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Divorce? You aren’t alone. Statistics show that January through March each year there’s a surge in Divorce filings. Questions? You can contact me 24/7 through my online schedule system at http://www.RichardsonLegalPLLC.com

How to REALLY Win Your Divorce

couple fighting

 

All of your reasons for getting divorced are totally valid. But what do you tell your friends? And how do you respond when your coworkers or your mother says “not to throw a good man away” or “she’s not so bad, try harder.”

I’ve seen it in my practice a million times — a spouse comes up with a million reasons why their ex- is a horrible person, shouldn’t see the kids and should be in jail. (The term “narcissist” is trending but I doubt the numbers of diagnosed narcissism has risen.)

The real culprit: Divorce guilt.

I’m not talking about serious cases of domestic violence — we all know that it isn’t acceptable. Not every divorce involves that sort of abuse. But cases of unnecessary conflict are pervasive.  What happens when there is extreme court fighting? In the end, the kids are hurt by lack of access to both parents and both parties suffer in a torrid, expensive court case.

In New York, as in all states, you can file for divorce under “No Fault” grounds by showing that the marriage has “irretrievably broken.” This means that the reasons why you are getting divorced aren’t so important – all we need to know is that the relationship can’t be fixed.

Very few people are 100% certain about divorce. But the lingering sense of guilt or doubt can lead to trouble. Some people, rather than dealing with these feelings in a healthy productive way (like personal therapy, meditation, exercise or chocolate), start recasting the marriage in an ugly way. Every argument was “verbal abuse”; that beer after work was “alcoholism”; missing the monthly piano recital was “total disinterest in the children”; and that time your ex- accidentally bumped into you is now “assault.”

This nasty portrait helps justify the divorce, so that when they explain “why” the marriage failed, they feel better about it – because it wasn’t their fault. This justification for your decision to divorce is expensive: as the court conflict escalates, the abilities of both parties to communicate deteriorates, often permanently. Maybe one spouse didn’t listen that the marriage was in trouble until it was too late. Maybe one spouse is a stubborn jerk. Maybe the communication sucked from the start. But being a jerk is not grounds to warrant a restraining order. And communication cannot improve by a lengthy, expensive, vicious airing of each other’s faults in court.

If you feel like your guilt is getting in the way of having a lower conflict divorce, explore those feelings with a therapist and try to get over it in a positive way. Even if you are justified in your anger over the divorce, the court isn’t a place to punish your spouse. With the shift towards “No Fault” the courts are refocused on dividing stuff and helping parents develop a custody schedule.

Try to avoid a scorched-earth approach to your divorce. Letting go of the hurt, anger and guilt is the best gift you can give yourself. Coming out of the divorce as a stronger and smarter version of you is the only real win in any divorce case.

A few pro tips for avoiding guilt:

  1. Make a list of the reasons that your marriage isn’t working and the ways in which you’ve tried to fix the situation — sometimes seeing your efforts on paper will reassure you that divorce is the right choice.
  2. Remind yourself that 50% of marriages (and 67% of second marriages) end in divorce.
  3. Reconnect with your old hobbies and activities or try new experiences — remember that you are a whole person.
  4. Talk to a therapist — if you can’t find one you like try an App like TalkSpace.com (text a therapist whenever or wherever).

January: Divorce month

Divorce? You aren’t alone. Statistics show that January through March each year there’s a surge in Divorce filings. Questions? You can contact me 24/7 through my online schedule system at http://www.RichardsonLegalPLLC.com 

My Four Reasons Why 2016 Didn’t Absolutely Suck.

2014-03-08 14.04.57-2There’s a shared feeling that 2016 has been a terrible, horrible, no-good year. While some curve-balls hit me in the gut (*cough*election*), this year was far from my worst. Here are my four reason that this year didn’t absolutely suck:

  1. At the start of this year I left an abusive relationship with an alcoholic. I’ve navigated many people out of bad situations, but never myself. It is much harder than I previously understood. I get that now. But I ended the relationship – as difficult and embarrassing as it was – and if I had not, then 2016 would have been truly terrible.
  2. I have worked very hard to own my responsibility for what happened – to the extent that I am responsible for enabling his behavior, lying to hide the situation and trying to ignore the truth. I realize I cannot be responsible for his side of the relationship. Shaking the manipulation and the harm to my self-esteem has been a challenge. But, I feel good about myself again. I’m not perfect, but I’m not afraid to breathe anymore like I was before. This year gave me the time and space to move forward and understand myself again.
  3. These refocused efforts have helped my work, my kids and even my relationship with my ex-husband. I have become very in-tune with the struggles my clients face and that has allowed me to be a better lawyer. While I’ve lost some relationships that turned out to be unhealthy, I’ve gained faith and trust in myself. Being honest with yourself is a threshold to having honest connections with others. I am thankful for finding so many new (and rekindled) friendships that have come my way as a result.
  4. During my darkest moments this year, I was able to write a body of work that I believe will help other people deal with the loss of their relationships (whether healthy or not, sometimes relationships fail). I hope to continue pushing myself in this endeavor as we come to the end of 2016. Look for news about my publication efforts in the year to come.

Looking forward to 2017, I have sorrows from the losses we suffered culturally and politically this year. I am concerned about social policy changes that might harm my friends and loved ones. I am concerned about this country and our place in the world. But I am ready. It was a hard year, which means it was an incredible opportunity for growth and change. Thank you, 2016, for helping me find my strength.

Count-down is on for January 1st!

What will you achieve this year? What made 2016 a good year? Discuss in the comments.

How To Cope With Adultery and Divorce

depositphotos_3092850_originalThis week I spoke with the smart and financially savvy Emma Johnson, over at her blog WealthySingleMommy.com about the problem with adultery from a divorce attorney’s perspective. The gist: courts won’t compensate you for a broken heart.

When there is infidelity, settlements are all but impossible, rationale goes out the window, and contention runs higher than in other matrimonial dissolution cases.

“That betrayal colors every single part of the divorce process, and makes it so much harder for the cheated-on spouse to be reasonable,” said New York City family attorney Morghan Richardson.

One of the most difficult conversations I have with clients can be dealing with their expectations because of a cheating spouse. Divorce can be an emotionally devastating experience. Adultery can make it much worse. But at the end of the day clients need to realize that the courts will do little about the reasons WHY you are getting divorced. Letting go of that emotional hurt can help get you to a fair agreement and move forward with your life.

Read Johnson’s take here: How To Deal With Divorce When Your Husband Cheated

Did your spouse cheat? How did the court handle that part of your case? Discuss in the comments.