Make Your Divorce Easier

8 Smart Family Lawyer Tips to Make Your Divorce Easier

Make Your Divorce Easier

 

When I started as a family lawyer over 13 years ago, I was as new to the divorce process as anyone else. Having now been involved with hundreds of cases, some more difficult than others, I’ve learned some sage advice to give my clients. Divorce is by no means an easy thing to go through, but there are some things that you can do to make the process a little bit simpler and easier for you.

Here Are 8 Smart Lawyer Tips to Make Your Divorce Easier:

Observe Proper Timing

Divorce is as important as a couple’s decision as getting married is. You can’t force someone to get married the same way as you can’t just force a divorce on your spouse (setting aside special circumstances). It is best to talk things through before filing for a divorce so your partner won’t drag the process just to get back at you.

Open Your Own Bank Account

Ideally speaking, you should have your own bank account even when you are married but if that is not the case, then you should get one; whether you are getting divorced or not. Know that in cases of joint accounts, your spouse can drain your account without your consent so it is better to avoid this situation, to begin with, by having your own.

Ensure That You Have Time for a Divorce

Getting a divorce can eat up your time and the changes will be hard for you, your ex, and the children. By making sure that you have the time to devote to a divorce, not only will it make the process easier and faster but you will also have time to allow yourself and loved ones to transition into your new life. I’ve seen many cases where, although a divorce is needed, the timing causes havoc far beyond the existing marital issues.

Your Divorce Rationale Letter Should be Lawyer-Reviewed

If you are the one filing the divorce, you might be compelled to explain why to your spouse in writing. Because of guilt, raw emotions and history with your spouse, you might say things that can hurt you later on so it is better to have your lawyer review your letter to ensure it doesn’t contain anything that can be used against you.

Begin with a Lawyer and Lawyer Meeting

Most divorce cases are negotiation proceedings so having your lawyers meet in the beginning makes sense to minimize communication issues later. A lawyer to lawyer meeting like this often results in a win-win divorce with no need for dramatics.

A Second Opinion Won’t Hurt

A divorce is a one-time thing so it follows that you cannot make mistakes with it and end up with an even bigger problem. This is why a second opinion matters. Your lawyer will also usually welcome a second opinion from a respected colleague.

Ask for Relief When You Have Multiple Reasons to Do So

Filing a motion for every little thing and for the smallest of things will just annoy the judge, your spouse, your spouse’s lawyer, and your lawyer too. It is best to wait until you have a few things to address.

Expect that the reason for the Divorce Won’t Affect Who Gets Child Custody

It doesn’t matter if you are divorcing because your spouse used up all your money or you caught your partner cheating. Know that child custody goes to which parent has better means and ability to take care of any child from the marriage.

Going through a divorce will forever change your life, your ex’s and your children’s lives. How you go about it, can play a large role in how you persevere throughout the process and how you manage to turn the page and live your best life moving forward. From my experience, following these tips, the divorce process will be smoother and you’ll be better for it.

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Pressure Of Single Parenting

How To Cope With The Pressure Of Single Parenting

Pressure Of Single Parenting

 

Do you feel that, since you’re raising your kids alone, you have to fill in for their dad as well? You’re not the only one. There are more than 11 million single-parent families with underage children in the U.S. Out of those, more than 80% are single-mom families.

Whether the father is present or not, he surely doesn’t play the same role he would if you were living together and working together for the benefit of your children. Now, most of all the responsibility falls on your shoulders. You need to look after them, provide for them, talk to them, be there when they need you, and still be able to laugh.

It cannot be easy, and there are surely times when you feel exhausted, desperate that you will never get things done the right way. Well, take a deep breath and move on. You’re already doing a great job, and, even if you weren’t, no one has the right to judge you.

In fact, you should give yourself some slack and make efforts to relieve some of the pressure or, better put, cope with it. How do you do that? You’ll find some ideas and advice below.

8 Tips to Cope with the Pressure of Single-Parenting

1. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help When You Need It

Raising healthy and happy kids is a challenge for many two-parent families. It is downright difficult for single parents, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s normal to need help, and you shouldn’t feel bad asking for help.

You surely have a relative, friend, or neighbor who wouldn’t mind watching your kids for a couple of hours now and then. If not, perhaps there are single parents with kids of the same age that you can befriend and help one another.

Unforeseen problems will always appear. It is important to have someone to rely on when they do. It is also important to be able to give yourself a break every once in a while. You are human too, and you have your needs, be they physical or emotional.

2. Take a Day or at Least a Couple of Hours for Yourself Regularly

How long has it been since you last went out on your own, or enjoyed a glass of wine over a hot bubble bath? Perhaps you could go to a local spa for a massage, have your hair and nails done, or just lie in bed and get some sleep.

Your worries and responsibilities won’t go away but you will at least recharge your batteries to be able to better cope with them. You will feel better in your own skin, and you will be more relaxed and patient around your kids.

3. Show Your Kids Some Love

If you and their dad have just broken up, they are surely affected, no matter if they are able to express their feelings or not. Perhaps you feel that they are getting out of control but all they need is some love and attention.

Forget about your chores for a moment, as they won’t go anywhere if you do. Take some time to play with your kids and have fun. Take them to the park, play some games, go out for ice cream, bake some cookies, or microwave some popcorn and see a movie.

As you do, don’t avoid open discussions. They have questions, fears, and things they need to share. You should listen, answer, and share back. After all, you only have each other. And, last but not least, don’t hesitate to tell and show your kids how much you love them. They need it!

4. Build a Routine

Kids also need stability and knowing what to expect. You need a schedule, to be able to better cope with your responsibilities. Building a routine solves both problems. Start by having your meals and going to bed at the same hours. Continue by scheduling homework and playtime.

It will be a little difficult in the beginning, especially if you used to live chaotically, but it will prove useful in the long run. You will be able to function on autopilot even on your worst days if both you and the kids know what’s next.

5. Don’t Forget about Rules and Limits

Both you and the kids are vulnerable. It is easy for them to cross boundaries, and it is normal to be tempted to overlook some actions and mistakes. Don’t! They need to know what’s right and what’s wrong, and they need to understand that actions have consequences.

Therefore, set strict rules and enforce them. Those who do not follow them should put up with the consequences. With kids, restricting internet use and TV time is the best punishment. Of course, good behavior should be rewarded too.

6. Find Your Emotional Triggers and Control Them

Even though you’ve created routine, set rules, and gotten used to the idea that you’ll be raising the kids by yourself, there are times when you still lose control. Perhaps you get angry and start yelling, or you get vulnerable and start crying.

