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Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Divorced?

I am asked this question by almost every coaching client in the beginning of their divorce process. People are sometimes hesitant to use a lawyer for fear of it making them “look mean”, spending thousands of dollars on legal fees when they can just do it themselves, or they simply have no idea how to begin to find one that will mesh with their values and goals. Makes total sense. However, we strongly recommend that you put those hesitations aside and add a lawyer to your list of go-to divorce resources.

Just because you are working with a lawyer doesn’t mean you’ll be in the courtroom battling it out. You could be having a do-it-yourself divorce (i.e. kitchen table divorce) or working with a mediator, and still receive the benefits of working with a divorce lawyer. Below are some thoughts about how to incorporate a divorce lawyer into your mediation or do-it-yourself divorce.

In the beginning…

If you are in the phase of contemplating divorce, it is a perfect time for that first conversation with a divorce lawyer. He or she will advise you on any precautions to take prior to having the conversation with your spouse. This could include issues around your children, whether or not you should stay in the marital home, or a variety of financial matters concerning having adequate cash and securing bank and credit card accounts.

Your lawyer will also guide you on how the state divorce laws apply to you and your situation. I cannot stress the importance of you fully understanding your rights. Even more importantly, your lawyer may see things you aren’t in terms of what may be the best parenting arrangement or financial settlement based upon your particular circumstances. For example, parenting time may not automatically default to 50/50 if the husband has an alcohol problem or the wife travels all of the time for work without having adequate family support. You also may think you need to split that inheritance from your Grandfather, when in fact it is all yours because the funds have remained in a separate account with your name only.

If you simply do the research to understand the laws and think you need to apply them at face value, you could be missing some items that seriously impact your children or your financial picture. It’s definitely worth the few billable hours with a lawyer to have complete clarity on your situation and likely outcome.

During…

As you progress through your divorce, it’s pretty likely that you’ll hit some speed bumps. You and your spouse may find yourselves in a situation where you cannot resolve at least one item. Your divorce lawyer may help you with a negotiation strategy where you could give in another area to get what is a higher priority to you. He or she can also advise on the likely outcome if this issue were to go to arbitration or litigation. Mediators are also an invaluable resource to help with this process. Just remember, mediators cannot give either party legal advice. That’s the job of your divorce lawyer!

The end…

Your documents could be prepared by a Mediator, or you could have completed them from the forms you downloaded online. Now that you have the final settlement documents in front of you, take them to your divorce lawyer for final review. This may seem like an unnecessary step and expense, but this precaution could save you greatly down the road. You may think you agreed to one thing, but the legal drafting might not quite capture the spirit of your agreement. If there is an issue later, the words on the page will prevail regardless of the intent. It’s best to suck up the couple of hours of legal fees to be on the safe side. Fixing an issue later will cost you much more! Trust me on this one. Unfortunately, I learned this one the hard way!

The percentage of divorces that are do-it-yourself increases every year. At the same time, many divorce lawyers share with me that most of their clients are dealing with post-divorce issues. That would tell me that too many issues are slipping through the cracks when a lawyer isn’t involved to give their expert advice. That said, I sincerely hope you consider this guidance carefully when making your decision about engaging a divorce lawyer.

Untangle The Knot has much more information on finding a divorce professional and working with your lawyer. Learn more about how we can be your — your go-to online divorce resource.



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Save Your Time, Money and Sanity with Divorce Coaching

When we started Untangle The Knot, we honestly hadn’t envisioned offering divorce coaching. Our goal was to provide an online resource that would give anyone contemplating or going through divorce just about everything you need to know about divorce and living your life while going through it. However, as time went by, I was encouraged by many people to start divorce coaching because they knew how much I could help those who really needed it. They were right! With that, Untangle The Knot Companion Coaching was born.

What is Divorce Coaching?

In our recent blog How a Life Coach Can Help You During Divorce, you got an idea of what
coaching is all about. Divorce Coaching focuses on your life while you are contemplating divorce, going through the process and transitioning into your new single life. Every coach has a different style and methodology, but generally, a Divorce Coach will help you identify your next steps, define your priorities, help you get organized and hold you accountable while working through the plan.

