Contact Laura for your free, 60-minute confidential consultation to help you make better decisions in your divorce, achieve better outcomes and lower the cost. And sign up on my website to download your free MoxieLife Divorce Survival Guide — where I give you easy action steps for getting off the emotional rollercoaster in your divorce!
You might think you know what happens to kids because of divorce…but I’m here to prove you wrong.
Brian D’Apice has dedicated his life to the service of others. He is a U.S. Army veteran, a former teacher in Indonesia and Thailand and is currently planning to bicycle around the perimeter of the continental U.S. to raise money for children in Asia. Brian is also a child of divorce.
As a divorce coach, I hear it all the time. “My marriage sucks, but I can’t get divorced because it will damage my kids.” Or I hear, “We’re waiting until the kids are old enough to go to college.” I have an issue with these statements. Firstly, they assume that your kids aren’t aware of the miserable state of your marriage or that it doesn’t impact the quality of your life together as a family. They do and it does. Secondly, these statements are also founded on the self-limiting belief that kids are damaged by divorce. They don’t have to be. As co-parents, YOU and your ex are fully in control of what kind of damage is incurred. Developmental psychology studies over the last 20 years have shown that kids aren’t damaged by divorce. Kids are damaged by parental conflict.
And I point the finger at mass media for creating some of our central, collective perceptions about the latch-key kid, neglected at home after divorce and pre-destined for a life of bad choices. While this certainly can and has happened, it can be avoided. You can choose a different path. Your divorce could be the catalyst for teaching your children resilience and core values.
Brian D’Apice is a child of divorce … and he has dedicated his life to the service of others. Brian D’Apice is not the horror story you hear about. He’s the kid that every parent is proud of. He’s the example I want you to think of when you … or your friend or family member … says, “divorce damages kids.” And his parents’ divorce story isn’t pretty either. It is messy and complicated, like a lot of divorces.
Larry D’Apice, Brian’s dad, was married young. Actually, he was married and divorced before he was 25 years old when his wife left him for another man. And then, he re-married his ex-wife a year later when she came back. They built a life together. They had kids together. He built his business. And then, after 25 years of marriage, his wife announced that she wanted a divorce the day before Thanksgiving and just two months after the 9/11 attacks on the USA. In retrospect, he says that he never felt “all in” the second time around. He was always waiting for that other shoe to drop. Of their three boys, the oldest was in college and the youngest in middle school. Brian, the middle child, was 17. Upon learning that his parents were divorcing, Brian said “Oh my god, we’ve become a statistic.” Even after they announced their intention to get divorced, nothing changed for 2 years in the household. They didn’t argue or fight. Larry describes it as “sterile.” They tried marriage counseling. They went into mediation. They were in divorce limbo. And unbeknownst to Larry, his wife had already hired a lawyer. And she had put all of their joint assets in her name. And so it began, the multi-year divorce battle over the business assets and custody of their youngest child. After his first semester in college, Brian announced he wanted to join the Army. Larry believes that Brian chose the Army due to the tension in the house, but Brian denies it. Larry is also worried that none of his sons will choose marriage based on their experience with his divorce. Brian denies that too.
Brian claims to have had a “perfect” American childhood. Mom at home. Dad at work. Nice house. Sports after school and on weekends. He never saw the divorce coming. Even after the announcement, there was never any fighting in the household, but his parents had started talking about each other in ways Brian had never heard before. By the time the divorce battle got truly heated, Brian was already in the Army. Even from afar, he did what he could to mentor his younger brother who was front and center in the divorce battle. Brian served two tours in Iraq before coming home and finishing college. Drawn to Asia, without any financial responsibilities and looking for adventure, he went to Thailand without knowing anyone or speaking the language. He took a class to get a teaching certificate and then looked for a job on his own. After Thailand, his travels brought him to Taiwan and then Indonesia where he continued to work with children.
Granted, Brian was 17 when his parents started the divorce process. And even he will admit that he considered himself an adult at that time. Looking back on it now though, he also realizes that he was still a kid then and his parents’ divorce did have an impact on him.
