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Divorce is already a painful process – there is no doubt about that. But now, that the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has scrapped the once popular and often-utilized alimony tax deduction and given us a new alimony law, divorce negotiations may become even more tedious. 

Until now, and for the last three-quarters of a century, as long as those of us on the planet can probably remember, the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) has provided a mechanism, which has allowed the payor spouse to enjoy a tax deduction for the amount of alimony paid to the payee spouse. 

The payee spouse would then have to include this alimony as income on his or her tax return, income which would be taxed at ordinary income tax rates. The IRC provides several guidelines under which the alimony can be deducted by one spouse and includible as income by the other, i.e. that it must be regular, recurring income that terminates upon the death of party. 

The new alimony law, which will be effective as of January 1, 2019, has effectively taken that alimony tax deduction and has thrown it into the proverbial law trash can.

It will be gone. Gone is the tax deduction for the payor, and gone will be the nuisance of having to include it as income for the payor.   

So how will the new alimony law effect divorce negotiations?

During the divorce settlement discussions, there are many areas that must be resolved in order for the parties to reach a global resolution. They are property settlement, alimony (sometimes called spousal support), custody (sometimes called parenting plans), child support and attorneys’ fees. (There can be other tangentially related issues too such as tort actions or injunctions but these are the five main areas of every divorce).  

Until now, that alimony deduction could be used as a bargaining chip which would help the bitter pill of having the pay alimony, be swallowed a little more easily, allowing it to be used for leverage, so that other areas could also be settled. Without this deduction, there will no longer be an incentive for the already reluctant potential payor to sign up for the monthly payment life sentence. Thus, the fallout of this may be a reduction in people who willingly sign on for this, and therefore a surge in cases that end up before the judge to be resolved

The good news is that this new alimony law doesn’t become effective until the first of next year.

And it won’t apply to any cases that were settled prior to the end of this year and are simply modified in the future. Another impact of this new law, is that we may see potential payors pushing to get their cases settled before the end of the year.  

There is no doubt that the new alimony rules will be complicating an already traumatic, and sometime tedious process, and the change could result in more financial strain. Anyone considering a divorce should first check out my divorce programs at https://www.breakingfreefromdivorce.com, and then consult a qualified attorney or CPA for advice specific to your particular situation.

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Online dating after grey divorce requires tenacity. The best dating advice for grey divorcees is, keep going! Here’s how. 

Even after grey divorce, after the age of 55, 65, 75, 85, the old adage is still true: “It’s springtime, and a young (and older) man's (and woman’s) fancy turns to ….” Our biological urge for both men and women seems to turn to courtship when it’s spring. Look around. Our fellow primates are enjoying the season unabashedly. Visit any zoo and you’ll see it. Our Circadian rhythm calls us to renewal and fresh starts in spring, after the long dark winter. 

If you’re thinking of dating after grey divorce, spring is the best time to get going. Both men and women are eager for relationships, everyone is fresh from winter’s sleep, and the number of registrants for online dating soars. 

Online dating is an art of its own no matter what your age. Anyone who has walked through its doors will tell you: You must be thick skinned. Most important, you must be tenacious and determined that it will work for you.

For those in grey divorce who dated in the old days – when one person actually called another – this will all be new. Telephone conversations are frequently the last step. First comes connecting on the site rather anonymously. Second step is email on the site (don’t ever give out your regular email until at least the third or fourth meeting). Third step is texting. Fourth is meeting in person. The last step is regular phone conversations. Welcome to the world of the Internet. Going in with realistic expectations is key.

All the negative adjectives are true – daunting, scary, cruel, rude, frustrating, brutal. Last night I had dinner with a new dating connection, and we had an amazingly honest discussion. He had just begun online. He said, “This isn’t for the faint of heart.” He’s so right! It takes courage, fortitude, a support system, and the ability to laugh at yourself and that fool you had coffee with. Anyone who tells you online dating is a piece of cake is sugar coating it. Success rates are low. Depression is high. Rejection is everywhere.

Why in the world would you bother? The answer is: many people have met the love of their life online, especially later in life. It’s difficult to meet someone after late 50s and on, in the traditional sense. Most of us don’t want to hang out in clubs and bars, so the Internet is the new route to meeting a partner, a companion, a friend. It can happen for you, as well. That’s the whole point, despite the bumps in the road getting there.

The key to online dating after grey divorce is setting your expectations.