My Journey to Divorce Coaching

Before starting Untangle The Knot, I enjoyed a very successful career in the business world. I thrived at working in chaotic situations or on complex projects where I would break the problem down to manageable pieces, set priorities, create a plan, and bring order to the chaos. This applied to acquiring companies, turnaround situations or simply large business issues that needed to be resolved. The other major part of my career was coaching — albeit informally. I seemed to have a knack for becoming people’s confidants and helping them through difficult situations. I found myself working with members at the Executive level and throughout the organization. No matter what my role or which company I was in, I always found myself playing this informal role.

I can quickly assess a problem, see what needs to happen and identify the steps to get there. I’m empathetic in my approach, but I will kick your butt a little when needed. There are times when it is okay to hang out in the fetal position for a bit, and times when action is required no matter how crappy you might feel. I’ll encourage you to take care of and be kind to yourself, but I will also push you when you need to be pushed.

What to Expect

We will start with a 20 minute phone consultation, and I’ll ask that you provide me with the background of your situation and what you are currently facing. I’ll give you some on-the-spot guidance and, when it makes sense, we’ll talk about how I can help you going forward.

My approach is customized.

Divorce is confusing, whether you are trying to make the decision to stay or go or you are in the middle of the process. I do not have a cookie cutter approach where we’ll check the boxes on a master checklist. We’ll develop a plan together that makes the most sense for you and the challenges you are facing. While many broad strokes of divorce are the same for everyone, everybody has unique situations and challenges they must face.

You’ll save money and time.

I can guarantee you’ll get through this phase of your life easier with me than without me! You’ll do much less spinning trying to figure out what to do next or what decision to make, you’ll be more focused on the immediate steps you need to take, and you will get through this more quickly while spending less money. This will ultimately help you to get through the divorce process faster.

I work well with others.

I am not a lawyer, mediator or therapist. I can tell you that many divorce professionals love clients who are working with a Divorce Coach. They find that these clients are more clear on their priorities, informed and organized. It enables them to use their time with you on their areas of expertise to ensure they can do the best job for you, at the lowest cost. After all, paying a lawyer $300+ an hour to help you create a budget is probably not the most cost-effective approach!

SPECIAL OFFER

I offer a limited number of ZERO COST strategy sessions where we’ll work together to:

  • Determine your greatest source of pain and stress right now, and get tools to minimize the struggle.
  • Get perspective. Most people don’t know how to successfully navigate the divorce process with less stress — because they do it without expert guidance.
  • Discover the tips to minimizing unnecessary divorce expenses and increase your peace of mind!

I know the first step is scary, especially if you haven’t committed to the decision to divorce. But if we are a fit, you’re putting yourself on a much easier path through divorce. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

My goal is to inform, empower and support you. I would be truly honored to help you through your divorce journey. Click here to learn more.



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How A Life Coach Can Help You During Divorce

When you think of a coach, it can have many meanings–that guy yelling plays from the sideline, directing his team to the big win. Or, the person who teaches your children how to hit a baseball or kick a soccer ball during weekly practices and games. Over recent years, coaching has increased in popularity with everyone from corporate executives to stay-at-home moms. A coach can be someone who is trained to help you advance your career, fine-tune your finances, navigate the divorce process, lose weight or even organize your closet.

What Does a Life Coach Do?

A true coach’s sole purpose is to help you reach your goals, on your timeline, based upon your desire for a higher level of fulfillment in your life — in any area. Techniques can include visioning, self-awareness exercises, core value determination, and learning to create new patterns of thinking, communication and behavior via various written exercises, role playing and through real life experiences.

To really benefit from working with a coach, you do need to be ready to actively participate in the process. It will require that you do the work outside of the weekly sessions, and genuinely take a proactive role in changing your life for the better. It is action-driven, even if that action is requiring you to sit quietly for 15 minutes each day to start to get your thoughts organized and clear.

How Do I Choose a Life Coach?

Don’t be afraid to ask for references and discuss the specific process that coach utilizes. As with therapy, there are different approaches, techniques and styles. You may prefer to work with a man or woman. You could choose a specialist (such as a Divorce Coach) or a general Life Coach, like me. You’ll want to feel comfortable with their level of experience and source of training. Some coaches are certified, but that isn’t required to be a coach. You’ll need to determine if this is important to you. It’s also important to understand the cost and time requirements each week, and if there is a contract for a specific number of sessions once you get started.

Do I Need a Life Coach If I’m Already Working With a Therapist?