Although such reactions are normal, they do not benefit the kids, so you should learn to manage them. You can do that by identifying and dealing with the emotional triggers, namely the words, people, or actions that cause your outbursts.

Try to look at them from a different perspective, a positive one. Look for their fun or educational side. Don’t hesitate to go to therapy if you need to. It is better to acknowledge problems and deal with them than deny them and hope they would go away.

7. Don’t Isolate Yourselves

Both you and the kids need people in your lives. You need support, inspiration, and fun. While rushing into a new relationship is not a good idea, getting to know people, setting playdates, and spending time with friends and families is.

Make sure to include some friends and family members of the opposite sex, if your ex is not involved in raising the kids. Your children need a role model. They need a fatherly figure in their life, just like you need the occasional help with repairs around the house, football training, fishing, and camping, etc.

8. Remember to Take Care of Yourself

While it is normal to put your kids first, you need to look after your own needs as well. Take care of your body and soul, learn to relax and have fun, and, as time goes by, don’t close the door on new relationships.

You cannot raise healthy and happy kids if you are not healthy and happy yourself, both on the inside and on the outside, so see to your own health and happiness! Things will get better with time, and the pressure of single-parenting burdening your shoulders now will fade and make room to hope and fulfillment.

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children

How To Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

children's difficult questions about divorce

 

“Can you and daddy get married again?”

“Why can’t I stay with you”?

“Do you and mommy still love each other?”

“Whose decision was it to get a divorce?”

 

Children in divorce often have questions; they can come at the least expected moment.

For parents struggling to adjust to the challenges of single parenting in a two-home family, such questions can strike at the heart of their own emotional vulnerabilities and trigger uncertainties regarding their relationship with the other parent, their own parenting, and the wellbeing of their children.

However, such questions, if responded to thoughtfully, can be valuable opportunities to help children adjust to real changes and instill hope and confidence in both parent’s continued commitment to listen, guide, and give comfort.

Deal With Children’s Difficult Questions About Divorce

Be prepared before questions arise. Understand that:

  • Children often ask questions when and with whom they feel safe and consider it as a sign of the strength of your relationship with your child.
  • Children’s questions can be about needing actual information, but they can also be about a need for deeper understanding or simply a bid for a parent’s reassurance.
  • Younger children often ask questions that have to do with changes and anxieties about their daily lives. They often need simple, brief responses that reassure their fears regarding the change.
  • Older children may ask direct questions about their parent’s relationships but are actually seeking reassurance for themselves. They may need reassurance that they can continue being children and do not have to care for parents, take sides and can continue their focus on independent goals.
  • Older children may also ask questions about their parent’s relationships in order to form their own concepts and expectations of their future romantic relationships and their concepts of love and family.
  • Don’t confuse intellectual understanding with emotional understanding in children. Intellectual maturity comes well before emotional maturity. Don’t give children inappropriate adult information.

When questions arise:

 Center:

Take a deep breath and calm yourself before responding.

  • Resist the attempt to avoid the question due to fear or sadness regarding your child’s pain- Children are not immune from grief and sadness.
  • Recognize your emotional reaction regarding the divorce, yet put it aside- you can process any feelings later with your own support.

 Listen:

  • For younger children get on eye level and pay full attention
  • For older children give signals that you are listening but know that a little less direct approach or a little activity may make older children them more comfortable- you be the judge.
  • Ask open-ended, neutral questions to get a fuller understanding of their experience before offering a response:

“You sound worried/sad/mad is that right or is it something else?”

“That’s an important question, tell me more”

Understand:

Ask yourself what they are really expressing/wanting/needing.

  • Are they primarily expressing emotion-do they need comfort/reassurance?
  • Are they asking for basic information that they have a need to know?
  • Are they asking information to gain a deeper understanding?

Respond with care and follow with comfort:

  • If the message is an emotional bid for comfort/reassurance, answer the question with a brief, direct response:

No I will not leave, both daddy and I will always for you even if we live in different houses”

  • If they are asking for information that is helpful and not hurtful to them or their relationship with either parent, give an honest, simple and neutral (not blaming to either parent) answer:

“No mom and I are not going to get married again, but we both love you and will always be here to take care of you- we will always be your parents”

  • If they are seeking a deeper understanding and the answer is not harmful, first help clarify their deeper question and give honest, brief and neutral information:

“I think you’re asking if you were made from love- you were. Even if dad and I care for each other differently than when we were married- our love for you will never change”

  • If the answer to their question is possibly harmful or “adult business”, reassure them that it’s okay to ask but that their job is to be a kid- not be involved in adult issues:

“It sounds like you are asking if anyone is to blame. I know you want to understand, but marriage and divorce is adult stuff and we are okay.  Know that we love you and you don’t need to worry or take care of either of us”

  • If the question is “adult business” but for the older child, really about their own future, first clarify the question and provide an answer to that rather than giving inappropriate adult information:

“I wonder if you are really asking if because we got a divorce that you question if love lasts. Every relationship is different and you will get the chance to make your own choices about love and who you marry”.

Children’s ability to navigate the shifts of daily life and make sense out of the bigger questions are essential parts of healing in divorce.  With each question, children begin to build a framework of understanding and learn what divorce changes and what it does not change.

They develop a more flexible, durable, concept of family and love. Children’s questions can be hard, but listening and responding with care and gentle guidance is one of the most loving acts a parent can provide.

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be more confident

Want To Be More Confident? Then Stop Being Afraid To Piss People Off

be more confident

 

This is the #1 thing you must do to stick up for yourself.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth, friends.

In your journey to be confident and feel better about yourself, you cannot be afraid to step on toes. In other words…

Want to be more confident? Don’t be afraid to piss people off.

Strong women will end up pissing people off. And that’s okay.

Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about pissing folks off in the wanton, sociopathic, “Fatal Attraction” bunny rabbit kind of way.

What I do mean, however, is that from now on, you need to start internalizing that you matter. What you want matters. Your worth matters.

Because here’s the thing. As you recover from your divorce, rebuild your self-esteem, and learn how to set healthy boundaries, there will be many people around you—some may even be close friends or family members–who may not like that you’re voicing your opinion.

If the people who don’t like it, let this year be the year you stick up for yourself. And if they get angry or offended that you’re sticking up for yourself, forget them. Because you don’t need their toxicity anyway.

Let this be the summer you learn to stick up for yourself.