1. Know what you want in a partner, and stick to it.

Push the words “NEXT!” and “FORWARD” to top of your mind, and move on if this person doesn’t match. If you don’t play golf, and this person lives for golf, move on. Last week, one man wrote to me and said, “Women need protection. That’s my job. May I protect you as my little woman?” No thank you. First, I’m 5’9”, so I’m no one’s “little woman” and I don’t need protecting (whatever that means). NEXT! You will get toughened to it after a while.

2. Recognize that you’ll kiss a lot of frogs (figuratively) before you find your prince or princess.

Set this expectation firmly in your mind, and don’t forget it: This is a numbers game. It takes 25 no’s to get a yes. Like the old diamond advertisement said, “Everything worthwhile takes time.” Put a little sticky next to your computer that says that. 

Think of your dating process as a giant sieve. Lots of names and possibilities go in the top, and only one comes out the bottom. You will get discouraged (everyone does – expect it), but remember, all it takes is one. Keep going. You will sift through photos of men and women whom you’d expect to see on the wall of the post office and pictures that give no clue about personal appearance. Men: stop posting pictures of your dogs or your cars. Women: stop posting pictures of your grandchildren or your cats. Find the person that appeals to you. Be picky. Send them a nice message. They may or may not respond. If they don’t, don’t take it personally.

3. Don’t take anything personally.

This is a hard one, since dating is a personal activity. Here’s what can happen: The perfect potential partners doesn’t write back. Its called “ghosting.” In the middle of a lovely chat, your “match” might hang up on you for no reason. People don’t show up for first dates, after you spent hours in nervous anticipation. What to do? Say FORWARD, laugh at the situation, and move on. 

You will meet the person who has good manners, and does show up – maybe for the rest of your life. Also, be sure you’re not contributing to the bad manners online. If you’re just not feelin’ it, let the person know so he/she can move on, too. Then there’s this: All of us have experienced that empty hollow feeling when no one writes you back or flirts with you. Suggestion: try another site better suited to you, especially if you have special needs. Or, give it two more weeks, then drop off the site for a month, and get a fresh start with new photos and a new profile. As in everything else, when it rains, it pours in online dating. When it’s a drought, it’s a big drought. Don’t let it devastate you. Get off that horse for awhile. Do activities you love offline. Then, when you’re rested, and your feelings are no longer hurt, get back on. 

4. Be aware of fraud, scam, and flat out lies.

People lie online – about age (plan to add two to five years to the age given), income, height, interests, health. Not everyone lies, of course, but it’s rampant, since you can easily create the person you want to be rather than who you are. Also, especially for the grey divorce crowd, scams abound. Scammers create bogus profiles and post pictures that aren’t them. They will ask for help (money). Usually, they live out of state. Never give out your email or home address online. Do not use your regular email address online – get a new one just for dating. Hold onto personal information until you know them well. A healthy prospect is always willing to wait for personal information. 

Another red flag: Out-of-state people may be married or in another relationship. They’re “safe” with you. Many are looking to write you endless emails or phone calls. Often they get erotic. Hang up and say to yourself, “NEXT!”

5. Meet in person as soon as you can.

Three email exchanges – that’s all you need before you meet them. If they don’t want to meet, say bye-bye, “NEXT.” Scammers have excuses for not meeting. When you meet, be in a public place, never alone with them (coffee house is good). 

6Keep your sense of humor.

This may be the most important criteria of all. The endorphins created when you laugh will get you through. Laugh when it goes terribly wrong. Laugh with friends who’ve been through these rigors. Most of all, try not to take it so seriously that it runs your life. After all, you’re trying to find love and friendship, not misery. Here’s great advice from a magnet on my fridge: "Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never fail to be amused."

We’ve established that online dating is harsh – especially for grey divorcees who haven’t cut teeth on the Internet. The good news is that Mr. or Ms. Right really is out there in that messy bag of prospects online. Keep going. 

Ready? You can do this! Let’s go. Hold your nose, grab my hand, and let’s jump in. All you have to do is believe it and stick to it and remember it’s a numbers game. What’s so hard about that?

Stay tuned for more on dating after grey divorce next month, right here. In the meantime, put on your big girl/boy boots and go kick up a profile and begin. It all starts with the first step.

Keep us posted with your comments below. 

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In this short video, Divorce Coach Karen McMahon speaks to single moms about the challenging job they wake up to every day. She offers her three best tips for helping your children – and yourself – through the divorce process.

The treasures that you'll receive from using these three tips is that you and your kids will emerge from the experience in the best possible shape – plus you'll have laid the foundation for a great relationship with your children as they move from child to adolescent to adult.

