Preparing for Divorce as a Successful Woman

Preparing for divorce is never easy, no matter the circumstances. But, if you’ve been shattering those glass ceilings there are many other components to consider. 45% of divorce lawyers have noted a sizable uptick in the number of women making alimony payments to their exes, and throughout the process their affluent female clients are confronted with more complex custody battles, litigation, and stress.

The good news is if you know what to expect, you’ll be able to slip the punches you see coming and roll with the ones you don’t. 

Let’s Talk Alimony

For better or worse (and for richer or poorer), alimony is a gender-neutral reality of splitting up that can cost the primary earner up to 40% of their income. Today, only about 10% of divorces result in alimony payments, but men are increasingly on the receiving end. 

It’s important to understand that alimony and child support are not the same thing.  Child support is for your children, but alimony payments are for your former spouse, and the chances you’ll have to pay go up significantly if they’re disabled or otherwise unable to find enough work to support themselves. 

The requirements for alimony vary by state, and there are three primary considerations:

  1. Marital standard of living to which your ex is accustomed 
  2. Child custody 
  3. Fault (in some states)

There are other factors that may or may not come into play, like a minimum marriage length or your ability to pay without being unduly burdened, but if you’re making a lot more than your partner you need to be ready for a grinning lawyer with a hefty figure standing between you and freedom. 

A Mountain of Litigation

The gears of the law turn slowly, and during divorce proceedings your ex may throw an entire Home Depot worth of wrenches into the works. A particularly contentious divorce can take years to resolve, and you’re going to need to be ready to spend a lot of your time in attorney meetings and standing in front of a judge. 

When you’re working 60 hours a week it’s going to be exhausting, and spouses and lawyers may try to take advantage. Litigious processes can be abused to waste your time, burn out your emotions, and generally make your life a living hell. 

And it’s not just personal, either. If they manage to fray enough nerves, they may trigger you into behaving very badly in front of a judge, and that can have serious consequences that are measured in dollar signs and hours with your children. 

You need to stay calm, relaxed, and remember that there’s a reason you’re closing this door. A good Certified Divorce Coach can be your greatest ally when the pressure’s on, and they will be able to help you manage the challenges for a fraction of what it could cost you going it alone. 

Your Friends May Withdraw

A divorce is second only to the death of a spouse for stress and anxiety, and an exacerbating factor is the tendency of friends and support systems to withdraw, gossip, and pick sides. It can be deeply hurtful and leave you feeling isolated when you need them the most, and divorces are the time when many people find out who their real friends are. 

Emotions run high and hot when you’re in the midst of a breakup, but be careful not to judge too harshly if you feel your friends retract a bit. The truth? You may be a hot mess right now, and it’s a normal reaction for people to pull back from trauma. It may even be that they want to support you but they just don’t quite know what to say. Pain can be awkward, and given a little time they will probably find a way to connect. 

A Legal Issue

About the gossip—you can’t stop it, but be hyper aware and cautious of your actions at work. Things that you say or do can haunt you during trial. Imagine having a colleague (or worse, an employee) serve as a witness. 

Breathe…There Is Light at the End of the Tunnel

Any divorce is a strain on the mind, body, or spirit, but for the career-oriented, successful women out there it can turn into an expensive and complicated disaster. 

Making it to the other side is going to take all the poise and skill that helped you break into banks, boardrooms, and business schools all across the country, but with a little preparation (and a lot of grace under fire), you’ll be able to emerge on the other side empowered to make the next chapter in your life the best you’ve ever written.

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