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Divorce news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Updated: 1 year 16 weeks ago

The Moment I Knew My Marriage Was Over

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 22:07

Was there a moment you knew your marriage was over? A split-second you saw the writing on the wall ― even if you didn’t acknowledge as much until later?

We asked readers on Facebook and Twitter to share the moment they knew their relationships were over (hashtag: #themomentiknew) and collected the responses below. (Some are especially surprising: who knew bacon could figure in the demise of a lifelong union?)

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Mayim Bialik Gets Refreshingly Candid About Life After Divorce

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 18:57

Three years into co-parenting, “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik has learned a lot about what it takes to raise healthy, happy kids after divorce. 

In a refreshingly honest YouTube video, the 40-year-old actress talks about how she and ex Michael Stone have put aside their differences to raise their two sons, ages 7 and 10.

“Being divorced is not a fun way to raise kids,” says Bialik, who split from Stone in November 2012 after nine years of marriage. “Things my ex did when we were married that annoyed me then, annoy me still.”

So why put the effort in, she asks?

“Life is not a dress rehearsal,” Bialik says. “My kids get one chance to be kids and this is their situation. I have to put them first because I’m their mom and he’s their dad.” 

(Story continues under the photo.) 

Bialik, who plays neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” also praises her ex for bearing so much responsibility for their kids.

“I’m a working mom and every night when I’m working, he’s the one feeding them dinner, giving them a bath, reading them goodnight stories, tucking them in and making sure they sleep well,” she says. 

The mom of two adds: “The best thing I can do is be tremendously grateful for what a wonderful ex-husband I have and what a great dad he is and to continue to shatter the image of the perfect family I thought my intact family would be.”

Well said. (Though we have to say: If getting divorced and co-parenting advice from “Blossom” doesn’t make you feel old, we don’t know what will.) 

Watch the clip above for more real talk from Bialik.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

This Mom And Stepmom Are Best Friends -- But It Wasn't Always That Way

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 16:16

As part of our Blended Family Friday series, each week we spotlight a different stepfamily to learn how they’ve worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life! Want to share your family’s story? Email us at divorce@huffingtonpost.com.

When Latisa Valdez’s ex-husband started to get serious with his girlfriend a few years back, Latisa didn’t necessarily greet the new woman with open arms.

Eventually, though, she realized the girlfriend, Shelby Hilliard, was great for her ex and their four kids. That change in perspective was a result of effort from both women.

“It can be difficult, so our main goal is to share our story and hopefully help families struggling with this,” Valdez told The Huffington Post. 

Below, Valdez and Hilliard ― who live with their families in Orange, Texas ― share more of their stepfamily success story. 

Hi guys. Please introduce us to your family. 

Latisa: We have a family of nine. Our family consists of four parents and five children. Steven is my ex-husband and we have four children together: Hunter (11), MaeKaylee (10), Brayedon (9), and Kaysen (6). I’ve been married to my husband Greg for nearly six years. 

Steven is now married to Shelby. They have a daughter of their own, Zayleigh (2). Greg and I are her godparents.

Shelby: Steven and I have been together for five years and married for three.

What was it like when you first met each other? 

Latisa: Initially, I felt annoyed and didn’t really want to know her. But over time, the relationship between us has grown and now we have such an amazing bond. It keeps growing!

Shelby: When I first met the kids, I tried to be gentle and understanding. The children didn’t ask for their parents to get a divorce. I wanted them to know that I could never replace their mom nor did I want to. But I wanted them to know I was there for them if they needed anything. After a while, Latisa and I developed a great relationship and were able to become best friends.

What have been some of the biggest challenges your family has faced?

Latisa: The biggest challenge for me is making sure that when we are having a discussion that is very important, no one gets their feelings hurt. We haven’t had big problems co-parenting but it can be a challenge. Communication and listening to each other definitely helps.

Shelby: What’s challenging for me is when the older kids leave. My daughter always gets upset. At first she would cry and even act out when they would go back to their Latisa’s house. There are times when she still does but I think the older she gets, the more she realizes they have two homes. Luckily for us, their mom and I are best friends so I just take Zayleigh over there to visit her siblings and we spend all day together. She has even got to spend a few nights with them.

What do you appreciate most about raising your kids in a blended family? 

Latisa:  All the love. We are and always will be one big family. We love and care and pray for each other.

Shelby: We are blessed to have such a beautifully blended family where everyone gets along. We love the relationship we have with Latisa and Steven. Our children get to see that no matter what differences their parents had, we all came together for them. They brought us close as a family and that is an incredible story. Instead of them feeling as if they are the reason their family failed, they see their family grew in numbers and in love. 

Latisa, you asked Shelby and Steven to be part of your wedding when you married Greg. Why was that important to you? 

Latisa: It was important to Greg and me because at this point, all four of us have created a bond that most co-parents don’t have. They’re two of our best friends and a big part of our lives.

What’s your best advice for co-parents struggling to work as a team? 

Latisa: My advice for stepmoms would be to try and take the first step with the biomom. Start a conversation. Let her know that you want to be on the same team and not against her and that you respect her and want to learn from her. Convince her that you are not trying to take her place.

Shelby: I would tell them to be patient. It isn’t always going to be easy. We all struggle; being a stepparent, parent or a spouse takes a lot of patience and understanding. I had no idea what to do when I first became a part of this family ― and sometimes I still don’t. However, I know that my family is worth it: They’re worth every worry, every tear, every emotional breakdown ― every single bit of it. It took a lot of time, energy, tears, compromise and love to get to where we are today. Hang in there and don’t give up. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Amber Heard Donates $7 Million Divorce Settlement To Charity

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 00:41

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Actress Amber Heard said on Thursday she is donating her $7 million divorce settlement from actor Johnny Depp to charity.

Heard, 30, said in a statement that she is dividing the full settlement equally between the American Civil Liberties Union, specifically to prevent violence against women, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

“As described in the restraining order and divorce settlement, money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully help those less able to defend themselves,” the actress said.

Depp’s representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Heard and Depp, 53, privately settled their acrimonious divorce case on Tuesday, a day ahead of a court hearing on the status of a restraining order the actress had obtained against her estranged husband.

The couple released a joint statement calling their relationship “intensely passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love,” adding that “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

The settlement ended the couple’s 15-month marriage after weeks of highly publicized claims of domestic violence by Heard and counterclaims of financial blackmailing by Depp.

Depp, one of Hollywood’s top actors and box-office draws with franchises such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” married Heard, known for “Friday Night Lights,” in February 2015 after meeting on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary.”

Heard will be starring in Warner Bros’ upcoming “Justice League” superhero film, while Depp will reprise his lead role in the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

24 Tweets That Will Make A Lot Of Sense To People Who Live Alone

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 22:46

Living alone has some amazing perks, like sleeping diagonally across your bed or eating directly from the ice cream carton without any outside judgment. But let’s be real here: there are also some obvious drawbacks. Case in point: Freaking out over any minor noise after a horror movie commercial comes on. 

