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Linda Simpson –
Divorce and Parenting Consultant
Writer and Speaker

When we divorce we lose a partner and we lose a shared history connected by people, objects and memories. This profound sense of loss is often the result of the hurt and haste in the leaving.

A friend describes how it happened to her:

 “I chose to leave our home. In all that tension and heartbreak I didn’t do the proper sort, purge and pack. I left with a suitcase, then came back on an arranged date with 4 friends, a car and a pickup truck for the other essentials, we had agreed on. No photos of my past, with him or even whatever I had in the house from before that. No cards, letters from anyone, not just him. Anything sentimental has been lost.‘

Does that sound familiar? The emotion of the moment does not usually lead to clear decision making. What has preceded the leaving is often a stark and vicious time. We are so emotionally battered there is hardly a space for collaboration.

For others what is left behind after the leaving is a little less tangible. Perhaps the division of property had been more equitable. However, the shared memories of raising a family, or special holidays spent altogether, and any number of other events might be so painful to consider we lose the pleasure of those happy memories as well. The loss cannot be boxed up to carry out the door but is just as much a loss as any piece of furniture.

Whether they are solid like letters or intangible like memories, in the aftermath and the resurrection of a life and future we need to accept the losses that have occurred.  Railing against the injustice of it all helps for a time but is not the long run solution.

There are so many strong emotions when we divorce – anger and the emptiness from the sense of loss being two that sit at the top of the heap.

Facing loss and dealing with it are part of the healing process. It is a step in reclaiming our personal power. We might have felt powerless during the lead up to the separation but we do not need to feel that way after the divorce. We need to make the choice to face our losses and find a place for them in this new life.

These are some lessons I learned about loss in the aftermath of my divorce.

The first decade of my marriage involved many happy family times. It all happened well before the abuse began and the lifetime of deception was revealed. It would be years before I could laugh together with my sons about shared family times.

I allowed my grief too much control over me. It is one regret I have because I denied my sons the opportunity to affirm that there were happy times in the beginning in spite of the misery that shaped the final years of the marriage. My inability to face the loss denied my sons the comfort of those shared memories together for a time.

As my counselor said to me when I felt my former spouse had stolen my whole life with his secrets and lies—my memories and my happiness were mine. She was right.

I worked to find a way to laugh with my sons about those happy times and make them our memories. It didn’t happen overnight. But finally it did. We sat together and laughed and even acknowledged my former spouse in the conversation.

As for tangibles, be cautious in what you throw out or change in the aftermath of a divorce. In my situation our family cottage had been the scene of many hurtful times leading up to the divorce. After the divorce my oldest son was adamant we would sell the cottage. There were too many bad memories.

But my intuition said we could weather this and create our own cottage memories. It took a number of years and it wasn’t easy but it was worth it.

Now it is the family beacon. We have a bounty of new laughter and memories at the cottage that belong to us. The ghosts of the sad times still linger a bit. But they are there to remind us of our great good fortune in having what we have today.

Learn to mould favourite traditions into your future. The Christmas holiday season is filled with family customs. One that has remained for me is the playing of a certain record every Christmas morning. That music announced the morning for me as a child and then for my sons as they grew up. As we all gathered on Christmas morning this past year my four grandchildren danced with joy to that same music. That is my memory!

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to tame the many aspects of your loss. Remember –it is your life, your memories, and your future. Make it the best it can be.

If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to letterstolinda@thedivorcemagazine.co.uk – Reaching out is the first step. 

READ LINDA’S COLUMN – LETTERS TO LINDA HERE ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON

“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl 

Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.

As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.

She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.

She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’

In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.

She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.

She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.

The post You Can Reclaim your History After a Divorce appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Martha Bodyfelt
Certified Divorce Coach

It was hard to concentrate, or even function.

Hard to fall asleep at night, hard to pay attention at work, and no matter what I did to try and distract myself, the sheer panic and chaos followed me around all the time.

Omigod. I have no idea what do to. Will I ever get through this?

I have no idea where I’m going to be in a month, much less a year. How the hell can I plan for anything?

Everything is crumbling around me and I’m terrified.

I remember trying to focus at work, unable to do so, because all I could think about was divorce. How on earth would I figure out the legal things, how could I budget when I no longer had my husband’s income, what if I was never the same again?

It’s commonly said that divorce is one of the most stressful life events that a person experiences.