So many of us have been raised to not raise our voice. To just play nicely. To not cause a ruckus. And yeah, when you’re at a funeral or in a theater, those are great guidelines.

However, that social conditioning means that during your marriage, you probably let your spouse always have their way so there wouldn’t be a conflict. Maybe you went along with decisions–even when they didn’t serve you—because you didn’t want a fight or to make him upset.

But doing that for years probably made you resentful, or stole your self-confidence and ability to find your own voice. And this silence may have buried that part of you–the part that had dreams and hopes and goals that were every bit as valid as your partner’s and your children’s.

While it may not seem like it, that part of you is still alive. That part of you deserves to be heard, acknowledge,  and validated.

But you have to do it yourself. It may seem intimidating, but you must speak up for yourself this year. And let people in your life know what you want.

Because, what other choice do you have?

It won’t be easy though, but at the end of the day, at the end of this transition to being divorced and independent in your life, there is one thing that will always be true.

No one will stand up for you but you. But you are all you need.

You’ve mattered all along, although people in your life probably weren’t reminding you of that. Hell, you probably forgot to remind yourself that you mattered. But you must start internalizing this. You must not be afraid to tell the people in your life–the ones who drain you and take advantage of you and don’t appreciate you–to back up, to shape up, or to get the hell out of your face.

You must be your own advocate.

You must be the person in the mirror who tell yourself that you got this.

You must know that it’s time to put yourself first for a change.

And if you need help, for the love of all things holey, ask for help.

Because at the end of the day, you have yourself. And if you do it right, that is all you need.

So, what steps will you take this year to stand up for yourself?

What does finding your voice again look like for you?

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divorce when you still love him

4 Ways To Deal With The Divorce Process When You Still Love Him

divorce when you still love him

 

In my divorce mediation practice, I often work with couples where one party is still, deeply in love with the spouse who wants a divorce. In this article, we’ll focus on advice for wives who find themselves in this painful situation. To be honest, I’ve found it’s just as often true that it’s the wife who wants to end the marriage and the husband who is still in love.

In any event, these are heart-wrenching divorce cases and over the years I have given this topic a lot of thought. Here are my thoughts.

4 tips for dealing with divorce when you still love him.

1. Do not retaliate or act out

The momentary urge to “get even” or act on hurt feelings can be difficult to resist. Taking action in the midst of hurt or anger may be satisfying and feel good in the moment, but be aware that acting on this urge will have consequences.  In one of my early cases, I observed the consequences of a young wife and mother who acted on those feelings when she was angry at her husband whom she deeply loved. During a marital argument, he moved out and demanded a divorce.

In the midst of their argument, he had made a caustic comment about her haggard appearance and post-pregnancy weight retention. The comment was understandably deeply hurtful to her. Reacting to the pain of his callous remark and his decision to move out, she retaliated. She had a short fling with one of her husband’s close friends.

A few weeks later the couple patched things up and he moved back home with his wife and their two young children.  A few weeks later she discovered that she was pregnant (…the pregnancy was not the result of make-up sex with her husband).

They stayed together for a few more years rationalizing that since he was the one who had left, he really shouldn’t complain about her behavior during the breakup. Meanwhile, the husband’s former good friend was paying child support every month and had visitation with the baby. As you can guess, this arrangement just kept reminding the husband of his wife’s retaliation; eventually, the marriage failed.

So my best advice is to avoid taking any action which will harm the man you love or the marriage you say you want. Examples of what NOT to do may seem to fit a stereotype. Even so, I’ve found them to be very common in cases where the husband seeks divorce and the wife is still in love, but hurt and angry. (Could this same advice be given to husbands who still love their wife who’s asking for a divorce? You bet.)

 Here is a partial list:

  • Don’t bad-mouth him to your girlfriends or your parents. If you need to process your feelings, find a therapist or support group.
  • Don’t buy things for yourself which you have wanted but cannot readily afford. Divorce often centers on money issues. Racking up credit card debt or draining a bank account on an impulse purchase usually brings more grief than joy in the long run.
  • Don’t act out by damaging his car, destroying his tools or lashing out in any way. If you want to physically express your anger, take a brisk walk or enroll in a martial arts class. (Don’t even think about anything which would end up as a YouTube video!).

I do not mean to promise that he will come back to you, but I can attest that you make it a lot harder if you retaliate or act out when he delivers the news that he wants to leave.

2. Try not to escalate

If while still married you and your husband are fighting and he threatens divorce it is imperative that you remain as calm as you can. Yes, he may truly want a divorce and be committed to that path. However, it’s also possible that while he may have said that what he wants is a divorce, what he may truly want is to stop fighting with you.

Divorce may seem like the way to get the fighting to stop. He may also be yearning for the dynamic that existed in the early years of your relationship but not know how to reclaim it. When arguments escalate it’s common for one or both parties to say things in anger they later regret.

Of course, when the prospect of an unwanted divorce raises its head, it is wise to protect yourself and look out for your own interests, even if you still love him and would prefer to stay married. Depending on the circumstances, hiring an attorney at this stage may seem to be the best course of action.

Just keep in mind that hiring an overly aggressive lawyer may preclude a smaller step like one-on-one mediation. Being a divorce mediator, I may be biased, but I’ve seen mediation work wonders in these situations.

Remember that divorce attorneys make their money by litigating divorces. Mediators thrive by creating harmony through mutual effort to resolve conflict. Many men have told me they find divorce mediation far more satisfying than marriage counseling because it is focused on problem-solving, (often their strong suit) rather than therapy which is focused on exploring feelings (often their weak suit).

If you need legal perspective, talk with a mediator with legal experience or call a lawyer from a town far away just to get some general advice. If you still love your husband and the marriage still has a chance of survival, jumping into litigation is highly unlikely to yield the results you seek.

3. Consider whether addiction is a factor and if so, get help.

One of the frequent coping mechanisms of couples going through the hard times prior to a divorce is to escape the pain of their lost romantic feelings using addictive behaviors. If your husband has shown any signs of addiction, then it is likely that you have reacted with your own countermeasures. Sometimes they are co-dependent behaviors like nagging, trying to shame him into good behavior, lying to cover up problems and so forth.

Whatever the details, when a couple is in this addictive cycle the marriage has almost no chance to thrive unless the addictions are addressed. If you have addiction anywhere in your marriage, then start with an honest assessment of your own reactions. If he has a problem behavior, and you still love him, there are proven ways to maintain your dignity and sanity in the relationship. Try Alanon or another 12–step program geared to support the friends and family of someone with an addiction problem.