Below, we’ve collected 24 hilariously relatable tweets from people who are all too familiar with the highs and lows of living alone. 

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Re-Entering The Dating World After Many Years

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 22:06
As we all know, dating can be tricky at any age, but it can be especially so in older dating, or when dating after a very long-term relationship. It may have been quite some time since you have dated, as you have been married, or involved with someone for years. There is a good chance that at the point that you had your last long term relationship, the roles and rules of dating may have looked quite different. Many men may face women who are bolder and the aggressor in the relationship, and are not sure how to navigate that.

At the point when they entered their marriage, many years ago, people were in more traditional roles. Many have not had to let someone down gently in quite some time, so they have forgotten the common courtesies of letting someone go gently and with grace. There may not have been a world of online dating apps, dating sites, texting over calls, or people who want to go "dutch treat." It is a strange new world, and it is important to have patience, an open mind, and a willingness to grow and change with the changing dating world around them.

The first point to consider is the situation in which the women is the one who makes the first move, and the man is not used to things not being on his terms. This can be jarring the first time it happens, but this is actually quite common now, and is not a sign that the woman is too forward, that she is only looking for a good time and nothing serious, or that she does not think highly of herself. She just believes that you are equals, and that it is ok to let you know that she is interested in getting to know you better. Take it for the compliment that it is, and keep an open mind.

Another very important issue is the common courtesy of letting someone down with grace and kindness. It may have been many years since you have had to tell someone that they are not for you, or that you do not feel you are a match. They may not be right for you, but that does not mean you cannot be kindhearted and gentle to the person. In this digital age, many people will do what is called "ghosting" someone, where they simply cease all communication, and never give the person a reason why. You are all too aware that there are better ways to handle this, and that as a person, you would hope for some kindness and courtesy. The person may not be right for you, but it takes virtually no effort to tell someone, "I don't see things working out between us, but you are a good person, and I know there is the right person out there for you. I wish you the best in your search." Simple, classy, and closure!

Over these last years, there are many way things have changed. With dating apps and sites, with empowered and successful women who want to pay their own way, with the women being the one who asks you out first, but in many ways things have stayed the same. Remember that at the heart of things, the goal is for two people to meet and make a connection with each other. That fact has never changed. The way they meet, communicate, and what they do for dates might be slightly different, but change is not always a bad thing. Perhaps this second chance is the chance you have been looking for. Perhaps all these new ways of meeting people and dating will allow you to find someone you may have never found otherwise. Perhaps, dare I say, you may find the person that you have always been looking for. Someone who is that true fit for you, and who appreciates and loves you just as you are now. While sadly, things may not work out for our first attempt at a life with someone, there is a chance that an even better match is out there waiting for you, if you keep an open mind and heart.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

8 Ways To Build A Positive Relationship With Your Stepkids

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 21:29
Most of the stepparents who contact me for support tell me they had no idea what they were getting into. One stepdad, Steve, put it this way, "I was never a father before, and at the ripe "young" age of 42, I was thinking that I was somehow going to "get by" and become accepted by my stepchildren, primarily because I had married their mother. I was getting by trying to be "nice" to my new stepkids but comments like "You're not my father" made me feel disrespected.

Different from a biological parent, a major thrust of being a stepparent is to be a friend to your stepchildren on some level. Not like a school friend, but an adult friend more akin to being a guidance counselor or mentor who is also a parental figure. This is especially important in the beginning of your relationship as you build trust.

There are many ways you can develop a positive relationship with your stepchildren if you invite them to participate in activities that interest them and expose them to some of your hobbies. For instance, inviting your stepchildren to share your love of hiking while on a summer vacation can help you form a friendship.

However, it may be more challenging to form a bond with a stepchild of the opposite gender, especially if your personalities clash and you do not share interests. There is no such thing as instant love between a new stepparent and a stepchild. One of the most crucial things to learn about a stepfamily is that most children give love and trust to their parent, but feel their stepparent must earn their love and trust. This takes time, years really.

8 ways to build a positive relationship your stepchildren:

Stepparents had best proceed slowly: Take your time in getting to know your stepchildren. Rushing it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked but backfire. After all, you will most likely be seen as an outsider since your stepkids lived with their biological parent before you came on the scene.
Respect your spouse's relationship with your stepkids and don't feel threatened by their close connection. He or she will want to spend special time with their children so try not to feel neglected by him/her. Make plans with your friends and graciously step out of their way.
Have realistic expectations: Just because things went well when you were dating your partner, doesn't ensure things will go smoothly once you're a committed couple. A marriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite feelings of loss for your stepchildren. Remember that your stepkids will be there for the duration whether a positive relationship unfolds with you, so step to the higher ground and be the adult role model they deserve.
Develop a relationship with your stepchildren through hobbies and interests. Sharing interests from sports to the arts can only help you develop a bond. Be persistent if he or she fails to invite you to an event or activity. Keep in mind, you are the adult and need to be the mature one. Say something like: "I'd love to go to your basketball game, how do I get tickets?"
Understand your stepchild's view. First, it's a given that your stepchildren had a relationship with your spouse that existed before you came on the scene. Stepfamilies are complicated and even if your stepchildren seem to like you well enough, they'll sometimes want time alone with their parent and prefer you weren't in the picture.
Allow the parent to discipline. As mentioned earlier, you have to earn your stepkids trust over time and so it's not a good idea to discipline him or her before you've earned their respect. Be sure to present the household rules as a joint decision but don't discipline your stepkids right away or you'll be seen as the scoundrel.
Realize that love often comes later. Even if you do not hit it off with your stepchildren, you can still develop a working relationship built on respect. If your stepchildren don't warm up to you right away that doesn't mean you have failed.
Cooperate with the biological parent living with you, and talk talk talk. Most of the talking will take place away from your stepkids but be sure to have cordial conversations and informal discussions about family rules, roles, chores, and routines with the kids.

Presenting a united front with your spouse is very helpful to the formation of a healthy stepfamily. This action requires respect, caring and lots of love because it may not be easy to do if you do not agree with your spouse. Caring and respect are especially important, cannot be rushed, and are "earned" or granted over time among all family members.

Always do your best to support your partner's decisions about his or her biological children. This will help build trust between you and your stepchildren. Remember you are a "competitor" for their parents' attention, especially when a remarriage takes place within a few years after the breakup of your stepchild's family.

Be sure to encourage and listen to your stepchildren's input so they'll feel validated. Ultimately you and your spouse are the adults who have the last say on household decisions but showing your stepkids you respect their input will help cement a good relationship in the years to come.

Keep in mind that the relationship between your spouse and their children existed before you arrived and your relationship with your stepchildren isn't built on solid ground. It is essential that you know this and honor it. Therefore, if you feel like you are walking on eggshells, you are not alone - most stepparents feel tenuous at times in their new role.

One stepmom put it this way: "At times I felt like a stranger around my stepson when we were first married and I didn't know exactly how to relate to him. But over time, by showing interest and attending his soccer games, things got better and I no longer feel like the fifth wheel."

Let's end on the words of author Suzen J. Ziegahn, P.h.D.: "As a stepparent, it's to your advantage to develop a tolerable, hopefully positive relationship with your stepchild as soon as possible. It will encourage the survival of your stepfamily - and your marriage because the relationship you have with your stepchild may redefine the relationship you have with your partner."

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry's book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents' Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

How I Finally Decided To Walk Away

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 21:12
I used to see the stars in your eyes.

But I never imagined that one day they would fade away.

For years, we journeyed through this life and created the most beautiful  memories. And no matter what, we always spoke passionately about the future that we wanted to build together.

Life with you used to be my escape.

Movies and ice cream on the couch, walks on the beach, dinners at our favorite restaurants, even just talking in bed until 4 a.m.
They've been some of the best days of my life .... seared into my memory.

Believe me, I've loved you ... more than I've loved myself. And I swear I've always put your happiness before mine.

But somewhere along this broken road I lost you.

And what has pained me the most is that you're standing right in front of me.

I never thought in my wildest dreams that a love so powerful, one that once made me buckle at my knees, would leave me crying for a way out.

I've fought, and I've fought. All so that I can feel your love again .. even if just for a moment.
But I can't fight for you anymore.

All  the arguing and the disagreements; we're just not on the same page. We've become two people traveling in opposite directions, and I've been trying so desperately to alter my path so that we can meet once again on common ground.

I love you, and a piece of me always will .... but I'm just not in love with you anymore. That spark that once burned so viciously has fizzled out, and it's breaking me.

I've tried tirelessly to reignite that fire. I've spent countless nights thinking of ways to bring back those days when your eyes had that look in them.

But I've failed.

Once the best of friends sharing the deepest levels of intimacy, we've become strangers lost inside our own world. We barely touch anymore, and I rarely feel your lips against mine.

You used to be the person I'd look forward to sharing everything with. And now I recognize how little you care.

We've lost our love, and I swear I've searched high and low trying to find it. I've screamed and I've yelled, I've cried and I've begged ...

But it's gone, and I can't search for it anymore.

Yet, I hold on. Seemingly to what once was.

How do I walk away from someone I love, even though I know there's nothing left here for us?

It's like we can't escape from each other.

And while we might smile for a photo, or seem happy to friends and family around us ... nothing is the same.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but I'm so tired of hurting myself. I'm tired of breaking my own heart, hoping and praying that one day you'll love me the way you once did.

Those better tomorrows that I wished for us ... I can't wish for them alone.

For years, I allowed my love for you to overpower the love I have for myself, but I can't anymore.

I'm broken ... and I want nothing more than to escape from this prison that I never asked to enter.

I remember laying in bed next to you dreaming of our future. Now I lay there, dreaming of a way out.
But I keep giving you the opportunity to disappoint me over and over again.

Maybe I need to have my heart shatter into a million different pieces. Maybe I need to have my world turned upside down, all so that I can find the person that I lost years ago trying so tirelessly to love you ...


I want to love. I want to laugh. I want to dream with someone who wants to dream with me.

I want to look at someone and see my world in their eyes, and know that I'm the most important person in their life.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to be loved the way I've loved you.

You deserve that, too.

So while the memories of what once was have seem to win each round of this pound-for-pound fight inside my head, when it's all said and done, I'll win by decision.

My own decision .... to walk away.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Do You Want To Go Through Your Divorce Or Grow Through It?

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 20:09
Everyone going through divorce deals with anger and it manifests itself in different ways for each of us. You may be dealing with fear or intimidation, betrayal or insecurity, shame or disbelief, anxiety or confusion...the list is endless. What do you do when the fabric of your life feels like it is being torn to shreds and stability and certainty are nowhere to be found?

Embrace your greatest tribulation to create an amazing life transformation.

Upon what do you choose to focus?

  • When everything is changing it makes sense that we look back at what was and ask why or how?

  • When everything is changing it makes sense that we look forward at what might be and wonder 'what if'.

  • When everything is changing it makes sense that we don't want to be where we are and look to escape the present.

There is value in looking back
at what happened. It is an important part of the healing process. The challenge is to look at our part, not theirs. Asking why he or she did something or changed or hurt you is natural. However, sometimes there is no clear or easy answer or any answer at all. I have had clients who got so caught in wanting to understand and know why that they stayed stuck for weeks and even months wrestling with 'why'.

Here are some of the questions I ask them...

  • Imagine that you knew why, what would change?

  • How would that answer affect your life going forward?

  • How is CHOOSING not to move forward without the 'why' answered serving you?

  • What would it be like to let 'why' go and begin to move on?

On the other hand, asking questions about your behavior is where the jewels are found.

  • When did I first notice a crack in the foundation of my marriage?

  • How did I choose to deal with my concerns, unhappiness, fears?

  • What have I been avoiding?

  • What might I have done differently?

I have found that it always takes two people to break a marriage. Even if betrayal is the thing that seems to have 'broken' your marriage, digging below the surface reveals cracks that may have turned into craters destroying the foundation of the marriage long before the betrayal began. You know clearly what your spouse's part in the break up is...what is yours?

Yes, there is value in looking back. But 'living' in the past, will not serve you in your healing process or in moving forward. Whether you are ruminating about what was 'done to you' or focussing on only the good things about the past and wanting to go back to those times, you are avoiding the present moment.

There is also value in considering what's next.
Our minds naturally try to 'figure things out' when there is an unknown and divorce certainly leaves us with a lot of unknowns about our future. To consider all the aspects of your life that may change is a responsible reasonable activity. However, if you find yourself worrying about the possible worst case scenarios - all the negative 'what ifs' that you can imagine...driving yourself into total anxiety, you have gone down a dark alley that dead ends in desperation.

Make your thoughts about the future productive. List the questions that you have and then go about finding out the answers.

  • 'How much money do I need to live on?

  1. Create a budget

  2. Assess your current spending and see where you can cut back

  • Where am I going to live?

  1. Call a real estate agent,

  2. Gather information about renting or buying

  3. Go look at places to begin getting excited about the possibilities

  • How can I make sure I remain a vital part of my children's lives

  1. Ask your attorney about joint / shared custody

  2. Look carefully at your time availability and see what would serve you and your children best

  3. Don't be vengeful or use the children as pawns...ALWAYS do what is best for them and you can't go wrong

Whatever your issues are, list the questions you have and go about answering them. This way your time spent thinking about the future is productive, healthy and focused on what you do have control over and not feeding into your greatest fears.