You can no doubt attest to this—divorce and separation suck, and one of the main issues it’s such a shit show is because of infinite forms of stress it pushes onto you. Divorce is like a high-speed freight train that has gotten off its rails and crashed into your living room.

Here’s what you need to know about divorce fear and stress.

During your split, you have probably felt petrified—sometimes unable to move, to think, to function. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you, the kids, and your way of life. It’s completely normal to feel like this. How could you not?

Your peace of mind’s gone through the window, and that overarching fear of not knowing the causes you to lose sleep at night, unable to concentrate at work, and desperately thinking we’ll never make it through or be happy again.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I remember waking up one day after another restless night, and something just clicked. A frustrated voice inside me said,

“What are you so afraid of, and why have you not taken steps to counter it?”

And that is where this fear-blasting exercise was born.  When you feel like you’re going off the deep-end with fear of not knowing, do the following:

1. Write down all of the things you’re feeling afraid of—the sources of your fear-based stress. Do this wherever you want—in a journal, on your laptop, on your smart phone or iPad—it doesn’t matter, just someplace that you have easy access to.

2. Be completely honest with yourself! No fear or concern is ever irrational, stupid, or unreasonable. Some of my own fears included…

– I will have to move out of the marital home—the only one I’ve known for years.

– I won’t be able to afford a long and drawn out divorce.

– I will have to put the lawyer fees on my credit card

– My savings will be wiped out and that I’ll have to cash out my 401k to pay for all of this.

Write down all your fears

– My family will judge me

– My friends will shun me

– I will be alone and don’t know what to do

– I am afraid to start over.

– I am afraid of never being happy again.

Your fears may be similar, or you may have additional fears, such as:

– I won’t get to see my children

– The kids are going to have a hard time adjusting

– He/She will bleed me dry and I’ll lose everything

3. Now comes the part that takes some work, but it’s the best part. Under each fear, write down a solution. This step shows you the truth—that you have the power to beat those fears and calm down that stress you feel. I’ve provided a few examples so you get the gist of it before you write your own solutions.

I will have to move out of the marital home—the only one I’ve known for years.

If I want to stay here, I am going to speak with my attorney to see what my options are to remain. I will look at the budget to see if this is possible, but if it is not, I know I have plenty of options for other housing. I also know that I am the one who has the memories in my heart, and that I, along with my children, are still a home and can create our own memories, wherever we are.

I won’t be able to afford a long and drawn out divorce.

I do not want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a divorce. If my spouse and I are on speaking terms, I will examine options for using divorce mediation, which could help prevent long expensive court battles.

I will also research my options and ask around to find a good divorce attorney that uses a conciliatory problem-solving approach, instead of a belligerent gladiator one. I may also speak with a financial advisor to help with the financial side, and I could talk to a divorce coach, who could possibly help with money-saving ideas.

My savings will be wiped out and that I’ll have to cash out my 401k to pay for all of this.

If I am working with an attorney, I will possible payment plans. I may also seek pro-bono help or find divorce legal clinics that can help minimize costs. I will focus on the big picture. If I don’t want to wipe out my savings fighting in court, I will learn how to choose my battles so I can move on with my life.

My family will judge me.

I will be honest and ask for their support, but I do not have to surround myself with people who will make me feel worse about the situation. If I am afraid of this, I will work with a therapist, who can help me create boundaries with my family and help me grieve in a healthy way.

I will be alone and won’t know what to do.

I may feel alone because I’m no longer with my spouse, but I will find a great support system—there are support groups, online groups, friends who care about me. I will not be afraid to ask for help. I will be kind to myself, patient with myself, and realize I don’t have to do everything at once.

As you can see, once you start doing this exercise for yourself, you will notice that neutralizing your fears goes beyond just giving yourself a pep-talk.

This exercise can help you start taking action.  And when you take action against those fears, they no longer become the things that will keep you up at night—instead, they become the logical courses of action—merely things on a to-do list—that you will accomplish because despite your panic and fear right now, you are a hell of a lot stronger than you realize.

Facing and beating your divorce fears and learning how to counter them may not be fun or easy, but in the end learning those strategies will help diminish your stress so you can think clearly, move on with your life, and get back to being happy.

Click here for more articles by Martha Bodyfelt

Author Bio

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website “Surviving Your Split” shows readers how to get their confidence back and move on with their lives.  For your Free Divorce Goddess Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split today!

