Thursday, December 12, 2013

Divorced? You Can Survive and Thrive During the Holidays!

Hi Everyone!  Thank you for reading my blog!  Did you know that I'm the author of not just one, but thirteen books?  For more information, please visit, and/or

Speaking from personal experience, I don't think this accurately describes the dissolution of a marriage. While the marriage itself may officially dissolve when a divorce is final, the ripple effect from the wreckage of the relationship continues to make waves for years to come. Especially, around the holidays. Especially, when there are children involved.

When we first sail out into the sunset with our betrothed, we fantasize about what the future holds. Visions of our ideal life dance through our heads:

A home filled with children, their toys and their art,
Family dinners and trips that will stay in our hearts
And the holidays, filled with expectations so high
With menorahs or Santa, traditions money can't buy.

Then, somehow our love boat hits rough waters resulting in divorce, and the relationship sinks along with our sugar plum dreams. Our happily ever after story changes course into a new and undiscovered land, and we learn how to reinvent our lives, one step at a time, to what will become our new normal.

While the new normal may ultimately be better for everyone, we often only hear the bad, the worse, and the ugly when it comes to divorce stories. Tales of revenge and children being used as weapons to inflict harm against a former spouse put them in the middle of the battle. Though they shouldn't be anywhere near the divorce arena, they all too frequently end up there, feeling pulled in both directions, torn by the fear of disappointing either parent. This can be especially true during the holiday season.

The best gift we can give our children is to provide them with a sense of love and stability throughout the year, and to keep in mind that during the holidays it can be a bit more challenging, not only for us as parents, but also for them.

Below are some comments, questions and answers relevant to handling the holidays as divorced parents (all based on the assumption that a child's safety is not at risk):

Q: I'm in the process of a divorce and with the holidays approaching I'm not sure what to do. How do we divide up these special family days?
A: 1. Make sure that every decision is with the intention of doing what is best for your children. No matter how upset you are at your ex, your children's sense of security must come first.
2. Put your differences aside and communicate with your ex. Be (literally) on the same page as your ex.
3. Have a schedule in writing. Make sure it's very specific as to whom the children will be with and when.
4. Tips for making a schedule:
a) Be Specific. State exactly the day and time children are to be picked up and returned, and by whom.
b) Alternate Holidays. Some families alternate years, and some alternate within the same year.
c) Divide up the Holiday. Thanksgiving lunch with dad, and dinner with mom. Or, make a turkey the week before. Who says you can only have turkey on that Thursday?! Christmas and Christmas Eve can be split, and Chanukah has 8 days. On the positive side, the kids get to celebrate more!
d) Share Holidays. Some parents are able to be together in the same room to cut the turkey, sing carols, or light the candles. But, it also may confuse or sadden the children so talking with the children and consulting a professional could be helpful.

Q: My parents divorced after I left for college. I looked forward to celebrating Thanksgiving at my aunt's house, and then my dad said he wanted us to come celebrate with him. We compromised by sharing the day but I think he felt disappointed that we didn't change our tradition.
A: We tend to forget that even older children need to keep some old traditions. Pick a different holiday to spend with Dad. There are great opportunities hiding in what we think of as problems.

Q: Does keeping traditions make it harder on the kids? It's not the same as it was, and trying to reenact the ritual is just a big reminder that things have changed.
A: It's important to balance old traditions that provide familiarity and comfort to all, while creating new ones to assist the family in moving forward. This makes it easier to transition into the new situation.

I'm going to be without my kids for the first time over the holidays. I'm already dreading it!
A: When we dread something, it will likely be dreadful. Change how you look at it. Challenge yourself to see this as an opportunity for you to have some rest and relaxation.
Second, giving is the spirit of the holidays. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, or bringing gifts to children who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays. This is also a quick way to feel grateful for what you have.

Q: This is my first Christmas as a divorced dad. My kids are coming to my place for dinner and I have no idea what to do. I'm afraid I'll disappoint my kids. What should I do?
A: Take a deep breath and remember your children love you unconditionally, and you have options!
1. If you're too afraid to cook, tell them you want to give them a special treat by going out for dinner.
2. If you're willing to take a stab at that ham or turkey, the Internet is your friend, providing a plethora of recipes.
3. Make it a family project. Get the kids involved and cook together in the kitchen. Make it fun and create new memories!

While I like to always focus on the positive, here are a few do's and don'ts that are helpful for the holidays, and all year round:
Don't make kids feel they have to choose sides.
Don't tell them how awful their other parent is.
Don't try to buy their love.
Don't use them as pawns on your chessboard of divorce.
Don't make them feel responsible for your happiness.

