What is a Prenup? And How It Could Help You Down the Road

Let’s accept that you are not tying the knot to one day, untie it and get divorced. No one expects their marriage to unravel, but as life evolves, this could unexpectedly happen for whatever reason. And if it does, the fears around the financial burden you might face could make you feel lost and unprotected. What could ease this situation (and act as an insurance policy) is a prenuptial agreement.

In a prenup, you and your partner clarify what you want from the marriage and your financial responsibility to one another. A prenup could protect your future because marriages are closely enmeshed with financial destinies.

This article will explore what a prenup is, the difference between a prenup and a postnup, and the value of a prenup as a tool for women to empower and control their lives — especially if they wish to consider staying at home one day to raise their children.

What is a Prenup?

A prenup is an agreement you have before you get married, it describes what happens to the finances in the case of a divorce.  The agreement allows you to iron out details before bumps arise. Some factors in a prenup can include how you will manage your earnings and what your marital estate’s ownership looks like. If you have an existing loan, it can address whether you will pay off the loan together or separately. Most importantly it determines who gets what after a divorce. 

Understandably, no one wants to bring up the possibility of a divorce when you are selecting your wedding invitations. But think of a prenup as an insurance policy, like car insurance or health insurance. It is meant to protect you.

If you get married and don’t have a prenup, in the case of a divorce, your debts and assets are decided by state laws. A prenup costs money, of course, but it allows you more control over greater sums of money during and after a marriage.

We want you to have a long, loving, and fulfilling marriage.  But sometimes, life throws us some curves. 

Prenup Vs. Postnups

Before we continue with the benefits of a prenup, let’s clarify the difference between a prenup and a postnup, or a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement. 

A prenup is a legally binding contract that is established before you get married. A postnup on the other hand is created after you are married and typically is used when there is a significant change in financial, marital, or property issues within the marriage.

A prenup is typically more comprehensive than a postnup.

Additionally, a prenup is more enforceable than a postnup if a signer attempts to dispute the agreement. Divorce courts generally assume that coercion is less likely when signing an agreement before marriage than when there is a change later on in the marriage.

Read “7 Things to Know About a Post Nuptial Agreement”

How long have Prenups been around?

Prenuptial agreements are over 2,000 years old, and historically, they benefitted men. A prenup established the bride’s dowry and the price the groom would pay the bride’s family to marry her. The agreements were made by the couple’s parents, rather than by the couple. 

Imagine your financial destiny in the hands of your parents and your spouse’s parents, your in-laws.

A document that was once meant to protect men, however, has become a tool to empower women now.  

A prenup can help you raise your children at home while not suffering financially for it later on.

(Read on.)

If you are considering marriage, remarrying, or your daughters are marrying, we urge you to consider these facts about the gender wealth gap. Reports show that over time men accumulate more wealth than women, it’s that simple. How big is the gap? Reports and research say that for every dollar a white man owns, women overall own just 32 cents. Black and Latina women? Only one penny.

One of the main reasons for this gap is that women are more often responsible for the home and children.

Many women take time off after giving birth to care for their newborn. Among them, many still do not return to work so they can continue to care for their children. Over time, this decision leads to women accumulating less money. 

Recognizing and Compensating Stay-at-Home Parents: The Financial Benefits of a Prenup

A prenup can help equalize the power you have in a relationship and balance that wealth gap by making sure your invaluable work at home is recognized financially.  

If you choose … it is a choice to stay home to raise your children. It is not for everybody. 

If you decide to do it, it can be a beautiful and wildly challenging decision, but it is also an economic decision made by you and your spouse. You will want to remember that.

A prenup could include how you are compensated for the paychecks you sacrificed to care for your children. It validates your role. This is important because if divorce were to occur, some spouses can try to minimize their partner’s claims for support. Bullying statements, commonly heard include, “You were just at home!” “You did nothing.” “You never contributed to the money. It’s all mine.”

It’s not all theirs, by the way.

For more information, consider reading“Do Stay-at-Home Moms Get Alimony?” and “How to Prepare for Divorce if You are a Stay-at-Home Mom.”

We asked New York City divorce attorney, Carolyn Parry her thoughts on prenuptial agreements. And we are pleased that she had much to share:  

“Not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement, but everyone entering into a marriage certainly needs to have a “prenup talk” in that both partners should set out their explicit expectations as to what would be considered mine/yours/ours in a marriage and in a divorce.”

If you have a friend who is facing the potential break up of her marriage, you may wish to share our popular “36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking About Divorce.”

“You will likely be surprised that your soulmate has very different ideas about how assets should be split and how time away from the workforce for child rearing should be compensated.”

“If you and your partner really are on the same page, then why not put those assurances down on paper? Things become much more real–as well as legally binding–when they are in black and white.”

“And speaking of leaving the workforce, please do not be naive enough to think that our court system will reward your sacrifice for your children. If a prenuptial agreement did not seem necessary at the start of the marriage, then maybe a postnuptial agreement now that you are making a major economic decision is appropriate.”


If you are a soon-to-be bride, you are smart and strong to have read this far. If you are considering remarriage, or you are a mother, thank you, too, for considering these words. No one wants to talk about divorce or bad things that might happen. However, unequal situations in our society have created certain circumstances for women. Our eyes need to be wide open when we make important life choices. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to move forward confidently and to make the greatest space for love and the brightest hopes for the future.