Website: http://survivingyoursplit.com/

The post How to Overcome your Crippling Divorce Fears appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Linda Simpson –
Divorce and Parenting Consultant
Writer and Speaker

I am really struggling!  I have come to hate and resent my ex-husband so much that it is causing me to behave in a way that I never thought I would.  I see myself driving a wedge between him and the children but I just cannot seem to be able to stop myself! I just want him to go away and leave us alone.  He was the one who broke up the family and for him to think that he can have his cake and eat it by having a wonderful time with the children after all he has done to us is killing me and part of me just wants him to suffer.

You are experiencing what many if not most people feel after a divorce.

The hurt and anger fills us up with a rage for the other person. We want them to hurt. We don’t think they hurt and maybe they don’t. But we do not have any control over what they feel, only our own emotions.

Your children did not experience the divorce in the same way. From their perspective, they lost a family unit. Given that they appear to have a good relationship now with your former spouse, it is probably safe to assume he was a decent father. Or there may be other reasons. For right now, your children want a relationship with him.

In this instance you need to rise above your own personal feelings and let your children have this time with their father. There may come a day when they see their father differently. But for now they are happy to spend time with him.

Most people who have ever experienced a divorce have known the rage and anger you are feeling.

However, they would probably say it felt much better to get beyond it. It feels like such an enormous personal injustice to see your children having fun with him and wanting to spend time with him. But it is very important for them to do that. He is their father. You need to get to a state of acceptance for what has happened and for the family life in its present form.

The hurt and anger we feel comes from our personal sense of loss. Beginning right now, it is important to create a new life for yourself. Spend the time they are with him healing yourself. There are many ways to channel the rage in other more positive ways.

First and foremost would be to start journaling your road to the future. There’s an assortment of journaling books available. Get one that appeals to you and the pen you prefer. A journal never gets tired of hearing about your pain and anger. As time goes by, it will also present a very vivid picture of your healing in its pages.

Do you have any type of exercise regime? Even walking is a great start if you don’t. Check your local area for exercise classes. There are usually some and for a nominal fee you have a new activity and will meet new people. Healing ourselves involves our physical well-being as well as our emotional health.

Books saved me in many ways. The bookstores are crammed with self-help books. Spend some time browsing through them. Check out your local library too. When you are there look for what types of workshops and groups are offered. There might be something that interests you.

Meeting new people in a group environment is an excellent way to forge new friendships. You will begin to have a life that does not have a connection to the past. The loss you felt begins to fill up with new possibilities. These new friends, not connected to your past, give you the opportunity to practice talking about anything but your divorce or your former spouse.

Anger serves a purpose in the initial stage after a divorce. It gives us an emotional impetus. But if it lingers too long it hinders our future. It takes an enormous amount of energy to be consumed with rage- that energy would be better spent on new activities.

You want the world to know you are better not bitter. Make some good personal choices, get some good books, and meet some new people. With each step forward you will feel the anger dissipate. Your children will notice the new you and that will make them very happy.

If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to letterstolinda@thedivorcemagazine.co.uk – Reaching out is the first step. 

MORE LETTERS TO LINDA 

Letters to Linda Disclaimer

ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON

“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl 

Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.

As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.

She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.

She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’

In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.

She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.

She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.

The post Letters to Linda – Driving a Wedge Between him and the Children appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Have you completely lost your confidence with clothes?

Struggling to keep up with the trends of the high street?

Does your partner take charge of your wardrobe?

Perhaps you can’t find clothes that fit, flatter and flaunt your unique personality?

Finding the perfect outfit can be life changing but with so much choice on the high street and online, shopping can be exhausting and intimidating!

Maybe you need the confidence to make the right impression on a first date; perhaps you want to gain the edge in a job interview; or maybe help rebuild your self-esteem after coming to terms with a disability, loss or relationship breakdown.

We have a crack team of fashion experts with very different styles and personalities who will be on hand, pitching their visions to assist you with your choices. But it’s up to you to decide who you would like to take charge of your new look.

If you would like to be in with the opportunity to be styled by one of our experts, we would love to hear from you – thefittingroom@shiver.tv

The post Have you Completely Lost your Confidence with Clothes? appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Marc Etherington
Senior Associate at
Turner Nicholson Family Law Specialists

It has been a challenging time for Family lawyers so far this century. The legal aid budget has been reduced significantly and there are presently ongoing cuts to our court system.