Do teach them that attitude is everything.
Do teach them they have a choice in how they respond to situations.
Do show them that they're loved unconditionally.
Do create a loving, secure environment.
Do show them it's possible to stand up for yourself and still compromise.

Holiday time carries with it certain expectations. Some of these we put on ourselves, and others are imposed upon us by society. Try to focus on what is best for you and your family and tune out the rest of the noise. Let it be a time to be grateful for what we have. When we focus on all that is good in our lives it helps to brighten the dark shadows cast by the difficulties we face. Children will follow your lead, so always take the high road. Onward and upward! Happy Holidays!

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
Follow me on Twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE   

Article source:  Huffington Post

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to Succeed At Divorce (Yes, It's Possible!)

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: 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.

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
Follow me on Twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Divorce Advice How to Handle Your Ex Getting Engaged

Article worth sharing from the Huffington Post on how to handle the engagement of an ex.  

Did your ex just get engaged? Here's some divorce advice on handling the news, based on my personal experience. I'll never forget where I was when I found out my ex-husband was engaged. I was sitting in the bleachers watching my son's basketball game, happily cheering him on, when I happened to glance over at his girlfriend, who was sitting next to my ex-mother-in-law, the two seeming as chummy as ever. Her left ring finger caught my eye (or maybe subconsciously I was looking) and I saw a huge diamond.

For the first couple seconds I was having trouble comprehending it. Keep in mind, I had been divorced for over five years at the time, but still, to say it was surreal is an understatement.
I turned to a mom sitting next to me and said, "See that girl's left ring finger? Does that look like an engagement ring to you?" The mom (who is also a dear friend) looked at the ring and in an attempt to make me feel better replied, "Well, maybe it's her grandmother's."

My mind started racing. When did this happen? How long had the ring been on her finger? Did my kids know their dad was engaged? Were they trying to hide it from me? When was the wedding? When were they moving in together?

My myriad of questions would turn into days of trying to absorb something I already knew, but now had concrete evidence of: my ex had moved on. Big time. Not that I ever thought he still had hopes for us, and not that I did, either, but this just seemed very permanent, and took the finality of the divorce to a new level.

I bet if someone did a measurable study, the conclusions would reveal that more men get remarried than women. I think that men who have been married before (and therefore enjoy commitment and monogamy) really want to be married again, which is why so many of them get engaged three seconds after they are divorced. Women, on the other hand don't mind waiting. (Most of them, that is. Some fall into that three second category themselves.)

But aside from realizing my ex actually must have liked marriage (just not with me) there were so many emotions that I would experience in the days following.

First off, I felt angry. Where was the justice in all of this? Was he going to end up living happily ever after with someone else, bringing to his new marriage all the lessons he learned from the mistakes we made in our marriage? Would she reap the benefits of the improved divorced guy? If so, that wasn't fair. I went to counseling for this and here's what I was told. A. if he ends up happily ever after that's great for my kids. And B. I was still harboring anger from the marriage that I hadn't really dealt with yet, so I was pissed off that he was experiencing any happiness. In other words, I felt he didn't deserve it.

I also felt very alone. He was now going to expose my kids to the Brady Bunch type atmosphere, while I was still the single, working mom who got take out with my kids at least 4 times a week. He was going to give our kids a sense of family, while I was Ann Romano. I felt left out, sorry for myself, and insecure.

All that said, here is what started to happen in the weeks following my absorbing this monumental change. Here's how I started to feel.

1. Get over it, Jackie! What he was doing was perfectly acceptable and normal, and we are on entirely separate life roads. While the marriage would affect my children and therefore affect me indirectly, for the most part, his new life was for him to experience, and not for me to even think about.
2. At least I liked the girl he was marrying, and my kids liked her. That's huge. That could have been a big disaster.
3. If my ex was happy in his own life, maybe our relationship would improve.
The most important thing I realized:
4. Why did I feel so alone, when I'm not?? I not only have a close knit family who is always there for me, lots of truly good friends, and kids who I adore most in this world, but I'm in a relationship, too. We aren't married yet, but he feels like family. He is family. About a month ago, I had a tooth pulled. My boyfriend called from work to say hi, and I started crying, and telling him how much pain I was in. An hour later, he showed up with a big bag of groceries that were soft foods that I could eat, and then just sat there with me. That's the kind of love and loyalty and dedication that really means something. It goes so far beyond that night, and there have been countless kind gestures like that which contribute to me falling deeper and deeper in love with him every day. I wish this kind of love for everyone.