Please share this information with your loved ones.


This article discusses what is a prenup and how it might be beneficial for some women who may one day seek to raise their children from home. This was not a discussion on how a prenup could also be used, as a mechanism to lessen a spouse’s claims in a divorce. There are certainly soon-to-be spouses who force an unfair prenup down their partner’s mouth. This scenario is a different article. But we can’t leave it without saying, please don’t let that happen to your mouth. Do not sign a prenup without reviewing it with a lawyer and hearing how your future could be lessened.

Natasha is a third-year law student in Chicago committed to advocating for women’s empowerment in all areas of law. With a longstanding interest in health law, she aspires to work for hospitals and nonprofits in continuing to advocate for women’s rights. Her goal is to address the historical issues that continue to prevail in our society by addressing the social determinants of health. 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and oftentimes complicated experience of breaking up and divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you and your precious life. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS now.


*SAS continues to support same-sex and nonbinary marriage. In this article, however, we refer to your spouse as husband/he/him.

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One-stop resource with expert articles, a community forum, free DIY divorce forms, and a marketplace of on-demand divorce professionals. The marketplace has on-demand access to divorce professionals, like lawyers, custody experts, mediators, & more online divorce, divorce forum, online divorce lawyer, free divorce forms Take charge of your divorce with educational articles written by experts in family law, divorce, child custody, divorce and life coaching, child psychology, accounting, and more.
One-stop resource with expert articles, a community forum, free DIY divorce forms, and a marketplace of on-demand divorce professionals. The marketplace has on-demand access to divorce professionals, like lawyers, custody experts, mediators, & more online divorce, divorce forum, online divorce lawyer, free divorce forms Take charge of your divorce with educational articles written by experts in family law, divorce, child custody, divorce and life coaching, child psychology, accounting, and more.

New Rules Encourage Non-Court Dispute Resolution


New Rules Encourage Non-Court Dispute Resolution | TDM

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A Legal Tug of War Over a Pomeranian

The Case of Teddy Bear: A Legal Tug of War Over a Pomeranian

by Nathaniel Butzke 

   The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently made a notable decision in an intriguing legal battle involving former romantic partners and a Pomeranian named Teddy Bear. The case, Lyman v. Lanser, takes us through the complexities of shared possession of a jointly owned pet. The heart of the dispute was whether the parties’ agreement to share Teddy Bear equally could be legally enforced, an agreement similar to custody arrangements that we typically see concerning children.

    Lyman and Lanser’s story began with a mutual decision to purchase Teddy Bear in 2018. They followed a pattern of shared pet ownership and agreement to share custody should they separate. When the relationship ended in 2021, they managed to share Teddy Bear amicably. The conflict escalated when Lanser ceased communication and denied Lyman access to Teddy Bear, prompting legal action.

    The Superior Court initially granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Lyman, mandating alternating two-week periods of possession for each party. However, a single justice vacated this decision, raising questions about the legal status of pets and the enforceability of personal property agreements. Specifically, the usage of the term “shared custody” raised alarm bells, and the appeals court emphasized a warning to future counsel about the charge behind those words as they are commonly used only when referring to child custody arrangements, thereby suggesting that a best practice for pet sharing arrangements would be to avoid the term “custody” altogether. 

    The Appeals Court, led by Judge Sacks, reversed the single justice’s order, emphasizing that domestic animals, while legally considered personal property, hold a unique status that can warrant specific performance of an agreement. This decision underscores the recognition of pets as more than just inanimate objects, acknowledging their sentimental value and the irreplaceable companionship they offer.

    The Appeals Court weighed several legal considerations, including the adequacy of damages as a remedy and the practical challenges of enforcing shared pet possession agreements. While acknowledging the potential for such disputes to strain judicial resources (a reason often given by Probate and Family Court judges to exclude pet-sharing arrangements in divorce agreements), the court found that, in this case, the preliminary enforcement of the parties’ pre-existing agreement was justified.  

    This decision does not transform pets into children in the eyes of the law but affirms that agreements concerning their shared possession can be subject to specific performance. The case of Teddy Bear is a fascinating example of how the legal system navigates the evolving recognition of pets’ special place in our lives and relationships.  Even though the Appeals Court explicitly stated: “Nor should anything in our decision be construed as altering the status of pets in divorce proceedings,” it’s hard to reconcile this exclusion with the right of divorcing parties to create enforceable contracts for other property rights.  If non-married couples can create enforceable pet-sharing contracts, does Lyman v. Lanser open the door for married and divorcing couples to do the same?  We’ll have to wait and see how Probate & Family Court judges interpret this decision but in the mean-time consider this practice tip if you’re trying to include pet provisions in a divorce agreement.