Coaching and therapy are certainly not mutually exclusive. In fact, combining these services can be of great benefit and work hand-in-hand toward getting you on the right path in your life. A therapist is typically more focused on the root causes for feeling the way you do and helping you with coping, communication and more “feelings-driven” issues. A Life Coach is not an analyst and does not deal in the past. A coach will help you to clarify strengths and weaknesses, and what may be holding you back from moving forward or making better decisions in the future. A coach allows you to set the agenda, and guides you through the process of clarifying your goals, determining a timeline, and holding you accountable to action-driven commitments.

You may be hesitant to engage in a coaching relationship, or seek counseling with a therapist. Your perception of those services may be negative, and it may create feelings of vulnerability or weakness that make you uncomfortable. However, the common adage that two heads are better than one is certainly common for a reason. A Life Coach is a sounding board who will give you objective feedback and provide a perspective and insight to which you may be blind. Your current thinking patterns and behaviors have gotten you where you are; however it requires new thinking and behavior to get you where you want to go. That can only be accomplished with your willingness to consider other options, other perspectives and a significant amount of vulnerability.

Life Coaching During Divorce

Divorce is one of the largest transition times in your life. It gives you the opportunity to make decisions to shape your life in the direction you want it to go. Because this is such a difficult time emotionally, having an objective person by your side to keep you focused on achieving your vision is invaluable. It’s much easier to put your needs and desires aside and play it small than to go after what you truly want. As difficult as it may be to think about this, there is no better time!

With your Untangle The Knot membership, you have the opportunity to work with me as part of your service. During your free assessment with me, you’ll begin by completing an online survey that takes about 20 minutes. I will review the results with you via phone, and this information will help you clearly see how your strengths, weaknesses and values will shape everything from how you deal with divorce negotiations, make life decisions and even identify new career options. Meanwhile, Julie Gannon, Untangle The Knot Co-Founder and Divorce Coach, offers a free consult which will help you begin to navigate the divorce process from start to finish, and into single life.



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Blindsided by Divorce? Steps to Take Now

It may have began like any other day, until your world as you thought you knew it is shaken to its very core. Your spouse wants a divorce. He’s unhappy and wants out, and he decides to deliver this news to you as you’re heading out to take the kids to school. She had an affair and informs you via text on your way to a meeting. You didn’t see it coming. You thought everything was fine, right? You may have just chosen not to really see it, whatever it was. You could be feeling total shock, venomous outrage, complete devastation or all of those feelings within a 5-minute period. You may also feel relieved in a way. If you really let yourself think about it, you probably knew something was wrong.

Even though you may be falling to pieces (while the rest of the world seemingly goes about its business), there are actions we encourage you to take so that you can gain control over the situation when your spouse tells you he or she wants a divorce. Please don’t think these steps don’t apply to you, because your spouse feels “so guilty” and wouldn’t do anything else to you. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. It happens more than you would think, especially if there is a new love interest involved. Protect yourself, and remember that knowledge is power. Here’s how to start when your spouse tells you he or she wants a divorce:

  1. Call upon your support network – Who are the one or two trusted friends who will really be there for you when things are tough? The girlfriend who will not only show up with wine and Haagen Dazs at any hour of the night but will drag your butt to yoga class, watch your kids and help you march through the tasks ahead. The buddy who gets you out to watch a game or play a round of golf and listens to you vent, but who will make sure you tackle the action items on your to-do list and approaches your situation with a balanced approach. Keep in mind that the person who just bashes your ex won’t be most helpful here, as good as it may feel to do at points!
  2. Open a checking account – Open a checking account immediately with your name only. If you are working, immediately have your paychecks deposited into the new account. Transfer some funds from your current checking to the new one. Be sure to leave enough to cover any automatic payments and money for your spouse as well. Remember, your spouse could withdraw every penny right now from any joint accounts if he or she wanted to! You need to make sure you have some money to live, but don’t withdraw more than a reasonable sum or it could come back to haunt you.
  3. Gather important documents – You’ll want to have all key documents in a safe place. This includes statements for credit cards, bank and investment accounts, passports (especially for your kids), marriage certificates, birth certificates, social security statements, etc. You may want to store some electronically, such as a USB drive or on a service such as Drop Box. A Safe Deposit Box would be a good option for passports.
  4. Talk with a therapist – If you already have a therapist, call him or her now! Otherwise, now is a great time to start seeing one. A therapist can help you manage the intense emotions you are feeling so you can function through the process a little more clearly.
  5. Consult a lawyer – An initial consultation with a lawyer will give you guidance on your next steps and show you what to expect based on the laws of your state in terms of temporary orders you may need, child custody and a financial settlement.
  6. Tell your kids – You’ll need to tell your kids about the divorce. Hopefully both parents can deliver this message together. Ideally, both parents will stay in the same house for a week or two after telling the kids to help make they feel more secure, however this isn’t always possible.
  7. Take precautions for your kids – Tell your children’s teachers and principal. Schools often have support groups for children of divorce, and the school counselor can make special efforts to reach out. The principal can help you with guarding against any issues of potential kidnapping from the other spouse. Unfortunately, this does happen, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