Therefore, it has become important for practitioners to adapt their practice and explore different ways to help clients resolve their problems.

Leading this approach is Resolution, with over 6,500 members who are family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

The Code of Practice at Resolution promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems and there are committees within the organisation that seek to take the lead in this regard. For example, the Parenting After Parting Committee, for which I am member, strives to ensure parents post separation co-parent with each other is the best interests of their children.

Through this website, and other resources, you may have come across various options available to you that may help you and your ex-partner come to an agreement. One option potentially available, which I detail in this article, are round table meetings.

These meetings would involve you, your ex-partner and your respective legal representatives coming together, ideally all in the same room, with a shared aim of exploring ideas to resolve your differences. This method really can encourage dialogue and provides an opportunity to hear each other’s point of view. It can be highly effective.

Sometimes trying to get across one’s point can be difficult to achieve in correspondence without offending the other party, and can be very time consuming and, therefore, very expensive if lawyers are sending frequent letters.

You may find one session (between 60 to 90 minutes long) is all you need, although realistically three or four meetings will likely be required.  Those meetings, over a few weeks, could achieve more than months of negotiations through correspondence.

Round table meetings will not work although if you or your ex-partner refuses to listen to the other and/or either of you is determined that your outcome is the only one you will accept.

Round table meetings can cover any aspect of family law, including financial and children arrangements. However, children and financial topics should not be discussed in the same meeting to ensure decisions concerning what is best for your child(ren) are not influenced by discussion relating to the finances.

Although, as I have said, it is preferable for all parties to be in the same room, if one or both of you is uncomfortable with this, you could begin the process in separate rooms. You could later progress to meetings in the same room dependant on how those discussions progress.

Round table meetings can involve third parties, if appropriate. Your case may have possible tax liability, pension considerations, international issues or assets concerning a business, trust or other types of assets.

In these situations, a third party may be needed who has expertise in a specific field to give advice to you, your ex-partner and the lawyers as to what issues need to be considered and how they can be resolved.

If there is a concern that one party may try to control the topic of the meeting, then you may want a mediator to sit in on the meeting to ensure the meeting is conducted fairly taking all parties’ views into account. If emotions are running high between you and your ex-partner, a family therapist may be a helpful addition to the meetings.

Who should be involved in a roundtable meeting, and how meetings are conducted, can vary from case to case. This is where you need the advice from your family lawyer to direct you as to whether a round table meeting is right for you and, if so, how they should be approached.

In my practice I have seen an increase in round table meetings in recent years. I believe this has been contributed to by family lawyers taking a more collaborative approach in family law and building trusting relationships with colleagues in the profession. It does help if the lawyer on the other side has the same philosophy as your lawyer as to how they approach family law.

From my experience round table meetings have worked because they do focus everyone’s mind on the issues in dispute and there is a genuine attempt by all to find a solution, rather than asking a third party to make the decision for them.  Psychologically this is very important as neither party feels disempowered.

Like with any form of dispute resolution there can be disadvantages. Unintentionally, lawyers can dominate the meeting therefore resulting in you and your ex-partner sitting as observers rather than as participants. They can be expensive, especially if you have taken part in meetings which conclude without an agreement being reached.  They can sometimes feel quite intense and tiring for all parties due to the pressure in trying to reach an agreement.  Tiredness can result in mistakes being made or important issues that needed to be addressed being forgotten.

This article is not intended to tell you that a round table meeting is the right option for you. It is an option and one that I believe has more positive than negatives. Most importantly, it gives you and your ex-partner the opportunity to control what the final arrangements are rather than that control being taken out of your hands by a judge or arbitrator.

When you do speak to your family lawyer make sure they give you all the options that are available to you. You can then weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and decide from there how you wish to proceed.

About Marc Etherington

Marc is a family law solicitor who works in Central London, close to Farringdon station, where he works at the highly regarding boutique family law practice, Turner Nicholson. In 2018, the firm was nominated for law firm of the year at the prestigious Family Law Awards. 

Marc has been working in family since 2009 and qualified in March 2012. Marc has experience in all areas of family law and regularly acts for those who are seeking a divorce, advice on the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship or assistance on matters relating to their children. To date, he has acted for clients who reside across the UK as well as those that live abroad.

