be offered a loan, a credit card or a line of credit but also, the interest rate. Generally, the higher your score, the lower your interest rate. But there’s more.

“A lot of potential employers now look at your credit score to determine whether you’re going to be a responsible employee,” said Heath.

Don’t Be Embarrassed By Your Score

Just as people can feel ashamed about getting divorced, people can feel shame about their credit score even to the point of not wanting to know the actual number. Heath doesn’t see it that way.

“Credit scoring is part of life,” said Heath. “And there’s a phrase I like to use which is life happens. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

The score is good for a point in time and you can work on it to improve it. Using a tool like WalletHub will help you see how small changes made month after month can lead to significant improvements.

Your Spouse’s Score Is Separate From Yours But …

You and your spouse have separate, distinct credit scores but if you hold accounts where both of your names are on the account, then the payment history on that account will affect both people’s scores.

This is one reason why credit scores can take a hit during divorce … you have a car loan together, or a home equity line of credit and each of you think the other is paying the bill but no one is so the payments are late.

Plan Ahead For Household Finances During Divorce

While you’re working through the divorce process, it makes sense to work cooperatively to itemize the household obligations and to agree who will be responsible for making payments.

Needless to say, that cooperation isn’t always there. The worse-case scenario is when access to marital funds by the stay-at-home parent or the lower-earning spouse is denied. While you pursue resolution through the court system, you’re going to have to triage who gets paid and who doesn’t. Heath suggests that expenses related to shelter and utilities come first, then transportation and after that credit card payments.

“Unfortunately, if you can’t cover all of those things, there’s going to be a negative hit to your credit score,” said Heath.

Defaulting on an obligation is going to be more serious than being late with payments so if your access to funds has been cut-off, you may be juggling who gets paid each month so you can avoid going into default.

Credit Card Accounts Are Messy

The ownership on credit card accounts can be complicated and unclear. On some accounts there’s a primary cardholder and an additional cardholder but the responsibility for payments may still rest with both cardholders. There are also situations where one of the spouses has acted as a guarantor on the account.

Unfortunately, Heath says the answer to who is responsible for payments on the accounts is usually in the boring small print of the cardholder agreement. Yup, the document that most of us don’t read. Calling the company and asking the service rep for the answer isn’t likely to help either.

“Your best bet is to request a copy of the agreement, if you don’t have it and read through it yourself,” said Heath.

Closing Credit Cards Is Unavoidable

Unless you and your STBX have your own separate credit card accounts, getting divorced means you are going to have to cancel some credit cards. It is just way too risky to keep joint credit cards. Closing accounts, however will reduce the overall amount of credit available to you and will likely cause your credit score to go down, at least temporarily.

But like Heath says, your credit score is a work in progress. What I’ve noticed when I’ve cancelled a credit card that I’m no longer using, is that another credit card may increase my credit limit after a short period and that helps my score to increase.

Applying for new credit cards means the card issuer will make an inquiry on your account and that can also adversely affect your score. That means if you are applying for a new card you want to be pretty certain you aren’t going to get denied. Heath cautions that before you even apply you should assess whether you truly need another card.

If, for some reason, you and your STBX retain some joint debts after the divorce is final, you’ll want to monitor the accounts to make sure payments are actually being made. Remember, while the court may assign a debt to your STBX, it doesn’t change the agreement with the lender: if the loan was issued to both of you, then you are still liable for payments.

“If you have the means to make the payment you may want to consider doing that and then seek assistance from the court to hold your ex-spouse in contempt for not making the payments,” said Heath.

Actively Monitor Your Credit Score

If trying to figure out what helps your credit score and what harms it has your head spinning, join the club. The best we can do is to make educated guesses because the algorithms that are used are proprietary and not disclosed.

“My advice would be to really look through your credit report and make sure you recognize everything that is on your credit report,” said Heath. “Then make a determination whether you use certain credit accounts or not.”

Decide what you want to use, what you think you’re going to use and what you’d like to use going forward. After that, make sure you’re meeting the terms in the cardholder agreement.

While Heath checks his credit score weekly or even daily, his advises his clients is to check theirs at least monthly to make sure they recognize everything. Regular checking will also help you understand the algorithms better.

Consider Disputing Your Credit Score

If you feel there is something that’s inaccurate about your credit score, then you owe it to yourself to dispute it. The score is being used by any company that you apply to for a loan and may also be used by a potential employer. The score is being driven by what’s on your credit report so start there.

“If there’s a story behind why the payment wasn’t made or the obligation was ordered by the court to be made by your ex-spouse, you have the right to challenge this and you probably should,” said Heath. “It’s not fair that you should be saddled with a deficiency or a negative item or a bad credit score because your spouse refuses to meet their obligations.”

If you’re not comfortable handling the dispute yourself or you want more guidance, consider a consult with an attorney who specializes in credit repair, such as Heath’s firm, Lexington Law. They offer a free credit consultation – call 1-844-422-0817.

Other Posts you find helpful on this topic:

10 Important Things You Need To Know About Divorce And Your Credit Score

Financial Fraud In Divorce: How You Can Protect Your Interests

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In a divorce, it is a common scenario when one spouse wants to end the relationship while the other wants to save it. The reasons may vary, but perhaps among the most cited ones is that the involved parties have allowed the relationship to drift apart. Coping when your spouse wants a divorce may seem impossible.