In closing, here's what I want to say about finding out your ex is getting hitched again. It's gut-wrenching to a lot of people, (not all people, some really don't care) but for those who do care, I get you. I know it's hard to see, and that there are so many mixed emotions that go with finding out.
It's okay to be angry or feel sorry for yourself. For about a week. That's all you get! Then it's time to take the high road, wish him or her the best and continue focusing on your kids, and on your own life and happiness.

One last thing. If you loved someone enough at one time to marry him or her, you should be happy when that person finds happiness. It takes time, of course, but if find yourself there, you probably have a life that makes you really happy, and isn't that what we all want?

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
Follow me on Twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE   

Article source:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

7 Tips to Avoiding a Disastrous Divorce

Litigants, fueled by emotions, jealously or bad advice, can easily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by making poor decisions during their divorces. All your planning, strategizing and preparation will be for naught if you make one of these predictable, but easily avoidable mistakes.

Since a litigated divorce is mentally overwhelming, you could unwittingly fall victim to these behaviors, which would ensure that you would only view your divorce with regrets. By simply being aware of what not to do, you can steer clear of these mistakes.

1. Hiring the wrong attorney.
Not every divorce and every issue within the divorce need be fully litigated. To the contrary, most cases are settled. Even in those cases that cannot be settled, it is rare that every issue has to be litigated.

Hiring the bullldog attorney -- the super aggressive lawyer who promises to leave no stone unturned so that you will "win" the case and punish your spouse -- is a recipe for disaster. The bulldog attorney will needlessly litigate everything.

The only person who will definitely benefit from this hire is the attorney. He will bill you aggressively and end up with the lion's share of the marital assets.

On the other hand, you do not want to retain the overly conciliatory attorney either. The right attorney is pragmatic -- flexible enough to make a deal, but firm enough to protect your interests.

2. Failing to understand the ramifications of your decisions.
You have retained counsel and perhaps a financial advisor or planner. Ask them questions. Explore options and alternative resolutions. Consider "what if" scenarios; if one aspect of a settlement is contingent on some other event, understand what happens if the contingent event does not occur.
If you do not fully understand every decision in your divorce, you will have to live with the consequences.

3. Settling for more than you can pay or less than you need.
Understand your actual income, expenses and your budget. You have to know if a settlement will afford you the ability to support yourself and your family when the divorce is over. You should not settle a case on unrealized or hopeful expectations.

If you are the paying spouse, you do not want to commit to pay more than you can afford. On the other hand, if you are the recipient spouse, realize if your demand your ex to make payments that are not affordable, it is more likely there will be a default in payments and then all you will get is more litigation.

4. Taking legal advice from your hair stylist.
Everyone, your friends, your family and even your hair stylist, has an opinion about your divorce. They all have an opinion about what you need, what you should ask for and what you should do to get it. They also may tell you what you are doing wrong and why their friends got more.
Don't listen to them. They will only make you doubt yourself.

Ask them where they went to law school and how long they have practiced family law. The ensuing silence will tell you the value of their advice. Put differently, your divorce attorney does not cut your hair; your hair stylist should not practice law.

5. Making decisions based on anger and spite.
Avoid making knee-jerk emotional decisions. The decisions you make will impact you and your family's economic future and welfare. Avoid making rash, irrational decisions. Take time and think your positions through after conferring with your attorney.

6. Fighting for your principles.
It really is great to be right. But being right costs money, particularly when you are fighting a divorce.

For most people, preserving assets and achieving a fair settlement is more important than being right. Pick your battles and only fight the ones that really make sense.

7. Insisting that the judge decide everything.
While you may need to vent your anger or your frustration to the judge in your case, you may not really want a trial. After trial, a judge will render judgment based only on the limited facts presented to him or her, and you will be bound by the judge's decision. You will have much more control over a negotiated settlement which can be nuanced to address some of your concerns. And, of course, the costs of a trial may be astronomical.

Guided by these simple principles, you can avoid becoming one of those terrible divorce stories.

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
To order my newest book Murder on Kilimanjaro, please click HERE
Follow me on Twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE   

Article source: Huffington post

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Man Reportedly Ordered To Suppot Ex-Wife's Ice Cream Habit

One of the craziest divorce stories I've heard in a while! 

According to India Today, a Mumbai man -- who, according to his ex, is worth millions of dollars -- complained in divorce proceedings that his ex had wasted all of his money on ice cream.