“With my parents’ divorce, I was able to see deep dysfunction in humans.” Brian says. His experiences in Iraq and his subsequent travels showed him what deep poverty looked like. He calls Jakarta “Baghdad without the bullet holes.” Juxtaposed with his parents’ divorce battle back home, he realized that the things his parents were arguing over were petty in comparison to what he was seeing in the rest of the world. He calls it “insanity turned into a learning experience.” And observing their dysfunction gave him a larger perspective on life and on what is truly important. He thinks it shaped him for the better. He learned a lot from watching his parents and is determined not to make those same mistakes.
And while he is disappointed that his parents weren’t able to find a path for themselves and their kids to more amicably end things sooner and without having had to lose so much, he knows that both his parents love and support him unconditionally. Brian also knows that home IS family. Brian lives his life with deep appreciation. “I feel like I won the lottery. I’m American, debt-free and healthy” he said. And he feels that he’s had more than enough of everything – capability, education and opportunity. Money isn’t even in the equation for Brian. His goal is to make a huge difference for people who really need it.
Starting in April 2015, Brian’s next project is to bicycle around the perimeter of the continental U.S. to raise money for two charities — Connecting Families and Pencils of Promise – to help provide basic needs and healthcare to children in Asia. Click here to listen to Brian discuss his project. And click here to visit his website. I support Brian in the change he is trying to make in the world … and I hope you do too.
Divorce is transformation. You can use it to learn and grow or you can remain stuck in a bitter cycle for years on end. Having been through it himself, Larry D’Apice wants parents to model better behavior for their children in their divorce. In the 10 years since his divorce, Larry has tried to help parents considering divorce avoid the unnecessary pitfalls he encountered that will have a negative impact on their children. Family comes first. His own divorce taught him to focus more on his children. And as a child of divorce, Brian also learned a lot. In many ways, his family became closer. And his experiences overseas gave him an appreciation for the bigger picture, which made his parents’ divorce seem insignificant in comparison. Brian also admits that since his parents’ divorce, he’s “very careful” and selective with women. So, Larry’s hope around his sons’ future marriage might have to wait for some time, after all. And that’s OK. Brian has more important things to do right now anyway.
Much thanks to Brian D’Apice and Larry D’Apice for being so open and sharing their stories with me.
Is your marriage shackling you to an unfulfilled life?
How many years have you been allowing what you don’t like in your marriage? And how many compromises have you made that just didn’t feel good? I’m not talking about leaving the toilet seat up or the toothpaste cap off. I’m talking about where you wanted to be in your life … your hopes and dreams for your future. Your future is now and somehow those hopes and dreams got derailed by someone else’s hopes and dreams. And somehow the fairy tale of a marriage, a shared life, was supposed to make it all OK that you put someone’s else’s needs before your own. But it isn’t OK. It is never OK. Without really knowing how you got here, you realize that your marriage isn’t quite right. It wasn’t what you envisioned it to be. And it leaves you hollow inside.
As a divorce coach, I hear it all the time. My clients aren’t fulfilled in their marriage, years have gone by, and yet they are reluctant to accept that a divorce might be the best thing that ever happened to them. I hear “my relationship isn’t abusive” or “I don’t want to hurt my family” or “maybe, it’s just me.” It makes me wonder “why are you holding onto something so tightly when it isn’t serving you or your family … and what would letting go look like?”
No More Drama
Divorce can be a gift to you and your family. All the fighting, emotional distance and disappointed expectations would end. There might finally be peace and appreciation in your life … and your childrens’ lives. And believe me, your children want peace. They want loving, happy and engaged parents … regardless of whether they are married or not. And you will be a better role model for them when they see that you aren’t settling for less than you deserve. There’s reason they tell you on an airplane to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your children. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else. So, who are you really helping in this situation? No one.
No More Compromise
Divorce can be the catalyst in your life to stop compromising yourself and your values, to stop allowing what you don’t like. Relationships require equal give and take, but when you are doing all the giving, then something is seriously broken in the relationship. Even in a marriage, you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for someone else. In a balanced relationship, Mr. Right will cherish that about you and support you 1000%. So, why are you wasting time with Mr. Wrong knowing this situation won’t change? And if you wouldn’t want that for your children, why are you still allowing it?
