Here are valuable resources that will ease your concerns and start you along a strong, stable path as you move forward and determine the best outcome for you.
If you can’t find what you need on this page, please contact me with your question. I have many other resources that may serve your needs.
If you take steps to define and structure your separation, it can help you avoid further emotional turmoil. Here are 10 questions that will help you negotiate a trial separation.
While the words “trial separation” may not strike as much fear into the heart as “divorce,” the prospect is still difficult and worrisome for the spouse not wanting to separate. Is this really a trial period? Or is it just a stepping stone to an inevitable split?
Living apart can offer you some space if your marital conflicts have become too charged to handle objectively. It can also be a way to test the financial and emotional implications of divorce, while allowing you to reverse your decision if you’re able to work out your differences. But this is hardly a comfort to the spouse who did not initiate the separation. The truth is, many trial separations do lead to divorce, and the process can be terribly stressful for both parties.
If you take steps to define and structure your separation, it can help you avoid further emotional turmoil, as well as easing the anxieties of the non-initiating spouse. Here are 10 questions that may help you negotiate a trial separation.
- Who is going to move out? When and where? (Bear in mind that during a trial separation, in many states, you are still legally married and the rules of property ownership remain the same.)
- How and when will the moving-out spouse remove their things, and what will they take?
- How and when can the moving-out spouse access the marital home?
- How will the new residence be financed (rented or purchased)? What about furniture?
- When and what are you going to tell your children, their teachers, your family, your friends?
- Will you commit to counseling as a couple?
- What are your arrangements to secure financial and legal advice? (I strongly recommend having both in place before any actions are taken, and I can refer you to a good attorney if needed. More about financial planning in a future post.)
- Where are the children staying? Consider holidays, vacations, and other occasions when you may wish to take the children out of town.
- Who will handle bill paying? What about jointly held credit cards and bank accounts?
- How will you be communicating with each other and how often?
- What is your time frame – the date on which you’ll evaluate the situation?
Take this quiz to see if you are on track to be strong, confident and credible while you deal with divorce.
The process of divorce is difficult and challenging, demanding a great deal out of us. It is my mission to provide the guidance, support and resources you need to ease the impact of divorce on your life.
When we work together, you will have an experienced thinking partner in your corner, helping you avoid the major pitfalls of divorce, and helping you preserve your credibility and reputation.
This questionnaire, “Divorce: Where do you Stand?” will provide insight as to where my support would be most beneficial to you. Based on your responses, you and I will design strategies that will encourage forward movement, minimize chaos and increase your confidence.
Together, we can make your journey easier.
Take this quiz to see if you are on track to be strong, confident and credible while you deal with your divorce. In what areas you could use support?
1. Do you have legal representation?
- Yes, I am confident in my decision
- No, I have some names but hesitating to make an appointment
- No, and I don’t have a clue where to start
2. How would you describe your legal representation?
- Problem Solver
- Wet Towel
- Flame Thrower
3. Have you connected with a Financial Advisor?
- Yes, we have met or have a meeting scheduled
- Not yet, I can do that later
- No, I know what I am doing
4. Do you feel you have a team of professionals supporting you?
- Yes, I feel strongly supported and confident in my team
- How do I create a team?
- No, I am feeling lost and overwhelmed
5. Rate your communication style with your (ex)spouse:
- Challenging but generally positive
- Confrontational and highly charged
6. Are you able to speak positively about your (ex)spouse when talking to your children?
- Doing my best, but he/she makes it very challenging
- I do, but my ex(spouse) still speaks negatively of me
- No way
7. What best describes your current overall behavior?
- Responsive / Proactive
- Sluggish / Stuck
- Reactive / Impulsive
8. Which best describes how you feel about your next step?
- Anticipated and prepared
- Worried and anxious
- Confused and scared
9. Who do you turn to discuss your divorce experiences?
- My team – Divorce Coach, Attorney, Financial Advisor
- Family and Friends
- I feel completely isolated
10. Which describes best how you are taking care of yourself?
- I am doing my best to exercise and eat well
- I want to be exercising and sleeping better but need encouragement
- I am barely able to get out of bed
If you have answered mostly:
A’s: You have found strategies to approach your divorce in a way that protects your dignity and keeps you credible and moving forward.
B’s: You are trying hard and see the possibilities. With the right support you could retake the quiz and circle the A’s. Check out My Approach to supporting clients. Contact me if you have any questions or if you’re ready to get started.