The Treasures and Trials of Being a Single Mom After Divorce - YouTube

 

Three Tips for Helping your Children – and Yourself – Through Divorce 

1. Ask yourself: "How important is it?" when you get triggered by a situation or something your ex-spouse or child says. Pick and choose your battles, notice your triggers and bite your tongue more often than not.

2. Don't assume that your "good kid" is okay. Your straight-A student may need as much help coping with your divorce as the kid who is acting out. Check in with all your children and make sure their needs are being met.

3. It is impossible to pour from an empty container. Take care of yourself – even if your ex or your kids suggest that you're being selfish. Make sure you're high enough up on your priority list that your reserves are replenished; only then will you be able to "pour" your love and support into your children.

If you're struggling, visit www.jbddivorcesupport.com to find resources, coaching, and support to help you through your divorce and to a new beginning.

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While most often recognized as a form of abuse against the elderly, financial abuse could be happening in your marriage without you realizing it. 

Financial abuse is insidious, cloaked in false “protectiveness,” a form of bullying, and a precursor to domestic violence. It leaves no bruises, but it really, really hurts. It will erode one’s self-esteem, enslave them to the one who is supposed to love them, and destroy the victim’s spirit, sense of self-worth, the very essence of their individuality. It makes them hopeless and helpless so that they never leave.

Financial abuse is more readily recognized in the mental health community as it relates to elder abuse, rather than spousal abuse. Elder financial abuse is usually about theft. Spousal financial abuse is about control and domination. Control of the money translates to control of the relationship and the other person, in every way. Financial abuse, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, is reported to be present in 98% of all domestic violence situations. In the vast majority of situations, women are the victims of the abuse. These comments will be framed accordingly.

I often observe women whose thinking has been so strongly influenced and twisted that they are not even aware of the abuse and continue to give their power away. They fail to show up for financial-planning meetings with their husbands. When they do, they spend the entire meeting motioning for me to “talk to him,” and not even listening “because he makes all the decisions.” They sign things without even knowing what it is and don’t ask. Or, if they do ask, are told to “don’t worry about it, just sign it.” Then challenged with the all-time follow-up of “Don’t you trust me?” The ultimate put-down and shut-up retort that has only one unspoken response.

At some point she may somehow find her strength and seek separation and divorce from the abuser. That is when we usually discover the third mortgage on the house, outstanding personal loans, questionable income tax returns, business interests (and liabilities) in her name, etc., all of which she signed. We discover what may, or may not, be there in the way of savings, investments, retirement accounts, pensions, etc. All of which she now realizes she needs, but knows nothing about.

How does this happen? 

Signs of Financial Abuse in a Marriage
  • He says he will pay all the bills.
  • She is expected to turn her paycheck over to him.
  • He manages all accounts, checking, savings, retirement, investment, etc.
  • He makes all financial decisions without discussing with her.
  • She gets an allowance.
  • He checks receipts for everything she buys, even groceries.
  • She needs to explain every check or credit card charge.
  • He makes all large purchase decisions; she has no input.
  • She needs to quit her job.
  • She no longer gets an allowance, only funds for designated purchases.
  • She may no longer write checks.
  • She will not be allowed to return to work.
  • She may not open any mail, even utility bills and solicitations.
  • He threatens to leave her with nothing if she doesn’t behave.
  • She needs to wait for him to get home from work to give her money to go buy a headache remedy.

Financial abuse occurs across all social-economic, educational, ethnic, and racial groups. It doesn’t matter if she is “allowed” to buy hamburger or steak, thrift or designer clothes, fast food or country club dining. If she is financially controlled and monitored while doing it, she is financially abused. Another variation is that of a highly successful career woman, managing millions of dollars of her employer’s money, yet does not have control over a single dollar in her personal life.

Reaching a victim of financial abuse requires that she realize that she is a victim and is willing to listen and act on her own behalf, and that she is accessible, given that she is so cut off from many resources and controlled to such a degree.

Ideas for Facilitating an Escape, While Heeding Safety Concerns
  • Identify a trusted friend or relative who can assist as needed.
  • If possible, skim small amounts of money from what is accessible, hide it or have someone hold it for you.
  • Get cash back on credit card purchases at supermarket or big box stores, then lose the receipt if necessary.
  • Save any monetary gifts, return gifts for cash.
  • Ask friends and relatives for donations.
  • Sell anything you can, say you donated it if necessary.
  • Say you are volunteering and get a part-time job.
  • Offer babysitting, dog-walking, house-sitting, wait for delivery or service people, plant-watering, etc. services by word of mouth and for cash.
  • Develop a hobby and sell things: printed t-shirts, knit ware, sketches or paintings, jewelry, photography, etc.
  • Work an on-line job with flexibility.
  • Get a secured credit card, or two, in your own name, and keep with friend if necessary.
  • Research government assistance services, counseling services, shelters.
  • Have a safe place to go when you leave.