DIVORCE AGREEMENT DRAFTING TIP from Justin Kelsey of Gray Jay Endeavors, LLC

For pet related provisions consider including language that mirrors the court’s language in Lyman v. Lanser, using the terms “joint property” and “shared possession” and avoiding the terms “custody” or “parenting plan”.  There are some Probate & Family Court judges who won’t approve pet sharing sections of and agreement and require them to be removed, but using enforceable language at least makes it more likely a Judge will consider it.  Here is some sample language from the Separation Agreement template available to subscribers of Gray Jay Endeavors Forms:

PLAN FOR OWNERSHIP OF _______________: In consideration of the distribution of other benefits to each party under the terms of this Agreement, ___________ and ___________ agree as follows:

a. Taking into account the value to both ___________ and ___________ of their pet’s affection and company, they both agree that ___________ will be their shared and joint property and that they intend to create an enforceable agreement for shared possession as follows:

i. ___________ and ___________ will schedule time with ___________ upon such a schedule and under such circumstances as they agree upon or as further ordered by the court, taking into consideration the needs of the pet and the work schedules of ___________ and ___________, and with a default controlling schedule as follows:

b. EXPENSES: ___________ and ___________ will [Describe the Split (e.g. share equally 50/50, split __% by ________ and ___% by ________, etc.)] the following regular expenses of the pet(s) until [Describe agreed upon endpoint (e.g. agreed upon date, their death, etc.)]:


i. veterinary costs,

ii. food, and

iii. ___________

___________ and ___________ will discuss any expenses over $[Enter expenses threshold] in advance, and if ___________ or ___________ doesn’t agree to the expense, then [Describe the Split (e.g. share equally 50/50, split __% by ________ and ___% by ________, etc.)].

If a party is required to contribute to an expense under this section, ___________ and ___________ will cooperate to pay expenses directly when possible. If a party paid the original expense in full, they will bill [Describe frequency] for the other party for that party’s contribution in writing (e-mail or text is sufficient), and the other party will pay the expense within [Describe frequency] days of receipt of a copy of the bill/receipt.

[Consider if there are any outstanding liabilities that need to be addressed separately.]

Gray Jay Endeavors, LLC provides Separation Agreement Templates and Massachusetts divorce forms as a resource for professionals and divorcing couples.  If you are a professional who wants to learn more about our forms subscriptions visit


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Carolynn Mincin Monologue Divorce Court


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Why Indians Don't Divorce


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India has the lowest divorce rate in the world! That should be a good thing, right? On the face of it, it shows that Indians are so much better at maintaining marriages. But are we, really? In this video, we talk about why the divorce rates in India are so low- one of the main reasons being the stigma against the idea of divorce. We also talk about how slowly but surely, the stigma is fading and more and more people are choosing to walk out of unhappy and abusive marriages- addressing the reasons behind such decisions as well.
While making this video, we interviewed a couple of people for their opinions and experience about divorces in India and we’d like to thank them for their contribution. Both of them run support groups-Their details are mentioned below in case you want to reach out to them:
1. Sumedha Bhosekar ( @BhosekarS )
Founding Member – Puruhotra (@puruhotra),
Member – SIF Karnataka (@SIFKtka) / SIF Movement
Men’s Rights Organisation,
NGO to voice the Human Rights of men. Runs a helpline for men and their families ( 08882 498 498 )
2. Shasvathi Siva
telegram support group –


🇮🇳Indian Society:
🗺Geopolitics and Foreign Affairs:
🧍🏽‍♀️Issues of a Young Indian:
🗳Indian Politics:
🇮🇳 Discoveries of India:
📈Money, Stocks, and Crypto:

00:00 Introduction
01:32 Why are divorce rates so low in India
07:31 legal troubles
12:34 Why are divorces increasing
15:23 Increasing divorces in small towns
16:23 Wider Acceptance
17:20 Grey/Silver Divorces
19:06 Cost of divorces


Comparing Collaborative Divorce and Mediation


Are you contemplating divorce and weighing the options of collaborative divorce vs mediation? Making the right choice is vital for a smoother transition. In this article, we cut through the complexities, offering a clear comparison of both methods. With just enough detail, we aim to guide you toward the approach most in tune with your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Collaborative divorce and mediation provide alternative dispute resolution processes for divorcing couples, focusing on negotiation and cooperation without litigation; collaborative divorce involves a team of professionals and attorneys, while mediation is facilitated by a neutral third party with optional attorney involvement.

  • Both processes aim to empower the divorcing parties to reach amicable settlements, with the collaborative process being more structured and possibly involving higher costs due to the team of professionals, while mediation tends to be more cost-effective, streamlined, and faster due to less reliance on legal representation.

  • In collaborative divorce, parties work with collaborative attorneys and experts such as mental health and financial professionals to reach a comprehensive agreement that considers all aspects of the divorce, whereas, in mediation, couples may consult with attorneys and experts but primarily negotiate the terms with the aid of a sole mediator.


Understanding Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

Collaborative divorce and mediation are two methods of resolving divorce disputes that offer unique advantages. Collaborative divorce is a consensual resolution process that involves a team of professionals, including attorneys, to help couples reach a settlement.

On the other hand, mediation is a process guided by a neutral third-party mediator, with the involvement of attorneys being optional.

Essence of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce centers around the principle of cooperation, encouraging couples to negotiate all aspects of their divorce, averting adversarial tactics or conflict. A collaborative divorce attorney, also known as a collaborative divorce lawyer, plays a crucial role in representing their client’s interests and guiding negotiations, with the ultimate goal being to reach a mutually agreeable settlement without the need for court intervention.

Fundamentals of Divorce Mediation

Unlike the collaborative process, divorce mediation involves:

  • a neutral third-party mediator

  • who facilitates the negotiation of divorce settlement terms

  • the mediator refrains from offering legal advice

  • focusing instead on assisting both parties in reaching a compromise.