C’s: The fact that you took this quiz suggests that you may be interested in approaching your divorce in a more productive, less stressful and contentious manner. If this is the case, contact me to talk about your situation. Together, we will get you on a stronger path.
Now what? Your next step can depend on many things.
Please contact me to discuss any questions you may have.
These questions will help you assess your current approach and provide insight to your choices and the options available to you.
Whether you are just opening the door to your divorce or have already made your way down the path a bit, the following questions will help you assess your approach and provide insight to your choices and the options available to you.
1. Do you have an understanding of why divorce is on the table?
- Yes, I gave this considerable thought and time before making this decision.
- All I know is I am unhappy, or my spouse is unhappy.
- No! I don’t get this at all. I just want it all to go away.
2. Have you investigated your contribution to the breakdown of your marriage?
- Yes, it is hard to admit but I have worked with a professional to own up to my contribution.
- All I know is I want a divorce and I want to initiate the process.
- No, who helps me do that?
3. Since the moment the subject of divorce was initiated, has the person who initiated the divorce given the other person some time to catch up?
- Yes, we have agreed to work with a professional together and to take some time to process what is happening.
- No, the initiating spouse is interested in moving forward immediately.
- I really don’t know. I am completely dazed. It’s chaos. I don’t know what is next.
4. Do you understand your legal options within the divorce process itself?
- Sure, I have done research and have professional help to guide me through.
- I’m expecting to learn what I need to know as I go along.
- I don’t have a clue, and don’t know where to turn.
5. Which of the following best describes your understanding of your financial situation pre- and post-divorce?
- I have met with a financial professional and I have a clear picture of the financial implications of divorce.
- We/I will figure it out; I am not paying anyone to tell me how to spend my money.
- My spouse always handled the finances; I don’t have any access to our accounts.
6. Have you met with attorneys or mediators?
- I am meeting with a number of different attorneys to make sure I find the right one.
- Yes, I’ve already paid the retainer for my attorney.
- No, I haven’t started down this road yet.
7. Your legal representation is best described as:
- Working for what is fair and reasonable – striving for the best possible outcome for my family.
- Extremely aggressive, shark like, going for all I want.
- I don’t know what my attorney’s approach is / I don’t have an attorney yet.
8. Which of the following describes you and your spouse’s communication thus far?
- We seem to be communicating well, despite the situation / circumstance.
- I have no intention of communicating unless through my attorney.
- Our communications are so upsetting I avoid at all costs.
9. What is your ultimate goal for an outcome from your current situation?
- The best possible outcome for my family.
- I want to battle for as much as I can get.
- I am so overwhelmed, I can’t see beyond today.
10. If you have children: What will co-parenting look like while in the midst of divorce?
- This is a challenge but we agree we need to make this as least difficult as possible for our children.
- We already don’t see eye-to-eye on parenting issues. I expect one of us will be judging the other.
- With all this emotion, how am I going to be able to be a good parent?
If you have answered mostly:
A’s: You are taking the Problem Solving Path and on your way to divorcing well! Stick to your plan as best you can. Understand that occasionally you will become vulnerable to the emotions of divorce and may slip off your problem-solving path. Those are common pit-falls that everyone succumbs to along the way. The key is to be aware of when you have taken a wrong turn and adjust your mindset to return back on the straight and less bumpy way. Those questions that you responded to with a B or C indicate where those pitfalls may be hidden.
B’s: Only you can choose your path. Make note that this approach is often called the Flame Thrower Approach. Divorce hits so many hot buttons and can create deep-rooted resentment that it can unintentionally lead to a full on battle approach. This approach is the most costly – emotionally, physically and financially – for all involved. With that in mind, you may want to consider some of the ideas presented in the A responses. It is NEVER too late to move to a more Problem Solving Approach. Your heart, wallet and children will ALL benefit from the effort and courage you show.
C’s: Divorce is unlike anything else you experience in life. It is centered on loss, even if you are the one that wants out. It is very easy to fall onto this Distracted by Emotions path. There are many divorce related professionals available who can help guide you through various parts of the process including family counselors, financial advisors and legal counsel. A divorce coach is uniquely trained to guide you through the entire process and can refer you to other traditional, highly qualified and specialized divorce professionals as you strive to keep on the problem solving path.
So what does this all mean?
It is important to understand that the choices you make (or that you avoid making) will impact the time, energy and money you dedicate to your divorce.
The more your path wanders and weaves with flame-throwing and emotional distraction, the more expensive your divorce will be, sapping money, time and energy from you and your life.
