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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat


Dealing With An Emotionally Abusive Spouse During A Divorce

Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce or separation, and though many of these marriages end in amicable terms, some couples aren’t so lucky. Sometimes, a once well-mannered spouse will transform into a relentless bully. What makes this kind of bullying worse is that your ex knows your deepest fears and insecurities, making it easier for them to push your buttons.

Bullying in a divorce can manifest in different ways. Your partner could lie about past incidents or blow things out of proportion to make you look bad. They could isolate you from friends and family, or threaten to take full custody of the children and keep you away from them. They could turn into a cyberbully, harassing you on social media or over email.

Dealing with an abusive partner in a divorce can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Thankfully, the situation isn’t unsalvageable. If you take the time to understand how you can handle an abusive partner, you can make the divorce more bearable.

Turn To A Support System

Divorcing a bully is a harrowing task, but having the right people around you can make it easier. Your support system will consist of professionals, like a lawyer and other consultants, as well as emotional support like your friends and family to keep you mentally balanced. Knowing that you have a group of people who have your back will make a world of a difference on especially bad days.

Keep A Record Of The Abuse

When you’re a victim of bullying, it’s easy to feel helpless and fall into despair. But you can stand up for yourself by taking note of your partner’s abusive behavior, recording every single detail. Take note of the date and time, how the abuse occurred, and be as detailed as you can. Then, take this data to your lawyer to see if they can help you stop the abuse by setting clear legal boundaries they cannot cross.

Prioritize Your Health And Safety

Bullying can result in a multitude of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. The emotional toll can also affect your physical health, weakening your immune system and causing problems like headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues. It’s easy to lose sight of your physical health when you’re in the middle of a difficult divorce, but make a point to take care of yourself by consuming healthy food, exercising, and engaging in activities that make you happy and calm. You could also consult a therapist to help you work through your issues.

Not all bullying partners are violent. But if you think that your ex could physically harm you and your kids, take steps to keep you and your children safe. If your ex was violent during your marriage, the chances of them lashing out on you during the divorce are significantly higher. If you feel that the risk is significant, speak to your lawyer about filing a restraining order.

Bullies often resort to abusive tactics to pressure you to give in to an outcome where you get the short end of the stick. Learn how to stand your ground and don’t let yourself get bullied into making a bad choice. Be kind to yourself. Remember that although things may be difficult now, this will all end eventually. Keep your chin up, and don’t lose heart.

Author of this article, Lucy Wyndham, is a freelance writer and former Financial Advisor. After a decade in industry, she took a step backward to spend more time with her family and to follow her love of writing.  

Emotional Aspects of Searching for an Ex-Partner Online

The internet has made it easy to check up on former spouses and boy or girlfriends. In some cases, one may feel relief, “I dodged a bullet on that one.” In other instances, it can lead to the what ifs – “What if I had stayed with him/her.” When deciding whether or not to look up an ex-partner, first think about your motivation. Is it idle curiosity or pondering the question of getting divorced, if an ex may be available?

One acquaintance’s wife went on social media to discover the whereabouts of an old boyfriend. She contacted him and they started having long weekends together that she passed off as business trips. When her suspicious husband confronted her, she confessed about the affair. This couple soon divorced and she later married her former boyfriend. Be clear why you are seeking out information, especially when already in a committed relationship.

People may be delving back into the past to see if they have made good choices. This can get into the dangerous territory of regrets. There may be one person who slipped through their fingers and got away. Seeing that individual’s fabulous lifestyle online can have one questioning why they broke up with them, especially if currently going through a divorce. People may wonder if they were too hasty in letting a love interest go. Instead of saying “what if” think about the great children you now have or the life experiences you would have missed if you did not take the road that you did.

Social media and online searches hit the surface- the great professional accomplishments- but usually do not get at the character traits and values. What tore you apart before, can still do so today unless you both have changed or had some type of enlightenment.

After much prodding by a friend to look up people online, I recently decided to give it a go. I searched for a former fiancé and got quite a surprise. I had broken up with him because of a few character issues and I am sure I had my quirks too. He got married within a few years after our parting of ways, which ended in a divorce fairly quickly. What I discovered online is that he is one of the top surgeons in his field, won all kinds of awards, including “Best Doctor” and is employed at a prestigious institution.

What comes as a surprise is the intensity of emotions that arise as a result of searching for a person from your past. My fiancé and I had a clean break and two years later bumped into each other which ignited our passion. We decided to pursue getting back together again. It  seemed like miscommunication on both of our parts led to us each thinking that the other had changed their minds. When I realized our mistake over two decades later, I went through profound grief  which manifested itself physically, as if big waves were crashing against me. I mourned not having his loving parents, siblings and extended family in my life. I felt a sense of loss. Others may experience anger, sadness, or wanting a time machine to go back into the past. When deciding whether or not to do a search, be prepared for some strong reactions to what is discovered.

If having problems after doing an online search for an ex, consider a session with a life coach. They can give you a reality check and get you back on track.  Thinking over our last phone call, I thought maybe my communication was not clear.  The coach pointed out that my fiancé had the responsibility to clarify what he thought my message was, in case of misinterpretation.   He easily could have popped in where I worked to see me. This was before cell phones, so I did not have a way to contact him. My life coach suggested perhaps a marriage for us was not meant to be.

In some instances, former boyfriends and girlfriends have found each other again through social media and got married. The common thread is that they are both single and what broke them up is no longer a factor. These include having been too young, parental disapproval or a long-distance relationship, such as going to universities on different continents. It was not a character flaw.

There is a way to satisfy curiosity regarding old classmates and high school sweethearts. See if your class has a group on social media, such as on Facebook where you can catch up with these friends. You can find out what is new with your former flame in this group setting, without contacting them directly.

After a traumatic divorce, one can be lonely, especially when losing friends and some in-laws because of it. One can feel vulnerable and trying to get comfort from past relationships may not be the right path. Give yourself time to heal and gain self-understanding before attempting any social media searches for past partners. When feeling alone, consider networking, meeting new people and joining clubs. Take up old hobbies and follow your interests. Surrounding yourself with supportive people may be what you need most, rather than searching for former loves.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)


Running into Ex-Spouse Post-Divorce

If you are still in the midst of divorce, it helps to set the ground work for accidental encounters with your ex-spouse down the road. The relationship charity Restored Lives, suggests wishing them well. The objective is to close that chapter in your lives so that you can move forward. You then part ways on a good note. Giving them directions to Hell – makes it more difficult when bumping into one’s former partner socially. Some people go to great lengths to never see their former spouse again, such as by moving across the country. Others are glad to keep in touch and consider them as a friend. What to do if you are somewhere in the middle of this continuum?