This decision will not come out of the blue. It will often build up for months, even years, until it reaches the point when one spouse is no longer interested in fixing the marriage. To the other spouse, it can feel like a shock or betrayal – even when you see it coming. When you leave feelings of discontent ignored, it can reach the point when the damage is too big to fix.

Here’s how to respond when your spouse starts talking about divorce. What to do when your spouse wants a divorce
Source: Pexels

Trying to determine if divorce is the right decision is one of the biggest struggles that married people go through. Even the ones who initiate the divorce go through the same struggle of coping. It is important to reflect on a few things.

One of the things you need to reflect on is if you are still keen to save the marriage. Just because you are devastated that your spouse wants to divorce you, it does not always mean that you want to stay with them. In some cases, the reality of actually going through the divorce is what hurts the most. You might want to sit down and talk with your spouse about this. If you have not communicated well before, this is the stage when you need it most.

Marriage is a process that involves two people. One cannot make the decision on their own. It is also difficult to save your marriage when the other person has lost interest. But you must come to a decision: save the marriage or push through with the divorce. There is no in-between. You can only choose one of two options.

What You Should Do Know your options when your spouse wants to end your marriage
Source: Pexels

Coping in this way, when you are dealt with the news of your spouse wanting a divorce, could save your marriage. Here are some of the things that you should do when this situation arises:

  • Face the crisis as your “best self”. You should stay strong and muster up the courage to discuss this in an objective way.
  • Do keep your appearance looking good. A lot of married people who are going through divorce end up neglecting themselves, especially in terms of their physical appearance. Take care of yourself. It might seem trivial, but it is good for your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Act like you are moving forward with confidence. You need to be confident regardless of whether you end up saving your marriage or not.
  • Get advice, Talk with a professional divorce coach or talk with a good friend don’t isolate your thoughts you need to tell someone what you are thinking about, use them as a sounding board. Just make sure that the person is either trained or a really good listener.
  • Keep yourself busy. Get involved with your kids in school or other extra-curricular activities. Spend more time with your friends. Do something you love (that you have pushed off because of your marriage). Travel, if you find joy in it. Basically, don’t let yourself brood.
  • Do give your spouse the space they need! In some cases, spouses who ask for a divorce only need a momentary separation. Give them this opportunity to clear their head and evaluate their decision. Do not try to manipulate their decision to work in your favor.
  • Avoid arguments. You can engage in a healthy conversation about your marriage and where you want to take your relationship.
What You Should Not Do How to cope when your spouse wants a divorce
Source: Pexels

If you find yourself with a spouse who wants a divorce, there are certain things that you should not do. Avoid committing these mistakes when you want to save your relationship and keep your spouse from leaving:

  • Never plead or beg for your spouse to stay. Even if you might feel the urge to, make sure you resist it. When you do desperate things like beg or make demands, it can be a complete turn off to them. As a result, it will confirm their decision to want to leave you.
  • Do not call them excessively. You should avoid harassing them with texts or phone calls as it will make you look needy.
  • Avoid pointing out why you need to stay married. This is true when you are trying to highlight the good points about your relationship. It will only irritate them further and won’t help you win their good side.
  • Do not get your friends or family to join your campaign to get your spouse to stay. Again, this will make you look desperate. It is important to keep your divorce talks within the marriage. If you do this, it will only upset your spouse even more.
  • Do not try to send your spouse flowers or notes. If the damage is done, then it is already there. No amount of affection that you try to show them now can change that. In some cases, they might even feel like they are being bribed to stay.
  • Do not spy on your spouse. When a spouse talks about the possibility of divorce, it is normal to become suspicious. But do not engage in unpleasant behavior such as constantly checking on their emails or social media accounts.
  • Avoid forcing them to go to marriage counseling or therapy. This process is only beneficial if both parties are willing to go through it. But if they are coerced into it, it won’t bring the results you expect to get.
  • Do not overreact or panic. Even when your partner says they want a divorce, it is far from being final. There are several steps that you can take together to help enlighten them about the decision they’re about to make. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to fix something in your marriage. Do not look at it as a final deathblow.
Summary

It is normal to feel devastated when your spouse wants to get a divorce. Do not take it against yourself or make things worse by being desperate or vengeful. Try to be the opposite of that. Your goal is to make things work out in your favor. Acting out of anger or impulsiveness is never going to help the situation, or make your spouse want to stay. Make sure to reach out to your friends or a divorce coach.

It might seem unfair to you that you have to be dealt with this card. But you have to realize that whether you decide to pursue a divorce or save the relationship, you should strive for positive changes. If you can get your spouse to reconsider their decision to divorce, then your efforts will not have been in vain. If not, you can pave the way towards becoming a better person post-divorce.

Author Bio:

Lilly Parks is a Divorce Angel and part of the dynamic Naked Divorce team. She is committed to helping her clients find the path towards healing and has been providing assistance to those who are going through the difficult trauma of divorce for more than 5 years.