The end result of mediation is a legally binding written agreement detailing the mutually agreed terms of the divorce. Importantly, the presence of attorneys is optional in this process, with spouses having the freedom to decide on their involvement.

Comparing Processes: Collaborative Divorce vs Mediation

When you take a closer look at collaborative divorce and mediation, you can see that each method has its own unique process. The primary distinction lies in the involvement of attorneys and the duration it takes to reach a resolution.

The Collaborative Divorce Journey

Collaborative divorce is structured to foster cooperation between both parties through the collaborative law process, as opposed to engaging in divorce litigation. It begins with the signing of a non-litigation agreement by both parties and their collaborative law attorneys, pledging to avoid litigation and amicably negotiate the terms of their divorce.

The process typically takes a minimum of a couple of months to complete and involves several key steps. These include:

  1. Initiating the process

  2. Making a dedicated commitment

  3. Assembling the team of professionals

  4. Engaging in settlement negotiations and reaching a settlement agreement

The number of meetings required during this process can range from a couple to many, depending on the complexity of the case and the issues at hand.

Navigating Divorce Mediation

Conversely, the mediation process is slightly more streamlined. It involves the following steps:

  1. Collection of information

  2. Identification of issues

  3. Negotiation of terms

  4. Reaching a settlement

This process is facilitated by a trained, neutral mediator who aids in communication and negotiation between the spouses.

Preparation is key for successful mediation. This includes gathering all necessary documents, preparing to engage in discussions, and being ready to resolve different aspects of the divorce.

Given its goal of achieving resolutions significantly faster than collaborative divorce, mediation appears as an attractive option for many couples.

Legal Representation: Attorney’s Role in Each Method

The nature of legal representation significantly differs between collaborative divorce and mediation. In a collaborative divorce, attorneys play a crucial role in representing the interests of each spouse and ensuring that both parties sign an agreement to avoid court. Meanwhile, in mediation, the presence of attorneys is optional, with spouses having the discretion to engage them if they so choose.

Attorneys in Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative attorneys, including your own collaborative divorce attorney, in a collaborative divorce:

  • Assume a more active role

  • Represent their clients’ interests

  • Foster cooperation

  • Guide their clients through the process

  • Attend meetings

  • Offer legal advice

Their role is especially crucial in representing their client’s interests, guiding negotiations, and assisting the parties in reaching agreements. Their ultimate goal is to avoid litigation, making the process less stressful and more agreeable for all parties involved.

Consulting Lawyers in Mediation

On the other hand, in mediation, involving lawyers is not obligatory. Spouses can choose to include them if they wish, but it is not a requirement. Lawyers in mediation act more as consultants, offering legal advice, advocating for their clients’ interests, and facilitating the mediation process. They help examine issues from their client’s perspective and ensure the equity and legality of the final agreement.

Despite their optional involvement, their guidance can be invaluable in navigating the legal intricacies of the divorce process.

Specialists Involved: From Financial Advisors to Child Custody Experts

Apart from attorneys, various other professionals may participate in both collaborative divorce and mediation. These professionals offer their expertise in different areas and can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the process.

Team of Experts in Collaborative Divorce

A team of professionals is frequently employed in a collaborative divorce to assist the divorcing couple. This team includes:

Each professional brings their expertise to the table, providing personalized guidance and emotional support throughout the process.

For instance, child specialists play a crucial role in providing support to children and representing their best interests. Similarly, financial advisors offer valuable insights to assist the divorcing couple in making well-informed decisions. The involvement of these professionals not only aids in the negotiation process but also contributes to a harmonious resolution.

Related post: Collaborative Divorce: The Benefits of Using a Financial Neutral

Neutral Experts in Mediation

The participation of neutral experts in mediation is not as extensive as in collaborative divorce. However, when needed, these experts can play a crucial role in offering clarity on intricate matters. For example, Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs) can offer guidance on financial issues, aiding in the negotiation of fair settlements.

Parenting experts, on the other hand, can facilitate effective communication between parents and assist them in reaching agreements that prioritize their children’s best interests, including child support.

Related post: Optimizing Divorce Finances: Expert CDFA Strategies for Successful Mediation Outcomes

Cost and Duration

The cost and duration of each process are important considerations when choosing between collaborative divorce and mediation. While collaborative divorce typically incurs higher costs due to the involvement of attorneys and multiple professionals, mediation can be completed in a significantly shorter time period, making it a cost-effective alternative for many couples.

Expenses in Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce can be a more expensive option due to the involvement of multiple professionals. Both parties are required to retain their own legal representation, leading to higher overall expenses. Furthermore, the overall cost of a collaborative divorce is influenced by a range of factors such as custody battles, complex property divisions, handling of debt responsibility, litigating divorce terms, high-conflict situations, and the willingness of the parties to collaborate.

Saving Money with Mediation

In contrast, mediation is generally less expensive and faster. As it does not require attorneys and involves fewer professionals, the cost of mediation typically falls within the range of $3,000 to $8,000 per person, depending on the mediator’s fees, which typically range from $200 to $500 per hour.

Moreover, the duration of mediation sessions also impacts the overall cost. As the time taken to reach a resolution increases, so do the mediation fees. However, the efficiency and directness of mediation often result in shorter negotiation times, potentially making it a more cost-effective option for many couples.

