Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The shift from a two-parent home to a one-parent home isn’t easy. You will question yourself, and the circumstances your children are thrown into. Will they grow up damaged in some way? It’s best to remember that no upbringing is perfect. Many children from unbroken homes grow up twisted. I believe that whether you grow up in a home with two parents or one, you will probably be a little screwed up anyway. People aren’t perfect, neither parents nor children. We can only try our best.
Ask yourself each day: Am I giving my children a safe, loving home with the things they need to be happy? Do I communicate with them every day, keeping up with their lives and changes? Do I show them love? If you can truthfully answer, “yes” to these questions then you are probably doing a good job as a parent.
The bottom line is that divorce is painful and you cannot completely protect your children from this pain. But you can lessen the risk of emotional damage and raise healthy, happy children even in the face of divorce.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Make a list of all of your spouse’s bad habits. Is there gambling? Smoking? Drugs? Liquor? Some amusements, like strip clubs and porn, can eat up the biggest paycheck. Keep your ears open. Friends, relatives, and even your children may spill the beans about your ex. You have to be alert, but be careful of letting yourself go with this. Don’t sink to the level of the dirt you’re searching for. Don’t grill the kids about daddy, and don’t shatter good friendships, or alienate those who truly love you. If your kids innocently mention something worthwhile, make a record of it. If a friend volunteers information, or if you want to ask for it in an honest manner, get everything you can. But hold on to your own integrity. Don’t deceive.
As you gather your information, weave all of your spouse’s bad behaviors into your motions. Expose everything in a way that shows the necessary connections. But also, don’t go overboard here either: If he is paying his support and you are primarily fighting about assets, do not tell the judge he goes to go-go bars!
There is no reason to intentionally hurt your spouse. You need only prove the points necessary to your case. If he is not paying his support then the judge needs to know what he is doing with his money. If he is getting more than his fair share of assets the judge needs a clear picture of what assets you each have, and who has what claims.
Always remember that what you put out in public can always come back at you. If you are going to use your divorce as a tool to get even only heartache can come to you. What goes around comes around.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Your financial situation after a divorce depends on these factors: support and settlement payments, job status, business opportunities, time, assets, and the financial needs of you and your family. Traditionally, stay-at-home moms have had the most difficult transition after a divorce. Usually the stay-at-home mom suddenly has to find work. Most likely you did have a job before you had kids, and your first thought might be to go back to your old workplace and see what’s available.
Then you often come up against the ladder model. This is the way many businesses operate. You climb up one rung at a time, but if you get off the ladder you land at the bottom again. When a woman quits her job, and goes home to raise the kids, she loses her place in the business world. She not only misses out on promotions; she often won't even be able to walk back into the job she left. She’s gotten off the ladder. This doesn’t mean things are hopeless, but many stay-at-home moms have a lot of catching up to do, and there is no way to entirely escape the effects of lost time.
Here are three easy ways to get back on track:
1. Assess your skills. What have you learned in your years in the home? Is there any part of being a housewife and mother that you’re particularly good at? Something people pay for? Something you like? Or was there any particular thing you were good at back when you worked? Something you could develop now, and quickly develop into a service with a market? It’s important that it be something you like. I don’t believe you can be happy working full-time at a job you hate.
Make a list of all of the things you enjoy doing. Might there be a job in a field that could harness your natural talents and pay you a decent salary? For example, let’s say that you love to plan parties. Could you get a job in a party planning company? A catering hall? How about working in a hotel as an event planner? Do you love kids? How about running a daycare center out of your home? That way you do not have to pay a sitter. (Though be careful of the daycare option; it’s an idea that occurs to so many single mothers, and the field is often crowded. Before you get a license make sure you have customers.)
I could give you example after example here but the point is to find something you enjoy and find a way to incorporate that into your work. If you are marketing your skills, remember to be businesslike about it. This applies to appearance, courtesy, and confidence, but it also means watching the bottom line. Always look at what you are spending, what you are getting for it, and how much profit you’re making.
2. Assess your education. Do you already have a college degree or some other training? Can you go back to school to learn a trade? There are many short-term courses out there that can have you earning money in no time. A typical realtor’s course is only a few weeks of full-time attendance. A hair stylist can get a license in most states in nine months of full-time schooling, and it’s a job where you can make terrific money. I used to own a hair salon and the stylists made much more money than I did! Most hairdressers get high commissions and make a lot in tips. For the most part they set their own hours.
Check into other programs that can get you certified in a short time. Schools offer refresher courses in many skills. When my ex complained that he had been out of the computer field for too long and couldn’t find work, I called the school where he had learned his skills years earlier—the Chubb Institute. They offered free refresher courses and job placement. See if you qualify for such a program. We never know until we ask. But most importantly, pick something you have an interest in and that you will do well.