No More Putting Yourself Second
Divorce will put you in the driver’s seat of your life. For some, that kind of ownership feels like overwhelming responsibility. Well, if that is the case, I have a secret to tell you. You only get one life and you’ve always been in the driver’s seat. Choosing to let someone else decide where you go feels easier, but in the end, it will leave stuck in an unfamiliar place that you never actively chose for yourself. So, take the wheel! Your fulfillment is all that matters in this world. If you are happy, then everyone around you, including your children, will be happy. And Mr. Right will do everything in his power to make you #1 … which just might earn him that title of Mr. Right.
So, let go of what doesn’t serve you. Realize that divorce can be a gift to you and your family. If you keep looking backward, you can never see the world of possibility in front of you. Believe that you deserve far more in your life than settling for an unfulfilling marriage. Listen to your intuition. Believe it before you waste more of your life being unhappy. And accept that there are better things waiting for you.
Everyone has the best intentions when they get married. Couples share their dreams for building a life together through love and partnership. But life doesn’t always work that way. There are so many reasons why couples get divorced – infidelity, incompatibility, addiction, abuse, loss of love – and when they do, there is a lot more to deal with than just the divorce itself.
Everyone knows that divorce can be expensive. But unless you’ve experienced it, it is difficult to understand the true cost of divorce — not just on your pocketbook — but on your identity, your children and your way of life. A divorce is all-encompassing and will change your life forever. And what are you really buying? That’s up to you. Based on how you choose to deal with it, divorce can be a crushing or a trans formative experience.
Your Identity Is Gone
Divorce is the loss of the most important relationship in your life. It is the loss of your identity as part of a married couple. And it is the loss of the dream you had around what your life would be like. When you decide to separate and get divorced, everything you thought you knew and relied on is gone. Suddenly, you are cast at sea with no sense of direction. You are angry, hurt, confused, and fearful. You need to grieve for what has been lost, but eventually you have to acknowledge that it was broken, so you can move on … so, you can find a new path. You have a choice. The real you, your authentic self, is still there. Find that person again. Explore who you are now and who you want to be. Fill the empty space that is left behind with new clarity and purpose around who you are and what you want for yourself, your family and your life.
The Relationship You Had With Your Children Is Gone
Divorce conjures up our worst fears of broken homes and damaged children. There is a huge stress and anxiety that comes with separation and divorce – for you and your children. Children thrive on structure and routine. So, with separation and divorce, the familiar family structure has changed. One parent is no longer living at home and divorce means a whole new routine, depending on the parenting plan. Additionally, divorce might mean a move to a different town or city, in which case the children might need to adapt to a whole new school. Children’s worst fear is that their parents will disappear. And our worst fears as parents, is that our actions are causing irreparable damage to our children. All of the transitions associated with separation and divorce will change your relationship with your children forever. You have a choice. If you and your ex choose to put your children first throughout the divorce, you can actually make your relationship with them better. Regardless of the divorce, you are still a family and always will be. Reinforce that idea with your children as frequently as possible and treat every moment with them as a gift. While a co-parenting plan takes some getting used to, it forces you to prioritize the time you do have with your children to make it the best you can. Quality wins over quantity every time … and kids know it. The greatest gift you can give your children is to be present with them. Let go of your guilt when it comes to the divorce and your children. Be confident that they will be getting the best of you as a happier parent. Believe that divorce does not have to destroy your family, unless you let it. Children are resilient and they know when you are being honest and sincere. There will definitely be bumps in the road, but show your children that you aren’t going anywhere and that you will always love them regardless of the circumstances. The bonds you create with them now will be stronger than ever before.
Your Way of Life Is Gone
With separation and divorce, the life you once knew is gone. You are no longer a couple. You no longer have a dual income. You no longer have a clear financial future. Not only is your bank account on life support, but you are probably in a heap of legal debt. As I mentioned previously, divorce is expensive. It costs as much in legal fees to get divorced as it does to get married – in the range of $20,000 – $30,000, with variability based on your individual circumstances. Depending upon your situation, you might get alimony and/or child support … or you might have to pay it out. The child support calculator (at least in my state) is based on discrepancy in income. With a higher percentage of women out-earning their spouses these days, you might need to pay your ex child support, even with 50/50 shared custody. Your assets are divided, so you have less. Your retirement accounts are equalized, so you have less. It is unlikely you have the money to buy your ex out of the house, so you will have to sell it – and with divided equity, you have less to buy a new house (never mind something comparable). You are starting over, sometimes with less than you were married with. It is frustrating and demoralizing being back to square one after so much hard work.