The greatest value is in Living In The Present. I know that it may be the last place you want to be right now. Trust that there are reasons you are going through this difficult time and gifts that are available to you which will only be found if you are present to receive them.

I have worked with dozens of men and women navigating their divorce. For those that choose to work through the difficulties they face and keep their focus on themselves, there is enormous personal growth and transformation. Their lives going forward will never be the same, but rather so much better as they begin to let their fears melt away and step into their true selves. It changes who they are and what they desire in the most beautiful way. BUT it takes courage, patience, humility and faith.

Are you wondering, 'why is this happening to me?' If you are:
looking in the rear view mirror or
at the future through the lens of fear
consider what might happen if you stop resisting what is and
begin to allow yourself to participate in the unfolding of your present moments

If this article has touched on something that you would like to explore, our team of coaches is standing by to offer you a complimentary session to flush out what is going on with you and how you might SHIFT to a place that is more beneficial to you. Click here to contact us.

We would love to hear your thoughts, struggles and / or successes. Please comment and share your story with us.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

When You're Divorced, Which Parent Pays For Your Child's Olympic Dreams?

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 18:55
Olympic champion Michael Phelps was raised by his divorced single mom Debbie; fellow gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte's parents are divorced, as are the parents of gymnast Gabby Douglas. The accomplishments of these athletes at the Rio Summer Olympics are good evidence that divorce doesn't need to deter a child's Olympic dreams.

But as a divorced co-parent, how do you pay for them?

If you've got a budding athlete determined to go for the gold, one of the first places to look for guidance on who foots the bill for coaches, lessons, equipment, and other sports-related expenses for your child, is your divorce settlement's child support arrangements.

In most states, child support guidelines allow for a portion of the regular award to cover things like basic lessons and costs related to extracurricular sports at school. This comes out of a pool of money that may be earmarked as "Entertainment," as it is here in New Jersey. The allotment of money calculated into the award is generally expected to not only cover extracurricular sports, but also other normal entertainment activities such as movie rentals or concert tickets. If your child is inspired by Simone Manuel to start taking swimming lessons, then money from this part of the child support award can go to help cover the costs, if you choose to use it for such.

However, if your child is already swimming laps around other kids and showing signs of being the next Katie Ledecky, the waters become a bit murkier for what role child support plays in funding the extra coaching and tournament expenses an elite athlete requires. For example, swimmer Sean Grieshop is an Olympic hopeful whose family spends $600 a month in training fees, $400 to $500 on each racing swimsuit, $1,000 every time they travel out of town for a swim meet, and additional expenses for regular trips to the sports massage therapist, nutritionist and personal trainer. Ordinary or basic child support is not necessarily earmarked to cover these expenses.

However, child support guidelines in various states do typically carry language about support for "gifted or special needs" children. The case could be made that a child "gifted" in a certain sport is deserving of the support required to express this gift to the fullest. In New Jersey, judges are committed to always look at the "best interest of the child" in making any decision. If it is viewed that pursuing the sport is in the best interest of the child, the judge may be more likely to invoke this gifted clause to some extent, or decide on other arrangements, such as creating a parenting time plan around the child's sports schedule.

Does this mean a judge can order a parent to take out a second mortgage to keep the child in the running for the next Olympics? No. The courts generally take into account three key factors when determining how costs are shared:

1. Each parent's income.
2. Any settlement agreements and court orders addressing parental decision-making and child support obligations. For example, if parents divorce when their child is already participating in the sport, the divorce may spell out exact terms of how parents will share the sports-related costs.
3. The child's demonstrated talent and commitment to the sport in question.

In general, the parent who is more enthusiastic about the child's involvement in sports may need to be willing to take on more of the burden of paying for extras above and beyond normal participation -- or be willing to concede on other issues. Depending on their situation, some parents may decide to forgo going back to court all together and look for other sources of money, including scholarships or sponsorships to help defray costs.

Whatever financial decisions you come to with your former spouse, take inspiration from the many divorced parents who have rooted on their kids' Olympic aspirations. As Debbie Phelps once said, "Every parent who is sitting in the stands wants their child to do their best." And this includes divorced co-parents, too!

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Divorce Stuff

The Big, Bad Financial Truth About Life After Divorce

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 15:03
Recently I was catching up with one of my close author friends, who, like me, is a recent divorcée, and in our discussion on post-divorce life, we discovered a commonality that was all at once surprising, horrifying, and hilarious. Both of us had recently been to the grocery store and while trying to live within our insanely tight post-divorce budgets, we had each ogled packages of juicy figs but had decided that they were too expensive. In my case, the figs were only $3.99, but since I am literally counting hard-boiled eggs at home and rationing spinach leaves, figs are just taking things too damn far right now.

When my friend told me that she, too, had decided against the figs -- but damn did she want them -- I could not help but burst into laughter.

How ridiculous and sad that two multi-published authors -- who at one point in our careers were making six figures and answering so much reader mail we couldn't see straight -- have arrived here. Still writing, still striving, still trying to make this single writer thing work for us, but somehow we have arrived at the point of not being able to buy figs.

How did this happen, we wondered? How on earth did we get here, and more importantly, how do we get as far away from here as possible?

It's not about the figs, people.

What this is really about is that financial insecurity -- and in many cases, complete financial devastation -- is a reality of post-divorce life for many women, and it's a reality we rarely talk about.

It's a reality we are embarrassed to admit. That without our once-stable marriages and our husbands' stable incomes, we can't even buy a damn package of figs without worrying about the consequences.

It's embarrassing and exhausting to constantly turn down dinner requests from friends who are boasting those lovely six-figure incomes and to tell them, yet again, that I'm not in a position to do nice dinners out. People, I can't buy the fucking figs so I clearly can't do extravagant dinners.

There are many reasons that I have landed where I am financially. Being severely depressed for a significant portion of the three years I have been on my own and not having it in me to produce a new book every few months; not asking for alimony; and of course some poor decision-making on my part are just a few of those reasons.

Another reason is that I am committed to my craft as a writer. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health -- I am married to my career. I need to write as much as I need to breathe. And so I have worked out every conceivable alternate career arrangement in my post-divorce life so that I can keep writing... and keep breathing.

I have built a wonderful French tutoring business with some of the most amazing, dedicated students I've ever known in my ten years of teaching. I teach writing, I teach yoga, I take care of babies, I walk dogs, I feed cats, and I don't get a lot of sleep. Because in the minutes and hours when I'm not doing all of those things, I'm writing.

I'm not depressed anymore, thankfully, and because of this beautiful feeling of happiness I'm experiencing, I have the energy and the drive to whip out books again like it's my job.

Because it is my job.

And not being able to afford figs is only temporary.

Divorce may have taken away my happiness for a long while. It may have taken away the stability in my life -- not only financially but in so many other ways.

But divorce has not robbed me of my dreams.

Of my courage. Of my desire to write and to share my stories with readers and to watch my books shoot to the top of the charts once again... and again... and again... and again.

That will happen because I'm stubborn and I simply will not stop writing.

And in the meantime, if I have to count eggs and ration my spinach leaves, then so be it. That is a choice I am making, plus I'm thankful for the eggs and the spinach. I'm thankful, too, for my friend who understands what it's like to not be able to buy figs but who thinks it's so damn funny because we know this isn't forever. And we're going to keep writing anyway.

It always takes courage to be on your own, to live without a safety net, and to persevere in the face of heartbreak, loss, and uncertainty. It takes courage to follow your calling, no matter what.

And it takes courage to admit to your friends and loved ones that this is just where you're at right now.

So, this is just where I'm at. And I refuse to be embarrassed about it any longer. I'm not ashamed. Instead, I'm amazed that I've come so far from the girl who once laid on her bathroom floor contemplating suicide because she saw no other way out. Divorce took me there, but I survived, and I found a way out -- and that way was through.

And so if the problem of the figs is my biggest problem these days, well, I'm lucky.

I'm alive. I'm working. I'm writing, and I'm laughing.

And one day, my author friend and I are going to throw a fig party for all of the divorced women who've been in our shoes. Don't worry ladies, the figs are on me!

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

6 Negative Thoughts That Can Destroy A Relationship

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 22:28

When you’re married or in a long-term relationship, there are plenty of things best left unsaid

Negative thoughts can be just as harmful. Below, marriage therapists share six of the most damaging thoughts you can have about your relationship or your spouse. 

It’s common for people to worry if their partners have become less invested in the relationship over time. But wondering if your S.O. loves you can create a cycle of negativity, especially if you ask them about it, said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

“It can create what psychologists call a self-fulfilling prophecy: Even though the partner might protest and say ‘of course I do,’ asking might make them start to wonder if there’s cause for concern,” she said. 

Instead of asking if they still love you, try ending phone conversations with a simple “I love you” or kissing each other goodbye before work, Schwartz said.

“It may not tell you everything but affectionate behaviors are a good barometer of emotional connection,” she said. 

Tardiness is a placeholder for anything here: Your spouse’s lack of interest in sex, their seeming inability to load the dishwater. What matters is that you’re being unnecessarily critical of your spouse and using generalizations, said Greg Cason, a psychologist based in Los Angeles. And judgemental thoughts are very likely to end in contemptuous behavior, he said. 

“We default to criticism as a way to punish our partner and try to get them to act differently in the future,” he said. “It’s better to zero in on a single behavior and express your feelings about it. For instance, ‘You’re late and that upsets me’ or ‘I’m disappointed because I was hoping to get physically closer to you.’” 

For the most part, idly daydreaming that your partner was more like Ryan Gosling or your ex-girlfriend from freshman year is innocent ― but don’t get carried away, said Leslie Petruk, a marriage and family therapist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

“If there are qualities or traits that you admire in someone else, then let your partner know you wish they did more of that and find out if it’s something they are willing or want to change,” she said. 

Of course, nothing breeds discontent more than fantasizing about being with someone else, said Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling men.

“Thinking is not too distant from actually doing it and it will destroy your relationship faster than just about anything else,” he said. 

It’s completely unfair to expect your spouse to know exactly why you’re reacting so negatively to something they’ve done. And even if you don’t say anything about your expectations, your silent treatment and eye rolling likely speaks volumes. 

“It’s such a common issue with couples but 99 percent of the time, their interpretation is inaccurate or incomplete,” Petruk said. “If you think you know the motivation behind their actions, check it out before coming to your own conclusion.” 

There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing about the days when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other. But look back with a fair perspective, said Abby Rodman, a psychotherapist and the author of Should You Marry Him?: A No-Nonsense, Therapist-Tested Guide to Not Screwing Up the Biggest Decision of Your Life. 

“Sometimes I’ll look back and ruefully say to my husband, ‘Remember when we...?’ or ‘Remember how great that was...?’” she said. “He’ll smile and say, ‘Yeah. Wasn’t that great?’ He doesn’t say, ‘Yeah. Why don’t we have that anymore?’ or ‘It sure was. What happened to you or us?’” 

The point is, while it’s important to treasure the past, none of us can go back to a time to when everything about the relationship was new and exciting, Rodman said. 

“For the relationship to go on, that needs to be OK,” she said. “Sure, remaining in love is absolutely possible, but to lament that your mature marriage is no longer what it was in the beginning will only invite disillusionment and discontent.” 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Divorce Stuff

These Comics Capture The Awkwardness Of Being Friends With An Ex

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 19:34

It’s a noble goal to stay friends with your ex after a breakup. Let’s be honest, though: It rarely goes as planned. 

The College Humor illustrations below perfectly capture the awkward process of trying to be friends post-split. (Did you really think meeting your ex’s new, super good looking S.O. was going to go over smoothly?)  

The comics were written by Shea Strauss and illustrated by Andy Kluthe, who runs the comic site Nerd Rage. To see the full series, head to College Humor

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Are You Ready To Start Dating After Divorce? Here's How You'll Know

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 17:46

Dating after divorce is different for everyone. Some people start dating right when they decide to separate and or move out, perhaps because their marriage has been over for years and they have felt alone for such a long time. Others wait months or even years, due to the trauma or shock of the divorce, because they lack self-confidence, or possibly because they just need time to heal.

There are so many variables in dating after divorce and what the right time is. And, there are no right or wrong answers.

Again, every divorced person has a different timetable on when he or she feels comfortable in dating after divorce. That said, here are 10 signs you will know you are ready to start dating: 

1. You find yourself thinking less about the past and what happened. You stop trying to figure out what went wrong and you are more focused on today.

2. You feel like you are in a routine. A good one—not the come home from work, crack open a beer or pour a glass of wine, sit in front of the TV and be sad, but rather work is feeling productive, you are enjoying time spent with your kids, and single life is becoming not just bearable, but actually good.

3. You see a man or woman walking down the street and you feel hopeful and happy (and majorly attracted to the person.)

4. Someone asks if they can set you up on a blind date and you are not disgusted by the thought.

5. You feel good about yourself — more confident and much better than you have in the past.

6. You meet someone and you actually feel curious to get to know him or her more. You’re not even sure what you want, you just know you’d like to know more about this person.

7. You are accepting what happened and you have stopped blaming yourself or your ex. You have decided to focus more on this new life—not what he or she did to you or what you did to add to the demise of your marriage.

8. You are less angry and sad, and find yourself more at peace with what happened.

9. You like yourself.

10. You have physical desire for sex.

The thing is, dating after divorce in my opinion really does depend on who you meet, combined with where you are in your divorce healing process.

You could meet the perfect person, but the timing is off because you just aren’t ready to date yet. Or, you could really feel ready to date and go out there and not meet anyone who feels like a good match.

The advice I would give to anyone asking how he knows if he is ready for dating after divorce yet is:

1. Don’t put pressure on yourself to date. Just wait until you want to. If you force yourself, it won’t go well.

2. Go out with people as platonic friends. Again, no pressure. Just go out with people to enjoy someone’s company and to make a new friend. The best relationships start out that way.

3. When you start dating after divorce, don’t feel guilty—like you are doing something wrong, or that because you have young kids you aren’t a good parent if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. That is just a waste of energy, and unproductive.

4. Let dating be fun. After what was probably the roughest time in your life, you deserve to enjoy yourself and just be happy getting to know new people.

I can’t count the number of newly separated or newly divorced men and women who exclaim, “I’ll never love anyone like I loved my wife/husband ever again.” And they end up falling madly in love. For some it takes months, for others it takes years. But it does happen if the person wants that. Just be patient, don’t rush into anything (although who are we kidding? We’ve all done that) and let yourself be happy. You deserve it!

Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Divorce Stuff

'My Husband Cheated And Won't Have Sex With Me, Should I Stay?'

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 17:04
Reader Dazed And Confused writes,

My problem is this: I am 54 and my husband is 55. We have been married for 27 years. We have four grown children. Twice he has had an affair with someone much younger, once fifteen years ago and now last December I found out he'd been seeing a 25 year old on and off for about a year. He wont tell me anything about what happened, so its hard to be sure how long it was going on. I found out through other people and his weird behaviour. I was very surprised because we get along well, and I thought him incapable of doing something so cruel to me. We live in a very small town (1000) and everyone knew before me, and this person lives close to our home and my work, so I occasionally run into her without wanting to. It has been very humiliating; I feel really vulnerable.

I was very hurt and furious for a few months and wanted him to leave. He wouldn't go, said he was very sorry, it was a mistake, not my fault and that he loved me and wanted us to be together. He has stayed. But instead of a great, new revived marriage, it just keeps on sucking. I do not trust him. Every time he goes out to work or to town or is gone for any length of time, I feel he is hooking up with her. He's says he wont do it again, but it still seems like he hasn't resolved his midlife crisis. He's very concerned about his appearance and has many more face creams than I do. He's fastidious about bathing and getting cleaned up, but I don't feel he does it to look good for me. Often I come home from work and he's showered and changed and gone out somewhere. He refuses to let me see his phone or know his access code, saying I just have to trust him, which drives me crazy because that was one of the ways he carried on with this other person.

We don't have sex anymore. Since I found out about the affair, we've had sex a handful of times. I miss it a lot and feel like I'm not ready to give it up. Sex was an area of our marriage that was  good. Except for, it had started taking a dive when he had the affair. But he seems to have ED: I feel rejected, like he is not attracted to me anymore because I'm too old to be sexy. He denies this but still can't/ doesn't want to have sex. We went on vacation to the beach for a week to relax and reconnect and it was utterly disappointing. No sex. Although he is affectionate and nice enough. I thought if he stayed and we worked things out, he should be happy about that, but he often gets depressed, like he's not living the life he wants. He always says it's money problems or his back hurts (yet he still will ride his horses) or he's tired or whatever.

I wanted to get some counseling, he grudgingly went first to one guy we both didn't like, next to another who was much better, but he wouldn't go back. I feel stuck, but feel like we have so much time invested together that it would be gut wrenching to separate. I love him. I think he loves me, but just not the way I want. I don't want us to settle because we're afraid of the unknown future on our own. On my own! I feel convinced he's one of those guys who wants to toss out the old and get someone young, new and hot. And I just can't compete with that. Is there hope for us? What's wrong with us, why do I feel so stuck?

Dear DAC,

Creak creak!  What's that sound?  Why, it's the sound of your bed when you leave your husband and, after a dignified waiting period, like three weeks, you make sweet love with some guy in his 30's who's into MILF's.  On a serious note, you have done every single thing I can think of to rebuild after infidelity.  You have gone to counseling (like I told that guy in the linked piece who was cheated on), empathized, tried to have sex with him, everything.  And yet he doesn't seem to want to change.

The complaining about "money problems," his back pain, and his need for multiple face creams makes me think that your husband is fairly narcissistic.  And of course the keystone of that theory is that he cheated with someone who you know and could see around, without a thought for humiliating you, his wife of 27 years and mother of his four kids.  You first thought to leave your husband was correct, but then, out of fear and obligation, you're back in a crappy marriage.  Crappy and sexless and devoid of basic trust.  Why do you deserve this?  You don't.

Your children are raised and you have the second half of your life standing before you, like the promised land in front of Moses.  Reach out and traverse the Red Sea of irritating divorce announcements and splitting your financial assets, and emerge on the other side, single and ready to mingle.  In reality, we all die alone.  Women live longer than men, so more of us die alone even after awesome marriages.  Do you want to spend the next three or more decades watching your husband complain about money, then spend it on face creams and horses, and even on 20 something year old future affair partners?  You deserve better.  Like I told this woman, get out.

You may also want counseling to get you through this time.  Divorce can suck, but sexless marriages with narcissists suck worse. Keep me updated, and until we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, I'll Help With Your Match Profile.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Russell Wilson Said The Sweetest Thing About Ciara And Her Son

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 23:47

Russell Wilson is officially a stepfather. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback married singer Ciara last Wednesday, and he recently opened up about his relationship with Ciara’s son to People magazine.

When You Know You're Fresh... . #GiorgioArmani Custom Suit For The Big Day. #MyBoys

A photo posted by Ciara (@ciara) on Jul 9, 2016 at 10:48pm PDT

“I think, ultimately, the one thing I can say about being a stepdad and any person that’s a parent ― but especially when you come into a new situation ― the key is loving the child as your own,” Wilson told People. “That’s the biggest thing.”

As for adding more kiddos to the mix?

“I want to have a bunch of kids – me and Ci do,” Wilson said. “I think that ever since the first day I ever met Ciara and Little Man, too, it’s been really cool and really special.”

Grateful For This Love. #MyBoys

A photo posted by Ciara (@ciara) on May 7, 2016 at 7:05pm PDT

Wilson also only has praise for Ciara as a mother.

“Ciara’s such a great mom,” Wilson said. “She reads to him every night. I read to him, too, and we just share so many special moments together. That’s what family is all about. Ultimately, it’s about giving back and loving as much as you can to your fullest. That’s what you’re able to do together.”

It’s not the first time Wilson has opened up about his new stepson. In June, he wrote a sweet comment on a photo of Ciara and her son on Instagram:

Watching him grow over the past year and a half has been the most fulfilling and special things I’ve ever been around. He gets the purest and the sweetest love from you and to watch you be the woman and mom you are ALL the time. Every morning. Every night. Every day… No matter what the circumstances or situation… good or bad… brings me so much joy & most importantly him. He is so blessed to have you hold him and hug him and love him with so much pure and real love that he will have no limits to what God has in store for him.

It Was Just Yesterday I Was Holding You In My Arms Like I Am In This Photo. Now My Angel Baby Boy Is 2 Years Old!!....Running Around, Talking Up A Storm, Learning Fast & Getting Into Everything! It Has Truly Been The Best Life Experience Watching You Grow! I Am So Grateful To God For You, & I Can't Wait To See All The Many Other Amazing Things He Has In Store For You! Mommy loves You Soooo Much! #HappyBirthday To My Prince, Future Zahir. 2️⃣

A photo posted by Ciara (@ciara) on May 18, 2016 at 9:09pm PDT

H/T People

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

16 Couples Who Are *This Close* To Divorcing Because Of Pokémon Go

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 22:21

Sure, the new Pokémon Go mobile app can bring two people in love closer together: What’s more romantic than roaming around the city with your boo, dreaming of finally catching a Lapras?

But if only one of you is Pokémon-crazed, catching ‘em all could come at a price. Below, 16 tweets from people who are questioning their marriages because of Pokémon Go. 

H/T BuzzFeed 

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

Advice To GOP: Don't Say 'I Do' To Donald Trump Without a Prenup

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 20:58
Prenuptial agreements are common for couples preparing to tie the knot when one (or both) have something to protect in the event of a divorce. As a matrimonial lawyer in New York City, I have seen and drafted quite a few. To my knowledge, however, such agreements have never been used by a political party preparing to get hitched to its presidential nominee. But, of course, there has never been a "marriage" quite like the one the Republican Party is about to consummate.

The Republican Party is preparing to wed Donald Trump in a "ceremony" to be held in Cleveland on July 18. The Party appears to be quite apprehensive about entering into this union, which is understandable. Trump has had so many failed ventures, the Party has plenty to be concerned about. After all, each time Trump did quite well for himself, while leaving his former partners and others holding the bag.

Trump's presidential bid is no different. If it ends in a fiasco, Trump will be just fine. He is not spending much of his own money on his campaign, and he will undoubtedly emerge with even more notoriety and celebrity, something he clearly values and craves. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has already suffered quite a bit from Trump's presidential ambitions, and may sustain even more, and longer lasting, damage.

In light of all this, it appears that the Party officials would be well served by taking a page out of Trump's book and insisting on a prenuptial agreement. Trump himself is notorious for never marrying without one. "An ugly instrument, but they'd better have one," Trump told New York Magazine in 2002.
Prenuptial agreements can be useful in giving the spouse with the most to lose in case of a break-up more protection than the law would otherwise provide. Trump successfully used prenuptial agreements to greatly limit what each of his wives received in divorce. Trump's first wife, Ivana Zelnicek, after an unsuccessful challenge, reportedly received a total settlement of $25 million, despite Trump's allegedly multi-billion-dollar fortune and despite being married to Trump for more than 10 years. Trump's second wife, Marla Thompson, fared much worse and reportedly received no more than $2 million, as Trump ended the marriage weeks before the fourth wedding anniversary after which Marla would have been entitled to a hefty settlement.

But what would a prenuptial agreement between the Republican Party and Trump provide?

Prenuptial agreements protect the assets with which a person enters into a marriage. In addition, they commonly address distribution of marital property, entitlement by one party to receive spousal support and the parties' rights to inherit the property of the other after death.

Clearly, the first priority for the Republican Party would be to protect its separate property with which it is entering the "marriage." The main asset the Party needs to protect at this point is whatever dignity it has left. Although there may be little of it, it is obviously important to try to preserve it. Thus, the Party would be well advised to insist on an agreement that Trump will no longer call its leaders "ridiculous," "pathetic," "hypocrites," "morons," and otherwise not humiliate and belittle them.

In return, and to ensure the enforceability of this agreement, the Party should allow Trump to preserve his separate property. Clearly, the most valuable asset with which Trump is coming into the "marriage" is his name. Thus, under the agreement, Trump should retain the right to continue to be known as "Mr. Trump." In addition, the agreement can provide that after the Convention, the party officials will no longer call Trump a "nutjob" (Lindsey Graham), a "fraud" (Mitt Romney), "a jerk" (Jeb Bush), "a pathological liar" (Ted Cruz), and "a carnival barker" (Chris Christie).

The next issue this agreement will need to address is the division of assets acquired by the Republican Party and Trump during their "marriage." The increase in the value of one spouse's separate property, when due to the efforts or contributions of either spouse, are often considered marital property and are subject to distribution between the parties. It is hard to see how the dignity of the Republican Party can increase in value during its marriage to Donald Trump, so the Party can safely leave that alone.

The Trump name, on the other hand, will undoubtedly increase in value, especially among certain groups of voters (i.e., "uneducated older white men"). Therefore, the Republican Party should insist that the increase in the value of Trump's name be treated as "martial property" and be distributed between the parties in the event of a break up. Thus, although Trump will generally retain the right to continue to be known as "Mr. Trump," it would be advisable for the Republican Party to negotiate the right to use the Trump name for a number of years on its buildings and in any kind of electioneering with the core Trump supporters, by, for example, putting the name on baseball caps, universities (as long as they confer no recognizable degrees), and campaign materials. In addition, the Republican Party should negotiate the exclusive right to use, in any future election, the phrase "it's going to be a beautiful thing" to print on balloons for future rallies.

In terms of the spousal support the Party will receive from Trump, it should certainly demand that Trump turn over his main advisors, including Corey Lewandowsky (one of the best campaign managers universally loved by all, especially the press) and Chris Christie (not only a brilliant politician as demonstrated by his own presidential bid, but also currently one of the most popular governors in history).

Finally, in the event the Republican Party outlives Trump's presidential bid, the party should make sure Trump agrees that he will never ever (ever!) run for President again, because even if the Republican Party manages to survive this marriage once, it may not be so lucky the second time around.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

How Being A Mistress Changed My Perception Of Marriage

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 20:54

It takes two. It's give and take. It's all about commitment. Those are a few of the slogans I've heard people use in regards to relationships and marriage.

While I agree that all of those things may be important and true, sometimes we fall short in keeping up with those standards.

I never considered myself to be the type of person who would fall short at anything that really mattered to me. I had integrity, I was loyal, and I was determined. Then -- life happened.