Outcome Strength and Control Over Terms

The decision-making power and control over settlement terms are crucial considerations regarding the outcome of your divorce. In both collaborative divorce and mediation, parties have significant influence over the settlement terms, but the level of control and the strength of the outcome can vary in each method.

Decision-Making Power in Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, parties maintain control over their decisions, leading to mutually beneficial agreements without the involvement of a judge. This empowerment often results in more satisfactory outcomes for both parties. Moreover, attorneys in collaborative divorce play an instrumental role in this process by assisting their clients in identifying personal needs, understanding the legal framework, and evaluating potential solutions. This ensures that well-informed decisions are made, taking into consideration the long-term implications for their clients.

Autonomy in Mediation Settlements

Mediation offers:

  • Greater autonomy in reaching a settlement

  • The mediator facilitates communication and compromise

  • Allows both parties to express their concerns

  • Helps reach a mutually acceptable agreement on divorce terms.

This approach empowers the parties to reach an agreement that reflects their needs and goals through a collaborative process of creative problem-solving.

Handling Conflict and Power Imbalances

Conflict and power imbalances are typical issues in divorce proceedings. However, both collaborative divorce and mediation provide effective strategies to handle these issues.

Managing Disputes in Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, conflict is managed through the promotion of open and honest communication, emphasis on finding mutual solutions, and avoidance of courtroom litigation. This approach aims to minimize expenses, prioritize the well-being of children, and increase the chances of reaching a settlement without requiring court involvement.

This method is further supported by the involvement of professionals who deliver personalized guidance and emotional assistance during the entirety of the process.

Fair Negotiations in Mediation

In mediation, fair negotiations are ensured by the mediator, who:

  • Fosters a secure and transparent space for both parties to express their concerns in a composed manner

  • Facilitates effective communication that promotes comprehension and cooperation

  • Steers conversations towards shared objectives through attentive listening and empathy

  • Reduces conflicts and cultivates a cooperative mindset

This approach diminishes the impact of lawyers on the result, promoting a balanced approach.

When to Choose Which: Suitability of Each Approach

The decision between collaborative divorce and mediation largely hinges on individual circumstances and preferences. Factors such as the time it may take to reach an agreement, the cost implications, and the level of conflict or disagreement can all influence your decision.

Opting for Collaborative Divorce

The collaborative divorce process may be the preferred choice for individuals seeking legal guidance in resolving their disputes outside of the court. This approach is particularly beneficial for couples who are dealing with complex issues that require the involvement of multiple professionals.

It offers a more structured approach and provides legal representation for both parties, ensuring that their interests are effectively represented.

Favoring Mediation Services

On the other hand, mediation might be the preferred choice for couples seeking a more cost-effective and efficient method. Mediation is generally quicker than collaborative divorce and does not require the involvement of attorneys, thus making it a more affordable option.

It is particularly suitable for couples who are in general accord on divorce terms but seek the support of an impartial mediator to facilitate peaceful negotiations.

Avoiding Court: How Both Methods Circumvent Traditional Litigation

A major advantage of both collaborative divorce and mediation is their ability to offer alternatives to traditional litigation. This means that couples can resolve their disputes outside of the conventional court process, thereby avoiding the stress, time, and cost associated with courtroom battles.


Navigating the path of divorce can be challenging, but choosing the right method for resolving disputes can make the journey smoother. Both collaborative divorce and mediation offer unique advantages, providing alternatives to traditional litigation.

Collaborative divorce involves a team of professionals, including attorneys, financial advisors, and child specialists. It allows for more legal representation and is more suitable for complex cases. On the other hand, mediation is generally quicker and more cost-effective, making it a viable option for many couples. No matter which method you choose, remember that the goal is to reach a resolution that respects the interests of all parties involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between collaboration and mediation?

In mediation, the mediator empowers clients to make their own decisions, while in collaborative law, each spouse has their own lawyer representing their interests. Additionally, mediation generally takes less time to complete compared to collaborative law.

What is the downside of collaborative divorce?

The downside of a collaborative divorce is that if you do not reach an agreement, you may have to start the process over. This can lead to increased time and costs in resolving the divorce.

What are the benefits of collaborative divorce?

The benefits of collaborative divorce include promoting a dignified and responsible approach to ending a marriage, ensuring privacy outside the courtroom, and giving the parties more control over the process. This can lessen the burden of time, money, and emotions for everyone involved.

Is collaborative divorce voluntary?

Yes, collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that requires agreement from both spouses to proceed. A judge cannot force your spouse to participate.

What is the main difference between collaborative divorce and mediation?

In collaborative divorce, attorneys represent each spouse, while in mediation, attorney involvement is optional. This distinction is crucial when considering the best approach for your circumstances. 

How We Can Help

At Intentional Divorce Solutions, we support clients going through both the collaborative process as well as mediation and even litigated cases.  Our team of experienced professionals can guide you in determining the best path for your unique situation. We believe in empowering our clients to make informed decisions that align with their values and goals. Attend an upcoming information session to learn more.









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Turning Anger, Resentment into Excitement

Amidst the fear, anger, resentment, anxiety and sadness of divorce, there’s something good. Know what that is? Excitement. The excitement lies not in the past chapters of your life that have already happened, but in the ones to come. And I think that no matter how much pain you are in during and after divorce, it’s comforting to know that you have chapters ahead of you that have the potential to be the best times of your life. But how do you get from anger, resentment and all those other emotions to excitement?