However, if you can forge a path with a problem-solving approach, your divorce will be less expensive financially and emotionally. No path is easy or fast, but this shorter, straighter path can get you to the end of the process sooner, leaving less destruction in your wake.
“Always take the high road.
The benefits may not be immediate, but they are inevitable.”
– J.J. Goldwag
Your next step can depend on many things.
Please contact me to discuss any questions you may have.
There's a lot to be said for divorcing as smoothly, efficiently, and peacefully as possible. Find out how you can do this.
Most of us know better than to make life-altering decisions during emotional times. But divorce is frequently the exception. The moment the word “divorce” is on the table, our emotions run wild. Fear, anger, shame, and sorrow gain the upper hand. We make extremely important choices under the influence of great stress and clouded thinking.
In particular, your choice of a divorce lawyer has the potential for long-lasting consequences.
While there are many aspects of divorce you cannot control, the one thing you can control is how you approach the divorce process. It starts with your legal representation. Your divorce lawyer sets the tone of the divorce – from your side of the street, at least.
There’s a lot to be said for divorcing as smoothly, efficiently, and peacefully as possible. Your sanity and well-being are preserved, your expenses are contained, and most important, the impact on your children is greatly reduced.
So how do you accomplish a less stressful and more productive divorce? Start by finding an attorney who is:
- A problem-solver vs. a flame-thrower
- Interested in finding the best possible outcome for your entire family, while protecting your future
- Understanding of the fact that you and your divorcing spouse will need to communicate as co-parents after the divorce
- Concerned for the well-being of your children as much as your own well-being
- Protective of your credibility
- Mindful of how your actions will be viewed by the court
And there’s more to consider. A successful divorce lawyer:
- Keeps in mind your financial situation and is willing to create a strategy that doesn’t drain your retainer
- Makes sure you understand and are comfortable with the strategy
- Enjoys high respect within the legal community
- Is open to incorporating your financial adviser’s input
- Has the ability to advocate for you and/or use more aggressive methods in a productive manner
That last item is worth emphasizing. Sometimes we think we need an attack shark, when when we really need is a shark that will use its strength appropriately. A good attorney will understand when and where to flex your muscles – and know when compromise is a smarter tactic.
Good legal representation is critical for you to move on after your divorce in a healthy way. Before you make ANY agreement with your spouse, speak with an attorney first. Find out what a good one can do for you.
Good legal representation is critical for you to divorce in a way that best positions you to move on with your life. Before making ANY agreement with your spouse you should speak with an attorney.
A good attorney will:
- Listen to you share your situation
- Help you consider mediation, collaboration, and litigation options
- Explain the specifics of the divorce process and their approach
- Answer your questions so that you can ensure that you engage a lawyer who will be a good fit (See my Interview Questions for Divorce Lawyers)
I can refer you to respected mediators and attorneys in the Boston area. My referral list consists of attorneys who are client-focused and span the spectrum of fee structures. I do not receive any compensation from these attorneys for referrals; I recommend them based on my confidence in them to act on your best interest.
I can help you prepare to interview prospective representation.
Through my list of referrals, I am also able to help locate equally qualified representation in other geographical areas as well.
Remember, your legal representation will set the tone of your divorce regardless of the chosen method.
It is important to interivew at least two or three divorce lawyers to gauge their ability to represent your interests in a manner that agrees iwth you. Here is exactly what you should look for.
If you are facing divorce, you need good legal representation. It is important to interview at least two or three divorce lawyers to gauge their ability to help you and their fit with the tone you want to set for your divorce. While you should get the best legal help that you can afford, there is good legal representation available to fit most budgets.
Here is a great starting list of interview questions to ask to determine which lawyer would best represent you. I’ve grouped the questions by purpose.
Assess the general suitability of the attorney’s style with yours:
- Please describe your style and approach to the divorce process. (You may have an immediate impression if your styles will align)
- Describe your level of aggressiveness.
- Do you prefer to file first?
- Do you prefer to present the settlement first?
Qualify that there are no conflicts of interest:
- Do you know my spouse?
- Do you know my spouse’s attorney?
- If so, what is your track record with them?
Get a more detailed sense of the attorney’s style and fit with your goals:
- What do you advise financially?
- Division of checking accounts?
- What do you advise to prevent my spouse from creating new debt?
- What percentage of your divorce cases go to trial?
- How many divorce cases have you handled in the past year?
- Are you familiar with the Judge assigned to my divorce?
- What are your experiences with pre-trial conferences and four-way meetings? (Especially important if considering collaborative divorce.)