So, let’s shift your perspective. You have a choice. You are starting over – with less baggage (literally and figuratively), less financial pressure (from having to pay for the old house and car) and less compromise in every part of your life. You decide your next steps. You decide where you want to live. Quality time with your children brings them closer to you than ever before. And acknowledgement of your authentic self gives you clarity and purpose. You’ve made money before the divorce and you will make it again after – but your priorities have changed and regardless of your finances, you recognize that your relationships – with your children and yourself – are far more important.
So, what you really buying with your divorce?
All divorce attorneys are not the same. Make sure you find YOUR perfect fit!
It’s difficult to know where to turn when you’re faced with divorce. Few of us have had any prior experience with the legal in’s and out’s associated with this difficult process. In my divorce coaching practice, I’ve heard too many stories of time and money wasted as clients go through lawyer after lawyer trying to find the right one. And yet finding the right divorce lawyer is key to what could be a faster, less expensive divorce versus a long-drawn out emotional and financial nightmare. But if you don’t know what to look for in a divorce lawyer, how do you know you’re investing all of your money, hopes and dreams in the right person?
Follow these 7 steps to find the divorce attorney that’s the right fit for you!
1. Be Realistic
Firstly, you need to realize that divorce is a legal process with the sole purpose of dissolving your assets and resolving custody issues. Your divorce attorney’s job is to represent you to the best of their ability in this process. While you might want them to listen to your anger, frustration, pain and sadness, that is not their job. They are not trained to be your therapist or coach and they don’t want to be. Since your attorney has higher rates and the clock is always running, it is a gross misuse of your money if this is how you are using them. And divorce attorneys have seen it all. What seems immensely important to you might barely register for them within the scope of the legal process. So, be realistic about the role of your divorce attorney and what you can expect from them.
2. Stay Focused On The Goal
Your ultimate goal in this process is to get divorced … and hopefully, you can do so without any major depreciation of your lifestyle. Don’t let your emotions jump in and run rampant when it comes to negotiating over material things that don’t mean much to you in the big picture. If you do, your divorce will be longer, more litigious and definitely more expensive than otherwise. Is it worth it? No. So keep your focus on getting divorced as quickly, and with as little financial damage, as possible. So, the next question is: what kind of divorce will do that for me?
3. Know What You Want
Before you rush out to hire a divorce attorney, consider other alternatives to traditional litigation. If you aren’t completely entangled with children and finances, you could hire a mediator to help you negotiate the terms of your divorce. Mediation is the fastest, cheapest way to get divorced and you might not need to hire an attorney at all! If your negotiation is more complicated, you will have to hire a divorce lawyer to negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney. Or you could consider a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is focused on negotiation with the goal of preserving a co-parenting relationship. Your last resort is a litigated trial. Typically, these are the cases when neither side will compromise. So, you need to determine what type of divorce attorney you need based on your unique circumstances. Realize that any divorce attorney you talk to will try to steer you in the direction of their own specific expertise. It is up to you to know what you want first, so you can make the right choice.
4. Identify At Least Three Potential Attorneys
Don’t jump to hire the first lawyer you meet. They are not all the same. Find at least three divorce attorneys that you can interview before making your decision. Clearly, you need to hire a lawyer that specializes in family law – and one that is experienced in the specific type of divorce you think is best for you. The ideal attorney has the legal knowledge and experience you need, helps you understand the process, communicates and negotiates well, solves problems creatively and is experienced in your specific court system. So, you need one that is local to you. Regardless of whether or not your divorce is headed to trial, your attorney needs to be experienced with the family law judges in your jurisdiction, so that he/she can advise you appropriately on legal strategy. So, how do you find potential attorneys? Ask you friends for personal recommendations. Ask your trust or estate lawyer for divorce attorney recommendations. Go online to the numerous websites that provide client reviews of attorneys local to you.