So what did the Mumbai family court do? The presiding judge reportedly ordered the husband to pay his ex-wife an extra 150 rupees (or US$2.50) per month to buy ice cream. This is in addition to the 85,000 rupees per month (or US$1,396.89) that he was asked to pay in spousal support. It's only fair, right?

It's not the first time a divorce court has handed down an unusual ruling. In February 2012, a judge ordered a man to apologize on Facebook for a negative status he posted about his ex-wife.

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
To order my newest book Murder on Kilimanjaro, please click HERE
Follow me on Twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE  

Article source: Huffington Post

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How One Child Was Affected by Parents Divorce

Children Of Divorce: How Kids Are Affected By Splits

We asked adult children of divorce to share how their parents’ splits affected their lives in the long run, for better or for worse. 

My parents' divorce would have screwed me up a lot less if they'd bothered telling me about it.
When they split up, I was in elementary school and I had no idea that there were any problems between them. As an adult, I can look back and see that I should've been able to put things together, like the fact that my mother's boyfriends magically showed up whenever Dad went on extended trips, and so forth.

But if my parents fought they hid it well -- with the sole exception of the fight they had the night they separated. (I found out as an adult that my dad had actually caught her in the sack with one of those aforementioned guys.)

That night, my father told me that we were “moving out of state” immediately and that Mom would join us "sometime." I wasn't sure why we had to be gone so fast, but I did my best to try to help with the packing. I was actually excited because I loved traveling and was looking forward to living in a new state.

I had no relationship with my mother following the move. A school year passed and I was left wondering when "sometime" would ever come. I really missed my mother. Every day, I hoped she'd come walking through the door. But I never saw her again -- no letters, no calls, nothing. All I had were memories of what I’d thought was a happy home life. The idea that my mother was in the process of relinquishing custody of me and never wanted to see me or my dad again was something I couldn't even fathom; it never even entered my mind. It can still, to this day, be difficult to understand.

Then, when I was eight, a friend of mine told me that her parents were getting divorced. I didn't really know what it meant at the time: I knew that "divorce" meant that people were somehow fighting or might have to go to court, but it was a vague concept to me. I had also been taught that divorced women were very immoral people, and I was sure that Mom wasn't one of those. My friend said that she had to choose one parent or the other. I mentioned that I was living with just one parent. She asked me if my folks were divorced and suddenly I got the creeps.

That same day, I went home and asked Dad if he and Mom had gotten a divorce. Instead of explaining anything about it, he just blew up and asked me if I were stupid. Of course, they had gotten a divorce! Was I some kind of idiot? Didn't I have any common sense? Why did I think Mom had been gone so long? What was I being sent to school for, if I were just going to come home so stupid? And so on.

I cried for what felt like a week.

As a teenager, I decided that adults couldn't be trusted to tell the whole story about anything, ever. I started wondering how much of the information I was getting at school, church and elsewhere was also a pack of lies. I became a bit of a teenage conspiracy theory nut, looking for things "they" didn't want you to know. "They" -- which to me, meant any given adult anywhere -- had a proven track record of being not only deceitful, but malicious about it when confronted.

When I was in college, I ended up putting my trust in a whole different set of liars: I joined a religious cult. This may make no sense on the surface, but you'd be surprised how much a kid whose trust has been completely eroded can believe in people who claim to have all the answers.

The people who worked with the youth in this particular cult ranged from former hippies to rigid discipline freaks, but I felt I could trust these people because they asserted that they knew more than my parents. Or so they said. They claimed to know why the world was so messed up, and how to fix it. I really wanted to put my trust in something again, and, if this screwed-up world could be repaired, I wanted to do my best to make that happen.

But after some time I became weary of the constant hate mongering, the racism, the treatment of women like cattle, and the just plain craziness of it all. Eventually, I got out.

I look back on this chain of events and see how a lot of trouble could have been avoided if my parents, my mom and dad, my dad and stepmom, would have just had the decency to tell me what was going on.

However, over the years, I've found that I can work around my own mistrust and cynicism. One thing that helped me move on in terms of why my mom and dad kept me in the dark about their divorce was when I realized how young my folks were at the time. They were just trying to muddle through as best as they could. I can't really come down too hard on scared kids for making crappy decisions.
If I had kids, I'm afraid that I might not improve all that much on my parents' performance, and that scares me to the point of not wanting to experiment with other people's lives. It just wouldn't be moral.

To order my book Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about Divorce Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please click HERE
To order my newest book Murder on Kilimanjaro, please click HERE
Follow me on twitter HERE
Like my Facebook page HERE
Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE