Support for Women
As a woman, your experience of divorce is going to be very different from a man’s.
You probably have few issues seeking support through your network, but I cannot urge you strongly enough to augment your support system to help you through this difficult time.
In many cases, individuals in a languishing marriage have isolated well before they approach to divorce. When you are struggling in your relationship, it can be uncomfortable and even alienating to socialize with others. Compounding matters, long work hours and family responsibilities result in many adults having divested from the communities and activities they enjoy. These factors increase vulnerability so when the prospect of divorce arises, women can feel stripped of the identity and structure that oriented them while at a loss for secondary reinforcements.
Regardless of who initiated a divorce, it is hard on both of you. It is not the time when most of us feel at our best or most equipped and willing to “get out there.” The time to develop our support resources is (sadly) not at the moment we need it most. Building or even locating a healthy community that provides the right sort of support for you takes time. If you find yourself facing divorce and ill-prepared support-wise, consider getting some professional support while you are developing your long-term system. And here’s my go-to piece of advice for women—consider joining a support group.
Advice For Women Concerning Emotional Support—Try Our Free Divorce Support Group
Or any that interest you.
We created this monthly support group because it was so needed.
In our support group, we talk about connecting with others and rebuilding community relationships and friendships— inventing your new social structure.
There are no fees for this group—it’s completely free. You’ll be able to meet not only people who are going through a divorce but also people who have been through it, people who can share their experiences and offer information and guidance.
Now is the time to grow your social structure, something to support you during and after your divorce.
The group’s main function is for peer support, although colleagues and other professionals (many of whom have also experienced divorce) frequently attend to offer professional insights. If you would like to attend, please RSVP.
Click here to learn more about the divorce support group.
Advice for Women Concerning Professional Help—Alexander Mediation Group Helps You Connect to Professionals
A benefit of working with Alexander Mediation Group is access to a large network of other professionals and professional services.
Marriage touches every aspect of your life, and so too does divorce. During a marriage, it’s natural for partners to divide responsibilities; for example, one of you may pay the bills while the other plans the meals and fixes things around the house. With divorce, you will likely need to assume certain responsibilities you are unaccustomed to and unprepared for.
Trying to “do it all,” alone, is overwhelming. Succumbing to the overwhelm or trying to operate through it aren’t the only options. In mediation, you can identify the areas where assistance is needed and get help putting resources in place.
Whether it’s child care, reentering the workforce, managing finances, moving, refinancing your home, or anything in between, we help direct you to a professional who can help, and work with them as needed on your behalf. We consider it an important part of our job to build relationships with professionals in other disciplines who can help our clients.
Support is plentiful and available. We help you access it.
Advice for Women Concerning Discomfort—Be Ready for Discomfort, but Know You Can Do It
Change, including adjusting to new roles, takes time. You and your spouse will learn new ways to distribute and manage responsibilities. Patience with yourself, humility, willingness to ask for and receive assistance, and tolerance for some discomfort all help make change easier.
Mediation helps both parties transition, evaluate strengths and weaknesses and identify where help is needed.
Just because you’re no longer married doesn’t mean you’re alone.
There is a lot of advice for women when it comes to divorce, but this piece bears repeating: take stock of, nurture and augment your support network, whatever that looks like of you.
Most people don’t walk through divorce alone—they’re carried through by their support network.
Advice For Women Concerning Identity—Your Identity Might Be In Your Marriage, But Your Marriage Is Not Your Identity
Whatever the length of your marriage, it’s likely that it defined a period of your life. Additionally, being a wife probably defined at least a portion of your identity. Even if you have been ready to leave the relationship, these losses can affect you deeply.
Being without a partner in a social system geared around coupledom can seem like a disadvantaged position. With our social order so delineated by the family unit, a woman on her own can feel as though she must defend and explain why her current circumstances don’t conform with expectations. Feeling alone, self-conscious, and marginalized can give way to unfounded, negative thoughts of self-blame and shaken self-worth.
Support, including support groups where unconditional positive regard is practiced, can restore one’s sense of belonging and self-regard. Identifying with others can help overcome loneliness. During this time, pay attention to what you need and take action to get it.
Learn about the divorce support group here.
Advice for Women Concerning Child Custody
Parenting plans for divorced parents are no longer premised on the concept that the woman should be solely responsible for child rearing and that the man should be solely responsible for associated costs.
Most fathers today are invested and involved in their children’s lives, and are equally committed to remaining so after divorce. Most mothers today contribute to the expenses related to raising children as well as providing otherwise. A consistent tenant of New Jersey and New York family law is identifying and protecting children’s best interests. Currently, children’s best interests are considered served by having every opportunity to form secure, consistent, and meaningful attachments with both parents. Regular, plentiful parenting time with each parent is considered optimal in most situations that can accommodate such an arrangement.
The involvement of both parents is generally optimal for the development of your children. Sometimes divorce presents an opportunity for the less involved parent to take on a more integral role in the child’s life. This can benefit not only the child, who gains more parenting and connection when this happens but the other parent, who can gain the support of a more participatory partner in parenting.
In mediation, we strategize about sharing parenting responsibilities so that both you and your children gain from a cooperative support structure.
Here’s my advice for women who are worried about losing custody—bring up these concerns in mediation, but also realize that this is unlikely. The courts want your children to have access to both you and their father.
Advice for Women Concerning Financial Dependence—It’s Ok if You’re Completely Financially Dependent Right Now
Although this is changing, it is still common for spouses to have divergent roles in marriages, with one member of the marriage earning and the other member focusing on child rearing and the home.
Many spouses are unfamiliar with managing finances. This can bring a sense of embarrassment or even shame. It’s important that this be recognized, normalize and overcome — there is nothing shameful about having put your energies elsewhere and now identifying a need to sure up your facileness around finances. The divorce support group is a great place to ask for help. We have divorce financial planners and other professionals who can help.
Click here to learn more about the divorce support group.
Now is the time to begin, with help, to deepen your understanding of your personal finances and how you would like to manage this aspect of your life going forward. Fear is a part of this for most people, but it need not prevent you from taking action. Getting help expedites getting comfortable.
Paying the mortgage and household bills and putting aside for retirement may be new for you—you may not have conducted your finances for a long time. We welcome you to ask for and seek professional financial help. We aim to not only direct or suggest, but to introduce our clients to resources and other professionals who can help.
Advice for Women Concerning Alimony—Both Parties Are Expected to Find Full-Time Income Eventually
If you have been a stay-at-home parent for the last 15 years, you aren’t expected to suddenly jump back into the working world.
However, if you are of pre-retirement age, you are expected to take steps to return to work. Time may be set aside for you to go back to school or acquire certification, but the expectation is that both parties will work full-time.
How much you would be expected to earn depends upon many factors, such as your work history, education, age, and role as a primary parent. Typically, someone newly entering or returning to the workforce in an entry-level position will be expected to earn at least minimum wage.
What if you don’t want to work? Regardless of whether you secure a job or not, an appropriate amount of income – based on what you could reasonably make given your particulars – would be imputed to you. Imputed income is money that is attributed to you, regardless of whether you actually earn it. When child support and alimony are determined, this number will be “assigned” to you as your income. For example, if it is agreed that you could reasonably earn $35,000 annually, that number will be used to calculate your share of child support and the amount of alimony you will need in order to support your household.
You may decide that the totality of your financial picture is only slightly altered whether you return to work or not, or, conversely, that you actually need to earn the $35,000 to maintain the lifestyle you hope to continue. Developing a complete financial picture can inform your decision-making regarding work and career choices.
You may be thinking, “I’ve always been the primary parent—how can I work full-time and take care of the children? And how can I save for retirement when I’ve saved nothing for the last 15 years?”
You are entitled to a portion of the retirement that your spouse has accumulated. You also aren’t expected to be the primary parent and work full time—your spouse will have to share the responsibility with you and/or share the costs for childcare required for you to work.
During mediation, we negotiate exactly what both parties need to do so they can establish themselves, secure their finances, and provide for their children’s care.
We focus on your goals and what you will require – in terms of financial support and otherwise – in order to attain them, over time. When this is agreed to, women often discover an ally in their spouse. It can be a progressive step when the payor of support is on the same side as the recipient!
Whatever the case, we work it out during mediation to ensure both parties get what they need.
Advice for Women Concerning Alimony—it Doesn’t Mean Lifetime Support, and You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About Receiving It
While women are still the main recipients of alimony, alimony generally goes to the less monied spouse—the idea that you’re getting lifetime alimony or support is generally false.
Still, this is a complicated issue. You may feel guilty or uncomfortable about receiving alimony, but realize that this is part of the responsibility of marriage that your spouse took on.
Here’s my primary piece of advice for women when it comes to alimony—alimony is usually a temporary necessity.
You may also be wondering, “Do I get alimony even though I initiated the divorce?”
The short answer is: yes. Alimony is about economics, not fault.
Alimony is meant to ensure that both parties are provided financially and, often, to enable a non-working party to establish [greater] economic self-sufficiency.
Advice for Women Concerning Your Children—your Children Will Always Be Considered During Mediation
If you’ve been the primary parent in your marriage and are deeply attached to your children, you’re naturally concerned about being away from them.
This is my advice for women concerned about not seeing their children—there’s always change in divorce, but realize that, during mediation, we will work out what is best for your children. In many scenarios, parents see their children daily. And often the limited time parents are without their children is much-needed time utilized to run errands for them, the household, or even to partake in self-care and adult activities.
Mediation is always client-centered and child-centered—to learn more about child-centered mediation and divorce, click here.
We discuss the best options for your family to span gracefully across two households.
In mediation, we work together to develop a parenting plan that suits your family— based on what’s best for your children and you.