  • When running into an ex, have a pleasant expression and ask a few general questions as you would for an acquaintance. It is okay to keep moving slowly while talking, in order to make the conversation brief. If on friendlier terms, feel free to suggest a quick cup of coffee.
  • If it looks like she is about to kiss you and you are uncomfortable, copy Oprah Winfrey. She is not a hugger and has mentioned a way to get around this awkward moment. Quickly extend your arm and grab their hand to shake it, with one or both of your hands. Your ex may not be sure how to greet you and this gesture can be helpful for her too.
  • If your ex has not have spotted you in the crowd, retreat slowly so as to not draw attention to yourself. Do not stare, but rather stay focused on your get-away without her knowing you are nearby. If seeing your ex strolling down an aisle at the grocers or a shop, turn around and get to the cashier’s for a speedy departure. Avoiding their favorite cafes, coffee shops, etc., lessens the chance of an unwanted encounter. Restaurants where we frequented as a couple, were dropped during my divorce. Divorce brings the opportunity to discover new dining spots and replace old memories with better ones.
  • Former spouses may attend the same event, particularly if it is for their child. They say hello and then go to the opposite ends of the room – as boxers do in the ring. The kid has the benefit of both parents being present. This strategy is also used when one’s ex has remarried and their new spouse is accompanying them. Above all do not make a scene, especially at a daughter or son’s wedding. One is more apt to make a fool of themselves when alcohol is thrown into the mix. Too many drinks can have you regretting words and actions to your ex the next day (or your offspring will).  Please read more

Dealing with Grief when an Ex-Spouse Dies

Going through a divorce encompasses the stages of grief. There may be anger or signs of depression during divorce. One may be in denial about the whole process and thus delaying the sessions. One mourns losses – identity, lifestyle, or losing some mutual friends. It takes time getting through the grief process with divorce and moving on.

When an ex dies, this grief cycle can be reactivated again. Even if the former spouse is a dim recollection, their death can trigger a myriad of emotions. It can start one on a trip down Memory Lane with rehashing both the good and troubling ones. Shock may be the first reaction. Take a pause in your busy life to acknowledge and then process these mixed emotions. Pour out your feelings to friends over lattes, get some fresh air with a walk in a leafy area, or release tension through physical activities. There are no “shoulds” – “I should feel sad” I should have done…..” You did what you felt was best at that time. Whatever you are feeling is fine.

In some cases, the death of a former spouse brought up the issue of abandonment all over again, as it had with divorce. Other folks I interviewed, claimed that they felt absolutely nothing upon hearing about their former partner’s demise. It felt impersonal as if it was someone in the news who had died. Their divorce was behind them and their ex had not been in their thoughts for a long time. Three women who had divorced abusive husbands, felt a sense of relief when these men died. It was closure for a traumatic time in their lives and they no longer had to worry about bumping into these toxic former spouses.

People can be devastated when learning about their former spouse’s passing. This death firmly closes the door to fantasies of reuniting when one has carried a glimmer of hope for their ex’s return.  Please read more…


Psychological Abuse in Marriage and After Divorce

Psychological Abuse during marriage can leave a former spouse questioning their own capabilities and mental status. It is debilitating and can have long lasting effects. Psychological abuse is sometimes referred to as “gas lighting” after the 1941 thriller starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. In the film, Paula is a newlywed returning to the house of her murdered aunt. Her new husband manipulates her into doubting her memory, experiences and eventuality her sanity. Paula sees the gas lights flicker and hears footsteps overhead when her spouse is supposedly not home. He convinces Paula that she is going insane for his own sinister purpose.

A spouse committing gas lighting may be setting up a situation (as in the film) and telling their spouse that it is all in their head. The goal is to have someone question what is real and exert control over them. Psychological abuse is using words and actions to destroy another person without physical violence. Partners may be told that they are too sensitive, suspicious or jealous. Making a “joke” that demeans a spouse when the intention is to tear them down is abuse. It is a stream of criticisms and cruelty over a period of time.

A psychological abuser often attempts to isolate the person from their friends and family. This increases their power over the spouse and lessens the chance others will persuade them to initiate divorce. When someone feels helpless, they are less likely to leave. The target of this abuse questions their intelligence and being able to be on their own. Think about your marital situation. Have your friends fallen by the wayside? Are you out of touch with relatives? Are you doubting your talents? Are you belittled when in the presence or others?

If feeling uncomfortable and doubtful about your well-being and abilities, get some help. A family doctor can recommend a therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for example, can help change faulty perceptions, and give a reality check. A professional can help you sort out your situation to decide which path to take.

This is an unhealthy situation for children to witness. They do not know how to help and can be caught in the middle. Parental alienation can occur when one parent is constantly putting down the other and children might question the targeted parent’s authority. If the kids think this marital situation is normal, then they run the risk of emulating it down the road in their own relationships. Please read more…–after-divorce


Divorcing a Passive-Aggressive Person

Having a rough marriage with a passive aggressive person, gives a glimpse of what lies ahead with divorce. The characteristics that drove you nuts may be intensified during this process.

When contemplating divorce have an exit plan ready. When actually leaving, do this swiftly and be prepared for the charm to be turned on full force. They may not want to let you go, and make promises that will not be kept.

Ways to Know if Your Spouse or Ex is Passive Aggressive:

1.  Passive aggressive people do not deal with anger in a direct way. Be prepared for longer court proceedings. This will mean higher legal costs with these stalling tactics. Tell your attorney right away about this personality disorder so she plan strategies accordingly. Mosby’s medical dictionary states they have “indirect expression of resistance to occupational or social demands. It results in a persistent ineffectiveness, lack of self-confidence, poor interpersonal relationships and pessimism.” By not openly expressing anger, this sabotages proceedings.

2. They avoid confrontations. Strong emotions are hidden and hostility fuels their actions. On the surface he/she appears calm, so it is difficult to know what they are really thinking.

3. Passive aggressive spouses are big blamers. Others are to blame for the problems in their lives and nothing is their fault. It is his wife’s spending that caused their financial woes, not his vintage car collection. Her boss is keeping her from getting the promotion, not the quality of his work. The spouse is a target of this blame which spills over into the divorce proceedings.

4. Passive aggressive people excel with the silent treatment. By not having confrontations, this can result in silence. They sabotage communication by not being an active participant, or may answer questions tersely.

5. The essence of being passive aggressive is not following through with something.  They will agree to bring financial records to the next divorce meeting, but not show up with them. They agree to do a report on the job, but do not have all of the components finished. Post-divorce they say, “The check is in the mail.” Their hostility is expressed by not doing a task that is expected of them.  Please read more:


Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

Narcissists lack empathy so this makes co-parenting more challenging. They do not have compassion, so only pretend to care for others, including family members. Their children become targets for their manipulation, since they are less likely to stand up to a parent. The world revolves around the narcissistic person and this can include contact schedules and activities.

Children are used as pawns during divorce to get a better financial gain or in retaliation against you. Several eminent psychologists insist that contact between children and a narcissistic parent should be supervised. Dr. Joseph Shannon of Ohio, USA   is an expert on personality disorders and does many conferences on this subject. He was adamant about the need to set up supervised visitation to protect the children. When I also asked if a narcissistic ex-spouse lets go of his ex-wife after divorce, he said “no.”

Throughout the UK, there are Children’s’ Contact Centres where the non-resident parent can spend time with their children in pleasant surroundings. They have trained volunteers who are in the centres to give any assistance, if needed. In one case, when the older son turned eighteen, he stopped visitation and the younger one refused to continue. The younger brother met with the mediator that was appointed in the parenting plan, who then arranged supervised visitation. A child may feel safer when contact is supervised and can begin to develop a better relationship with that parent. Or, like in this case, the supervisor verified the verbal and emotional abuse when reporting back to the mediator. The court terminated parental contact when the son absolutely refused to go.

Contact between children and a narcissistic parent can be more successful if shorter in duration and perhaps no overnights. If the activities are mutually satisfying, such as participating in a sport or engrossing hobby, then the time spent together can be more enjoyable. They may like going to movies and concerts, which require less interactions.

Another strategy for pleasant contact is when visitation takes place at a family member’s or friend’s house.  One narcissistic father with an alcohol problem, visits his young daughter at his own mother’s house. She spends one night a week there, often with cousins, and has dinner with dad. This arrangement is working out great and the narcissist is on his best behavior with his mum standing nearby.

Narcissistic Extension is when a parent tries to mold a child into someone whose achievements directly reflect back onto them. The parent expects to be praised regarding their offspring’s skills. The narcissistic parent sees the child as a part of themselves (extension).  A kid may be pushed into a sport that draws more attention and fame, than one that does not. One boy wanted to play baseball for his school’s team, but his father refused to give permission. Instead, the son was made to continue with martial arts that gave more recognition with publicized tournaments.

Some narcissistic mothers of youngsters in beauty pageants see their girls as extensions of them. They bask in the admiration that surround these awards. A danger of having a narcissistic parent that controls a child, is that this child may go on to repeat this pattern in future relationships.

Co-parenting with a clinically diagnosed narcissist is doable when one does not get caught in a power struggle. Make sure the kids have support, whether with a therapist, divorce coach or trusted family friend.  Keep monitoring the situation to confirm contact with this parent is going okay.

Originally  published in The Divorce Magazine

Podcast on narcissists


Guide to Divorcing a Narcissist

A narcissist has an inflated sense of self and needs a constant stream of admiration. They cover up their low self-esteem by exaggerating their achievements. Their sense of entitlement enables them to feel unique and a cut above others. They crave the attention of the wealthy and powerful. Approximately 1.06% of the population is clinically narcissistic and more have traits of this personality disorder.

A Narcissist is the King in a game of chess, and every other piece around them is there to protect and to do their bidding.

Narcissists take advantage of others for their own ambitions, whether it is a spouse or co-worker. They are masters of manipulating vulnerable people and crushing their self-worth. A narcissist can turn on the charm and don the smiling mask, which is their public persona. These people become angry when others discover what they are really like behind this mask. One woman decided not to be an enabler anymore and play the adoring wife in public. Narcissists go to great lengths to preserve their public images, so her enraged husband left her. He was shocked when she quickly filed for divorce and did not crawl back.

They may go after the boss’s daughter or someone else who can assist their grandiose schemes. After the narcissist achieves their goal, then marital issues surface. Narcissists blame others, so view relationship problems as solely the fault of their spouse. They probably will refuse to go to marital counselling, since nothing is their fault, and they do not feel the need to change.

Tell your solicitor that your spouse is narcissistic, so she plan specific strategies. They routinely lie which makes divorce more challenging.       Podcast on narcissists

Divorce with a Narcissist or Sociopath

Both the Narcissist and Sociopath (anti-social personality disorder) are toxic people who are difficult to deal with during divorce. There are subtle differences between these two types of characters. The main point is a Narcissist craves attention and adoration. She has to be the star, whereas that is not the case with a Sociopath. A Narcissist will specifically seek out publicity and a Sociopath wants power over others. A Narcissist will have a position in a charity organization that is in the spotlight such as managing director. The Sociopath is more likely to be the one embezzling funds. The Narcissist desires being in the news and the Sociopath is flying under the radar avoiding that in order to carry out nefarious deeds.

Sociopaths do not have a conscience and their moral code is “do not get caught.” At a young age a Sociopath is apt to torture animals and torment those weaker than him. This child is charming to adults with exaggerated good manners as a smoke screen to disguise his true nature. They have a sense of entitlement and do not hesitate to trample upon anyone who gets in their way. Some of the financial executives who do inside trading and other illegal acts told the press that they did nothing wrong. In their eyes, this is correct.

Both manipulate others for their gain. They blame others when they make mistakes or life is not going as planned. They can ignore family or belittle spouses. Narcissists especially do not like it if a spouse rises up the career ladder and has a more important position. They do not want to share the spotlight. Sociopaths can have a volatile temper which is unpredictable and is especially scary for children.

Sociopaths may have their children join in their immoral or illegal activities.

. They watch pornography with their sons. Criminal families may bring the kids into the business at a young age. The youngsters participate in a shoplifting or burglary ring. In my area recently, three generations of several families were plying the drug trade together.

Narcissists use their kids as a way to garner more attention to themselves. They play the good parent role and march the children around the office to get praise. They see the kids as an extension of themselves and may insist that their kids follow in their footsteps. A former dancer may demand that her daughter does ballet. These parents want to bask in the admiration that surrounds their child. They want others to comment that the offspring is like their talented, beautiful, etc. parent.

In divorce, both personality disorders are capable of using the kids to get back at their other parent in retaliation. Since the Sociopath feels no remorse, they may be the more dangerous adversary. Be cautious of safety issues especially with a sociopath co-parent. Neither are good at negotiating since they want the whole pie. The Narcissists get through the divorce process better with lots of compliments and letting them feel like they are the star. With a Sociopath, emphasize maintenance and child support formulas to make it more impersonal. More drama and emotions can prolong divorce hearings. Having a divorce coach or therapist at least periodically check in with the children is prudent.

Both Narcissists and Sociopaths may act like they are the victim and you are the villain.  They may charm your family members and end up with a few in their camp post-divorce. They are attempting to hurt you.  My sons and I have said good riddance to the ones who sided with their father. Sociopaths particularly excel in power plays and want to dominate others. Consider avoiding doing battle with these people and stay out of their way if possible.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Podcast about narcissists vs sociopaths

Being the recipient of “I want a divorce”

Hearing your spouse announce that she wants a divorce is unbelievable. What to do when you are informed that your spouse is leaving you. If you think you did not correctly hear what was said, ask for it to be repeated. Banish the impulse to throw the nearest piece of furniture at his head. An assault charge will not help your situation. My spouse’s female acquaintance suggested that I take all of his clothes and have a big bonfire in the backyard. Friends had more drastic ideas. Resist doing something in a rage, because that may impact your divorce proceedings.

Try to act calmly and feel free to ask the questions that pop into your head. “When did you decide upon this? Could we discuss this with a marriage counsellor first? Why did you not mention that you were unhappy? Are you seeing someone else and how long has it been?”

If your spouse asks you to move out of the marital home, refuse (except in an abuse situation). Check first with your solicitor (lawyer) about this, especially when children are involved. I stayed in our house through most of the divorce and my husband was required to pay the mortgage and I only paid the utilities. Your rent or monthly mortgage may be paid as part of the interim support. The person with a job or high income pays interim support in most cases.

If your spouse walks right out the door, go to the bank and withdraw some cash (no more than half) out of your joint account and save the receipt. You will require money for living expenses before meeting with a solicitor or mediator. Hopefully you have a credit card in your own name, because your spouse may promptly drop you as a co-signer on his card.

Ask around for an experienced family law solicitor/mediator and check online for more information regarding the person you select. This professional can get joint assets frozen if your spouse is apt to plunder funds.

You are in shock. Some people described this period as having an out of body experience. It was as if they were in a calm place not feeling any emotions, while their bodies were on autopilot doing necessary tasks. You may want to temporarily stay at your parents’ or friend’s place. Or after you spouse departs have someone stay with you particularly when there are children and pets at home.

I stumbled around Disneyland mumbling to strangers that my husband left me. Luckily these kind people were supportive to me in my zombie-like state. My sons and I later met with my friend’s family and I was showered with spa products. That gave me the nudge to nurture and pamper myself in this turbulent time. Allow people to do the same for you and accept their generosity. Gather your support system around you.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine


How to Let Go and Move On Post-Divorce

The secret to moving on after a divorce is to let go. It may sound simple, but can be difficult to accomplish. Trying to hold on to something to prevent the enviable (like a divorce) is a futile effort. After trying to fix a marriage, prevent divorce, and do all that we can, just let go. If a spouse is going to leave, they will. So letting go of the marriage can mean a better period is on the horizon. You do not have to agree with a situation (departing spouse), but accepting that what is happening is partly out of your control, allows you to start getting unstuck and moving on with life. Recognize what is out of your control during the divorce process.

Let go of the minutia and concentrate on the most important aspects of divorce, such as the division of assets. This will help you to let go of the small stuff and concentrate on what matters the most to you.

Some people choose to allow divorce to rule their thoughts and emotions. They do not let go of the marriage, their spouse, or how ugly the divorce process came to be. Their divorce plays like an endless loop in their heads. Notice how this type of bitter person, who cannot let go, drives others away. Whether it is a marriage, a job, or whatever that ends, let go so you can move on to something else.

Filling Up The Hole That Divorce Leaves:

Filling that void is important. The gap of a departing spouse and end of a marriage needs to be filled. One way of plugging up this hole is to pour oneself into work. Take the course you have been meaning to which will advance your career. Take on extra projects which will also help your finances. Distraction helps to ward off the feeling of emptiness.

If you are used to doing activities as a duo, then start reaching out to others. Spend more time with family and renew friendships. I joined which is available globally, to meet other women. Going to luncheons or gossiping over lattes with new girlfriends keeps any feelings of loneliness at bay. Pursue former hobbies or new interests. You have let go of your old life and get busy starting your new one.

Men’s Divorce – The First Steps

What are the first few steps when hit with divorce news? When hearing that one’s wife wants a divorce, it is a blow that some guys even feel physically. Acknowledge that you are in shock and do not expect to make any rational decisions right away. It may feel like you are a robot going through the motions of daily life.

  • Get some emotional support. Guys that I talked with said that they were too stoic – keeping a stiff upper lip. They did not know where to turn when they were numb with shock. Talk to a relative whom you feel close to and let them know you need to vent. This is not the moment to be on the receiving end of a lengthy list of tasks to do in divorce. Detailed divorce strategy comes later after you had time to process your feelings and to regroup. Maybe confide in a cousin or uncle because your parents may be in shock themselves.
  • Reach out to others. This was the hardest thing to do, according to my male sources. They felt like they would be a burden to others or be perceived as weak if they mentioned their divorce woes. Go out for a pint with your mates and tell them what you are facing. Most likely they have pals who are divorced, if they are not themselves, and can clue you in on what to do next. Just expressing how you feel can take a weight off your shoulders. I guarantee that your wife has talked about getting a divorce with at least twenty girlfriends.
  • Feeling like you are teetering on the brink of a breakdown is normal in divorce. Many have felt this way too, and we made it through our divorces with our sanity intact. Balance having alone time with interactions with friends. Men said it was easier to think about their situation and come up with solutions when they were in motion, such as running on the treadmill, or taking a walk. Exercise is important as a way to burn off anxiety and strong emotions while lowering stress hormones and getting your body back to a healthier place.
  • Keep in mind that the divorce process is a continuum and one moves back and forth on it. One day you feel fine and the next one you may be despondent – then back to okay. Feeling good then backtracking to not so good is normal. Some parts of the divorce process itself are bumpy, which can affect your emotional state, such as figuring out shared care time with the children. When a divorce is going along smoothly, it can be disconcerting when it hits a snag. Be open to negotiation and getting the process back on track.Take it day to day and focus on what is at hand  Worrying about the future is not going to help and instead use your energy on getting through the divorce.    Take your time making decisions, such as with dividing assets. Take your divorce step-by step and you will get to the other side and be done with it.

Originally published in The divorce Magazine

Can Exes be Friends Post-Divorce?

The simple answer to the question of can exes be friends after divorce is….it depends. Some people were great pals before marriage and want to continue this post-divorce. It is doable with these caveats. Let there be some space between your divorce and picking up the friendship. Both parties may not be over hurts or harbour some resentment over the divorce process itself. One may be farther along on the divorce continuum of moving on, and the other is stuck and not catching up. Waiting a bit helps in establishing clear boundaries and avoiding the “friends with benefits.” Jumping into bed immediately after divorce – when neither have sex partners – hampers starting separate lives. Meet up again when not feeling lonely or craving intimacy. Enlarge your circle of acquaintances and business networks, plus renew old friendships. Feeling fulfilled with your social life fills the void left by a departing spouse.

Be proactive and inform your friends that you both are cool about your changed relationship and there is no need to take sides. Tell mutual friends that they are not being disloyal remaining in contact with the two of you. This alerts them that neither of you has to be dropped from their guest list nor is bumping into each other socially an issue.

Avoid meeting at your favourite places that you frequented when married. Go to a new café or have more informal get-togethers at coffee houses. The point is not to relive your marriage when forging a new relationship with your former spouse. When the marital history is firmly anchored in the past, some divorced people claim that they are great judges of potential partners for their exes. They know these peoples’ strengths and weaknesses and can give an opinion on whether or not it is a good match.

When children are involved, make it clear to them that mummy and daddy are friendly, but are not getting back together again. Ever. This is important so that the kids can accept a future step-parent. It is lovely when both parents can share important moments and holidays with the youngsters. Children can feel more grounded when parents are not perceived as enemies, but rather being on good terms.

Take stock of your emotions. Maybe being friends with your former spouse is just not in the cards. Some couples are totally done with each other after a break up. Someone can have an ulterior motive in “Let’s be friends.” If something does not seem right, then pull back. You may need to take a breather to carefully evaluate your situation. Perhaps you both require a break from each other to gain some clarity in setting up boundaries for this changed relationship. It could be that being friends is a no go. Do not let yourself be coerced into anything, and if friendship is on the agenda, it will happen.

Take stock of your emotions. Maybe being friends with your former spouse is just not in the cards. Some couples are totally done with each other after a break up. Someone can have an ulterior motive in “Let’s be friends.” If something does not seem right, then pull back. You may need to take a breather to carefully evaluate your situation. Perhaps you both require a break from each other to gain some clarity in setting up boundaries for this changed relationship.

It could be that being friends is a no go. Do not let yourself be coerced into anything, and if friendship is on the agenda, it will happen.

Originally punished in The Divorce Magazine

Co-Parenting with a Sociopath

Sociopath is also called antisocial personality disorder and is one of the most difficult people to have as a co-parent. New research has indicated that there can be a genetic link to having antisocial personality disorder and it sometimes runs in families. Sociopaths are highly represented in the prison populations. People with antisocial personality disorder can be impulsive and reckless. Many are highly intelligent and choose occupations where they have power, such as politicians, police, clergy, trial attorneys, and surgeons.

Sociopaths lack empathy and compassion for others, yet seem (pretending) to care about them. Their good works are for show and glory only. They blame others and do not see the need to change themselves, so are not prone to seek therapy. People with antisocial personality disorder manipulate more vulnerable people, such as their children. They have a sense of entitlement and use others to obtain what they feel is due to them out of life.

They blame others and are prime candidates for committing parental alienation. Sociopaths can explode with rage which frightens kids, or the youngsters shut down to avoid being a trigger for this fury. Life is not stable when a parent’s moods are so labile. This is emotional abuse. Sociopaths can be charming and may have swayed the court into granting ample shared time. Document everything, including what the children say, and your e-mail interactions. Their charisma may influence people in your children’s lives, such as teachers, who may support this enchanting parent.

They have no scruples and will try to corrupt their kids into doing dangerous or illegal activities.   One sociopath showed hardcore internet pornography to his young sons, acting as if this is normal. He threatened them not to tell their mother, or it would be their fault if the mum then broke up the family. The younger son accidently let slip what their father had recently shown them. The mum called the father who denied it, but she said that she was starting a formal investigation. He left her a day later. Her divorce solicitor asked why he couldn’t have done “another hobby, like bowling with the kids.”

Sociopaths do not have respect for life and may mistreat or torture animals. They may expose children to this atrocity. The key is clear communication with your children about what behaviour and ethics are acceptable and what is not. If they do not want to confide in you, have someone else available, if they are not in therapy.

Never let the sociopath into your home for any reason. If you are in the marital house, make sure all locks, alarm and garage codes have been changed. Do not give out any personal information about yourself to this other parent. Make it clear to the children that anything at all about you or your shared life with them, is off limits to your ex. They can discuss their school, friends and activities, but not you.

Give your children at least daily hugs and praise. Inform them how much you appreciate them and their achievements because they may not be hearing this from the other parent. I made a big point of volunteering and having my sons do so as well to offset negatives from their father. They learned from an early age to have compassion and give back to animals and the community.

If you are told that your child is not respecting other children and is extremely cruel, this is a red flag. Since there is a genetic component to antisocial personality disorder, have him evaluated by an experienced   psychiatrist or psychologist in this area. A youngster may be diagnosed with “conduct disorder” and can be helped with therapy. This condition can be a precursor for antisocial personality disorder and early intervention can prevent it from becoming full blown. In therapy, specific parameters for behaviour are set with certain consequences. Conduct disorder is often diagnosed with juvenile delinquents and is not the same as a little acting out that comes with divorce.

If you or the children are in danger, seek help immediately. Talk to your solicitor, the police or local abuse shelter. Do not talk to your ex directly, but rather send business-like e-mails. Better to use a third party intermediary for communication, such as a mediator. Visitation can take place at a Contact Centre and if not supervised, have the drop off and pick up away from your home. The main points with co-parenting with sociopaths is to limit your contact and monitor the children’s well-being.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine






A Parent’s Guide to Step-Parents

Parents often do not realize what a step-parent’s role is and cast them into other unwanted ones. Two step-parents resented their assigned positions of negotiator and grief counsellor. Some step-parents said that they are a family friend to the children and not a go-between for the parents.

Trevor married a woman with children, who had gone through a contentious divorce. Dealing with her ex was challenging and she admitted to being impatient and losing her cool. Her mild-mannered second husband was drafted to be the intermediary between these two warring parents. Trevor was the unofficial negotiator trying to find a middle ground for co-parenting. When I saw him, Trevor was suffering from low back pain as a result of this stressful circumstance. He had heard that emotional issues could also affect the back, with not feeling supported correlating with low back pain. Using that as a wakeup call, we devised strategies on how Trevor would inform his wife and her ex that he was vacating the position of negotiator. His role was husband – to be supportive of his wife and to enjoy his step-kids without managing their co-parents. Trevor convinced the former couple to work with a mediator and this was an effective solution to an unhappy situation. No matter how well your new spouse gets along with your former one – allow them to be friends and not enlist your new partner as a messenger. Find a professional for the negotiator role.

Angus and Katharine, both divorced, met at a conference and the attraction was powerful. They got married and both had children who did well in this blended family, although only Katharine’s daughter Kim lived with them. Katharine tried to be on good terms with her ex and he was invited over on holidays and family events. Angus and Edward became good friends and had similar interests. Kim would say how lucky she was to have two such great dads. Later when Kim turned twenty-three, she was killed in an auto accident. Understandably, Katharine and Edward had breakdowns and kept thanking Angus for his support and called him a rock. Angus was crying when he asked me why they do not get that he had a ball of hurt inside and is grieving too. We discussed having Angus explain his grief to the parents and suggest that they meet with a grief counsellor since he could not continue this role. Parents, please understand that a step-parent loves a child and is broken up by her catastrophic illness or death. They have to deal with their own grief and cannot be forced to take on other people’s as well.

Step-parents are great for lowering tension when an angry teen is annoyed at both parents. At times mine seemed like aliens and my step-mum shared stories from her youth. Seems like her mum and dad did crazy things like mine did. A step-parent is a loving, but more neutral party for receiving confidences. Step-parents may love their new children with an intensity that surprises even them. In several cases both dads walked the young women down the aisle in their marriage ceremonies. If things are spiralling out of control, a life or divorce coach can help people get their lives back on track.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine



Divorcing and Co-parenting with a Passive-Aggressive Person

Divorce with a passive-aggressive partner can be particularly aggravating. They seeming are going along with the whole process, yet are sabotaging it. They agree to check on their pension plan or to bring paperwork to the divorce sessions, but “forget.” The use of the word “forget” may be frequent as a way of avoiding responsibilities or tasks that they do not wish to perform. Passive-aggressive people can prolong divorce hearings by purposely not following through with something as a way to get back at you. This retaliation bumps up legal costs.

They avoid confrontations and do not directly express intense emotions. They have a calm demeanour which hides the hostility lurking beneath the surface. Actions are ruled by anger since they do not voice it out loud. They may refuse to sign the divorce papers or at the last minute disagree with how assets are divided, instead of stating objections earlier. It is difficult to know what they are thinking and if they are amenable to negotiations, since the silent treatment is their specialty. Ask what is wrong and a curt “nothing” may be the reply. They do not communicate well, so give and take is difficult. They are not expressing opinions which complicates divorce arrangements.

Co-parenting with a passive-aggressive ex is challenging. They play the blame game and may hold you as the villain, who ruined their life. The divorce was caused 100% by you and now you will be punished, indirectly of course. You might receive maintenance on time, but in the wrong amount. It is wise to have maintenance and child support sent directly from his bank account to yours, to leave him out of the loop. Then one does not have GFY (Go F*** Yourself) written in the check memos as one woman did.

He may “forget” about a visitation, or pick up the kids late when you have a date. Having the pickup and drop off at a neutral location is prudent. One former couple has theirs at the paternal grandparents’ house, so his being late or forgetting is not an issue. The children have fun and the mother is not stressed.

Have a detailed Parenting Plan to lessen complications post-divorce when the passive-aggressive parent may try to get back at you through the children. Have shared time clearly stated and clarify holiday arrangements. The passive-aggressive person sees themselves as the victim in life and you want to avoid this drama. There are various online calendar sites where parents can mark activities and events so the kids’ schedules are available to both parents. This reduces accusations that the other parent was not informed of happenings in their youngsters’ lives.

When communicating with the passive-aggressive parent avoid emotions, particularly anger. Ignore their subtle putdowns and just state the facts. Keep e-mails business like and to the point. Passive-aggressive people often have low self-esteem and may attempt to build themselves up by tearing you down. Have someone available for the kids to talk with, because the other parent may be making mean “jokes” or offhand comments about you. The least interactions that you can have with this difficult ex-spouse, the better.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine








Dealing with Your Ex-Spouse’s Remarriage

Your ex-spouse’s remarriage can stir up a myriad of emotions, from jealousy to feelings of abandonment. You may have thought that you were getting over your divorce, only to be pulled back into experiencing the loss of your marriage again.  It is hard when one spouse has moved on and one still feels stuck.  Here are some ways to deal with this episode in your life and get through the day.

Distraction is the secret to getting through the day of your ex’s remarriage. Plan on doing something special for that day – to keep you occupied. Sitting around with nothing to do gives more time to brood. Have friends go on a day outing to a nearby city or get pampered at a spa. Hiking or skiing will keep you busy and help take your mind off your woes. If feasible, this is the time to explore the streets of Rome or get lost in a labyrinth of alleyways in some exotic locale. Getting away and having your own adventure is an antidote to this situation.

Examine your feelings to determine if it is the wedding itself that bothers you, or something deeper within yourself. The remarriage could be triggering feelings of inadequacy, or not feeling settled in your life or job. Although you may not want to reconcile with your former spouse, a remarriage can shine a spot light on your lack of dates and relationships. You may feel that she does not have the right to happiness when you are still so miserable. Consider talking to a divorce coach if your former spouse’s marriage seems to create a new road block to moving on. Getting a reality check and strategies from a professional can work wonders in illuminating a new path for healing after divorce.

Please read more…

Ways to Negotiate Child Support

States have a formula to determine the amount of child support, but this is not an arbitrary figure. Negotiations can increase this amount. Parents have the right to come to their own agreement on child support and not rely on their state’s guideline. Submit the agreement to the court in order to make it official, in case there is difficulty in collecting it at a later date.

  1. Child support is non-modifiable (no changes allowed) or modifiable (may be changed at a later date). I chose non-modifiable because I did not want to deal with any divorce issues again. If it looks like your spouse might be in for a big promotion, or his artwork is starting to sell, then modifiable may be the right choice. Then you can go to court when this happens to ask for an increase. If your husband has a good job and you think that might change, then you may choose non-modifiable so the rate does not dip. The judge looks at the potential earning ability of both parents as part of determining child support.
  2. If the state’s guideline for child support seems too low, consider working with your spouse on this issue. If you are having a court divorce, it is hard to know how the judge will rule on it. Perhaps a spouse would take a few more household items and artwork in exchange for a slightly higher child support amount. Go online to your state’s “calculator” to get an idea of what to expect before the negotiation. Wish I had done that.
  3. Get documentation and financial records pertaining to your children together for negotiations. Figure out your expenses including your rent (the kid’s shelter), food, clothes and activities to show why you would require a higher rate for support. Offer proof with receipts paid for lessons, activities, and other expenditures relating to the children.  Please read more….

Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex After Divorce

In many of cases, former spouses are able to co-parent peacefully together for the good of their children. They put aside any animosity for the well-being of their kids and set about the task of moving on in their own lives. Yes, there are some bumps in the road, but learning how to negotiate goes a long way in smoothing out these situations. In rare circumstances, one parent has a personality disorder in which their conscience or morality is faulty.

There are ways to counterbalance the influence of a toxic parent after divorce. My older son said that the most important measure which helped him was volunteering. Volunteering offset the message that people are not important, and I in particular. My sons heard so many negatives that helping needy people and animals took the focus off them and onto how they could make the world a better place. We took supplies to hospitals in Asia and feline medications to a cat clinic in the Cook Islands. At home my sons volunteered with animals, at a homeless shelter, and tutoring youngsters in chess. Helping others is very rewarding and they enjoy doing so. Volunteering connects your children to others and connection is what a parent with a personality disorder lacks.   As an added bonus, being of service to others fosters a work ethic for future jobs. It also teaches kids to get along with people of different cultures, ages, and classes, which is necessary in this global economy.

Another aspect to help children not follow in a parent’s self-centeredness is by traveling and meeting folks from different cultures. They see others with their eyes and form their own impressions. This reduces prejudice, even if the other parent spouts vile opinions of others not in her ethnic group. We went to a Muslim country soon after 9/11 and the warmth and kindness my boys received made a lasting impression. Children are less likely to be judgmental when they have enjoyed the hospitality of people in different lands, no matter what others may be saying about them.

Helping children connect to their spiritual side diminishes the effects of antagonistic remarks made by the other parent. Whether this is going to church or appreciating the beauty of nature, the children then have something outside of themselves. My son enjoys singing in the choir and my friend delights in gazing at the ocean. Whatever feels right to you is fine.

Remember to give your kids extra cuddles. A toxic parent may not be affectionate, but rather more aloof. Reassure your kids that you will always be there for them. A dysfunctional parent may play mind games, make empty promises, and attempt to use the kids in a tug of war. Do not get involved in these battles and get a third party to intervene if necessary.

The important thing is to be a constant presence in your kids’ lives and give unconditional love. Have clear boundaries, expectations, and consequences when these are violated. The kids know where they stand with you. Consider having the kids check in with a children’s divorce coach to ensure that they are thriving and not just surviving.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Anger Keeps You Attached to your Ex

Anger is another way to keep you attached to your ex after divorce. Here are reasons to sever the anger tie that keeps you bound to your ex.