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Leaving Home for College

College is an exciting and terrifying time for a teenager. Selecting which colleges to apply to is likely the first major decision your children will make as they step closer to independence and adulthood. Your child may decide to attend college out-of-state. Even if they select a college nearby, they may live in student housing. For many, this is the first time they have lived away from their parents and the comforts – and familiarity – of home.

For children of divorce, they are leaving two homes. Even if one parent has sole custody of their child, their child presumably has another room in their other parent’s home. In addition to their physical home, every college student ultimately leaves a stable routine behind. Your child must do the same.

Be Their College Guide

Selecting a college can be as difficult for parents as it is for their child. As a parent, it may be tempting to pressure your child to attend a school that is nearby. You should avoid this as this is your child’s chance to spread their wings. It is important that they are given the opportunity to explore their options. As parents, your role is to guide – not dictate. After your child has decided on the type of school that they would like to go to, they should choose three or four colleges to visit in person.

Who Gets to Go on The College Tour?

One or both parents should accompany your child on these tours. Your experience helps them ask the right questions. You can assist them in their decision-making process discussing both the positives and negatives of each school. Deciding on which parent should be able to accompany your child to visit colleges can be more difficult than you think. Hopefully, divorced parents have forged a civil relationship since their divorce has become finalized. If this is the case, then it may just be a matter of choosing an even number of schools to visit and divvying each school visit up.

Even if you and your ex do not have an amicable relationship, there are certain facets of going on a college tour that you both can agree on. The amount of money and time you would have to spend to take your child on multiple college visits can be extensive. That is why it behooves two divorced parents to split the time and cost of college visits. Additionally, each parent may provide a different perspective on the college experience. The tours are also an opportunity to address their child’s fears about leaving home.

A child considering their parent’s alma mater may want to tour with that parent since they have personal experience attending that university. The parent may be able to introduce them to faculty and others on campus.

Touring A College

We can buy nearly everything online. Unlike a pair of shoes, you can’t box a college back up and return it. But like that pair of shoes, a college may look attractive and sound great in the description on their website, but may not be a good fit once you see it in person.

A virtual tour of a college is no substitute for exploring the institution in person. Human beings physically process what they see around them. Visiting a college in person can lead your child to have a “gut feeling” about a school in particular. It is a combination of past experience and emotion. Dr. Deepak Chopra, who studies the chemistry of the brain, explains that “Your gut makes the same chemicals that your brain makes when it thinks.” Walking around the campus, meeting with the admissions counselor, and talking to other students provides information that you can’t get through a computer.

A College Close to Home

Don’t be surprised if your child decides to attend a nearby college. 72% of college students attend institutions in their home state. The lower tuition for residents is a major reason. However, there are a lot of positives to staying close to home, including:

  • The campus may be close enough for the child to live at home. (Saving even more money.)
  • For children with chronic medical issues, they can continue to see the doctors who are managing their condition.
  • The student can continue to attend family events and religious services. This promotes stability in the child’s life. This is particularly important if the parents recently divorced. It takes at least one to two years for a child to adjust.

You and your ex-spouse may have different views on the value of moving away to college or staying close to home. Follow your child’s lead. Your child may feel more comfortable attending a local community college for the first two years. This gives them time to gain the confidence to finish college farther away from home.

Paying For College

After you have visited a college with your child, you and your ex must decide how you will pay for your child’s education. In Illinois, a parent who is divorced may still be required to pay child support if their child attends college or another post-high school education vocational school. In states such as Colorado, this is not the case. If you live in Illinois and your original divorce agreement did not include post-high school education fees like books, room & board, and tuition, you can have your divorce agreement amended even if it has been a long time since you have gotten divorced. It will be up to the judge to decide whether you will receive child support payments that will go towards their post-secondary school education. Ultimately, you will need to prove your case to the judge such as your financial situation and that your ex has sufficient funds to go towards paying your child’s tuition among other added costs such as registration fees and medical insurance while your child attends school.

The Big Decision

Selecting a college is a big decision. Divorced parents should work together to guide their child through the process. College tours are critical to helping your child determine which institution is right for them. This is also your chance to spend time with your child before they head off into the adult world. Don’t miss it!

Author:
Cate Humpage with Manassa Hartman, P.C., specializing in providing family law and divorce legal services to people in Illinois.

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Divorces are complicated and emotional for both men and women. Women tend to vent their emotions by sharing their feelings with friends and family. However, we don’t often hear men talking honestly and openly about splitting up. For this reason, men need a different kind of help and support when they go through a divorce.

Family laws have traditionally been a bit skewed in the interest of women, but things are changing fast and courts are now taking heed of every case from the point of view of both genders.

Even though you might feel lost, anxious, and even depressed at the prospect of a divorce, you’ll want to do everything in your power to make your divorce less painful. Men’s divorce attorneys suggest you follow these practices before initiating a divorce in order to make it peaceful and drama-free.

Organize your stuff

Throughout the divorce process, men need to make decisions that affect their lives and their children’s like no other. Being organized in this chaos results in less energy drain and more stamina to take on negotiations, difficult conversations, and hard decisions.

Men’s attorneys suggest you work with a competent family lawyer who can guide you through the process to financially prepare for divorce and the negotiations that follow. Organizing your finances well in advance will pay off when you face the upheaval a divorce brings with it. Sit down with your spouse to list your assets and debts. Start collecting copies of your financial documents, such as bank account statements, brokerage account statements, insurance policies, credit card statements, tax returns, and so on.