3. Think about starting your own business. Many businesses can be started on little or no money. In the past I have sold children’s clothing on eBay, and the eBay business model works for a lot of services. In many cities people offer to clean out garages and attics, selling the contents on eBay, and splitting the profits 50/50 with the owner. I found a huge demand for used children’s clothing. Most of us throw our kids’ clothing into those donation bins. You can sell those clothes on eBay and make money. All you need is a computer and a digital camera. Ask friends who are discarding their hand-me-downs to give them to you instead.
This also applies to antiques, collectibles, and other valuables. People have so many things they would love to get rid of but they don’t have the time. There are other options. Many women have begun cleaning homes or businesses, and soon find themselves employing others to do the actual cleaning, while they price jobs, do the hiring, and inspect the work. Of course there are countless small business ideas that you can do right from your home. Be creative. If it seems sensible, team up with a friend or partner. Owning your own business can be fun, profitable, and boost your self-esteem. It can also get you tax breaks, freedom from bosses, and it may even make you rich.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Getting organized is one way to minimize the amount of work and run a more streamlined, calmer household. Try some of the tips listed below and before you know it you will be less stressed, more focused and able to spend more quality time with your kids!
• Time your phone calls. How many times have you spent hours chatting on the phone, only to hang up and realize that you don’t have time to do what you wanted to do? Set a timer by the phone. When it rings, politely tell the caller that you must hang up. You feel more in control and have more time to accomplish your goals.
• Clean out your kids’ book bags once a week. Take school notices and put them in a folder. At that moment go through the folder and throw out anything that does not need to be answered. Take action on all the other letters and write those checks to the PTA and book club now before you forget!
• Set your kids' clothes out every night for school the next day.If you have very young children you can save time by dressing them in their school clothes after the evening bath and letting them sleep in them. The clothes will be clean, although maybe a little wrinkled, and you can head out the door that much faster.
• Review your schedule every morning and evening. Make modifications for things that may come up unexpectedly.
• Schedule a specific time to answer your email.
• Clean your house and do laundry every day, instead of once a week. It is much easier to throw a load of laundry in while watching TV in the evening than to be overwhelmed with tons of it on the weekend. Assign a cleaning task each day, such as: Monday, bathrooms, Tuesday, vacuum, Thursday, kitchen, etc. By breaking down the big tasks you will be less overwhelmed and your house will be a lot cleaner!
Give those kids some chores! Even a young child can help fold laundry and clear the dinner dishes from the table. Have your family help out; after all they live there too!
•Be ruthless with your time! Try scheduling one hour a day for focus time: your time to decide on what is important to you.
•And remember to reward yourself. It can be anything, big or small, that refreshes you and that you enjoy.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Maybe Next Time He'll Think Before He Cheats.....
I am sure you have heard the Carrie Underwood song of the same name by
now. Most of us who have been cheated on have probably fantasized about keying our ex's car or inflicting some of the damage Carrie sings about in her hit song. As difficult as it may be, you must control your emotions.
The type of out of control behavior depicted in the song will only end you up in jail with a retraining order issued against you.
So what can we do to move through the pain and anguish of being betrayed by our spouse? Do spouses who cheat care? Do they harden themselves so that they can ignore the pain they’re causing? If they could feel the actual pain they are causing would it change them? Would they care then?
Most of us who have been the victims of adultery have been forced to ponder these questions. We look at spouses who we lovingly trusted, people with whom we’ve had children, and we see them walking away, blind to the tears, and deaf to the sobs of others. It is as if they have found a way to separate themselves from all that led up to now, and cut themselves off from the past.
As we ponder, we ask why? A woman asks: Was I not good enough? A man might ask: Was I not caring enough? Either might want to know: Did I keep up my end? Was I supportive enough? We blame ourselves, and examine every small detail. Like detectives we search for clues, leads, and turning points. We ask the questions of a spouse who is no longer there, and in the end we are left right back where we started: Why? Why would
There are no easy answers, but there are guilty feelings that can and should be dealt with. First, remember: you did nothing to make your spouse stray. This was their choice, freely made. There is always a moment (or moments) when a responsible person can say: No. The responsibility is theirs, and for those of us they abandoned the question is not: Why did my marriage break up? Instead we begin with: Did a perfectly loyal, loving spouse really suddenly turn into a cheater? It’s likely that the answer is: No. Which leads us to the question: Are there signs that we ignored?
I searched my soul, and my memory, and found that the answer was: Yes. The indications were there, and I ignored them. I had evidence that my husband was not the wonderful, trusting man I had made him out to be. I put on my rose-colored glasses, and saw him only through those lenses, filtering out anything that might threaten my family and me.