1. Anger can shrink rather than expand your social network. One divorced woman I know was perpetually angry with her ex and his truly awful family. Instead of being pleased that she got out of that mess, got her Master’s degree, and an exciting job, Penny kept harping on her ex. She endlessly kept going back to that subject, even though her friends lost patience eons ago. She drove pals away when they responded “enough is enough” and Penny refused to listen. Anger can turn a friendship from give and take to just being a sounding board for someone’s misery.

2.  Anger is energy that is spent thinking about your ex or plotting various ways of his demise. It may be a two way street with your anger fuelling his, with retaliation. Anger robs people of time and energy that can be used in a more constructive manner. If you are neutral about someone, such as a co-worker or neighbor, there is no specific tie to them. You interact with them, but then go on you merry way about your own business. Anger is a strong emotion – no take it or leave it attitude. Do you really want this attachment to your ex?

3. Anger builds a wall around people. it is like wearing a “No Trespassing” sign around your neck – stay away. One woman who was bitter post-divorce would yell at her daughter over trivial things. Anger towards her ex splashed over into most areas of her life. The girl did not have much of a relationship with her mother until after college when they were more like friends. Be careful that anger is not endangering your relationships with your children and friends.

Please read more…

How to Co-Parent with a Difficult Ex-Spouse

Co-parenting is a challenge with a difficult ex from an acrimonious divorce, however there are ways to make this task easier. The main point is to fly under his/her radar. These people are looking for ammunition to get back at you for leaving, so do not give any opportunity for an attack. This includes not mentioning them or divorce details on social media. The less direct contact one has with this type of ex, makes co-parenting smoother.

A way to make co-parenting with a high conflict individual easier is to make sure you are nurtured. Get a massage. Go out and vent to buddies. Join a support group who can give you understanding and strategies on getting through this ordeal. Do activities that bring you joy and may have been buried during marriage. Get yourself in the best place possible, mentally, physically, and spiritually to be able to deal calmly with a co-parent who does not want to cooperate.

Whatever you can do to empower yourself and become stronger – weakens the hold of these contentious co-parents. Take a class which could lead to a new career path. Do a charity bike ride in a far flung place. Trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro for a life changing experience, as one divorce pal did. These physical challenges have awakened a new sense of power and increased self-esteem in many people. Sometimes one’s self-esteem and self-worth took a battering in a toxic marriage and requires this boost.

Connect with others through volunteering. When you have other interests, a social network, and new areas of expertise – you are less able to be manipulated or controlled. Approach interactions with your ex, without emotion as if it were business ones. Redirect communication to stay focused, so the high conflict parent does not go off on tangents. The goal of co-parenting is well-adjusted children who feel safe with both parents. If the co-parenting experience is not going well then discuss this with your attorney. Perhaps meeting with a mediator or your child’s therapist (if there is one) may help everyone to be on the same page

Co-Parenting with a Difficult Ex-Spouse

Missing your Ex-spouse After Divorce

Now that you are divorced, you may be having second thoughts because you miss your ex. Even if you initiated it, you are not immune from this feeling. Maybe post-divorce is a bit lonelier than anticipated. There are ways to get through this period and confirm that your decision was the right one.

Try to differentiate between actually missing him/her as a person, or missing the whole package of married life itself. Do you miss their qualities and characteristics specifically, or just being half of a duo? It is crucial to determine if this is more about losing a housemate, or rather him/her as an important person in your life. If your residence seems empty and you have to fill this void, that is not missing your ex as a person.

How should you manage if you truly miss his jokes, advice, and other sterling traits? Let some time pass and do not contact him. Your emotions are still raw and you need to heal first. This would be a good time to discuss your feelings with a divorce coach to clarify them. Was your ex-wife extremely hurt or angry with the divorce? I know of some former couples who are good friends now but, took a long timeout after their breakups. This may be possible for you down the road.

I know a young couple who got married right after high school when she became pregnant. The marriage only lasted a few years because they were young and constantly pushed each other’s buttons. Years later they felt that they had matured and could not live without each other, and so remarried. Unfortunately, they got married again without addressing the issues that initially drove them apart. They had another child and later an explosive divorce. Do not even think of getting together again as a couple without some counselling first.   Please read more:








Tips to Avoid Post-Divorce Complications

Many people expressed surprise that once divorced, the relationships with exes were anything but over. They felt waltzing out of the court room or solicitor’s office meant freedom and a totally new life. Post-divorce experiences with former spouses depend upon many factors, such as being caught up in the blame game, or wanting to extract revenge. Sometimes laying low and staying off your ex’s radar is a viable solution.

Are you giving your former spouse ammunition by spreading your divorce story all over town? My divorce solicitor said “Don’t talk about your ex at all to anyone. Anything said can come back and bite you on the bum.” She does not even share personal aspects about herself to casual friends. This solicitor has witnessed many horror stories with post-divorced people blabbing too much to others. I followed the WWII saying, “Loose lips sink ships” as my motto.

Hazel got slapped with a slander suit months after her divorce. She had been tight lipped post-divorce and did not see this coming. Slander is making false statements about someone else to a third party. Even though the onus is on the person initiating this lawsuit to prove the allegations are false, it still involves time, legal expenses, and stress to the person accused. Slander can lead to defamation which endangers some else’s reputation, job with potential financial loss, and standing in the community. If the person filing a defamation lawsuit proves false statements damaged his livelihood then hefty fines and possible jail time can be given to the former spouse. Do not even whisper any rumors, just keep your mouth shut. Hazel called her collaborative solicitor who could not defend her on this post-divorce charge although helped Hazel get a new one. The new one worked with both parties and drew up a legal gag order for BOTH of them. Hazel guessed the leaks were the two sons who talked to teachers and friends’ parents. Also well-meaning friends defended Hazel to her ex’s co-workers, so a lot of gossip was passed along too. Hazel plugged these leaks by threating her boys and friends to keep quiet. She did most of her confiding after that to a psychologist friend and her life went more smoothly.

Libel is stating false allegations through writing. It also includes oral remarks made through the media, such as radio interviews. Celebrities occasionally sue newspapers for reporting what they say are untrue stories, such as having an affair. Then it is up to that media source to prove that it is a fact. Sometimes there is a private settlement and the celebrity drops the charge. Your solicitor or mediator will strongly warn not to post anything damaging about your former spouse on social media. Just do not mention your ex on any site to avoid possible libel. Do not let anyone take compromising photos of you or post comments that could be misconstrued or misinterpreted on social media. Photos and comments regarding excessive partying on social media can and have been used as evidence post-divorce to go to court to amend custody arrangements. You want to be viewed as the reliable parent you are, and not someone whose priority is mainly elsewhere (nightclubs).

There are abusive ex-partners who do not want to let go no matter what. One way to get out of their web is to relocate if this is feasible. This works well if you moved when getting married, do not have family ties in that city and can work in another locale. Keep your solicitor in the loop if lawsuits seem imminent. Respond, rather than reacting to whatever they may throw at you. One cannot change other people, only one’s own actions and responses. Rejoice when this type of ex-spouse remarries, because their focus may lessen on you. A supportive network and having fun is crucial in maintaining sanity post-divorce.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine







Emotional and Financial Abuse

Domestic violence is more noticeable to others outside of the marriage, especially when one partner is sporting a black eye. Financial and emotional abuse can be more hidden to family and friends, but no less devastating. These two seem to go hand in hand with or without physical abuse. The crux of financial abuse is control. One spouse is attempting to control actions by hampering the other’s financial independence. He removes the other partner’s name from a bank account who then is unable to access money and turns to spouse or others for it. The abusive spouse may demand to see all receipts and monitor every pound that is spent. Often all decisions regarding household expenditures are made by the abuser. The victim may be prevented from spending any money on the children. This is a way to trap a person and keep her in the marriage. Relying on handouts is a way to control the relationship through money.

After Anne had their baby baptized, Edward decided that he wanted to bring her up in his religion. Anne would not have married Edward if she knew that he would change his mind on this deal breaker issue. Edward then withheld money from Anne as punishment.  She had to cut short her maternity leave and return to work in order to pay bills.  Not surprisingly this marriage ended in divorce. Financial abuse can also be vindictive for a certain behaviour.

Emotional abuse is a power ploy to keep the other spouse in line by such tactics as manipulation and berating them. The spouse may be told that she is unattractive and incapable of making decisions. Emotional abuse breaks down a person’s self-esteem and self-worth by causing them to have doubts about themselves. The children may pick up on this message and view that parent as weak or be afraid to anger the abusive one. The abuser uses the kids to challenge the other parent’s authority. The children may also be abused in various ways too.

Emotional abuse’s aim is to punish and humiliate the partner. Perhaps this spouse is having success on the job and the abuser wants to put him in his place. Lying, threats and blame are components of this type of abuse. Psychological abuse is especially carried out by Narcissists who are insidious adversaries. These people are charming at first and then their mask comes off revealing someone who cannot share the spotlight.

How to break free?

  • Platform 51 and the National Domestic Violence Helpline are great resources as a starting point.
  • Other measures you can take are to have access to your own money by opening up an individual bank account in your name only. Selling some jewelry could fund this.
  • Have a friend or parent keep a small amount of “mad money” for you at their place in case you make a hurried get-away.
  • Lock up your valuables to sell at a later point.
  • Get counselling.
  • Get a divorce solicitor as I did in a hurry.

I did not realize the extent of the financial and emotional abuse I was enduring until the day I met with my new solicitor. My sons were ecstatic when I told them I was delivering a list of collaborative solicitors to their father (through the mail slot). Post-divorce I felt rich when I was in total control of my own money.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine




Why Forgiveness is Important Post-Divorce

Forgiving your ex can seem like a daunting task that has no merit for you. So why do it?  Webster’s Dictionary defines forgiving as “ceasing to feel resentment towards an offender”. Holding on to this resentment is a way to stay attached to your ex. Forgiveness is a way to sever these binding ties.

To start my forgiveness process, I imagined my ex with having strings around him like a marionette.  I then visualized giant scissors cutting through all of these strings until no more remained. I felt like a burden had been lifted from me and it was easier not to want any ties of resentment to attach me to him again.  Forgiveness is not about the other person, but rather about you. You do not even have to tell anyone that you forgave your former spouse.

Holding on to a grudge, whether it is your spouse or an in-law, is detrimental to your health, such as by increasing your blood pressure.  Muscles tighten, restricting blood flow and oxygenation which in turn leads to headaches and worsening chronic pain. The esteemed Dr. Carl Simonton of the Simonton Cancer Center in California, stated that not practicing forgiveness can lead to an “increased risk for cancer.”  Is your anger towards your former spouse worth all this?

During divorces, some people wrote a long letter regarding their anger and disappointment in their spouse.  They spilled their vitriol onto the pages and were amazed when they felt so much lighter afterwards. Destroy and do not send it.  The experience of writing that letter can lead to the path of forgiveness and healing.

I found a note in the bathroom stating my spouse was leaving me and I was fired from our small, jointly owned business. In the space of seconds I went from having a spouse and being employed to feeling like I was standing on the edge of a deep abyss. I had to admit, and then process my shock first before I could even think of moving on. My two sons and I were going out of town that morning and their father was leaving on a business trip. My older son saw the note and wanted to continue with our trip plans for the long weekend. I walked around Disneyland alternating between shock and euphoria. After a week, I hired an attorney to start divorce proceedings.

Marie was bitter for decades after her divorce and held much resentment towards her former husband. Her daughter married a similar type of man, so it was no surprise when she later got divorced too. Marie saw her own situation in her daughter’s and had a massive heart attack a year after her daughter’s divorce. A stroke followed and then a burial. The daughter fortunately had decided to forgive her spouse during her divorce to avoid her mother’s complications. Sometimes even a bad example can spur us on to take a prudent path in our lives.

If you are having a difficult time forgiving, then talk to a therapist, life coach or your clergy. They can help you to become unstuck and clear up any faulty thinking. What also helped me were writing positive affirmations on colored index cards about forgiveness and other issues. Author Catherine Ponder has a selection of excellent positive affirmations in her books. One that I used was “I now fully forgive everyone including myself. I let go and everybody who is not part of my Divine plan is no longer part of my life. I am free of resentment from my past and present.” I said variations of this everyday.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine










Visitation When There Has Been Previous Abuse Pre-divorce

During the divorce process, there are two attorneys and possibly an interim child psychologist looking over the parents’ shoulders during visitation. They are checking to make sure that a parent is not trying to alienate the other one and that the children are having smooth transitions. In the majority of cases visitation goes well with children benefiting with the presence of both parents in their lives. When there has been some past abuse or the children feel threatened, or unsafe, then measures can be taken. These tips help children feel more comfortable.

Get a track phone for your child with an x amount of prepaid minutes. Some of these phones will let you program a few important numbers in them. I taped that track phone’s number and my son’s therapist one on the back for any emergency. Just carrying the phone discreetly in a pocket can help a youngster feel more secure. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy comes in a dose for children This is for an acute, stressful situation, if one should arise. I would only send this with an older child who understands how to correctly take this stress remedy.

Another helpful hint is letting the child take a small object that helps her feel more powerful. It may be a saint’s medal or a special natural stone with certain perceived protective properties. My younger son got a Chinese character with a specific meaning from a compassionate shopkeeper. He still wears it around his neck for ongoing protection. My older son also included a smooth gemstone in his pocket that he fingered when upset. Maybe a small toy would be comforting for a young child.

If the older child drops out of visitation when she turns 18 and the younger one refuses to go alone, then supervised visitation is an option. The length of visitation or the type of activity might have to be adjusted. Your divorce attorney or child’s therapist can help with setting up supervised visitation. The age where a child can petition the court for modifying or ceasing visitation varies by state.

Do not ask how visitation went or what your child and the other parent did. If you suspect that any abuse is reoccurring , document any physical signs (photos of bruises) and discuss this with your lawyer. Children’s Protective Services may have to be notified. Again, most visitations go well with children feeling loved and cherished by both parents.