Marc currently sits on the national Parenting After Parting Resolution Committee, YRES National Resolution Committee and London Regional Resolution Committee after being elected by his peers. This role gives Marc a strong voice on future policies and training adopted by Resolution on matters involving family law.

The post What is a Round Table Meeting and Can it Resolve Disputes in Family Law? appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Divorce & Family Law Solicitor with
Woolley & Co Solicitors

When faced with a crisis such as a divorce or separation, many people suffer loss and grief and struggle to cope. They may refuse to talk about the difficult issues that need to be sorted out. They may be in complete denial about the realities of their situation. It may be hard to tell friends and family as this makes it all too real and they may well experience prolonger grief after divorce.

However bad the relationship, and even if you ended it, there is loss and the stages of grief. People are frightened of what else they may lose – children, home, money, security, even part of their identity.

As an experienced family law solicitor, I am aware of the different stages of grief, can recognise the stage a client may be at, and I take this into account when advising them, as well as directing them to other support on how to cope with the grief of divorce.

How long does grief last after divorce? What are the stages of grief after a divorce? Let’s start with the first stage…denial.

1. Denial around divorce and separation

The first stage of grief is Denial. It is really the first of our reactions to any form of sudden loss. The extent of it depends on the relationship you shared and how much of your life may be uprooted or altered. It is very common for people to try and initially deny the event in order to subconsciously avoid sadness or the thought of pending mental struggles. People in denial often withdraw from their normal social behaviour and become isolated.

In denial, a person may want to make the other wait, not face the choices, do nothing, hang on to their life as long as possible. Sometimes delay results in a lot of other problems that makes sorting things out eventually even harder.

Examples include failing to deal with correspondence from solicitors or failing to complete and return the acknowledgement form when divorce papers have been sent and serial rows over anything and everything.

2. Anger about the prospect of divorce

The second stage of grief is Anger. People that are grieving often become upset with the person or situation which put them in their grief state. After all, their life could now be in complete disarray. Other times people become angry at themselves if they feel they could have done something more to stop the loss from happening.

Anger and blame can be overwhelming. Sorting things out can feel impossible – all suggestions for the future may elicit a categoric ‘No!’  For example, some parents will use their “children as weapons” to upset the other parent and refuse reasonable suggestions for that parent to spend time with their children.

Anger may make you fight, fail to negotiate and prefer to go to court to try to ‘win’ and have your day in court. This can cost more than it’s worth and then everyone loses.

3. Bargaining to reach an agreement during divorce

The third stage of grief is Bargaining. This is when those who are grieving are reaching out to the other person to make the pain go away. It is very normal and largely considered to be a sign that they are beginning to comprehend their situation. People will often try to make a deal, or promise to do anything if the pain will be taken away.

An example of this could be if one party feels guilty (after maybe having an affair) and offers a financial settlement higher than they can reasonably afford.

4. Depression

The fourth stage of grief is Depression. Contrary to popular belief, depression is something that may take some time to develop. We often think we are depressed when a grief event first occurs, but there is usually a lot of shock and other emotions present before any real depression can set in. The signs of depression due to grief usually appear when a sense of finality is realised. This is not to be confused with clinical depression, which may be chronic.

When a divorcing client is suffering from depression, it is often difficult for them to make any rational decisions. It is important to understand that they may need time and to take things at a pace that is suitable to them. Appropriate referral to a counsellor may be appropriate.

5. Acceptance that the relationship is over

The fifth stage of grief is Acceptance. This is the point where the person experiencing grief is no longer looking back to try and recover the life they once had with their partner. It is not to say that they no longer feel the vast array of emotions brought on by their grief, but they are ready to embrace the idea that they are reaching a new point in their lives. At this point, they are beginning to understand that there is a new beginning on the horizon.

Each will have found a place of acceptance of their new living situation and would be eager to collaborate on how to map out their co-parenting future, how to divide the assets, and how to provide for support for themselves and their children.

An experienced family solicitor can work with clients where ever they are in the emotional grief process and tailor advice to match the stage in which they find their clients.

Often clients in the grief cycle go to some lawyers, who are not trained to deal with the emotional grief cycle. So, clients may end up feeling very frustrated and misunderstood.

As an experienced family law solicitor, I can help clients facing separation with all their fragility and begin the process of empowering them to find their way out.