Abuse of any type, including financial abuse, is a dangerous element in a marriage. There is no acceptable level of offense. I believe that anyone who is a victim of financial abuse knows, at some basic level, that it is not right, not okay, and they deserve more. They deserve respect, and to be treated as a partner in this relationship. Anything less is not a marriage, in which case, many difficult questions need to be answered

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The divorce process doesn't come with a "how-to" manual, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach. However, there are some commonalities.  

Entering the world of divorce is a daunting experience. You are likely fearful of the reactions from those affected and uncertain of your future. Adding to the unpredictability, most of us have no idea where or how to begin the divorce process (especially if your spouse was the one that demanded a divorce) and all that we need to consider and decide along the way. Your trust has been broken, and yet the divorce process necessitates that you find and trust strangers to look out for your best interests.

Unfortunately, divorce doesn’t come with a step-by-step manual. When I begin divorce coaching with a new client, most find comfort discussing the big picture view of the divorce process. Only once they understand the overview can we focus on segmenting those stages to more manageable, smaller pieces. Ruminating on future problems that may arise or past mistakes is overwhelming and often paralyzing. Stay present and focused on what you can do today that aligns with your big picture goals (learn how to do this in Step 8 of our Divorce Recovery Program).

Once you (or your spouse) have decided to divorce, there are two immediate issues that need to be addressed: temporary living arrangements and telling the kids (if you have any).

Temporary Living Arrangement with Your Spouse 

You may have the means to live in a separate residence during your divorce proceedings, but that doesn’t mean you should. Speak with a marital attorney before making this decision as you could be forfeiting ownership or providing an unnecessary opportunity for your soon-to-be ex-spouse (STBX) to hide assets. Regardless, you needn’t think long before you realize how many sleepless nights you’ll have sharing a bed with the spouse you are divorcing. Do you have a spare guest room? If not, who gets the couch? I strongly recommend purchasing an air mattress, as it is much more comfortable than the sofa, especially for an extended period of time.

Telling the Children About Your Divorce 

Now it gets difficult -- telling the kids. Depending on the age of your children, they may have suspected this was coming for awhile. Children are often more intuitive than we give them credit for, and if you believe they are oblivious to your marital problems, you are likely wrong. This is true whether they witnessed you crying, in a screaming contest with your spouse, or simply the lack of smiles and laughter between the two of you.

Most child specialists recommend that both parents tell the kids together, avoid assigning blame, put up a unified front, and most importantly, assuring them that you both love them and will always be there for them. The concept that the family structure is changing and not destroyed, ending, or broken is the best approach. However, there are exceptions to every rule. If you are in an abusive marriage or the likelihood of a contentious divorce is high, we recommend that you consult with a certified divorce professional. We offer a free coaching session for just this occasion.

Managing your children's reactions and establishing attainable parenting guidelines is vital to your children's well-being. This process is new for everyone involved. The more pliable you and your soon-to-be ex can be, the better for everyone. It is advisable to inform your child’s school regardless of how embarrassing it is for you. Teachers and guidance counselors will often show leniency for the occasional incomplete homework assignment or minor lack of judgment your children may display. Additionally, some teachers may offer increased communication regarding any changes in your child’s behavior and more comprehensive academic support while at school.

Telling Friends and Family About the Divorce

Since you’ve taken the plunge, for your children's sake, and started telling people of your divorce, you’re probably wondering how, when, or if you even should tell your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. The answer is sometimes for the first two and rarely for the last two -- with the exception of your boss or dedicated HR representative.

Telling your children is the hard part, telling your friends and family is when divorce becomes real. Most people fear humiliation, others fear condemnation, but we need not concern ourselves with the opinions of others, especially during divorce. You should be selective about the people you tell and have a reason for telling them. This is also a great starting point to shortlist people for your personal divorce support network. Just as you are selective about the people you tell, be discerning about the details you share. Your priest doesn’t need to know the last time you were physically intimate and your butcher doesn’t need to know who gets the house. Undoubtedly, someone will ask you a question you find intrusive, inappropriate or frankly, something you just don’t have the energy to answer, and it’s perfectly fine not to! “I appreciate your concern, but I don’t want to discuss that right now” works wonders!

Understanding Your Legal Options 

Now that you have your personal bases covered, it’s time to focus on the divorce logistics. Take a day or so to research and educate yourself on the different legal options available for divorce in your state. You’re not studying for the bar, just learning enough to ask the right questions when selecting an attorney. For a high-level overview of the differences between litigation, collaboration, mediation, and arbitration, listen to Journey Beyond Divorce founder Karen McMahon’s discussion with 40-year family law attorney, William Laufer.

Choosing an Attorney and Other Divorce Professionals 

Use this knowledge to select the matrimonial attorney who has the best track record for the legal option you wish to pursue. You don’t want a general attorney who “sometimes does divorces.” One of the first tasks your attorney will assign you is preparing a net worth statement. Doing this ahead of time will save you money and another meeting. A net worth statement is a document that lists what you owe and what you own and is generally the cornerstone of divorce negotiations. Which is why you want to get it right and one of the big reasons we recommend a CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst on your professional divorce support team. If you and your spouse previously shared a financial advisor, it is highly recommended to bring in an outside professional to ensure your best interests are being sought. Some CPAs (certified public accountant) and CFPs (certified financial planner) are also CDFAs, making them the ideal choice to assist you with your financial goals.

Determination of Future Living Arrangements 

While the legal and financial considerations are the largest and most central part of the divorce process, deciding what to do about the marital residence(s) and your future living arrangements is the next big step. There are many aspects to consider when choosing your next home, especially if you are sharing custody of school-age children. You may be tempted to look for a private sale to save on closing costs or forgo a home inspection if the house looks fine. Do not cut corners here! If using a realtor or real estate agent, look for ones that offer a discount on closing cost for the newly divorced or have experience in selecting neighborhoods with good school districts. If you are selling your marital home, try to use the real estate agent as your buyers' agent; they will often reduce their closing percentage on both transactions, saving you thousands of dollars!

Post-Divorce Obligations 

Once your divorce settlement is “signed, sealed and delivered,” you must begin the post-divorce obligations of changing beneficiaries on wills and life insurance, updating allowances on your W-4, submitting a change of name and address forms to applicable institutions (including your passport and driver's license), and adjusting health insurance. Many states prohibit making these changes until the divorce agreement is approved by the court, so check with your attorney first. This painful chapter is over, what will your next one be?

If you need support or additional guidance during any part of the divorce process, we encourage you to reach out to us for free, one-on-one divorce support with one of our certified divorce coaches.

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Many people ask, "How long does it take to get a divorce?" There are many things that go into the timing of a divorce once the divorce petition is filed.   

Once people finally get going with their divorces, invariably at some point during the case I will get the question, "Why is my divorce taking so long?" or "How long does it take to get a divorce?"

Because the divorce process is so painful, and because most people take a long time making the decision to divorce, once you move forward, you just want it over.  The time while the case is pending – that time while you are limbo – can seem more like purgatory than anything else.  

The reasons cases can drag out are many, but most cases have the same elements to them, and so the timing of a case can hinge on a reliable set of factors. 

4 Factors That Affect How Long a Divorce Takes 1. Whether the case is contested or uncontested. 

Translation – do you and your soon-to-be ex agree on your settlement in all areas, or do you not? If you are fighting, it will take longer. The harder you guys fight on things, the more you clash on things like property division, spousal support or child custody issues, the longer it will take and the more expensive it is likely to be. 

2. How cooperative both parties are in exchanging financial information.   

Once the case is filed, then it immediately goes into what is called the “discovery phase.” During this time the parties have to produce to each other any documents that pertain to his or her finances, marital and non-marital. If one or both parties are playing coy, and hiding the ball, then that takes longer. That means to force the person to give them up, you might have to file a motion with the court asking the court to make the other person do what they are supposed to do. Then you or your lawyer will have to set that motion for hearing, then go to the hearing, then wait for the judge to rule on that hearing. All of the above takes lots of time and lots of money.   

3. Whether forensic work needs to be done.

Also part of the discovery phase is potential forensic work. This might mean a forensic business valuation, lifestyle analysis for an alimony claim, or finding hidden money. It might also mean doing an analysis on what someone’s true income is if that person is self-employed or has multiple streams of complicated revenue. There are also forensic custody evaluators – these are psychologists who are trained to dig into what the history of the family dynamic has been, interview the parents, other witnesses and can even administer tests, all for the purpose of creating a report that recommends a specific parenting plan. All of these types of forensic evaluations take lots and lots of time. 

4. Lastly, we have the court system itself.  

Sometimes part of what takes so long is that you and/or your lawyers are just waiting to get in front of the judge for your hearing, or case management conference, or whatever the proceeding may be. Courts across the country all suffer from the plague of way too many family law cases, and being way understaffed and underfunded. This translates to judges who have way too many cases to handle at all, let alone in a timely manner.  

Before you ask, "How long does it take to get a divorce?", here's the bottom line: the more you and your spouse can work out between yourselves, the faster you will get to the finish line.

One of the other ways you can take control of your divorce is through my Delete Alt Control Divorce Masterclasses! The Core 4 Series and the Core 4+ Kids series. Skip the hassle. Save the fees. You can check them out by visiting my website. Get your free copy of my bestselling divorce guide book, Breaking Free: A Step by Step Guide to Achieving Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Freedom.

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Divorce is a struggle of fear and lies. Don't be left alone or trying to sort through it all without guidance. Here are tips and resources for dealing with lies and fear during divorce.

Recently, I went through my older posts here at Divorce Magazine to review all the comments. I feel badly that people left comments years ago that I just saw for the first time last week, but there was also something interesting in these comments. I noticed two common themes that were in these comments...fear and lies. I want to address both, so this post might be a little longer than normal. Also, I wish to apologize to those of you that I didn't respond to personally when you left your comments back then. For some reason I didn't get notified, and to respond now seems shallow and selfish. Your comments have been read and heard though, and inspired this post in response.

Fear is all around you when experiencing a divorce, or at least I know it was for me. I have rarely been as afraid as I was during my divorce, and there was also a lot of false evidence appearing real (fear) in my divorce process as well. Years after I got divorced, someone told me fear during divorce stands for false evidence appearing real. This is comical to me if you've been reading the posts where I talk about my divorce (or if you are eagerly awaiting the full story in Tears in a Jar). However, it is also the truth of court proceedings. 

I noticed recurring themes when I went to court: lies I told myself about the process, lies others told me about the process, and lies I told others about the process. For me, many of the lies I told others were lies I told myself, about how the process would help me correct some wrongs that were happening. However, the amount of false evidence appearing real (fear) that was presented against me during my divorce was astonishing to me. The betrayal of those that took a stand to present these lies that others tell about us was unreal in my experience.

Fear is also an emotion, but what causes the fear during divorce? Fear comes up when we think in extremes...I'll never marry again, all (wo)men are like this, I'll never see my children again, etc. These are fears people legitimately experience due to the way the court process works...but these are also based on false evidence appearing real in our own minds. Lies we are telling ourselves, lies others are telling us and we are believing, or lies we are telling others because we really do feel we will never see our children again and all (wo)men are like this person.

Neither is correct, so put down the false evidence that is appearing real to you. Examine it, why are you jumping to never seeing your children again? Why are you lumping all (wo)men together? Why are you absorbing the shame of what others have done? This last one was a big one for me! I was hiding my experience from everyone, I was so alone when I got divorced, but now I have learned there were those that were willing to assist me, and I could not find them to allow the assistance. I couldn't find them because in my own shame and humiliation about what others had done, I was unable to process that anyone would assist me. It was a lie I was telling myself and others were telling me (nice, one lie in two categories).

Stop believing the lies that you are telling yourself, you are telling others, and others are telling you. At about this point in my post, you are no doubt asking yourself, "Rebecca, HOW do I put these beliefs down and function during this time period?" Well, I'm glad you asked...here are three tips for fears and lies that need to be put down. Please feel free to leave me comments with questions, additions, subtractions, and I will be more diligent in reviewing the comments here. 

Tips for Putting Down Fear During Divorce

Is it true? Byron Katie, in the Work encourages people to take their judgments and then ask four questions. This process is helpful to me when trying to determine if I am experiencing fear the emotion or false evidence that is appearing real. The questions are: is it true, can you absolutely know that it is true, how do you react to the thought, who would you be without this thought? Then she encourages people to find turnarounds for thoughts that aren't true. I also had a coaching colleague tell me she tells people to ask: is it true, is it kind, is it necessary, who would you be without these beliefs? Whatever process you choose, make sure that you are examining things objectively to assist you with determining what is actually happening.

Is it necessary? I like this question from my friend, because if it is not necessary, I need to put this idea out of my mind. 