Outline a marital budget to learn more about your current expenses and project your future needs living in separate households. Keep in mind you might not want to begin negotiating financial issues with your spouse without a qualified professional; this might do you more harm than good. Focus only on preparing for the financial struggles you both have to face down the road.

Learn about the divorce process

Divorce lawyers suggest men learn about the steps they need to take during a divorce. By doing so, you will be able to plan your divorce in a better and more efficient way.

Rather than taking things as they come, plan your divorce by:

  • Educating yourself on how the divorce process works.
  • Learning about divorce mediation and alternative divorce methods.
  • Actively participate in all divorce-related decisions.
  • Considering all divorce negotiations as business deals – sidestep any emotions you may have and think about your and your children’s best interests.

By being proactive throughout the divorce process, you will ensure your spouse does not get an unfair upper hand in any of the proceedings.

Practice self-care

Some men have a tendency to become self-destructive when they suffer frustration and distress. Get ready for the upcoming emotional rollercoaster by setting up a system that prevents you from lapsing into despair.

Pursue a yoga or meditation practice, enroll yourself in a sport or music class, or get advance massage appointments. Do whatever keeps you stable in emotionally charged times. An activity that provides you peace and relaxation will become your way of staying sane during the divorce process.

Men often think they’ll be just fine at the end of it all. They often overestimate their capacity to experience pain and emotional turmoil. It’s important that you don’t make any decision in the spur of the moment by managing your emotions during the divorce process. Plan for the emotional rollercoaster and you’ll sail through your divorce in a better way.

Protect items valuable to you

Sometimes during a divorce process, people take out their frustration on their spouse by destroying valuable and sentimental property. To prevent this from happening to you, take all your valuables and store them in a safe deposit box or lock them up securely.

In addition to things that are of emotional value to you, take inventory of your remaining personal property and prepare a list of all your things along with their date stamped pictures. Safeguard your separate property, i.e., any property you bought before you got married. Make sure to list each item as either separate property or community property (properties you and your spouse accumulated during the marriage).

When the divorce process begins, it will be too late for you to carry out this process since it is time-consuming and requires energy and effort on your part. Make sure you take care of these petty things first, so you are free to look into serious issues when the divorce proceedings begin.

Turn off social media

Social media profiles are highly scrutinized during the divorce process. When in anger, experts advise that you don’t turn to Facebook during the divorce process. Often men and women commit the mistake of lashing out at their spouse on social media while their separation is underway. Courts tend to look at your social media profiles to arrive at crucial decisions, such as child custody.

To avoid any risk of further complications in your case, family law attorneys suggest you turn off social media platforms.

When sending out emails to your ex-partner, make sure you are courteous in language. Bad mouthing your spouse, their attorney, or their family or friends can turn against you in child custody matters.

Focus on your children

Keep your kids on your radar at all times. Schedule time to spend with them, starting now. Get involved in their lives, even if you haven’t been lately.

Being involved with your children will help you in many ways. First, it will take your mind off serious divorce issues. Second, it will provide you respite from the negativity surrounding a divorce. Third, you will be able to spend quality time with your children in case you don’t receive custody. Fourth, getting to know their lifestyle and the people around them will strengthen your case for child custody. And, most importantly, your children will love getting your attention and spending time with you. Both spouses play a crucial, irreplaceable role in children’s lives. Make sure you play your part perfectly.

Attorneys for men suggest men make a schedule on an online calendar and encourage their kids to put their activities on them. This way, fathers can stay on top of their children’s lives now and after separation.

Get professional support

You might be facing child custody, child support, and other financial issues all at the same time and alone. Get the support and guidance you need.

Choose a competent child custody attorney who specializes in men’s divorce and invest in your well-being – be it physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, or psychological. Seek help from therapists and practitioners who can ease your stress and make the process a bit easier on you.

An attorney is the most important aspect of any divorce. Look around your city and find an adequately experienced lawyer who can aggressively push for things that are important for you and bring about positive outcomes.

Though divorces are tough and exhausting, by planning ahead of time, you can prepare yourself for each step of the way and make the process a little less challenging.

Focus on the bigger picture and look for the greater good when it comes to all decisions in a divorce. When you focus on things that are really important to you, you might earn a chance to create an amicable future for your family and achieve a settlement you are all comfortable with.

Author:
Brad Micklin is the lead family lawyer in Montclair, NJ and managing member at The Micklin Law Group, LLC. For more than 20 years, he has helped men through some of the toughest, most emotional experiences in their lives, including in high conflict divorces and child custody battles.

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There’s little disagreement that ending your marriage is one of the most difficult experiences and transitions in life so it’s important to find the right divorce support for you.

That’s not easy because divorce can also be one of life’s most isolating experiences. In the months leading up to going public about the decision, people often hide the truth about what is going on from family and friends because, if you can work it out, you don’t want people to know all the problems.

Once the decision is public, people are still quiet about what is going on. That comes from a mixture of wanting some privacy, fear of being judged, feeling embarrassed and simply not wanting to talk about it.

And yet, it is precisely at these times that we need the support of others.

