How to Manage Divorce During the Holidays

How to Manage Divorce During the Holidays

Navigating the complexities of divorce is a challenge even in amicable breakups. The holidays can compound stress and anxiety especially when children are involved. Create a season of joy with the intention to break away from the drama of divorce for the sake of your children and your own mental wellness.

Take Control of Your Actions

The holidays are not a time for fighting. Call your own internal truce and refuse to engage in any negativity with your ex. Abolish tit-for-tat. If your ex is not willing to take these steps, you can still choose to keep the peace. Simply do not go there.

Simply Smile at Aggressive Texts and Emails – You cannot control the behavior of your ex, but you can control how you respond. Stop. Breathe. Smile knowing that you are in control of yourself and that you have set your boundary and will not be enmeshed in nasty communications.

Radically Take Care of Yourself – Take on only what you believe you are able to manage and no more. Be prepared to say ‘no’ to invitations that exceed your bandwidth. Choose wisely for yourself to travel or to host. Implement and stick to self-care habits including a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercise. Fortify your mind with walks, books, and quiet time. My two favorite books are the Bible and The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy.

Give Yourself a Gift – This season don’t forget that really important person in your life – YOU! Head to the salon for a new hairstyle, manicure, or pedicure. Take the day off to have lunch with a friend. On a budget? Snuggle up with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, or meet your friend in the park with a brown bag lunch. Do something special for yourself!

Don’t Do it Alone – The holidays are not a time for self-isolation. Avoid falling into that emotional black hole by surrounding yourself with a strong network be it family, friends, school, or church. Lean into a licensed counselor if you are having trouble coping, and do the same for your child.

Create Lasting Holiday Memories

Divorce is hard on children as they grapple with emotions of ‘why’. Focus on relevant celebrations that bring you and your children together.

Decorate the House – Pull out your favorite decorations and throw a festive party with your child. Create new traditions such as baking cookies, threading popcorn garland, or making gingerbread houses. Play holiday music and dance around the house. Ask your child for ideas and include them as part of the planning.

Be Flexible – Your child may want to spend time with the other parent and flexibility is key. Depending on your divorce agreement, you may trade off holidays or share each holiday. Encourage your child every step of the way and forgo any guilt trips. If you do not spend the actual holiday with them, schedule a ‘special celebration’ before or after.

Manage Your Emotions – Don’t give place to negative thoughts and negative self-talk. On purpose, think about good things. Think about the gratitude you have for your children. Think about the gratitude you have for your family and your friends that have become your family. If you need to cry and if you need to feel sorry for yourself, give yourself a time limit. For example, give yourself two weeks to grieve the loss of what was and then mentally move on. Understand it is okay to give yourself time to be hurt, to be angry, and to be disappointed. The emphasis is on time, setting a time and date.

Consider the Whys – Thoughtfully consider why you would badmouth your ex-spouse to your children, and their other parent. Ask yourself why you would engage in the Spanish Inquisition when your children return from your ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse. There is no good reason for interrogating your children after their visit with the other parent. Thoughtfully consider why you would send menacing emails or texts complaining about why the children were tired in the morning because your ex didn’t put them to bed on time. There is no good reason for launching criticism of your ex via email and text.

Keep it Simple – Guilt is the quickest way to get caught up in the more-is-more frenzy. Spouses may compete to see who can buy more gifts or more expensive gifts. Don’t let the materialism of the holidays cause you to forget what the season is about. Set reasonable expectations for gift-giving and focus on quality time with your child.

Children become adults and what stays with them are memories, not things. Use this holiday season to create new memories that carry you and your children forward. Divorce during the holidays does not have to mean that every holiday thereafter will be a time of sorry. You alone have the power to make the choice for how you will approach the holidays.

This season, we are here to support you through your divorce. If you are someone you know is going through a divorce, contact us today.

Let Me Be Your Brave!

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Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.

Divorcing A Narcissist

Divorcing A Narcissist

You’re married to a narcissist and ready to break free. First, congratulations on empowering yourself to take this next, crucial step toward your new life. Second, it is critical that you take time to find the right attorney to represent you. Divorce is painful but divorcing an abusive spouse can be downright scary. The abuser will come at you and come at you. Make sure you have the proper support in your corner.

The Silence of Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic abuse is often silent to the outside world, but for those living in a narcissistic relationship, it is an everyday abuse that destroys self-esteem, confidence, and personal identity. Every week in our office during conference calls with incredibly smart, beautiful, and successful clients just like you, they share their stories:

“No one understands me.” “I’m terrified every day.” “I’m being gaslighted.”

“I’m financially and emotionally drained.” “I feel isolated.” “What about my children?”

These are women (and men) who to the outside world appear to be confident, successful, and strong individuals; active in the community and surrounded by friends. But internally these individuals have been torn down, degraded, and left not knowing what to do. They are highly intelligent and capable individuals who do not know how to untangle themselves from their never-ending entanglement with their narcissistic spouse.