By my late twenties I was already divorced. The relationship had been an abusive one and it took me years to extract myself from it. After the divorce was over with and I had moved away from my ex-husband, things felt as if they were finally getting back on track. I had a great job, I didn't have children. I was an independent woman.

And then I slipped.

I did something I had judged others for doing in the past and something that I had always said I would never do.

I had an affair with someone who was married.

The person I did this with was a repeat offender in the cheating department. They had no visible qualms about it. I was in way over my head. My judgement at the time was obviously questionable but, nevertheless, I did it.

While recovering from one destructive relationship, I ended up jumping straight into another. Much of my hope about the validity of a healthy, long-lasting relationship had disintegrated and -- fittingly -- I found someone who didn't even respect their own marriage. By entering into this affair, I effectively participated in the erosion of another marriage.

Though my behavior was inexcusable, I did learn some things. I learned how easy it can be for people to betray those who love them. I learned how a lie can become a convoluted web of unmanageable anxiety. I learned what it feels like to not love yourself.

The experience of an affair really makes you wonder about all relationships and marriages. It makes you wonder about the secrets people potentially keep, the lies they tell, and the capacity of people in general to remain loyal to one another.

You realize how much effort it really takes to be in a successful, faithful marriage or long-term relationship. It takes guts and constant communication. It takes dealing with your issues and confronting your fears. It takes a great deal of love and respect after the initial passion is gone. And I don't mean love as in lust - but love as in I'm going to care for you, support you, and remain faithful to you even when you're being unlovable, annoying, or sick kind of love.

Long story short -- I eventually got myself out of the affair. It was a torrential mess that left known and unknown emotional carnage in it's wake. I made an ugly decision that gave me momentary pleasure and offered up a way to escape feelings I wasn't finished dealing with yet. I got wrapped up in the secrecy, the passion, and the taboo nature of the beast.

I spent several years alone after the affair. There was no dating and my sense of self was slaughtered. It's an experience that will drain you and leave you dry. Make no mistake - the beginning phase of an illicit affair may be very thrilling but this feeling will rapidly be replaced by stress, desperation, pain, and guilt.

Over time, I started loving myself and my body. I ate well. I worked out. I started to make my own happiness. I admitted what I had done and -- even though the darkness of it still disturbed me - I was able to turn it into a lesson for self-improvement.

There may be no way to tell if your partner is lying to you or cheating on you. There may be no way to know for sure that you will never commit an act that hurts your partner or anyone else -- even when you believe you never would.

Relationships are a complicated dance of empathy, understanding, compatibility, and effort. Ultimatums don't work. Jealousy doesn't work. Lying doesn't work. Know yourself before you expect someone else to know you. Love yourself. Be prepared to forgive things that you would want your partner to forgive you for. Know what you can't forgive and don't expect it in return.

Marriage can be a beautiful partnership and journey. One of the biggest lessons I learned by turning my back on the idea of marriage all those years ago, is that marriage is still sacred and it is still a big deal.

Sometimes we forget how long a lifetime can actually be when we enter into a partnership like marriage. Perhaps we also falter because many of us haven't learned the value of a relationship that bears the fruit of effort, care, patience, and respect. Sometimes we become so jaded and resentful that we don't fully connect in a healthy way.

But there's always a chance to come back, to learn, and to use our mistakes as stepping stones to greater things. Sometimes the darkest lessons lead us to the highest peaks of our potential. I went there -- and I came back.

More from Michelle - 5 Signs Your Romantic Relationship May be Abusive

Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle now resides in California where she is an ex-corporate slave, writer, artist, mother, stepmother, & wife.
Join Michelle as she explores & stumbles through society, parenting, step-parenting, health, beauty, relationships & much more. Visit The Pondering Nook's website and Facebook Page for more.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff

The View From the Day Before

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 18:50
Today is my last day as a married woman. After 30 years of marriage and 34 years together, tomorrow my husband and I will stand in front of a judge who will undo what a hippie rabbi did in 1986. Unlike that rite of passage, this one doesn't involve invitations, seating charts, choosing a menu, or hiring a band. It will be a much more intimate affair -- no friends and family, just the two of us and our lawyers.

For 30 years we lived together, slept together, made plans together, laughed and worried together. We shared a bed, countless meals and bottles of wine, went to ball games, hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, visited national parks, explored the marvels of Angkor Wat, Pompeii, Hana, and Tangiers, chatted about our work days, discussed politics and world events, went to the theatre, attended weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, and dinner parties, celebrated family holidays together. We planned parties, had barbecues, sent out holiday cards, and bought gifts. We gossiped about people mentioned in the local paper.

We raised a son. We worried about his grades, his SAT scores, his friends, his health, his future. We rented an apartment, bought a coop, moved to the suburbs. We redid the house and collaborated on every choice: yes to the mission dining room set, to the tiles for the kitchen backsplash and master bath shower. Yes to the iron towel racks and stone switch plate covers. Yes to the patio furniture bought on Craigslist. We gave to charity. We volunteered in the community. We tried our best to be good, decent people and good parents. We were a team. We built a life together.

Now the furniture and the house have been sold. All those items that we carefully curated together are either at the town dump, Goodwill, or in someone else's home.

The grounds for our divorce, which will become final tomorrow, are "irreconcilable differences." According to the free online legal dictionary, this means "The existence of significant differences between a married couple that are so great and beyond resolution as to make them unworkable." That sounds really dire -- as if we fought tooth and nail for years. But my husband and I generally agree. We share similar world and political views, have similar taste, like the same restaurants and mostly, the same people, including each other. So when the judge asks me about those irreconcilable differences (as my lawyer tells me he will), I really don't know what I'll say. The only thing that comes to mind is that my husband really hated it when I rinsed the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher -- and I continually refused to change that behavior. (Hopefully my husband will be able to come up something a bit more irreconcilable to impress the judge).

Will I look or feel any different tomorrow, when I will no longer be a wife? I imagine the effect will be much like that of a milestone birthday. The day, much anticipated and possibly dreaded, comes and then goes. The next day you look in the mirror and are somewhat stunned that your image appears unchanged from the day before. But as we know, there are things that, although invisible to the naked eye -- like atoms or virulent strains of bacteria -- exert powerful forces on the universe. So although I will look the same once tomorrow passes, beneath the surface I know I will be deeply and irrevocably changed.

Going forward, I'll be reminded of that change every time I meet someone new and they ask me to tell them about myself. I'll be reminded every time I fill out a form at a doctor's office or government agency and I have to check the "Divorced" box after having automatically checked "Married" for over 30 years.

Tomorrow I will no longer be a wife. I'll still be a lot of other excellent things: a woman, a daughter, a mother, a friend, an American, a writer. But I will no longer be a wife. I will no longer be able to casually toss the words "my husband" into a conversation. They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. But I suspect this one's going to take quite a bit longer than that.

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Categories: Divorce Stuff
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