People going through a divorce tend to be past and present focused for a few reasons. First, divorce is traumatic. It’s surreal and confusing, and you can’t think beyond right now because so much is happening every day and all at once. Also, regrets start to set in and you start to think about all the things you wish you would have done in the past to change what’s happening now. People even think, ‘I wish I wouldn’t have married this guy.’ Holding onto regret is very unproductive, by the way, but people do it. I know I did and still catch myself sometimes.


The main reason people getting divorced don’t want to think about the future is because it’s extremely stressful, and a lot of times, there are two awful words in your thoughts: What if? Some examples: What if I’m alone forever? What if I can’t pay my mortgage? What if my kids are messed up because of the divorce? What if? We think of worst case scenarios.


Hirsch Serman, Financial Divorce Coaching


But what would happen if you decided to think about your future story chapters as excitement instead? What if you used the words, “What if” like this:  What if I end up meeting the love of my life in a couple years? What if I realize even more how toxic my marriage was and how much better of a place I’m in now? What if I end up loving my new job (that I don’t have yet)? What if I’m really really happy?


The idea for this article comes from the past couple weeks where two very close people to me have passed away. It got me thinking that we all have a life story and we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what the future holds, so why think negatively if you can shift your mindset to thinking positively? You have the power to turn your fear, anxiety, anger, resentment and lack of self-confidence into hope and gratitude and self-love.


What these deaths got me thinking is, the only part of your story that you know, 100% guaranteed, is that you will die. Now, I know that sounds really morbid and negative, but I don’t mean it that way. What if you die in your sleep at 92? That’s not morbid and negative, is it?

So, if you are reading this and you are getting divorced and you are 55, you get to write your story from today until age 92! (hopefully.) That’s 37 more years you have to do whatever you want, to do good in the world, to raise and be with your kids, to pursue any dream you have, to do fun, exciting things, to travel, and to spend time with people you love and care about.


Colleen Breems, Divorce Attorney, Beermann, LLP


Let’s talk about the people you are at odds with—specifically your ex, or your ex-in-laws, or his or her friends, or a friend you had a falling out with, anyone who you feel wronged you or who hurt you. Let’s talk about these people. We all know the end of their stories, too. They will die at some point.


So, my friend who recently passed was married to her husband for 32 years. At the funeral, the guy’s adult son was telling people—including the couples’ friends, that the guy left his mother for this woman (the one who died) 32 years ago. It was very upsetting to me for many reasons. First, the woman who died is not here to tell her side of the story, and now, all her friends (that she met in her later years) will be gossiping about her.  Secondly, instead of focusing on his father, who is devastated by his wife’s death, the son is focused on his own pain that he obviously has not come to terms with.


The point of this story is not to depress you, or to tell you to be kind and forgive people who wronged you or who treat you badly or with no respect because they are going to die someday. You have every right to feel the way you do about someone, to verbalize it, and to decide not to have a relationship or even speak to the person.


I just want you to keep in mind two things: One, once the person dies, you will never ever ever ever be able to make amends or tell that person how you feel. So, even if your ex (or someone else you are at odds with) is healthy as a horse and relatively young, you might want to clear the air. Also, clearing the air, making amends or forgiving someone will help you make your story better.



I’m not sure the son ever told this woman who died how he felt, but I’m guessing he has harbored his negative feelings his whole life and is carrying them around, unable to put them down. Well, it’s too late now. He could have let his heavy baggage down so much had he talked with her, told her about his feelings of anger and resentment. Knowing this woman like I do, I think she would have apologized, and that might really have helped this guy come to terms with it. Plus, we don’t know what this guy’s mother told him. Maybe she told him a different story than what really happened. In other words, he never heard this woman’s side of the story and now that she is gone, he never will.


I think there are good parts and bad parts of every person on earth, and someone who is emotionally healthy is able to appreciate the good parts and recognize that people aren’t perfect, and that they do the best they can. Believe me, I’m not judging. I get so angry at people and I am passionate about expressing that anger. It’s not easy to overlook things or to let go of feelings of anger and resentment.

I’m also not saying you have to accept someone’s bad qualities and deal with it. You can choose not to have a relationship with that person and not to speak to them, but just know, if your anger and resentment is still hanging on, expressing it that person might be a good way to find peace and acceptance. In other words, it benefits YOU to talk to your enemies-even if it’s one time.

You can talk to your therapist or your friends about your ex (or someone you are at odds with) till you’re blue in the face  and it might help you let go of your negative feelings to some degree. But if you are willing to put your vulnerability out there and take a chance, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it is, there’s nothing that feels more cleansing than to have those feelings on the table—directly expressing to the other person how you feel. And the sooner you do it, the sooner your story will begin to change.

If you choose to talk with someone, you might be so glad you did, and it might change your relationship completely with that person. Or, you might not get the result you wanted. But even if that’s the case, you will always know you put it out there. You tried. Now you can begin to heal.


Intentional Divorce Solutions - Leah Hadley


Remember, we all know how all of our stories will end. Death is part of life. But the part of your life story that matters most is what happens in those chapters that begin today. Try to think of them as excitement-not fear. They are exciting because you have the power to make them anything you want.