5. Interview And Research Potential Attorneys
Start with an initial phone call. Ask them about their experience and specialization within family law. Ask them about what type of client they typically represent. Ask them about their rates. Most divorce lawyers charge an hourly fee and require a retainer, a fee charged in advance. Some lawyers will also negotiate fees based on anticipated settlements. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) on a meeting if they are out of your cost range. Most divorce attorneys provide a free consult to discuss your specific situation and what their legal approach would be. So, take advantage of it to gather as much legal advice as possible! Typically, the attorney you meet with will not be handling the day-to-day issues related to your case. So, ask to meet the colleague or associate that would. The divorce process can also include financial experts, parenting coordinators, coach facilitators and forensic appraisers (to name a few). Find out your attorney’s access to these resources and if any would be relevant to your case (as it will affect overall cost). And even if you have no intention of heading to trial, look at the attorney’s trial record and history of success in court. This track record is an indicator of your attorney’s success in negotiation.
6. Look For Red Flags!
Unfortunately, many attorneys will tell you what you want to hear just to close the deal. While this is your life, it is a business for them. There are no guarantees in this process, so if an attorney is making promises, don’t believe it. If an attorney talks about high-profile clients or divulges confidential information based on other cases, it is highly likely they will do the same to you. If they aren’t respectful of other divorce attorneys you are interviewing, it is a sign that they won’t be to you either. And if during your consult, they are constantly distracted by phone calls and emails and can’t focus their sole attention on you, they likely won’t during your divorce case. Make sure the lawyer you choose acts according to the professional ethics of the industry and treats you with the respect and attention you deserve. This might be their business, but it is your life!
7. Make Your Choice
The divorce attorney you choose to represent you is local, professional, knowledgeable, responsive and communicates well. This attorney is someone you trust and feel comfortable with. This attorney supports your basic philosophy toward divorce and has a style that works for you. This attorney recognizes the importance of your children and puts them first in the legal process by not making unreasonable child support demands or custody arrangements. This attorney is affordable. Divorce is a highly personal and emotional process, the outcome of which can have a significant impact on your life. This is an important decision and there are no guarantees in this process. However, if you follow these steps, you will find the right one – the one that listens to what you want, advises you well and has your best interest at heart.
Use coaching to make better decisions in your divorce, achieve better outcomes and lower the cost. Contact me for your free, 60-minute confidential consultation.
Stop blaming yourself for your divorce. You can’t finish the dance when there is only one of you still on the dance floor.
You might not realize it, but your marriage was not just about you and your ex. There was a third thing involved here called the relationship – that unique dynamic that the two of you created together, that bound you together, that gave you purpose together. That relationship was your unique dance together, where there was joy in every step¸ every movement. So, what happens when you realize that you’ve been dancing by yourself? And that you have been for a very long time?
We all know that it takes two to tango. Two people committed to being in step with one another. Two people focused on each other. Two people equally invested in the dance. And when it’s right, it flows effortlessly like Fred and Ginger. When it’s not, there are two people dancing in their own separate corners. Or there’s just you, dancing by yourself. And when you suddenly realize that you have been dancing alone for quite some time, you just keep going through the motions. You believe you have to for the sake of what others might think. It’s a lonely place to be, especially when you can remember what the dance used to feel like.
So, what happened? How did you get here? You both had the best intentions and yet, somehow, the relationship had been forgotten, neglected, and abandoned somewhere along the way. What you didn’t realize was that the relationship itself is a living thing with needs of its own. Relationships need constant care and attention, and ultimately, they all have a beginning, middle and end. Yes, all relationships end. It is inevitable. The most successful relationships are those where a couple can keep transforming their relationship into something new. These relationships are characterized by vigilant gratitude, soul-baring communication, intense appreciation and a clear focus on the positive. I guess this is what people mean when they say that relationships take “work.” I don’t think it has to feel like work, though, if you’re both enjoying the dance. All other relationships die. Most people don’t realize that they need to invest in their relationship together every day … and that if they don’t, it won’t withstand the changes that come with time, emotional distance and responsibility. And the less they pay attention, the more likely it is that their relationship will wither away completely. Some people don’t notice for a long time. Others abandon it at the first sign of trouble for something else that is shiny and new. It seems too difficult to try to revive what has become so devoid of the joy it once had.