What does this thought provide me? This is an interesting question. My ex-husband called me the root of all evil once. I laughed and said God was having a great day, and he looked at me confused. I explained that Satan is the root of all evil, and he was a fallen angel created by God, therefore God was the root of all evil. This thought that I had at the words of my ex-husband provided me the opportunity to tell him how ridiculous he was being and elevate myself in the conflict at the same time. The real question is, what did calling me the root of all evil provide him? He's passed away now, so we can't ask him...but I suspect it provided him the opportunity to elevate me as the cause of the conflict and to justify the lies he was telling. Think about what the thoughts provide you and make a list.

Tips for Putting Down Lies During Divorce

Identify what kind of lie this is. Is it a lie I am telling myself, others are telling me, or I am telling others. Why is this lie so important for me to say or believe? Who would I be without this lie? What can I say, think, and believe instead of this lie?

The real tragedy of divorce is the way we go to war with people we love, and who we have to become to survive. I know I did a lot of work to become who I wanted to be after the divorce and to stay in integrity while embracing the warrior queen I needed to be to get through it all. Please know you are not alone and fear is both an emotion and a non-emotion. If you can separate the emotion from the non-emotion, everything will be better. Please leave me comments so I can help you through this process.

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Going through a divorce is never easy. In complex cases or when couples can't reach an agreement, divorce litigation may be necessary. 

Navigating divorce is complicated. From dividing assets to creating parenting plans, understanding retirement benefits, and more, you must take many things into consideration when going through a divorce.

While some couples may be able to go through a divorce without going to court, others may need litigation in order to reach a fair agreement. Here is an introduction to divorce litigation and times when it may be the best option for divorce proceedings.

What Is Divorce Litigation?

Divorce litigation is a method of divorce dispute resolution. This process involves submitting issues to family court in order to resolve them. Families will often choose litigation if they cannot reach an agreement through other divorce options.

While many divorces involve litigation, it is not the only way to settle a divorce. If possible, parties often try to avoid taking a divorce to court to keep the cost of divorce down. Keeping cases out of court can also save your family the time and emotional stress often involved with divorce litigation.

Instead of divorce litigation, couples often use divorce mediation or collaborative divorce. Divorce mediation entails working with your spouse and a mediator to resolve issues without taking the case to court. Collaborative divorce involves working with collaboratively trained lawyers and your former partner to resolve issues outside of family court.

When Is Divorce Litigation Necessary?

At Seattle Divorce Services, we do our best to minimize conflict and keep couples out of court whenever possible. However, in some cases, litigation is necessary to help our clients reach an agreement. Our team often chooses divorce litigation as the best option in the following three situations.

1. When Parties Are Having Trouble Cooperating

Divorcing parties typically have some issues they disagree on when trying to reach a settlement. The scale of those disagreements is a determining factor in whether or not you will need divorce litigation. If you and your spouse or your spouse's lawyer have a hard time cooperating, you’ll likely end up in court.  

This is particularly common when attorneys use a power-based negotiation style opposed to interest-based negotiation. Power-based negotiation is where lawyers are geared toward litigation and winning a fight, as opposed to interest-based negotiation which is centered around satisfying each party’s main goals.

2. When One Side Is Being Unreasonable

Most lawyers have a decent understanding of how a judge will rule when they take issues to court, often allowing them to avoid going to court altogether.

However, this is not the case for all situations. Sometimes one party is insistent upon a resolution that is outside reasonable expectations. If this is your case, taking matters to court may be the best option.

3. When There Are Unusual Issues That Both Parties See Differently

Issues such as spousal support, division of property and assets, and child support and parenting plans are common in divorce. However, some parties have unique issues outside the scope of most divorces. If this is your case, divorce litigation may be the best option. When unique divorce issues mean that it will be difficult to predict how a court will rule, taking cases to court may be the best way to resolve these issues.

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When receiving child support, a parent is expected to spend the money on essentials for the children. But are there laws enforcing child support accountability and ensuring funds are spent appropriately?  

Many times my clients will come to me and express their frustrations with the child support system here in Florida.  Surprisingly, however, a top complaint that I will get from a parent paying child support is not the amount they must pay, or even that they have to pay at all, but rather their frustration, and sometimes anger, revolves around the ways in which their child support monies are being spent by the other parent.

Unfortunately, I have to tell these parents that Florida, along with most other states, does not have any laws or mechanisms in which to enforce ways child support monies are being spent. But is there a trend starting that will bring some child support accountability and more transparency to what a parent can spend that money on?