So how do you reach out for support? Where are the safe places to find support and what makes them safe? How much to you share about what is going on? How do you protect yourself?

Joining me for this Conversation is Judy Herbst, director of PR and Partnerships at Worthy.com, the online auction site for wedding rings, estate jewelry, watches and more. Worthy.com is also the organizer of the closed Facebook group, Worthy Women And Divorce which has over 60,000 members so clearly, Worthy.com knows and understands divorce support.

Listen in to the Conversation below or keep reading …

Who’s Running The Group?

One question to ask early on is who is running the support group and what’s their motivation. Personally, I don’t want to be in a support group where I’m constantly getting bombarded with plugs for different products to buy or different people to work with. While Worthy hopes the group members would use them to sell their wedding jewelry, the posts and comments are very rarely about that and there’s no sales push. Instead most threads are initiated by the members themselves and Worthy’s role is very much in the background.

“We’ve become this great network of women supporting each other to move forward,” said Herbst.

It may be hard to find this out before you’ve actually joined a group – that’s where a no-cost group or free initial trial is helpful. If you don’t like what you see, you can leave.

Support groups are not the same as divorce recovery programs which tend to be more structured. Once completed though, alumni of recovery program are often connected with other graduates.

Mixed Group Or Single Gender?

You have to decide for yourself whether you’re looking for a single gender group or mixed group but remember, this is about support not dating. There are pros and cons to both. One criticism of single gender groups is that the perspectives may be lopsided. Based on what I’ve seen, this isn’t true for the Worthy group where members do talk about being cheated on and cheating, for example. That variety of perspectives may come with the size of the group.

Again, this is where it’s helpful to try the group and see if it works for you before you make any financial commitment.

If It’s Online, Choose A Closed Group

As with any online forum or group you have to be aware of your privacy. If the group’s on Facebook, your best bet is a closed group because it means whatever you’re posting is staying in the group and isn’t shared by Facebook to your friends. Other online forums may allow you to create a concealed profile so you’re not posting with your real name. That gives you some privacy too and that’s important.

“We found it very important that the women could have this comfortable space to chat almost anonymously,” said Herbst. “I think that’s the benefit of the closed Facebook group. It is a safe, digital community.”

Herbst says the closed Facebook group allows members to have a secure dialogue with people from all over the country and to gain a variety of perspectives and opinions on topics that members may not be comfortable discussing with family and friends in real life.

Moderation Is A Must

Any forum or group needs to be moderated, just as an in-person group would be moderated. That means you can be sure that if anyone does start an inappropriate post or responds in a way that is not respectful of the group rules, their posting is going to get deleted and they may even be barred from future participation. This is not just for offensive remarks but also for spam and junk such as those banal posts about spellcasters.

It might not be easy to see the work the moderators are doing because it happens behind the scenes. The best clue you have that this is going on is not being able to find a post you saw earlier that you thought inappropriate.

“If we see things that are going to a negative fashion, we’ll step in,” said Herbst. “We want to continue to be that community of positivity and uplifting conversation to help people move through their divorce.”

The task of moderation can also fall on group members. In the Worthy group, I’ve seen other members step and share when they think another member is being hyper-critical or judgmental. And that too adds to wealth of perspectives that are being shared on a topic.

Experts Are Helpful

In addition to moderators, Worthy has a team of experts covering a range of topics such as finances, and health and wellness. This is important especially when a member posts about self-harming.

“We want to be very thoughtful and help unhealthy people,” said Herbst. “We want to have to experts there to help guide them and share. I’ve also seen that the community rallies and offers very supportive advice which I think is phenomenal.”

Manage Your Time

With a group as active as Worthy Women and Divorce it’s easy to start scrolling through the posts, reading the comments and before you know it, you’ve spent 30 minutes, an hour, or longer on the site. That might be exactly what you need but you’ve got to be smart about this and do it on your own time. And while managing your own divorce can be all-consuming, for your own emotional health you want to make sure you’re participating in some activities where the talk isn’t all about divorce.

Are you looking for a support group? Do check out Worthy Women and Divorce on Facebook and also this Ultimate List of Divorce Support Groups from divorce coach, Karen Covy.

Worthy is dedicated to providing sellers and buyers with that ultimate win-win. Every day they bring together buyers and sellers with their luxury auction marketplace. Worthy is led by the very best in the luxury goods market and they work together to bring you the fairest market value for your valuable items while providing stellar service driven by transparency, integrity, privacy and convenience. If you’re curious about selling your wedding jewelry, do check out Worthy.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Worthy which means that if you make a purchase/use their service, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

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Do you envy those separated parents who still act like best friends? What divorce advice do those ex-couples know who can go out on family outings together like there is no bad blood between them? If you know any divorced couples who act like this, then they are truly lucky, because most divorced couples can’t […]
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When you make the decision to end your marriage, you want to be sure about divorce. No one wants to make a mistake.

For some people, while it is a hard decision and not something they wanted, it becomes clear that divorce is what needs to happen. Often, these situations involve domestic abuse, addictions and infidelity.

For many other people the decision is much more challenging: they get along OK with their spouse, they parent OK together, they’re not constantly fighting, they can make decisions but … there’s something missing. There’s no intimacy, emotional or physical. They feel their spouse is more like a roommate than a romantic partner.