People getting divorced, especially at an older age often say to me, “I’m so old. Who’s going to want me? What am I supposed to do now?” A divorce coach can help you answer those questions. But, those questions can also be answered by listening to your heart and your gut and your soul because they know you best. They know you have the power to overcome your fear, and your anger and resentment, and they know what will make your life meaningful, peaceful and of course, exciting.

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Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

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How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Northern Virginia?

Getting a divorce anywhere – but particularly in Northern Virginia — will be one of the most important financial decisions of your life.

Not only will you need to split up all of your hard-earned assets and worrying debts, but you will also need to pay the equivalent of a king’s ransom to your attorneys to get you through the process – unless you skip litigation and go straight to mediation.

My mediation clients, who were litigating before they came to my firm, let me know that, even after $20,000 to $40,000in attorney fees – per spouse – they are still in the infancy stage of their divorce settlement. What is going on?

The divorce system in Virginia is designed for the attorneys. Not the couple who is getting divorced. The system is crazy-complicated and the process and procedure necessary to get anything done is confounding to even the most sophisticated clients. Attorneys have to practically do somersaults to get anything done. They are not necessarily ripping you off, but the system, itself, is set up against your best interest.

Bottom Line

In Northern Virginia, you need to be prepared to pay up to $130,000, per spouse, for a fully contested divorce with minor children. With no minor children, you need to be prepared to pay up to $100,000, per spouse.

Most cases, however, do not end up going to trial. In other words, once the clients are no longer willing to pay the attorneys their exorbitant fees, the case gets settled. At that time, though, both spouses have usually spent at least $20,000 before they come the conclusion that putting on their “reasonable hat” and buckling down to serious settlement negotiations is their best option.

My Story

When I got my own divorce in 2007, the attorney’s fees were $25,000 for me and $25,000 for my husband. This was an uncontested divorce where my husband and I did all the settlement negotiations ourselves.

Even though I had been a family law attorney for many years in Chicago, I was new to Virginia, so I needed to hire an attorney to guide me through the laws and quirks of the Virginia divorce system.

Now that I have been doing divorce mediation in Virginia for over 15 years, I see the game that my attorney was trying to play. If I had stuck with his preferred track, I would have easily been out another $50-75,000 and would have probably had a worse outcome than my ex and I came up with based on my general divorce expertise and both of our strong desires to be reasonable in our demands.

It makes me furious to think back at how our attorneys did everything they could to keep the money rolling in. I admit, as a lawyer, that it was interesting to see how messed up the Virginia system is … but that “show” was not worth our combined $50,000 for, basically, nothing.

The Bottom Line

Before you decide to litigate, consider that a fully contested divorce will cost you about the same as sending two kids to a Virginia state university, including room and board.

How to Keep Divorce Costs Down in a Virginia Divorce

If you want to keep your divorce costs down in Virginia – whether you let an attorney do the driving or you opt to settle with a qualified mediator — you need to assess where you are willing to compromise. You can’t go full guns on all matters and expect to be at the low end of the attorney fee spectrum. You will need to:

  • Assess where the wiggle-room is;
  • Determine your non-negotiables;
  • Understand that 50/50 is the norm in terms of asset and debt division;
  • Not get hung up on the emotional issues related to your divorce;
  • Understand that a non-working spouse will probably get spousal support (you need to focus on how much and how long, not a flat “no”);
  • and

  • Fully understand your family’s finances and what you can reasonably expect, in Northern Virginia, as your final outcome (versus focusing on “fairness” – which is a fiction more than a fact).

Your attorney will move forward with any irrational position that you insist that he or she present, but you could very well be burning up cash in the meantime that could be better used for your living expenses, your retirement, or your children.

Mediation Is Your Best Option

If both you and your spouse believe that both of you will: (a) tell the truth about the family finances; (b) be able to function in a rational manner; and (c) there is no history of domestic violence, you will probably be able to mediate without an attorney.

If you come to my firm, your mediator fees will be between $5,900 – $7,200 for both the mediation sessions and the drafting of the settlement agreement. Most cases take two to three 3-hour mediation sessions. My hourly rate is $450. Some cases are a little less, and some a little more, but $5,900-$7,200 is about right for most couples.

Mediators who are certified by the State of Virginia (like me) are required to tell their clients that they should have a lawyer; but we are not required to tell our clients that they must have a lawyer.

Most of my clients are not represented. However, if either spouse is opting for a settlement that gives me a queasy feeling, I often require that they see the appropriate professional for specific advice on that topic. That professional might be an attorney, but sometimes it is a financial planner/wealth management advisor, a CPA, a therapist, a career counselor, or a mortgage lender.

One of a mediator’s primary jobs is to be sure the clients have all the information they need to make informed decisions. This includes information about divorce laws, divorce taxation, divorce finance, and what the experts are saying about various custody arrangements on the well-being of children. If your mediator has a background as a divorce attorney, and, like me, is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, you will probably be in good shape to to settle your case without the involvement other professionals. If you get skittish, though, the attorneys are always there and ready to help you out.

​Still confused about getting divorced in Virginia?

Don’t worry, I can help! 

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What Is Emotional Cheating and Are You Suffering From It?