Click here for more articles from Woolley & Co Solicitors

ABOUT MALA

Mala is a divorce and family law solicitor with Woolley & Co, based in Cornwall. She has clients in the South West regions and South East counties. Mala has extensive experience since 1998 dealing with married and unmarried clients in relation to all aspects of relationship breakdown including: divorce, separation, pre-nuptial agreements domestic violence and financial issues.

The post Coping with Divorce and Separation – 5 Things you Should Know appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Linda Simpson –
Divorce and Parenting Consultant
Writer and Speaker

My X husband was much older than me and now he is very sick. It was a messy divorce as most usually are and his siblings were very harsh toward me. I made mistakes but so did he and nobody knows but us what really happened. We have not been in contact for many years. I never had any children with him. I don’t know what I should do. I feel I want to help in some way but I am not sure how to proceed.

Divorce has a way of changing our own lives forever. It is a part of who we are.  Distance often mellows any of the negative feelings we once felt. Whatever happened between the two of you was obviously private enough that others were not aware.

Where you start is with the here and now and the knowns. You would like to help in some way. There are many ways to help someone who is facing the end of life.

It might be best to start by contacting a family member or someone you know is a close friend. Was there one friend or member of the family you think might be receptive? If so, write to that person.

Reach out to them either through an actual written letter or email. Be honest and truthful. Face the mistakes that were made and accept responsibility for the ones you made. Keep to a minimum anything written about the past. Old wounds do not need to be opened.

Deal with the present. Consider what you are prepared to do and set out options from direct contact to paying for some caregiver help. End the note by asking them what they think might be useful.

From your message, it is quite apparent that even though the marriage ended, you still care about his wellbeing or you would not be asking how to help.

Your goal is to find possible ways you can make a difference in his life right now. In your letter outline these options. If things go well, your level of involvement might increase. You could visit if the family allows. If he is in an institution remember to be helpful and not critical of his circumstances. Families are always under enormous stress caring for a family member.

If visiting is not an option then consider what else you can do. Caregiving is expensive for any family. Perhaps there is a way you can pay for some of it or arrange a regular caregiver visit. There are many services that provide various caregiver options including friendly visits.

The message to his family is that you want to help in some way. Make sure they understand you want them to feel comfortable with whatever it is they decide you can to do.

Be prepared for the family to turn down your offer. In your note to them say you understand that might be an outcome and you were aware of it when you decided to reach out.

If you approach your X husband’s family in a very non-confrontational way, it increases the chance of a positive reply. It may take a while as family members discuss your offer. Don’t badger them during this time. Everyone is on their own timeline and they are consumed with his care right now.

However, considering he is very ill, time is limited so you could ask for a decision within a few weeks. Remember to include preferred contact information.

Sincerity, openness, honesty are all key to breaking down the barriers that exist. If the family senses those values in your letter to them then there is a greater chance of a positive outcome. Good Luck!

If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to letterstolinda@thedivorcemagazine.co.uk – Reaching out is the first step. 

MORE LETTERS TO LINDA 

Letters to Linda Disclaimer

ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON

“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl 

Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.

As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.

She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.

She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’

In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.

She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.

She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.

The post Letters to Linda – It was a Messy Divorce appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Jane Keir
Family and Divorce Law Partner
at Kingsley Napley LLP

“Divorced Women missing out on Pensions Wealth was the recent Daily Telegraph headline that caught my eye reporting on a study by Royal London and comments by their Director of Policy, Sir Steve Webb (former Minister of State for Pensions in David Cameron’s coalition government).

Not surprisingly the study found that divorced women tend to fare worse than married women or divorced men when it comes to their pension pot.

Couples over 50 typically have a £454,000 pot the research said, compared with the average £131,000 for divorced women and £235,000 for divorced men in the same age group.

So why is this?  Well pensions are the most complex of assets to evaluate on divorce and so many shy away from lifting the bonnet on a pension and having a proper look at what lies beneath and how to value it. 

The divorce process is expensive enough, especially where there are real differences between the parties as to what a fair financial settlement should look like, so the tendency is just to include the latest cash equivalent value (CEV) figure for the pensions in the calculations and then mistakenly treat them as if they are effectively liquid, or semi liquid assets, similar to a house, or an ISA, or savings in the bank. 