These roommate marriages are the hardest ones to end. People agonize over the decision for months, even years. Couples counselling often doesn’t seem to help. People feel guilty and don’t want to hurt their spouse.

Is there a way you can accurately assess the reality of your marriage? How can you test the possibility for change? Can you/should you involve your spouse in this? Can you be sure about divorce?

Joining me for this Conversation About Divorce are Doctors John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman. For forty years the Gottmans have studied what separates the masters of relationships from the disasters and in their latest book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations For  A Lifetime of Love, they argue that it’s all about building connection. I think you could use these Eight Dates to try to reconnect with your spouse.

Listen into our Conversation below and/or keep reading for a synopsis.

It’s Not About What You Have In Common

I often hear from people that over the years they’ve drifted apart from their spouse, they don’t have many activities they do together anymore. The Gottmans argue that this shouldn’t be the main criteria for a happy relationship. Instead, happiness comes from knowing how to address your core differences in a way that supports your partner’s needs and dreams.

“People really do need to embrace their differences because those differences can enrich the relationship,” said Schwartz Gottman. “Each person represents a different world and as long as people really stay in touch with that internal world with their partner they can be fed with adventure, with fun, with nurturing, with wonderful passion.”

Part of the problem for modern day marriages is that couples spend most of their time dealing with the daily minutia. A study done at UCLA with 30 dual career couples in Los Angeles found that the typical couple spends less than 10 percent of the time in an evening in the same room and the average amount of time couples spend talking to each other is about 35 minutes a week. Most of the talk is about what’s going on, who’s going to do what.

“People are ignoring the relationship, focusing on work and children,” said Gottman. “They’re not having dates and romantic dates, not really focusing on who their partner is, who their partner is becoming. There’s very little emotional connection. They become two lives in parallel.”

Ground Rules for Dates

I feel that telling you to go on dates with your spouse is typical advice for marriage therapists. I remember one of the therapists that my now ex and I saw telling us to do that. I think we maybe managed two dates – at the time, it felt like more work for me … arranging the babysitter, agreeing where to go etc. while working more than full-time. When I left the logistics to my now ex, it just didn’t happen. I don’t remember our therapist talking through guidelines.

The Gottmans dating advice however is very different. It’s very specific and sets out ground rules. To be clear this isn’t about going out and doing stuff together, like hiking or dancing or seeing a movie. These dates are focused on conversation around big topics like what was trust like in your family growing up or how did your parents show that they either trusted each other or didn’t rust each other. These are questions that don’t answer in a few words.

“What we wanted to create were dates where people were really addressing questions like that,” said Schwartz Gottman. “Questions that really opened up the heart, opened up the soul and allowed each person to really see the other, see their values, their needs, their core beliefs, their dreams, to learn more about who this person is that perhaps they’d been living with for 30 years but have forgotten who they are.”

Not only are the dates a way for you to reconnect with your partner, they are also a way for you to explore yourself and to reflect on your own history, your values and beliefs.

“Each date is a seed for what you can build with your partner,” said Gottman.

Don’t Evaluate. Connect

The Gottmans are clear that these dates are not intended to be an evaluation of your marriage or your partner.

“It’s really more about, let’s catch up with each other,” said Schwartz Gottman. “Let’s see who the other person really is. Let’s keep an open mind and connect with one another.”

This reminded me of my Conversation with Douglas Noll about how to calm an angry person. Noll said a common mistake that even trained mediators make when faced with someone who’s emotional is to jump to problem-solving. You have to confront the problem on an emotional level first before you begin looking for solutions.

Similarly, these dates are not about trying to resolve the problems between you and your spouse such as your different parenting styles or your different spending habits. It’s more about trying to understand what your experience with parenting or money has been that has brought you to this point, understanding the why, putting everything in context.

So during these conversations it’s going to take some discipline not to jump into problem-solving but connecting first is likely to lead to better resolutions ultimately.

“What we found in the relationship therapy that we’ve done is that as long as people really understand where the other person is coming from, what their history is, what their dream is, what their values are, then each person can feel more respected, more understood, more empathized with,” said Schwartz-Gottman. “It becomes so much easier to reach some kind of compromise.”

Gottman says you don’t have to follow the conversation topics in the order presented in the book. If there is a particular topic, such as sex and intimacy, that is a particularly contentious area, you might try a few of the other topics like family or growth and spirituality to get comfortable having open, honest conversations again before you tackle a difficult area.

You Can’t Do This Alone

While divorce might indeed be on your mind, you might not feel ready to share that with your spouse yet. And certainly approaching this as a “do this or else” strategy isn’t going to create a safe environment in which your spouse will want to join you. (You can’t work through the material for these dates on your own no matter how well you think you know your spouse.) Invite them to participate with you by saying that you feel that you’re drifting apart, that you don’t really talk anymore and share what you’re feeling. Schwartz Gottman suggests perhaps that you’re missing them, missing the conversations you used to have or that you’re feeling lonely.

Sharing how you’re feeling will help your partner feel safer about engaging in the dialogue and also wanted. And if your partner isn’t willing to engage in this, then that in itself is very telling.

This Takes Practice

Having these conversations is just like anything else that you’re learning to do or relearning. It’s going to take some practice and that’s where having the Gottmans’ book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations For A Lifetime of Love will help you. The Gottmans have carefully thought through the suggested setting for each date and have developed a list of questions for you each to consider ahead of time.

“The questions we ask, the settings and all the coaching that we give folks throughout the chapters in the book really help people to have those conversations without having to worry about artful conversation,” said Schwartz-Gottman.

In the end it’s not just about eight dates. You can’t be done in eight dates. It’s about developing a practice of heartfelt conversations and learning to communicate what you feel without what the Gottmans call the four horsemen of the apocalypse: criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. It’s my belief that if you can have these eight dates and re-discover the connections between you and your partner, it likely isn’t time for divorce.

My guests this Conversation About Divorce were Doctors John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman. For forty years the Gottmans have studied what separates the masters of relationships from the disasters and in their latest book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations For  A Lifetime of Love, they argue that it’s all about building connection. Visit the Gottman website for a listing of book tour dates and follow them on Twitter @GottmanInst and on Facebook at GottmanInstitute.

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After a divorce, it can be challenging to discard anything that reminded you of your marriage. If you wanted the divorce, it may feel healing to blow up or trash your wedding dress once the papers are filed. For others, especially those with children, you may decide to save some wedding memorabilia for their memories or special day. The next decisions you must make are what to save and what to discard.

Have you considered the KonMari method of tidying up your space? What would Marie Kondo say about saving your wedding memorabilia after your divorce?

What is KonMari and Who is Marie Kondo?

The KonMari method is a minimalist decluttering movement started by Marie Kondo. Her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, was released in late 2014 and inspired the movement. The humble beginnings of the movement began when she worked as an assistant at a Shinto shrine in Japan and began her organizing business. She now has a popular Netflix reality show where she helps those who are overwhelmed in their homes and stressed in their lives to “tidy up” and “spark joy”.

The basic premise of KonMari? If it doesn’t bring you joy, thank it and say goodbye.

Does KonMari Cover Divorce?

Marie Kondo’s KonMari method can be applied to any situation, as we’ve learned in the episodes of her Netflix show, Tidying Up. She works with newlyweds combining households, expectant couples, couples overwhelmed with children and more. While the show hasn’t included a divorcee or divorced single parent, in one particular episode, she did work with a widow who had been living in the same house for 30 years. Her husband had passed away and she was an empty nester looking to “spark joy” after her loss.

Some of Marie’s advice for creating calm and joy in the household:

  • Tidying can often ease the pain of the past to help prepare for the future ahead.
  • Start with a very clear image of what you want your life to look like after the tidying up.
  • You’re not alone. Your belongings are there to support you.
  • Wait to remove the items of your loved one until the very end of your organizing process.
  • When you let go of an item that holds a lot of memories, say thank you from the heart.
  • Don’t focus on what you want to get rid of; focus on what you want to keep.
  • Recognize that you don’t have to ask anyone else’s opinion on what feels good for you.
  • Store those items that have sentimental value in a way that sparks joy, for instance, in a beautiful keepsake box.
What “Sparks Joy” in Your Wedding Memorabilia?

Marie Kondo is very clear to remove any items that are “someday’s” or “yesterdays”. When you’re thinking of saving items for your children, such as photos, jewelry or other family keepsakes, those rules become a bit fuzzy.

Consider storing those items in a beautiful storage box that you don’t have to put away into a damp basement or garage. If you’re still too emotionally fragile to remove the items, remove them from your living space but put them someplace safe for you to go through later.

If you’re ready to declutter and remove items that are holding you down, say goodbye from the heart and then put the items away for donating. You may also consider earning money for your bright new future by hosting a yard sale or selling your wedding jewelry.

As you take on the decluttering process, your life and energy will transform into a lighter, freer feeling. You may begin with a picture of what your life could be but the KonMari process helps to frame that photo in a way that “sparks joy”. Take the time to be gentle with yourself through the process. Only you can decide what works best for you.

Worthy is dedicated to providing sellers and buyers with that ultimate win-win. Every day they bring together buyers and sellers with their luxury auction marketplace. Worthy is led by the very best in the luxury goods market. They bring you the fairest market value for your valuable items while providing stellar service driven by transparency, integrity, privacy and convenience.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Worthy which means that if you make a purchase/use their service, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

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Divorce is one of life’s milestone events that causes many of us to examine our boundaries. You may even be learning about healthy boundaries for the first time.

The changing nature of your relationship with your ex likely means it’s time to reassess your boundaries with them.

Dealing with family members and friends during divorce may also mean setting new expectations about what you will and won’t share. And now that you’re the solo adult in charge of your children while they’re in your home, you’ll want to establish your own parenting rules.

So what exactly what are boundaries, where do they come from, how do they protect us, how do we change them and can they ever harm us?

Joining me for this important Conversation is divorce expert and frequent guest contributor, Martha Bodyfelt. Martha is the founder of SurvivingYourSplit.com where you can download your free Ultimate Divorce Recovery Guide.

Listen in to the Conversation below and then keep reading for a guest post from Martha.

Tired Of Being Treated Like A Doormat?

