Fighting Misinformation in the Decision to Divorce
When Women Must Consider When Contemplating Divorce
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.
― Nora Ephron, Remarks to Wellesley College Class of 1996
The decision to divorce is never taken lightly. In fact, it’s often a much more carefully thought-out decision than getting married in the first place. And the thought of ending a marriage can be overwhelming and paralyzing.
Before you make any decisions, it’s important you do some research in addition to your soul-searching.
This week I spoke with Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge, the authors of The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Divorce. Dr. Murray is one of the nation’s leading experts in the study of unhealthy relationships. She has published a number of books on unhealthy relationships and mental health. Her therapy practice is based in Laguna Niguel, California. Dodge is a former divorce attorney who now devotes his career to empowering women to represent themselves in family law proceedings as the legal director of Laura’s House where he advocates for the legal rights of domestic violence survivors and their children.
Getting Educated About the Stakes
Dodge suggests doing careful research to understand exactly what’s at stake if you are contemplating divorce. You should seek out online and offline resources (that do not charge) that can offer the appropriate information for your state and county. It’s important that you understand your current finances—by looking at a schedule of assets or debts, income and expenses—to get an idea of what you have or what you owe. Do you have a lot of savings? Are you carrying a lot of debt? In many cases, this may be the first time this spouse is looking into these things, but it’s essential that you have an accurate snapshot of what your finances are. It’s one of the first steps in planning your future.
Dodge encourages spouses investigating divorce to be proactive at the beginning: “Get the right information. Try to safely collect as much financial information as they can, so when and if they do decide to move forward, it’s an informed decision based on accurate data related to their marriage and accurate data related to the law in their jurisdiction.”
I don’t want to imply that there’s some campaign to misinform spouses. While that may, in the worst cases, be true, what’s more likely is the “Greek Chorus” effect. This is that collection of voices of friends and colleagues who genuinely mean well but finally don’t really help. Everyone’s got a cousin who landed a remarkable settlement or has a disastrous cautionary tale from using X or Y tactics. Beware these stories. Every situation, every marriage and ever divorce is unique. If you are contemplating divorce, you should do some research about your own finances and the law in their jurisdiction—whether they’re in New York or California may make a difference.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.