New Tools Emerging to Prevent Misuse of Child Support Funds

The State of Delaware recently initiated a new system in which the state disperses child support funds through a child support card, which is being compared to a food stamp or EBT card. The underlying goal behind Delaware's new system is to prevent parents from misusing funds that are really supposed to help with costs associated with raising children, such as food, clothing, and educational-related expenses. These new cards do not allow the parent to purchase non-essential products that are unrelated to the raising of a child, such as alcohol, cigarettes or even car payments.

Our leaders in Washington are keeping a close eye on how Delaware's program works out, as there have been rumblings already that Congress could extend a similar program nationwide, making it the universal way to control how parents spend their child support money. The other side of the coin, however, is that sometimes more government intervention, especially on a nation-wide scale, may not necessarily be the answer to these problems, so others would support leaving such abuses of child support payments to the individual states to resolve on their own, which so far, very few states have shown an interest in.

States Are Failing to Enforce Child Support Accountability 

Florida is included in those states that have done nothing to date on this issue, as Florida law does not provide for placing restrictions on how child support monies are spent. The philosophy behind this lack of intervention is that child support payments should go into an overall pot of available resources for the receiving parent. This may mean that the child support is used for direct expenditures, such as clothing, food, and daycare, or it may mean that it is used indirectly for the benefit of the child and covers a portion of the rent or mortgage where the child lives.

This means, of course, that there is presently no child support accountability in Florida. If, however, the parent receiving child support is not taking care of the child, then it may be possible for the paying parent to motion the court for a modification of timesharing or parental responsibilities, depending on the specific issues at play. However, Florida remains, for the most part, devoid of any court procedure that would allow a party to question how child support money is being spent. If there were such an oversight mechanism in place, then there could be much less abuse related to the spending of child support money. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, that is not the case in Florida, as it is in most states, so a parent receiving child support is free to spend that money in any way that parent sees fit.

Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at rfrank@cplspa.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.

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You have difficult a co-parent that drives you insane. It can feel like you are imprisoned by them. You can’t escape them because of your children. It can feel like a life sentence.

Is it possible to be happy in spite of a difficult co-parent?

Yes! The trick is learning how to invest your energy and power into things that will enhance your life, not detract from it. If you follow these simple rules, you will be amazed at how much different your life can be.

  1. Create solid goals. What do you really want? You want happy healthy children. You want good connected relationships with your children. Remind yourself of your goals every day. Holding your goals at the forefront of your mind will enable you to assess whether what you are putting your energy into is actually in service of your goals.
  2. Educate yourself about what helps children develop in a healthy manner. What children need is actually pretty simple. They need you to tune into them. They need you to be present. When you are expending emotional energy on what is going wrong, you are not putting energy into doing what would help you achieve your goals. You can do what your children need no matter what your co-parent does.
  3. Don’t try to control what you can’t control. You can’t control your co-parent. Trying to is a massive waste of energy. Accept that they are who they are. Be wise about how you actually can affect change and how you can’t. There are things you have to and should fight for, but other things that you will never get, and will only be a waste of time and energy. Let go of those things.
  4. Learn how to deal with difficult emotions (like anger, frustration, anxiety) so that they don’t take you hostage. Emotions are very powerful and can take control of you. When you let emotions run the show, you get trapped into an intense place that is difficult to get out of, and you tend to behave in ways that only make your situations worse. There are many skills that can help you work your way out of difficult emotions, and stop yourself from acting out of them in ways that are counterproductive. “Mindfulness” is one of these powerful skills. There are abundant resources for on mindfulness available. 
  5. Put your energy into what you can control. You have an extraordinary amount of power to impact your children and their healthy development. Stop squandering your precious energy! Be present to your children! Put your energy into understanding them and their needs. Create close, connected relationship with them. Cultivate trust. A strong trusting relationship with your children is something that nobody can take away from you. It doesn’t matter what your co-parent says about you or what they do. If you focus on being wise about your relationship with your children, there is nothing your co-parent can do to undermine it.
  6. Have confidence in yourself. You are a strong parent. Trust yourself. Walk tall and strong. You can give your children what they need no matter what your co-parents does. Don’t give your power away by letting your co-parent invade your headspace.
  7. You can cultivate joy and positivity, even if things are difficult. Life is like a huge mosaic. The difficulty we experience is part of the mosaic, but so are all the wonderful and beautiful things that are happening in every moment. Without denying the truth of our difficulty, in any moment you can turn your attention toward what is good: your child’s smile, a beautiful cloud, a flower, the fact that there is food on the table…etc.

Your life is your own! Nobody has the power to make you miserable! Take your life back!  

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