Guest post by Martha Bodyfelt

It happens all the damn time and you’re probably not even aware of it.

Your boss just *assumes* you’re going to work late…even though you already made plans.

Your ex texts you, saying how sad he is, although you asked him to quit contacting you.

Your college-age daughter hangs up on you when she gets a call from a friend.

At this point in your life, after your divorce and as you work to move on, you may have just shrugged it off, accepting the fact that people are going to walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But I’m here to say you deserve better than that BS.

And that the time for being a doormat ends now

So, if you’re tired of being treated like a doormat. I’m going to show you how to easily stand up for yourself and show people how to treat you with the respect you deserve.

But first, we gotta talk about some ugly truths. They’re hard to read, but you need to know them.

Ugly Truth #1. Many of us were conditioned to be “nice” and to not make a scene

Everytime in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that you were taught to play nice, to be “well-behaved, and to not make a big deal out of something, society was conditioning you to be okay with not having your voice heard. You were being conditioned, little by little, to accept the fact that people could walk all over you and take advantage of you. And you were being conditioned to think it was socially unacceptable or “bad” to voice your opinion that something was wrong, or if you didn’t like something.

And that being “nice” and being “the good girl” meant that you had your voice taken from you.

It’s infuriating, isn’t it?

Ugly Truth #2. Many of us were not raised to establish strong boundaries

A result of being raised to be “nice” and not make a scene meant that plenty of people—whether it was your ex, your family, your kids, your friends, your coworkers–probably asked too much of you, intruded in personal business, or took advantage of you. And since you were never given the tools to say, “No,” or “I’m not comfortable with that decision,” you maybe not have learned how to establish strong boundaries for yourself. It was like the concept never even existed.

Healthy boundaries is a critical skill to establishing your confidence…but many of us were never taught that we had a right to boundaries and to say “no.”

How insane is that?!

Ugly Truth #3. We were taught by society that our needs didn’t matter

I think a lot of us have felt this insidious pressure to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Even as early as elementary school, I remember teachers saying, “Well, you’re certainly a headstrong little girl, aren’t you? None of the boys will like you if you’re so stubborn and loud.”

This probably happened to you as well—whenever you voiced that something wasn’t fair, or if you got angry that you didn’t get what you wanted. But that constant failure to acknowledge the things you wanted, even when you were little, conditioned you to think that what you wanted—even what you needed–was never a priority. Which is why so many of us have a hard time advocated for ourselves. And then we blame ourselves for not knowing how to do it.

And it usually takes some life-shattering event like a divorce to wake us up.

But think of that divorce as a blessing in disguise, because now you’re presented with an opportunity to find your voice, and reverse course on the disrespect.

I want you to take everything you’ve been taught about “not making a scene” and “being nice so that people don’t think you’re a bitch…” and throw in in the trash. Because your newest challenge is here.

Take the Not a Doormat Challenge…Details Below!

The next time you sense like someone is about to walk all over you, do the following:

  • Ask yourself: Is doing this thing something I’m comfortable with? Is it something that inconveniences me?
  • Ask yourself:  What’s in it for me?
  • If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it.
  • Remind yourself that your needs matter, too.
  • Communicate your boundaries.
  • Communicate your expectations moving forward.

If you’re feeling nervous about sticking up for yourself, take a look at my example below!

Situation: I’m supposed to have lunch with my friend, who lives an hour away. We agreed on meeting at a restaurant that is both 30 minutes away from us. At the last minute, my friends asks that we meet closer to her, which means I’d have to drive 60 minutes instead of 30–I hate driving that

Ask Yourself: Is this something I’m comfortable with? Answer: No! I hate driving out of my way, especially when we already agreed on where to meet.

Ask Yourself: What’s in it for me? Answer: Only frustration and inconvenience. My friend does this BS all the time, expecting me to drop everything and work around her schedule.

If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it. I’m not going to drive that far to meet her. Nope.

Remind yourself that your needs matter, too. My need to meet in a convenient place–especially one we both agreed on weeks ago—is important. My need to not have extra hassles in my life is important, too.

Communicate your boundaries. “Hey, friend. We already agreed upon this one location that is convenient for the both of us, not just you. It is too hard and frustrating to drive all the way out to someplace just because it’s closer to you.”

Communicate your expectations. “I hope you can still do lunch at this place that is convenient for both of us. If not, let’s meet up in the future at a place that’s at a half-way point.

As a heads-up, the people who treat you like a doormat may push back a little when you stand up for yourself. They may call you selfish, or whine and “what’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?” When this reaction happens, remember, this negativity has nothing to do with you. This reaction is the manifestation of the fact that they cannot handle your new strength.

But here’s the kicker—people who are worthy of your time and attention will adjust to you finding your voice. And if they cannot or will not, you don’t need them in your life. It’s as simple as that.

From now on, I want you to remember the following.

You deserve better. You deserve to have your voice heard. You deserve to have your needs communicated. Your voice matters. You matter. And don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.

Martha Bodyfelt is a certified Divorce Coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, helps readers break out of their divorce rut, regain their confidence, and move on with their lives. For your free gift, “The Ultimate Divorce Recovery Guide,” stop by survivingyoursplit.com today or say hello at martha@survivingyoursplit.com.

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