- How do you prepare you clients for such meetings?
- Please describe your relationships with the judges and court room clerks in the courthouse my case will be heard? (Having an attorney that has been able to establish relationships within the court house will improve your time there.)
- What percentage of your cases involve your primary concern?
Assess the attorney’s availability:
- Will anyone else be assisting you with my case?
- Can I meet them?
- Who will be negotiating my case?
- How easy is it to get in touch with you?
- What is your primary source of communication (phone vs. email)?
- Will I be able to leave you confidential voicemails?
- What is your call return and email response policy?
- What are your office hours?
Clarify fees and fee policies:
- What is your hourly rate?
- Rate for associates?
- What is your Retainer?
- Is the retainer refundable or prorated?
- Is your trial fee different? If so, what is it?
- What happens when the retainer is exhausted?
- What happens if I fall behind?
- Can you collect from my spouse?
- Will I receive a monthly statement? If not, how do you bill?
- What extra fees should I expect?
- Will I be billed for phone calls?
- Do you have a minimum unit of time?
Understand the attorney’s (preliminary) view of your case:
- How involved will I be in defining the strategy for my case?
- Will you notify me of all developments?
- What problems do you foresee?
- Temporary Order – concerns?
- Can I get support money during the period of separation?
- Will I have to pay support during the period of separation?
- What are your personal feelings on custody?
- How long to you estimate this process to take?
- How much do you expect my case to cost?
- How do you advise clients to communicate with their spouses? (Especially important to your approach to your divorce!)
- How will you support me if negative communication becomes an issue? (Your attorney should have a proven strategy to handle this.)
- Do you have a relationship with a parent coordinator?
Do you know someone who needs a divorce coach, but you aren't sure how to explain to them why? Here is information that will help you start the conversation
What is a Divorce Coach? You know how divorce can be frustrating, confusing and incredibly stressful? A Divorce Coach helps you with all of that – find the resources you need, unravel the confusion, work through the process productively, make good decisions despite the stress, plus manage the frustration and negative impact of the experience.
A Divorce Coach is an independent, objective, educated support system for this specific, chaotic event in your life. If you don’t know your way through the labyrinth that is the divorce process, a Divorce Coach is just what you need.
Below are some pages that can help you along. Feel free to print them or email them.
Asking the Hard (a.k.a. important) Questions:
Divorce requires a settlement document that both parties have approved. Learn to anticipate loss-related emotions and discover strategies that will help you manage your reactions.
I was once told divorce is all about loss and the settlement process bares that truth with full force. You divvy up everything – nothing goes untouched. I prepare clients to anticipate loss-related emotions and strategize plans to manage their reactions as well as their spouse’s.
Every settlement negotiation has hot spots that cause friction. Choose an attorney in whom you have confidence to negotiate on your behalf and notify him/her of your likely hot spots in advance.
Below is the list I review with my clients prior to their initial meeting with legal representation. I want my clients to be prepared to address the issues that concern them most and to make certain their attorneys understand their preferences.
This list contains standard divorce settlement topics. It is in no way exhaustive, but it does provide a guideline for you to begin preparing for your settlement negotiations.
- Division of Assets
- Jewelry, paintings, etc.
- Division of Income
- Adjustments of alimony obligations
- Termination of alimony
- Adverse Change of Circumstances: protects the one paying alimony should something happen to hinder his/her ability to earn as much.
- Verification of earned income
- Health Insurance
- Uninsured medical expenses
- Life Insurance
- Existing plans
- Retirement Accounts
- Parenting Coordinator: a specific person (trained) is identified to use as needed or reasonably requested by either party to facilitate and mediate any parenting issues – I find a lot of peace having this person to rely on if we disagree.
- School, Medical Records
- Death of either party
- Private school
- College expenses
- Children’s education: they should receive best education available
- After School Activities/Sports
- Marriage of child
- Military Service
- Travel outside of state or country
- Notification of illness
- Specify division
- Setting times
- Specify division
- Tax — how to file this year and if divorce is settled mid year
- Joint Indebtedness
- Married vs. Maiden Name
- Miscellaneous: pets, cemetery plots, collections
- THERE ARE NO ORAL AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE PARTIES
- Division of Assets
Contact Me for a Free Consultation
Contact me today to arrange your FREE 20-minute consultation. There’s no obligation and it’s a great chance to learn how I can design strategies that are tailored to you individual needs.
You don’t have to feel trapped and unappreciated during your divorce. I can help you.