This is an incredibly difficult time for anyone, and we know the last thing you want to think about is running to the bank and opening a new checking account. However, it’s so important to protect your money, legal rights and children in the midst of all of these big changes. Sign up now for your Untangle The Knot subscription to gain instant access to the complete In Case of Emergency Guide for much more information on what actions you should take now and how to complete them. Untangle The Knot offers many more resources to help you through this, including guides to finding a therapist and lawyer, scripts for how to tell the kids about divorce. With your free trial, you’ll also have access to a free consultation with our divorce coach to get you on the right path and help with going through a divorce. You are not alone. Let us help you through your journey.



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6 Tips to Start Preparing For Divorce

January is known as Divorce Month because more divorces are filed in this month than any other time in the year. If you think you may be going through divorce this year, you are likely overwhelmed and confused, not to mention emotionally distraught. It’s just not as simple as Hollywood makes it sound, where high-powered couples “consciously uncouple” left and right. It can be so hard to know what to do to prepare for divorce, but we have six tips to get you started:

  1. Make the Decision – It’s easy to stay in an unhappy marriage for months and even years. This makes complete sense because the idea of divorce is difficult emotionally, financially and logistically. But these aren’t reasons to stay in a bad marriage. Sometimes an event happens that makes the decision for you, but more often there is nothing specific guiding you in when to divorce, which is why people stay in limbo so long. Determine what you need to make the decision–therapy, understanding your finances, etc.–and begin taking the steps to get there.
  2. Put Your Children First – You need to consciously decide early on that you will put the best interests of your children first. This should be the lens through which your decisions are made. The effect of divorce on children can potentially be negative, but experts agree that it can be largely avoided through shielding your children from arguing, age-appropriate open communication and using an authoritative parenting style, to name a few. If you both commit to putting your children first, they will get through this transition more easily and the potential for long-term negative impacts will be lessened.
  3. Consult with a Lawyer – Untangle The Knot recommends this for everyone. Divorce laws vary by state and can be filled with nuances that can impact your particular situation. A lawyer will help you understand how the state laws impact your finances, support payments and parenting items. A lawyer will also help guide you on how to start a divorce, the process and alert you to potential issues. You don’t need to use a lawyer through the divorce process, but understanding your divorce from a legal point of view up front is very important!
  4. Know Your Numbers – You need to get a grip on your financial situation. It is critically important when you are considering divorce. You’ll need to know your current finances and how much money you’ll have on a monthly basis after divorce. Granted, spousal and child maintenance won’t be known yet, but it’s important to have a solid idea of where you stand without that.
  5. Start Planning – Begin thinking about other big decisions you’ll need to make. Based upon your post-divorce financial picture, will you or your spouse need to start working? How will this affect child care? Will one of you stay in the house? You will need to answer a myriad of questions, which can be absolutely overwhelming. We recommend that you look at your post-divorce financial situation first and determine what changes need to occur based upon that.
  6. Develop Your Support Network – You will need people you can count on through this journey. This could include close friends, family, a therapist, a support group, spiritual or religious leaders or organizations. Not everyone may understand or agree with your divorce, which may show you that people you thought would be in your corner are actually not. That will happen. Cross them off the support list and only include those who really have your best interests at heart.

As you start to gain more clarity around one item, you’ll be able to move to the next and knock that out as well. Little by little, your picture will become clear and you’ll know what you need to do. Sign up now for instant access to additional information about these topics and much more. We have 100+ pages of helpful information to guide you through making the decision to divorce or actually going through a divorce. This can be a lot to process. Take a breath and just go one step at a time. You aren’t alone. Let us guide you through your divorce journey.