So, stop blaming yourself. Let go of regret. Let go of guilt. Let go of blame. Your relationship didn’t fail because of you. It failed because one, or both of you, forgot to dance every day. Know that the dance, the dynamic between the two of you, was unique to you. Neither of you will have that same kind of dance with anyone else. That dance contained joy and love, but also hurt, confusion, doubt and perhaps betrayal. Recognize it for what it really was between you both. Cherish it for what it gave you at the time. Acknowledge the lessons you learned from it. Be thankful that the dance it had become is over. And give yourself permission to let go of what it could have or should have been. It just was. No guilt or blame necessary. You needed to experience it to grow. So, take the gifts it gave you. Stop looking backward. Open your eyes and look forward. Your next dance partner is waiting for you. And this time, the dance could be a cha-cha, hip-hop or flamenco.
There is no question that going through a divorce is rough. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, up is down, right is left, and you don’t know how long the drop is, let alone how you will survive the landing. But you do. The people who “succeed” most at divorce are those that are resilient in the face of change and embrace the opportunity to transform their lives. Personal growth can only be achieved through challenge – and divorce is one of the biggest challenges you will ever encounter.
Initially, success feels like a far-fetched goal for most people going through a divorce. Sheer survival seems more realistic. Faced with the loss of your most important relationship, you are vulnerable and alone in analyzing what went wrong and grieving for the loss of what you thought you had. You question everything. How did I get here? What will happen to me? What will my life look like moving forward? To make things worse, you have to struggle with the endless, uncontrollable legal process that provides little, if any, emotional support. And the enormous scale of change that comes with divorce is overwhelming and opens the doors to your worst fears and insecurities.
Those voices are your inner critics who create fear, uncertainty, rage, resentment, jealousy, and panic. They fuel the fire of your most negative emotions to keep you in a place of reaction and doubt. They rob you of your strength and self-esteem. They keep you stuck in a story about your past. They distract you from focusing on yourself by keeping you absorbed in the anger, fear and pain from your ex. They create such a fearful vision of the future that some people choose not to move forward at all, rather than face their fear of the unknown. These inner critics will not serve you. Ultimately, they will sabotage you at every turn in the divorce process, if you let them.
So, how do you succeed at divorce?
1. Silence Your Saboteurs
Acknowledge them. Notice what they say most often. Notice how they make you feel. You know these are saboteur voices when they only instill fear and doubt. You know these are saboteur voices when the only future they paint for you is terrifying and bleak. What do they know? You might actually win the lottery someday. They don’t know you and what you’ve accomplished in your life. So, why are you listening? Once you know your saboteurs, you don’t have to react mindlessly to everything they say. You have a choice. Once you recognize your saboteurs, you can see how silly and ridiculous they really are.
2. Identify What You Want
You can’t get what you want until you know what it is. And in a divorce, not knowing what you want leaves you in a completely disempowered position. While the legal process is pretty much out of your control, you can maximize the probability of getting what you want if you have clarity and purpose. A clear vision of what is most important to you, now and in the future, will guide you in your decision-making. It will help you negotiate for a better result. It will put your best interests front and center, while you leave your disempowering past behind. It will make your saboteurs weak. It will help you move forward to transform your life into what you want it to be.
3. Honor Your Values
Separation and divorce can leave you untethered and rudderless as you adjust to being alone. Your individual identity was so subsumed by who you were as a married couple that it takes some self-exploration to identify who you are now and who you want to be in the future. It is important, early in this process, to identify your core values – such as integrity, family, achievement, and contribution – since it is these values that drive how you think and act. It is also important to recognize that your core values are unique to you. Often we make big assumptions that others share our values, when in fact they don’t. They are living life by a whole different rule book. Knowing your core values is essential since it gives you insight into yourself and what is most important to you. And it is important to know that when your core values aren’t being honored, by you or someone else, you will feel miserable. You can’t control your ex’s actions. You can’t control the legal process. You can’t control the repercussions of divorce on your life. But you can control yourself. By honoring your core values every day, and throughout this process, you will have assurance that you are making the decisions that are right for you. You will have confidence knowing that you are always true to yourself in your behavior and actions. You will know that you did your best. You will have conviction that your situation doesn’t define you. And you will have faith and hope that your life will be better than it ever was before.
Divorce challenges you to have the courage to step forward, to face your fears and move forward anyway. You have one life on this earth and it is your responsibility to live it as best you can. No excuses. And this is your opportunity to take the reins and create a new life for yourself – one that is far more empowering and fulfilling than the one you are leaving behind.