It is relatively easy to agree upon the value of the house.  You know what you bought it for and quite enjoy looking at websites to see how its value compares with its neighbours and of course, there is always Zoopla.  Not so for pensions.  Even if you do know what they consist of, how on earth are you going to value them accurately?

What typically plays out is then this. One party – and it is usually the husband – keeps the pension and gives credit for its value against the value of the family home.  “She gets the house, he gets the pension”.  If no-one takes the time or trouble to actually properly value the pensions, it could be that one spouse gets the benefit of an asset which is worth much more than its face value and even more so in years to come. 

So what should women mid-divorce or contemplating divorce do about pensions? 

At the very least, get a sense check as to the value of your pensions as a couple. Find a good financial adviser with qualifications in advising and assisting with regard to pensions. See more than one and find someone who impresses you. Shop around. Much depends on the type of pension scheme. Some may be easy to value and require no more than the annual statement of benefits provided by the pension scheme. Others may require an actuary to provide the answers to what the fund is worth.

The question of valuing such pensions should be addressed jointly by the parties and their advisers, as required by Financial Remedy Rules, so that both parties have an input as to how the valuation is carried out and actually there is a joint liability to meet the cost of the valuation exercise. 

In my experience independent financial advisers are very keen to accept an instruction upon the basis that if the pension is shared – i.e. divided, then it is more likely than not that a new pension scheme will be required and thus a new client created.

Women ignore pensions on divorce at their peril.

It is important to find out what they are worth and make sure that their full value appears in any asset schedule notwithstanding that the benefits may not yet be available in the way that cash and property are. Equally consider a pension sharing order – they were introduced to enable pensions to be divided – or in some cases transferred outright – between spouses.

Divorce lawyers have a responsibility to encourage proper pension valuation to be a natural and automatic part of the financial disclosure process on divorce. That will help to mend and not just mind that pensions gap.

Click here for more articles by Kingsley Napley LLP

About Jane Keir

Jane Keir, a family and divorce law partner at Kingsley Napley LLP

Described as the only ‘eminent’ practitioner in the current London solicitor rankings, Jane advises on the protection of wealth, both pre and post divorce and her breadth of experience both in negotiating discreet settlements and in taking cases to trial, mean that she is much in demand by individual clients and Family Offices alike.

The post Women Ignore Pensions on Divorce at their Peril appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Peter Jones
Founder of
Jones Myers
Family Solicitors

A bill, which if passed, would enable opposite sex couples to enter a civil partnership, will proceed to the House of Lords after passing its second reading.

Since 2004 only same-sex couples in the United Kingdom could be in a civil partnership which gives them the same rights, responsibilities and entitlements as married couples in key areas.

The milestone move to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples has been championed after the Supreme Court ruled that current laws are discriminatory to restrict civil partnerships to gay couples and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case centred on 37-year-old Rebecca Steinfeld and 41-year-old Charles Keidan who met in 2010, became engaged in 2013 and have two children.

Saying the “legacy of marriage”, which they believed treated women as property for centuries, was not for them, the duo became embroiled in a long legal battle for a civil partnership which they felt would best suit their relationship and life circumstances.

Civil partnerships are widely believed to give unmarried couples and their children greater security. Couples in these partnerships and married couples have the same rights regarding their children and applying for child arrangement orders and relating to financial remedies which include maintenance and property rights.

The similarities extend to protection from domestic abuse, inheritance claims and the process which must be followed to dissolve the relationship – with a decree absolute required to terminate a marriage and what is called a final dissolution order or nullity order needed to terminate a civil partnership.

However, whereas in a marriage adultery is one of the five reasons for divorce, civil partnerships cannot be dissolved due to adultery. The second main difference between civil partnerships and marriages is that civil partners cannot regard, or allude to themselves as being ‘married’.

The bill paving the way forward for heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships requires Royal Assent to become law.

With over 3.3 million cohabiting couples in Britain, many of whom have children, the outcome for those seeking an alternative way to cement their relationship and commitment will no doubt be eagerly awaited.

However, no matter what drawbacks there may be, a civil partnership offers a good deal of security and is better than the “no man’s or no woman’s land of cohabitation when there may be no rights at all.

Click here for more articles by Peter Jones

About Peter Jones

Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.