4. Explore Your Deepest Truth

The hard truth is that I have seen cases where there are wives who love their husbands and there are other cases where the wives are attached to being married but seem to be indifferent toward their husband as a person. These might seem the same, but there is a world of difference.

Explore your deepest motivations about your relationship and your marriage because at some level your husband can probably tell how you really feel about him. If you are clinging to the idea that you love him but actually, deep down, you are insecure about not being married, that will tend to energetically push him away.

On the other hand, if you truly love him and that is the priority in your heart and soul, then living in accord with those emotions may have the effect of drawing him toward you.

What might this look like? Every relationship has its own qualities and dynamics; there are as many ways to put this advice into motion as there are couples. It takes some self-examination and wisdom to know what is a kindness you can genuinely offer without feeling like you are being taken advantage of or becoming a doormat. Healthy boundaries vary from individual to individual and relationship to relationship. This is definitely not a case of one-size-fits-all.

Here are a few approaches I’ve seen succeed in drawing a couple back toward each other rather than driving them further apart:

  • If you have children, and abuse is not a concern, consider allowing as much access as possible during the first phase of your separation. Show him that you value his role in their lives as a father even if he wasn’t the greatest dad before the divorce started. Invite him to visit with the kids in the home and be gracious when he shows up. Preparing extra food for dinner so he can eat with the kids is an act of kindness which he will notice and may appreciate. If the children are engaged in after-school sports, be sure to give him notice of all the games and ask him to sit next to you when he attends. Make an extra effort to include him in family gatherings and celebrations.
  • If he has moved out, you might provide him with a generous share of the linens and silverware, maybe even spare furniture so that he does not need to go buy replacements. Consider letting him store his big-ticket items in the garage rather than force him to move them to a storage locker.

It may be counter-intuitive but sometimes making it easy for him to leave, makes it easier for him to come back.  At the same time, only you can determine what crosses the line into unhealthy co-dependence and being overly generous for the situation.

Conclusion

Every case is different because every couple is different. If you still love your husband and he says he wants a divorce, you will have many opportunities to choose how you show up when whatever happens next unfolds. Over the course of my mediation practice, I’ve witnessed couples move toward reconciliation after one or the other, or both, initially thought divorce was inevitable. Of course, many couples do complete the divorce process, even when one of them really wants to stay married.

Either way, these four principles help provide the best chance of moving forward with a positive outcome. 1) Don’t retaliate, 2) try not to escalate, 3) if addiction is a factor, get help and 4) explore your deepest truth.

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Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce

The Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce

Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce

 

[The following excerpt comes from Jacqueline Newman’s book “Soon-to-Be Ex: A Woman’s Guide to Her Perfect Divorce and Relaunch.”]

When it comes to money issues in divorce, the laws are drafted to target those with simple financial lives and make it cost efficient so they do not have to spend tons of money litigating in Court. However, a high-net-worth divorce can present many issues that differ from divorces involving fewer financial assets.

The greater concern for those with significant incomes is that there are less “rules” for courts to follow. Therefore, judges have a huge amount of discretion in deciding how to interpret these laws to apply to high-net-worth cases.

It is like squeezing a square peg into a round hole. While it may seem like a high-net-worth divorce could be easier to settle because it is apparent that no one is going to go hungry, you must also remember that when there is more to divide there is more to fight about!

Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce

At The Mercy Of A Judge

An example of how high-net-worth cases do not fit into the current statutory paradigm is as follows. In New York, the statute that governs child support is currently only set to consider the parties’ combined parental income up to $143,000 when applying the stated formula.

If the combined parental income exceeds $143,000, then the court looks to numerous subjective factors to determine the appropriate amount of child support. When a client earns income in the millions, I feel that the statute is of little use to a court.

The obvious thought was that most people in the whole state of New York probably do not earn much more than $143,000 per year so the formula should be easy to apply to those with lower incomes and thus the needs to spend money on litigation is less.

However, for those who live on the upper east side of New York City, those income levels speak to their part-time nannies, so these statutes are of little use.

If I am advising clients who fall in these income levels on what his or her child support obligation may be, it is very challenging because a judge has a lot of latitude in going above the cap.

Once a judge determines that the $143,000 is not appropriate, then the court will look to the child’s “needs” to determine child support, and that is when the games begin. Does that child “need” to keep the fourth vacation home in Aruba? Does the child “need” a private yacht? Maybe yes—maybe no.

Of course, there are some cases that have been previously decided by other judges that deal with high-net-worth cases.

Here, there are a few guidelines to follow. The problem with attempting to apply case law is that most high-net-worth divorces settle out of court and even those that are litigated to reach a decision often do not involve publicly-broadcast terms. Therefore, there are inadequate amounts of legal guidance and precedent for clients to consult.

The biggest child support awards I have heard of are Eddie Murphy, who had to pay almost $60,000 per month for one child, Russell Simmons who allegedly paid $40,000 per month for two children, Sean P. Diddy Combs paid almost $42,000 per month for two children, billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault paid $46,000 per month in child support for one child, and Charlie Sheen originally paid $55,000 per month in child support to each of his wives (but has since had it lowered to $25,000 per month per wife).

Most of these cases were ultimately settled, so this is based on tabloid reporting but when it comes to real courtroom decisions when dealing with significant incomes and extraordinary lifestyles, judges can basically do whatever they want.

Complexity Of Assets

The other possible challenge for high-net-worth cases has to do with the complexity of the assets that are being divided. There are some people who have millions of dollars in cash sitting in a bank account (or filling a mattress)—but those are very rare.

Typically, those that fall in the high-net-worth space hold complex assets, whether it be brokerage accounts, private equity investments, real estate, or business interests.

There could be an entirely separate book written dealing with the variances that exist when valuing and dividing complex assets, which we discussed a little bit in Chapter Eleven on Asset Distribution.

The problem with many high-net-worth cases is that many of the assets are typically illiquid (except for those with the fluffy mattresses), so some assets cannot be split and therefore there are numerous valuations involved, which are also subjective, and involve creative methods of pay-outs. Many of these assets are embedded with capital gains or have other cost consequences if they were to be liquidated.

It is not a simple “you take half of the checking account and I will take the other half” situation.

The other issue that comes into play in high-net-worth cases has to do with the way that these complex assets are divided. Many states (like New York) are equitable states, not equal states.

This means that you are not looking at an automatic 50/50 split of assets. Even in some of the cases that claim to do an equal division of assets, there may be different ways of valuing certain assets that do not make the split as easy as cutting it down the middle.

For example, in New York, business interests are rarely divided equally even if the rest of the assets are. The level of asset division can be different based on the nature of the asset.

Even issues such as who pays for counsel fees can be different in high-net-worth cases. Typically, the monied-spouse would be responsible for the majority of the counsel fees. However, when the non-monied spouse is receiving $20 million in assets, a court may very well say that the spouse can afford to pay his or her own legal fees.

In many high-net-worth cases, you need to also consider outside factors beyond the income and assets to be divided. Many people who fall into the high-net-worth space have great concerns about information being leaked about their businesses and also may be in the public eye with an image to protect.

When dealing with celebrity clients, this becomes a huge factor in a divorce negotiation. It is even worse when you have one person who is a household name and the other who is not, but who obviously wants to be and is willing to use the details of the parties’ divorce to get there.

If you are representing CEOs of public companies, it is often imperative that the public not know that his or her marriage is in trouble, the combination of a gossip-hungry public and a juicy divorce could cause the stock to plummet. That is when you need to factor in confidentiality agreements and manage how the media is provided its information. And if you need to file a gag order – be ready.

The Right Attorney

The abovementioned factors are why it imperative that the attorney selected in a high-net-worth divorce has knowledge of operating within the high-net-worth space so that their experience allows them to predict how a judge may rule and what pitfalls they need to avoid.

You need someone who is fully familiar with the variations of complex financial assets, compensation packages, knows the appropriate valuations that need to be done and has creativity when dividing up illiquid assets.

On a positive note, high incomes matter very little when it comes to child custody. The law is the same whether you earn $10,000 per year or $10,000,000 per year. Custody standards remain as the “best interest of the child”, which we discuss more in Chapter 15.

This dictates that the court will consider the same factors regardless of income levels or assets when determining who shall be awarded custody of the children.

Before going to court in a high-net-worth divorce, I always ask my client, “How much do you like to gamble?” Remember, anytime you enter a courtroom you are gambling on the actions of a judge.

There is an inherent risk (albeit an educated risk if you have a savvy attorney) and the outcomes can be as unpredictable as rolling the dice in a game of craps. You may get a judge who does not believe that having the fourth home in Aruba is a necessity for your daughter in an effort to retain her lifestyle.

On the other hand, you may encounter a judge who feels that if this is what the child is used to having, then it should be continued. I remind clients that litigation is often a luxury few can afford because no matter how wealthy you may be, you do not want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes even millions—on endless and uncertain litigation regarding your financial future.

The post The Complexities of a High Net Worth Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Divorce for Female Entrepreneur

5 Causes of Divorce for Female Entrepreneurs & How to Save Your Marriage

Divorce for Female Entrepreneur

 

The life of an entrepreneur is an exciting one. Female entrepreneurs learn to be tech-savvy, hone interpersonal skills, and manage money as they build their business. But there is one downside to the entrepreneurial life that is all too common for married businesswomen. Getting a divorce!

Building an empire (even if only from your living room) is fantastic, but your spouse may not always feel that way. Statistics show that for every 1000 US women, 16 will end up divorced each year. These are not great odds for those looking to marry their forever person.

So, what about a strong female pursuing her professional dreams? Does her professional aspiration put her marriage in jeopardy? These are the 5 most common causes of divorce in entrepreneurs and 3 steps to take to make sure your marriage stays strong and healthy as you follow your dreams.

5 Causes of Divorce for Female Entrepreneurs

1. Not Enough Quality Time Together

Women entrepreneurs are passionate and feisty so it’s no surprise that they put their whole being into building their businesses. But sometimes this passion comes at the cost of their marriage.

Research indicates that couples need a 3:1 ratio of happiness to succeed in marriage. And when are couples most happy? Studies say it’s when they are spending quality time together. In fact, survey results revealed that couples experience a boost in happiness and a decrease in stress when they are spending alone time together.

When you are putting all of your strength and energy into your business, there’s little left at the end of the day for your spouse. Not spending quality time together can be a real relationship killer.

2. Added Stress

As wonderful and exciting as marriage is, it can also be an incredibly stressful experience at times. In-laws, maintaining a romantic connection while raising a family, buying a house, and other ins and outs of your daily routine can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Now, on top of all of these normal aspects of marriage, throw running your own business into the mix and you’re in for some stressful times ahead.

When couples don’t form a strong partnership as a unit, this stress can drag the relationship down.

3. Financial Worries

One study surveyed 748 instances of conflict between 100 different couples and found that money was the most repetitive and salient topic they argued about.

This survey highlights how tricky the topic of money can be in a marriage. Especially if you don’t have enough of it. Research shows that low-income couples are more likely to be affected by stress and mental health issues than other couples.

Starting your own business is certainly an adventure, but it’s also a big risk. Working for yourself, especially if you are just starting out, means that you won’t have a steady income for quite some time. You may not even be able to take a paycheck for several years.

Not only does this put a strain on your household finances, but it may also force your spouse to become the breadwinner of the family. They can cause resentment and anxiety to form within the marriage.

4. Not Leaving Work at the Door

One of the biggest problems for both men and women entrepreneurs is the inability to create a work-life balance.

Because you work for yourself, there is no way to “clock out” of your job. Getting back to work after a long day is as simple as picking up your smartphone and answering emails. This behavior is great for your business and bad for your marriage.

In a survey of 308 adults, 46.3% admitted to feeling ignored when their partner is on their smart device. This “phone snubbing/phubbing” practice has been shown to lower relationship satisfaction.

Furthermore, studies show that spending too much time on your smart device and social media can threaten real-life communication, even with family and close loved ones.

5. Lack of Stability

Research shows that 90% of startups will fail. This is a frightening fact for most entrepreneurs, not to mention their spouses.

When most people get married, they expect a certain standard of living. That isn’t to say they expect to sleep on a bed of hundred-dollar bills, but they want to come home to a loving spouse, perhaps buy a home or start a family together.

But when married to an entrepreneur, there is no stability. There are no set hours for work, no guarantee that they will be there to support the household or engage in family life.

What a Marriage Needs to be Successful for Female Entrepreneurs

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. All couples are bound to go through some lulls throughout their relationship, but this doesn’t mean your love is destined for divorce.

Here are 3 key tips for keeping your marriage alive as a female entrepreneur.

1. Open Communication

In a survey of 886 troubled couples, 53% admitted a lack of communication as one of the most common reasons for filing for divorce.

This statistic highlights the importance of talking openly and honestly with your spouse.

Communication is the basis of every strong relationship. Not only does communication help couples get to know one another better, but it also helps partners avoid miscommunications and grow closer.

If you are going through a stressful time trying to get your business off the ground, don’t shut your partner out. Talk to them about what you’re going through. This will help them understand your emotions and behavior. When your spouse knows what’s going on in your life both emotionally and otherwise, it also gives them an opportunity to show you their love and support.

2. Putting the Marriage First

For women entrepreneurs, their business is their baby. They would do anything to care for it and ensure its success in the world.

Many times this passion and drive to put the business first causes entrepreneurs to put their spouse on the backburner.

Not being a priority can make a spouse feel hurt, betrayed, and neglected. This can lead to serious relationship problems.

Don’t let your business come before your spouse. Or at the very least, make sure they are on equal footing.

3. Quality Time Together

Having a regular date night will strengthen your marriage for years to come. Research conducted by the National Marriage Project found that there are both emotional and physical benefits to spending quality time with your spouse on a regular basis.

The research results showed that couples who practice date night one or more times a month experience more eros in their relationship. Eros refers to the romantic love that we often feel during the beginning stages of a new relationship that creates excitement, overwhelming attraction, and passion for each other.

A regular date night also strengthens commitment and reduces stress in a marriage. The study goes on to say that couples will also experience an increase in sexual satisfaction and that “spouses who experience high levels of couple time are significantly less likely to report that they are prone to divorce.”

Women entrepreneurs put their heart and soul into building their businesses. This is great for your professional life, but don’t let it be a drain on your marriage. Make time for your spouse, learn to create a work-life balance, and communicate openly. These keys will help you avoid the curse of entrepreneurs – divorce.

The post 5 Causes of Divorce for Female Entrepreneurs & How to Save Your Marriage appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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safe as a single mom

4 Tips To Help You Feel Safe As a Single Mom

safe as a single mom

 

While living alone can come with a series of benefits for one’s mental well-being, it is also associated with a litany of challenges. One of these prominent challenges includes personal safety. Fortunately, there are easy ways to begin your journey as a single mother safely and securely. Here is how you can start today.

How to Feel Safe As a Single Mom

Have a Home Security System

In today’s day and age, technology can help people in a variety of ways. When it comes to your house, getting a home security system would be an excellent first step in ensuring your safety. This is because having this security system will not only ensure that people who are not supposed to be in your house stay out, but you will be alerted of any danger before it arises.

There are a series of components that can make a home security system even more powerful. For example, a motion detector will be able to track if someone suspicious that you were not expecting approaches your house. You will also be able to interface with the system so that it recognizes only you as the primary entrant. Wire-free cameras that latch onto the outside of the house is another cost-effective alternative to give you a view of what is taking place outside.

Build a Rapport With Neighbors

Moving into a new neighborhood can be a fun experience, but that does not mean you should ever let your guard down. One of the best ways to approach this is by establishing a support system in the form of your neighbors. When you move in, introduce yourself kindly and try to get their personal information. That way, if something were to happen and your family isn’t around, you can always rely on those next door to you.

Many people do not like trying to establish a relationship out of fear. However, do not let fear get in the way of helping out with your safety. You never know when an emergency may arise and if you will need swift assistance.

Do Not Reveal Your Status

There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to being a single mother living alone in a home. However, you should realize that revealing this fact could prove to be a huge safety hazard. Unfortunately, many would-be criminals or thieves see a single mother with no one else living in the household as an easy target.

You can be confident in yourself all you please, but understand that many home invasions occur in groups and not just singular adversaries. Take pride in being independent and do not be ashamed of it. At the same time, be wise about it and do not make it obvious that it is only yourself and furniture inside your home.

Use Common Sense

Finally, you will always want to use common sense, especially to deter potential criminals. What does this entail? First, you will want to close all of the curtains so as to not reveal how many people are currently inside. Also, you will want to keep some of the lights on until late in the night. After all, the key for criminals is stealth and the ability to commit a crime without having their identity exposed. Also, make sure that your windows are shut and your doors are locked. You can spend money on security systems, but common sense helps.

As you can see, living alone can be fun, but it comes with great responsibility. Follow these tips and you will feel more safe and secure.

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dating while going through divorce

Should You Be Dating While Going Through A Divorce?

dating while going through divorce

 

Let’s say the dating thing worked out and you met someone fantastic, and you are so excited and cannot wait for everyone to meet him because he is so great! While it is true a happy parent can make for happy children, it is necessary to be conscious about how a new partner can affect the dynamics with your kids.

Deciding when and how to make an introduction between your significant other and your children must be done in a thoughtful manner where there is a balance between all concerned parties—this includes you, your children, your new man, and yes, even your ex.

Dating while Divorcing

Depending on when you last dated, the sheer idea of re-entering the dating world can be overwhelming. Then, realizing that this time around you have kids to think about can inspire some paper-bag breathing, to be sure. Yes, it could be an exciting feeling knowing you have once again found romance, and you could even be eager to introduce the new man in your life to your kids.

However, you must be aware of some major pitfalls that could be present outside the obvious concerns of will your kids like Mr. Wonderful or will Mr. Wonderful like your kids?

Should You Be Dating While Going Through A Divorce?

Going a level deeper, you might even want to consider how your ex is going to react regarding this development. And if you are still in the process of divorcing, could the legal proceedings be affected by your love life? Have you even known this new man long enough for him to be deserving of meeting your children?

Of course, another issue should be addressed first. This is so important. If you have a new man in your life but you are still wearing the wedding ring given to you by your current husband or still legally married to him, then do not (under almost any circumstance) introduce your new paramour to your kids. I realize in many affairs, the children have probably already made the acquaintance of the person you might be thinking of introducing them to—it might be a neighbor, a family friend, or even the husband of your PTA nemesis.

Regardless, never let your kids find out about this relationship before your husband does.

Timing Is Important

If you have already filed for divorce and are separated from your husband, then we are dealing with a somewhat cleaner area when it comes to your love life. While you may have some stage fright, and you might also feel you are in no way ready to think about a new relationship, the time may come when you meet someone with whom you feel you could have a future. However, there are some guidelines that must be followed.

First, I would not recommend introducing your new love to your children unless you are 1,000 percent sure it is not going to cause a firestorm with your ex. An ideal situation is if your ex-husband has already entered into a relationship and has introduced the children to his new girlfriend. In this regard, you have carte blanche to call the shots on how to handle the intro. If this is not the case, I encourage you to proceed with caution.

As discussed earlier, divorcing a spouse who is angry and hurt is challenging. Odds are he is feeling upset for many reasons— some might have to do with you and others might stem from his childhood. Ultimately, however, you do not want to instigate more resentment from him.

Depending on your situation and if the split is amicable, there is a chance your divorce is calm and mutually accepted. If this is not the case, or if there are some acrimonious factors involved in your split, introducing the idea of a new dad to your kids could easily make your ex freak out. Realize that you can even significantly destroy a relatively cordial split by making your ex feel threatened by the fact some guy is taking his place in his family.

If your ex loved your Saturday morning pancakes and now he realizes some other Joe is going to be sitting at the breakfast table—in his chair—well, just be prepared for a rocky road ahead. Parents are possessive, and I can tell you that you would probably be having the same feelings if your ex’s new bombshell was in the position to take your daughter to the mall to go back-to-school shopping or pick your son up from baseball practice.

The point is, yes, think about your children—but also think about whether or not the timing is right with your ex.

See the Situation through the Eyes of Others

No matter who was responsible for pulling the plug on your marriage, it is imperative that you take a step back and consider the situation through your children’s and your ex’s eyes. Your kids are already dealing with the fact that Mom and Dad are not together anymore.

How will they react when they see another man put his arm around you, hold your umbrella when it rains, open a car door, or even kiss you? Now, think of your ex. How will he act when he pictures another man doing all the things he used to do with you (even if he was not as great as he should have been in the chivalry department)?

The idea of a new Mr. X fling may fill a romantic void in your life could be disturbing to your ex and your children alike. Your kids have never seen you with anyone other than their father, and this could throw off their equilibrium.

In their thinking, if you have a new man in your life to replace their dad, does that mean you could have new kids someday too? In the children’s mind, you are their mom first, and anyone else should get their hands off! Remember that children can be just as possessive as your ex.

Considering your ex, it is true he might not want you anymore— but he does not want anyone else to have you either. And he especially does not like the idea of his children seeing some other man take care of you, walking the dog he trained, sitting in what used to be his space at the dinner table, or even (maybe if not today, then in the future) sleeping in the bed that he shared with you.

Making a Judgment Call

Let’s take your ex out of it for now and talk about the judgment call you must make with regard to your kids. I have mentioned that kids are very resilient. They have the ability to spring back from a variety of bad or challenging situations without suffering long-term damage.

However, also know these little humans are very perceptive and sensitive—and remember they are also narcissistic. If you are operating under the notion that your kids are simply going to be happy because they see you happy, my advice is to think long and hard about this. You are their mom first. They are going to have to process the reality that they are now seeing you with another man—one who is not their father.

Lesli Doares, LMFT, advises, “The first thing, and this is where I think a lot of parents don’t get it, is understanding that their children may be in a different place regarding the acceptance of the divorce than the parents are. And, frequently, new partners are introduced way too soon. The children aren’t ready for that.”

Depending on the age of your child, their personality, and their relationship with their dad, they could experience some threatening feelings. They could challenge this new relationship or look to undermine it.

Doares explains, “I know there’s this fantasy of ‘Oh, we’re going to form this big, happy family.’ And, unfortunately, because children were never consulted about the divorce, there’s also a strong feeling of not being consulted about this new person coming into their lives and really modifying any expectations.”

She continues, “Most children and even into the time that they’re adults, still have the fantasy of Mom and Dad getting back together again. And, once a new partner is introduced, that idea gets really challenged, and there’s usually some kind of pushback, although it’s not necessarily obvious, and especially because Mom or Dad is really happy with this new person. But the kids feel they don’t know what to do about this.”

After all, how many times has the phrase, “You are not my father!” been shouted on some TV drama featuring a blended family? Children often fantasize about their parents getting back together—and this new guy quashes that fantasy.

Also, remain aware that your children could experience feelings of abandonment, loss, or grief now that their dad is not around each day. Keep that in mind when you introduce a new love interest. You do not want your children to bond with this person, only to have him walk out on you a month later because he is not ready to commit or does not like the way you make your eggs in the morning. Ensure that the relationship is substantial before you spend your children’s time and emotions getting to know and trust someone who might not be around a few months from now.

Dr. Fran Walfsh discusses some of the risks she has witnessed with her younger patients, “The biggest risk is your kid gets attached to John or John’s kids, and if it doesn’t work out, there’s another ripping away of another attachment figure. And it’s painful, unnecessary pain for the kids. The next risk is that no matter how you slice it, every child of every age, and that includes thirty-five-year-olds, holds a secret wish that Mommy and Daddy will reconcile and be a happy family together again. Every kid, even today with the high divorce rate, still fantasizes and wants his or her parents to be together and for them to have one united family. So it’s painful when you introduce some new person. Don’t do it unless you know that person’s sticking around.”

She continues. “Never lie to your children.” Always be truthful, but less is more.

The Legalities of Dating Pre-divorce

Another consideration you need to take into account when you are thinking of blending your Saturday-night-kids-are-with-their-father life with your kid-filled life is the legalities you may face as you start to date pre-divorce. One key issue to explore is where you are with custody and if there is the possibility of a custody fight presenting itself in the future. If there is the slightest chance of a custody dispute (meaning that a parenting agreement has not already been drafted and signed), I would strongly recommend no introduction be made to the person you have started dating.

The last thing you need is your ex making it seem to a judge that you have poor judgment when introducing Mr. Rebound to your kids and letting him use the old toothbrush their father left behind.

A second consideration is specific language could be put into your separation agreement that any introduction to a significant other cannot occur unless the relationship has lasted for a certain amount of time. There can also be stipulations stating that if an introduction were to take place, the ex-spouse would be provided advance warning.

Again, this is not anything done to spite you—and it could be in everyone’s best interests. The last thing you would want to hear come out of your kid’s mouth after a weekend at her dad’s is “Mommy, I had so much fun with Daddy and his new friend Daisy. She is a professional dancer, and they met when she was dancing for Daddy.” So, a little warning is always a good thing.

Actionable Tips: How to Make the Introduction

Now let us get to the part you have been waiting for. If you have established that, yes, it is time to make the introduction between your kids and your new boyfriend, here are some suggestions:

If your child is in therapy, I recommend speaking to your child’s therapist about factors you should consider that pertain to your son’s or daughter’s needs. The therapist might have insight or best practices that could be applied to your child’s personality, moods, challenges, or other issues surrounding your divorce.