Finding A Divorce Attorney

The bridge over these very troubling waters lies in your selection of the right divorce attorney for you. How do you do that? How do you make sure that you are hiring or retaining a divorce attorney who will best represent you? Here are three must-take steps: 

1. Interview Several Attorneys

Do not hire your attorney simply because your neighbor or best friend used them as their attorney. Every relationship is different just as every divorce is different. Their needs with their attorney are not the same as yours. Interview multiple attorneys to gain an understanding of their expertise, knowledge about your type of situation, practice style, and even personality.

2. Ask for Referrals

This is your life! This is your child’s life. When interviewing an attorney don’t be shy and ask for referrals from other former clients. Tell them you’d like the name of one or two clients that would be willing to speak to you about their experiences with the law firm. A well-regarded attorney will not hesitate to provide referrals.  

3. Trust Your Gut

No one knows how to take care of you like you. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right during the interview with a potential attorney, trust your gut and walk away.

Moving Forward

Narcissists carry an air of superiority, even believing they are above the law. Facing divorce can cause a significant shift in the narcissistic personality as they fight to maintain control of their spouse and their fake reputation. 

If you are in a situation where you’re trying to find your way to a divorce with a narcissist, know this – you are not alone. Our team brings significant legal acumen and personal experience in matters of narcissistic abuse and divorce. We are here to help.

Interview us to learn more about our team, culture, and process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Let Me Be Your Brave!

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Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC. 

Important Financial Impacts of Gray Divorce

Important Financial Impacts of Gray Divorce

Divorce is hard enough as it is, but when the divorce occurs after a lengthy marriage filled with children, grandchildren, and loads of wonderful memories, it can be especially painful. This type of divorce characterized by lengthy marriage is frequently called a gray divorce and there are unique financial considerations that you must understand if you are going through a gray divorce.

What is a Gray Divorce?

Whenever one or both parties to a divorce are mature-aged, it is considered a gray divorce. Gray divorces are more common than you may think. It’s not surprising that after the kids graduate from school, or get married and move forward with their own lives, parents will make the quality but painful decision to divorce.

A study conducted by Bowling Green University found that over the last 20 years, the divorce rate among mature-aged persons has more than doubled. And that brings us to the second question, “What is a mature aged person?” Baby Boomers between 58 and 80 are considered the largest group of mature-aged adults. And yes, Gen Xers between 42 and 57 are also considered mature-aged. And there are financial implications.

Impacts of a Gray Divorce

What you already know is that New York is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. What you may not know is that New York has the third longest life expectancy. An August 2020 article in USA Today stated that it takes $1.4 million dollars to live comfortably for 20 years. This seven-figure amount can seem even more daunting among mature-aged couples concerned about their limited earning time horizon as well as the impact on their nest egg. But that doesn’t mean you should stay in a marriage that is over. It means you need to be prepared.

Protecting Your Finances

It’s impossible to completely protect all of your finances during any divorce including a gray divorce. However, you need to have a strategy to either mitigate the financial impact or a plan to recoup your nest egg after a gray divorce. Recouping is the appropriate term here because it is a fact that your nest egg will be impacted by your divorce and the divorce process. The potential loss of dual income sources may be significant, but there are tips to help you rebuild:

  1. Cut Costs – It may be time to establish a budget. Cut out the luxury items, and reduce expenses where you can, to increase savings potential. It may be time to downsize out of your large family home or reconsider that new car purchase. Be smart with your money.
  2. Hire a Financial Advisor – A Certified Financial Planner or financial advisor can guide you in making sound investment decisions, and can also help you plan for expenses and future unknowns. Their expertise is earning money with what you have available, so lean into their insights.
  3. Get a Job – Don’t be afraid to get back into the workforce and certainly don’t be afraid to start your own business. It may be time to retool yourself to enter into a job or profession. Choose an outlet that gives you passion. I, the author, went to law school at age 42. I’m confident that you can retool if that’s what you choose to do.

Hiring A Qualified Attorney

The unique financial considerations of gray divorce are significant and can impact your retirement years. Protect yourself by interviewing divorce attorneys who understand the landscape of a gray divorce and who know how to navigate the related financial nuances.

Move forward into this new happily-ever-after stage of your life. Contact us today to discuss your gray divorce or matrimonial concerns.

Let Me Be Your Brave!

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Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner
Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC.

Divorce Behaviors That Undermine Your Children, Part 3: Emotional Wellbeing

Divorce Behaviors That Undermine Your Children, Part 3: Emotional Wellbeing

Here we are, part 3 of this 3-part series, and this is the MOST IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY because divorce is a life-altering event in anyone’s life story. Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, divorce is about your children, and nothing else is more important. Divorces are often angry, stressful, and upsetting. Your children are not the source of those feelings, and it is your job to ensure your child thrives during YOUR divorce process. So let’s talk about the affirmative actions you need to take to help the ones you love most – your precious children.

EMOTIONALLY THRIVING

Countless professionals say it’s not the divorce that affects children, but the way the spouses manage the divorce. In high-conflict situations, children’s emotional responses are highly influenced by watching how their parents act and communicate during the divorce process. Allow your children to show their emotions and encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.

Speak With Them – not at them. Hold an interactive conversation. Divorce is confusing and your child will have questions. Let them talk about the divorce, ask questions, and then provide answers that are age-appropriate, respectful, balanced, and unbiased. Do not trash-talk your spouse. You and your spouse will go your separate ways after the divorce, but each of you is still your child’s parent.

It’s Not Their Fault – divorce is the decision of the parents, but children often feel guilty. It is your job to reassure them that it is not their fault. Your child needs to know both parents love him/her and have their back, no matter what your true feelings are toward your ex-spouse.

Their Feelings Are Valid – Are you listening to your child? Avoid the temptation to reframe or recharacterize their feelings. Engage a counselor to give your child a safe space to talk about the divorce. As they grow and develop, these positive encouragements teach children how to work through difficult situations. Counseling is a great resource for the parents as well, to help them navigate the process and work through their own feelings during the transition.

All Things with Love – There was a time when love brought you and your spouse together. A time when the birth of your child was celebrated. Reassure your child that you both love them and will be there for them even after the divorce is finalized. Then act on it. The more amicable you keep your divorce now, the easier the graduations and weddings will be years from now.

Build a positive relationship with your ex to honor your children and their welfare. Move forward with integrity, dignity, and strength. Your children are watching and learning. Choose to be empowered. Empowered parents raise empowered children.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation: (212) 792-9501.

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Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner

 

Divorce Behaviors That Undermine Your Children, Part 2: The Middle Pawn

Divorce Behaviors That Undermine Your Children, Part 2: The Middle Pawn

Now that you’ve read part 1 of this 3-part series, KEEP READING because divorce is challenging and cannot be addressed in one blog. Even “amicable” divorces can be difficult to navigate. In high-conflict divorces, tensions are high, and the gloves come off, but it’s your child that suffers most because of the continued animosity between you and your child’s other parent. Using your child as a pawn is undermining and manipulative behavior that puts children into a dangerous psychological tailspin. Control your emotions purposefully and model your emotional management skills for your kids.

DON’T USE YOUR CHILD AS A PAWN

Listen up parents, your children are not a negotiation tool. You may not realize you are putting your child in the middle, but it is an all-too-common occurrence.  Can you identify with any of these damaging divorce behaviors?

The Blame Game

There’s a dangerous pronoun in divorce – ‘Your’.

“Your father did this to me.” “Your father is a cheater.”
“Your mother told this lie.” “Your mother gave up.”

The problem with ‘your’ is it’s possessive. You have shifted the blame to include your child. Airing your grievances to them is selfish and hurtful. Your child is half you and half the other parent. When you speak against your spouse you are putting your child down as well.  Hold your tongue and save the venting for your inner circle.

False Promises

You do not need to buy your child’s love. Do everyone a favor and skip the special treats, the new puppy, and the randomly purchased gifts given with intention of buying their love. These behaviors teach children how to manipulate others, deceive, and use material things to get what they want.

Who Do You Like Best

Are you really expecting your child to pick one parent over the other? Did you really ask them to say who they want to live with? Children caught in a contentious divorce often feel pressure to choose, and you might be surprised to find that putting this decision on them will only make them resent you.

Revenge

If your soon-to-be ex wants to go on vacation will you manipulate your schedule to prevent it? Do you alienate your children from your former in-laws and relatives? You may think your actions are only hurting your ex, but the reality is that you are punishing your kids as well.

CREATING AN INTENSE HOME ENVIRONMENT

Divorce is difficult for children, and your behavior will impact their physical and mental well-being. Let me ask this, are you guilty of any of these behaviors in front of your child?

  1. Arguing with your spouse
  2. Spousal silent treatment
  3. Discussing adult matters
  4. Physical altercations
  5. Needlessly calling the police (the lowest of the low!)

Children dealing with a tense home environment due to parents going through a divorce can lead to:

  • Depression, social withdrawal, regression
  • Troubles concentrating in school
  • Anger, bullying, defiance
  • Loss of sleep or sleeping too much
  • Inability to handle conflict
  • Physical pain from anxiety or stress

Children with positive co-parents experience less depression and anxiety. Manage your intentions and your emotions. Your sole focus during the divorce should be your child’s best welfare. Be a team with a superpower for good, not a team set on being destroyed by divorce.  An empowered parent raises empowered children.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation: (212) 792-9501.

divorce lawyer_female divorce attorney

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner

Are you considering divorce and think mediation may be the right option for you and your family? Contact the Law Firm of Poppe & Associates today to schedule a consultation to talk with an attorney about whether mediation or litigation is the right fit for your situation.