Renowned for his sympathetic approach, he is a former national chairman of Resolution, a former Deputy District Judge – and instigated the D5 Group of law firms that promotes excellence in family law. www.jonesmyers.co.uk

Civil Partnerships Bill proceeds to committee in House of Lords

Amendments to be laid before the House in committee

Featured Photo by Gavin Penor on Unsplash

The post Civil Partnerships for Heterosexual Couples Moves Step Closer – How Would it Differ from Marriage? appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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Martha Bodyfelt
Certified Divorce Coach

When you are recovering from divorce after a long-term marriage, loneliness is definitely an obstacle that keeps you from moving on.

We get stuck in this mindset because it makes us feel like we have nobody in the world. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a look at the mindful strategies that can help you kick your loneliness to the curb as you start this new chapter in your life.

Being alone does not mean being lonely.

When we are by ourselves after divorce, we make a false correlation in our minds. We think that being alone is bad.

We can’t stand the silence, we feel weird sleeping in a bed alone, and we are uneasy saying “I” instead of “we. ‘’

But why is being alone negative?

It’s not.

You are now given the opportunity to heal and start over on your terms—things that would be impossible to do if you were still in an unhealthy marriage.

What we seem to forget is that even when we are with someone, we can still be lonely.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, being in a house with a partner in a marriage that is no longer healthy and still feeling alone is much more damaging than being by yourself in a house and having the space to heal.

See the difference?

Loneliness is just independence and liberation waiting for a spark of hope.

Many of us tend to view loneliness and a solitary confinement, but that not’s true.

Yes, you may feel like there is nobody to call or to be intimate with. And as you heal, you may feel self-conscious reaching out to friends and family members because you don’t want to appear like a burden. Feeling like you can’t reach out although you feel awful only doubles that awful feeling.

But, what if, instead, you turned that solitude into something new?

Being by yourself gives you the opportunity to start doing things that you never thought you could do before. Instead of staying at home, you now have an opportunity to channel that energy into attending that sculpture class, joining that book club, or planning that trip to the mountains.

There is nobody to stop you or judge you. Take advantage of it!

How to Kick your Divorce Loneliness to the Curb

If you feel lonely but are unsure how to overcome those feelings, follow these easy steps!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Ask yourself: When do I feel lonely? Are there certain events that trigger this emotion for me? 

Need some help? Take a look at my examples below!

I feel lonely whenever I see a little old couple holding hands walking in the park. I feel like that won’t be me.

Ask yourself: Who am I when I am the most happy? When am I at my best?

I feel really happy when I am around my dogs. There is a soft spot in my heart for rescue dogs and I have always wanted to volunteer there.

All my worries seem to disappear when I am working hard in yoga class. I love how it makes me feel and how it forces me to focus on breathing and listening to my body. At the end of the class, I always feel relieved and ready to take on the world.

Discovering what brings out the best in you and what makes you happy doesn’t have to cost money. It does, however, mean that you will have to be introspective and honest with yourself. 

It can be hard to dig deep, but I promise you that it is worth it because you feeling better and being happy is worth it.

Ask Yourself: What can I do right now to summon that amazing part of me? That part that will help me through those periods of loneliness?

The next time I see another Facebook picture of an engagement ring, I am going to look up volunteering opportunities at the local animal shelter instead. My time and energy are better served helping those in need, and who on earth can feel lonely while they are taking care of pups and kitties who need a good home?

The house feels so empty and I am starting to feel alone. But I remember there’s that new museum exhibit I’ve been wanting to see. Why don’t I check the hours and go tomorrow.

See how the exercise works?

Recognize that you deserve to be happy and understand that spending quality time by yourself and in a life that is rich with ideas and hobbies and things that excite and inspire you—and have absolutely nothing to do with having a partner—can heal you.

Being open to all the wonderful things this word can offer—and fully acknowledging that you are in this world to explore them—is the antidote to loneliness. When you begin the love story with yourself, you always have someone at your side.

Click here for more articles by Martha Bodyfelt

About Martha

Martha Bodyfelt is a divorce recovery coach whose website Surviving Your Split helps readers regain their confidence after divorce so they can quit feeling invisible and move on with their lives

For your free gift, “The Divorce Goddess Recovery Guide,” stop by survivingyoursplit.com today or say hello at martha@survivingyoursplit.com

Feature Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

The post Coping with Loneliness after Divorce appeared first on The Divorce Magazine - TDM.

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