After the marriage is over, it’s often a good idea to look back and learn. This shouldn't be the kind of thinking that only leads to you torturing yourself. If you’re still at that stage, don’t dwell on the past. Only do this when you are far enough past the shock and the wreckage that you can think of it as an object lesson, and want to avoid the same traps next time.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Working through all of the different emotions and feelings of loss,betrayal, anger and disbelief took many months. One emotion I was surprised to feel was loneliness.
At first I thought that it meant it was time to go out and try and meet someone new. Then I realized that what I really craved was not a boyfriend, but attention, love and friendship.
That was when I decided to get a puppy. After all, puppies give you unconditional love. They are thrilled to see you even if you have only been gone for an hour and they are loyal, cuddly friends that will never betray you. Sine my youngest child was 7 years old at the time, I also had the urge to "baby" and take care of someone helpless again.
I adopted Luigi a 3 month old Maltese, 5 months after my divorce was settled. Luigi is a wonderful, loving, loyal little guy who has brought me an enormous amount of joy. He is truly my "best friend". He is there for me in good times and bad and I can count on his love and devotion.
If you are going through a divorce and feel a sense of sadness and loneliness,you need to work through these emotions. Meeting someone and getting serious too soon can be a mistake. If what you really crave is love and attention,think about adopting a pet. Ironically once you feel loved and needed again, you will naturally attract someone into your life will respect and honor you.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Divorce lawyers are expensive. You need to be proactive and know what is going on with your case at all times. Do not be afraid to ask your attorney questions. Too often we will sit back and assume that our attorney will do what's right and we put trust in someone who may or may not have our best interests at heart. There are reputable divorce lawyers out there, but you first need to weed out the money hungry ones who will take your retainer, file useless paperwork and drain your bank account before you even get a court date. Do not pick your attorney in haste. Go to your local family court and find out which divorce attorney has the best reputation in town and hire him or her.
Once you have hired your new divorce attorney, here are some simple rules to follow:
1. Beware of an attorney who takes a smaller retainer but does not file motions. Some spouses wait for months on end to get court orders for spousal and child support because their attorneys did not file the necessary motions.
2. Remember that when you speak to your attorney on the phone you are being charged per minute. Don’t make the mistake of chatting on and on. Get to the point and use a timer. If it is a routine question, such as the date of a hearing, speak with the support staff rather than the attorney. Time for support staff is often not billed, and if it is the fee is at a much lower rate than an attorney.
3. Follow your attorney’s advice to the letter. These people go to law school; they should know what they are doing. Making stupid mistakes, like calling your spouse repeatedly, picking fights, and not protecting yourself, can lead to bills, violence, and restraining orders. You should limit all contact with your spouse. Only discuss your children and any business you may have together. Let the lawyers do the talking for you whenever possible. That’s what they are paid for.
4. Follow the law. The most important thing you can have is self-control. There will be times when you want to act out, call your spouse names, or be vengeful. These actions can only land you in hot water. Taking your spouse’s credit card on a shopping spree can give you legal troubles you simply do not need.
5. You have hired an attorney to protect you legally. That attorney is also a huge expense and you want to keep track of what you are being charged. Keep a log of every meeting, phone call, and their durations. Also it is a good idea to record in a journal any incidents with your spouse, so that it will be easier to recall the details in court later on.
Most of all, know that although this is one of the most painful times of your life, you will survive. Finding the right attorney will give you confidence in your case. Your attorney is working for you and together you can plan for and obtain the best possible outcome.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
You and your soon to be ex are going to have to work hard at putting aside your anger and hard feelings toward each other. If the both of you can sit down and make arrangements for the children, it will be much easier, less painful and less expensive than having to go into court and having the court decide custody arrangements for you.
You should not keep the divorce a secret from the children. You need to explain to them what a divorce is and what is going to happen. Try to give them some notice and time to adjust before you or your spouse moves out of the martial home. This way the children can have time to deal with it and ask questions. Reassure the children that both parents are still going to be there for them and that the divorce is in no way their fault.
When you talk to your kids about the divorce, do not blame your spouse or badmouth him. It is important that the children know that they still have two dependable and trustworthy parents that love them and will be there to take care of them. Be truthful, but spare the details about the divorce.
Often children will secretly hope that their parents are going to get back together. You want to make it clear to them that you are not going to reconcile, but that you hope to remain friends. Tell them that there is nothing that they can do to change the situation. Also make it clear to them where they are going to live and when they will be able to see the other parent. If your spouse has a new apartment or house, make sure he takes the kids to visit it. This will make it less traumatic for them when they spend their first overnight visit there. Providing the kids with a sense of security is crucial. Give them the opportunity to ask you any questions that they may have.
Giving the child the right information but not too much information is important. You want to minimize their worry and anxiety. Despite your best efforts, expect that your children will go through some rough patches during the divorce. This is a major upheaval in their lives. Children do not like change and it will take time for them to accept this new way of life.