If your child is younger, have your new significant other be a tag-along person on a fun activity—like an amusement park or a trip to the zoo.

  • Engage your child without overdoing it so he feels he had a really great day, and hopefully, those fun feelings can start to be associated with your new friend.
  • Involve your significant other in a non-intrusive way. He does not need to be the center attraction; rather, allow your child to interact with him in a way where trust and comfort can slowly be built.
  • If your children are older, the fun activity might not work with them, and they could see through what you are trying to do (and probably call you on it). Therefore, speak directly with them about your new relationship and let them dictate the terms of what would make them most comfortable when arranging this introduction.

Aida Vazin, LMFT, advises, “I would recommend phasing in a new relationship slowly and gradually. Going through a divorce and change requires an adjustment period for everyone, especially the children. A good way to approach this is to have an open dialogue about this with your children. Ask them how they feel about the whole process. Ask them how they may feel about a new person in their mother’s life. Start introducing the idea that Mom will start dating again, and allow your child to build an acceptance and comfort level with the process. recommend brief conversations, as this kind of conversation, may bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings both from Mom and the children. To go deeper into the conversation, I would recommend involving a counselor as well.”

I agree with Vazin about going slowly. Have patience. While you may be starting to recognize your new man could be a great addition or asset for your family, your child may not appreciate this just yet—it may take time. Although you are understandably enthusiastic about your new partner and all the possibilities this presents, your kid might be in a different place. Take conscious, level-headed steps that support your parent-child relationship and help enable acceptance of your new partner.

You might be ready to embrace the future, but know that your children could still be dealing with trying to achieve a balance between their new reality and what your family looked like in the past. After you get them on board, then maybe you can accomplish the same thing with your ex.

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Book Excerpt: Disassembly Required: A Memoir of Midlife Resurrection

Book Excerpt: Disassembly Required: A Memoir of Midlife Resurrection

Disassembly RequiredBy Beverly Willett

Chapter 1: Les Escaliers

“You should give your house a name,” one of my girlfriends said when I told her about the Victorian brownstone my husband and I had bought. “Call it Les Escaliers,” French for “The Staircases.”

There were eight, a total of 120 steps. I finished tallying them sixteen years after we moved in, the day I moved out.

One by one, everyone in my family but me had already left. My daughter Ella had started college in the fall. Nicki, my eldest, had graduated the previous spring, then moved in with her boyfriend. That same summer our beloved family cat Thunder died. It was Jake, my ex-husband, who’d begun the exodus over a decade earlier, after meeting another woman and suing me for divorce.

That left me, alone in our four-story dream house in Brooklyn.

A few months before I left, my aunt and her six-year-old granddaughter came for a visit. That’s when I first began counting the stairs. But we had somewhere to go that day so we never finished our counting. I came across her notes the morning I left home for good and decided to finish.

I left the wooden spiral staircase descending from Ella’s room on the second floor straight down to the kitchen for last. I hadn’t meant to; it simply worked out that way.

As I descended it my final morning, I suddenly saw what Ella must have seen nearly eleven years to the day earlier, when she’d been only seven. Her mother, me, sitting at the kitchen table below, crying, broken. No wonder she’d been frightened. Hers was a picture of Mom she’d never witnessed before.

“Mommy, what are you doing up already?” Ella had asked, barefoot, standing at the top of the spiral staircase wearing her pink silky nightgown.

“I couldn’t sleep, honey,” I said.

“Is everything alright?” she asked, rubbing her eyes.

Someone once told me they could stare straight through Ella’s big brown eyes and see her soul. That day I felt she was looking directly through to mine.

By the time I moved out, I’d downsized three-quarters of our possessions, giving away expensive antiques and artwork. By then, despite the losses I’d endured, I understood what was important.

And so I kept every single one of the love notes and pictures Ella and Nicki made for me. Many had been taped to the wall above my desk for years, right up until the time I had to box them up to move. “The Wall of Mom,” Ella called it.

“I’m fine, honey,” I lied to my daughter that long-ago day at the kitchen table. “Get dressed and come down for breakfast.”

Everyone but me had moved on and started a new life. Now it was time for me to leave home too. To exit Brooklyn, pick up where I’d left off over thirty years before, and begin again.

First, though, I had to sell my house.

The night before I’d worried when Jake hadn’t come home until after midnight. I’d phoned the salon where he told me he was going for a massage after work, but they said he’d never shown up. When he got home, he refused to tell me where he’d been. Restless, I awoke early, the house quiet, my husband and children still slumbering. As I walked downstairs, my eyes were drawn to his brown suede jacket in the vestibule. Feeling like a thief, I reached inside the pockets, drew out Jake’s cell phone, and carried it into the kitchen, shaking.

I brewed a pot of coffee, conscious to place a moment between what I feared might be on that phone and whatever came next. And then I sat down at the kitchen table, picked up Jake’s cell phone, and perked up my ears to hear if my powering it on had woken anybody up.

My husband and I had had problems in our marriage from the start. But we’d worked through so many of them, or so I believed. I hadn’t dreamed he was having an affair.

He hadn’t created password protection so I scrolled to voicemail on my husband’s cell phone. Instantly I heard a woman’s voice I’d never heard before.

“I love you. Call me at home,” the voice said.

My hand trembled. I inhaled my tears and stuffed my wails inside so the children, one floor above, wouldn’t hear.

“Want to come over here tomorrow and have a little time to be private instead of meeting at the office?” the voice continued.

Fear exploded in my chest. I couldn’t swallow. I wanted to bolt the doors and keep my family in suspended animation, safe and rolled up in their covers until I could figure out what to do next.

But I pressed the send button to hear more, unable to stop inflicting my own pain.

That’s the moment Ella called to me from the top of her stairs, standing where I stood eleven years later, minutes before I left my house forever.

Twice before I’d left home, once for college and then again after law school when I moved to New York City. But this time was different. This time I would be leaving the nest I’d built—the nest that had become the symbol of the most important thing I had ever done and the people I loved more than anyone else and the place where it finally and officially crumbled. Everyone but me had moved on and started a new life. Now it was time for me to leave home too. To exit Brooklyn, pick up where I’d left off over thirty years before, and begin again.

First, though, I had to sell my house.

This is an edited excerpt from Beverly Willett’s memoir Disassembly Required: A Memoir of Midlife Resurrection (2019). Purchase it HERE.

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