Claire sits across from her husband, Peter, as his iPhone dings for the third consecutive time. They’re trying to enjoy their monthly date night at the trendy French bistro on the Upper West Side. Claire notices he no longer allows his notifications to dance across the screen—this has been going on for the past couple of months. His phone dings again and he quickly turns the ringer to silent, as if he knows Claire might ask who’s calling him at 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight. Claire has that gut-wrenching feeling that it’s the beautiful woman who is working on the new project with him at work. She’s right, and let’s just say Claire doesn’t think she’s texting him at this hour to ask about the quarterly report.

What Is Emotional Cheating?

Emotional cheating is not cut and dry, and that ambiguity can sometimes make us feel like we are the crazy ones if we suspect our partner is “emotionally cheating on us. 

“They’re probably just good friends.” 

“They have a lot in common.”

“There’s no need to worry.”

These are some of the chants that might run through our minds as we stare at the gorgeous model who continuously pops up on his Facebook posts. 

“They’re probably just lonely, their spouse left.”

The texts and the FaceTime calls go unanswered with you both sitting at your ten-year-old daughter’s ballet recital. Once again, you chalk it up to, “I must be paranoid, nuts! I should stop being so suspicious. How small of me to be this jealous!”

Navigating Emotional Disconnect and Recognizing Red Flags

Let’s face it, we’re all human beings who want that special emotional connection with someone- preferably our spouse if we’re married. To be real, sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don’t. This is all part of the complicated human experience that we must navigate every single day of our lives. The truth is, some of us might think we have an amazing and profound connection with our partner.

What we may not realize is that our partner could have a different narrative. While you’re sipping margaritas out on the island thinking “Life’s a beach”, for example, they’re on the mainland screaming from their vehicle in five o’clock traffic, wondering how they can get out. So, what do they do if they are feeling less than satisfied in the relationship, or bored with the same-old, same-old? They might find an escape in the form of someone who looks like they will solve or at least, distract them from their problems. Maybe this new friend will make them feel like “life is fun” again.

My friend, Shelly, sang a lot of chants to herself. As much as she didn’t want to believe it, she could feel something wasn’t right in her marriage. Was she crazy? Not by a long shot she eventually discovered. Her husband of eighteen years was having an emotional affair with his ex-girlfriend from college. The lesson? Don’t always ignore the red flags, because all too often your gut is right.

What is Emotional Infidelity?

How do psychologists define the sometimes undefinable — emotional cheating? They call it “emotional infidelity” and according to Psychology Today it occurs … 

When a person in a committed relationship forms a deep emotional connection with a third party, they are engaging in an emotional affair. This connection does not involve sexual contact or any type of physical intimacy, this is an emotional relationship, whereby two people share their emotions, thoughts, and support. Elements of emotional infidelity include an emotional connection with a third party that may surpass that of the primary committed relationship, a certain amount of secrecy and deception, and an emotional investment in the affair.”

Even though there is no physicality, it’s the secretive aspect of this “friendship” that makes this dynamic so insidious.

Check out, “My Husband Destroyed Me Emotionally.”

How Do You Know You’re Suffering from Emotional Cheating?

Emotional infidelity is like jumping into a lagoon full of murky water. You’ve got your diving mask, your snorkel, and your fins. You’re ready to explore all of the possibilities beneath the surface, but as hard as you search and as deep as you dive, you can’t quite make out what’s right in front of you — or maybe deep down, you don’t want to know. You think it’s a rare occurrence, maybe a Picassofish that you can only find in the Indo-Pacific region. But how can you be sure? You’re looking right at it, but you can’t quite make out the colors.

This is what it feels like when you’re trying to determine if your partner is swimming in those murky waters with another beautiful fish or not. It’s frustrating– the colors are not so vibrant, you’re trying to get a clear picture but you can’t, and you’re exhausted because you’re not quite sure your snorkel is even connected. To be honest you feel like you can barely breathe. 

Let’s crawl onto land for a minute and ask ourselves what can we possibly know for sure when it comes to emotional cheating. Short of hiring a private detective, you will have to look for signs. These signs may suggest your spouse is involved in an emotional affair … with someone other than you.


Have you noticed that your spouse is no longer coming to the dinner table at night? They always have something else that comes up when you’re supposed to have that one-on-one time. These actions could be symptoms of a much bigger problem. They don’t want to be alone with you anymore. It’s almost as if they’re scared that you might get too close and see right through them.

Increased Secrecy

Every time a message flashes across their screen, suddenly their iPhone finds the pocket of their pants faster than a rabbit finds its hole. They get super defensive when you even mention their Ex’s name from high school. In reality, you just asked how that Ex was doing because you heard their father passed away a few months ago.


You feel like your spouse is on vacation somewhere, but you’re not invited. They’re sitting at arm’s length away from you, but their mind is nowhere inside the walls of the gorgeous home that you built together.

These are all indications that your partner may have other things going on in their emotional world besides you. Though these may be subtle signs, you will want to address them.

Learn more. Read “Emotional Cheating: Infidelity in the Modern Marriage.”

Can You Overcome Emotional Cheating? 

Even though your partner may be engaging in an emotional affair, it doesn’t mean there is no hope.

Sometimes, hope is the strongest thing you have.

Be kind to yourself and try to talk it out. Research suggests that women find emotional affairs far more serious than physical affairs (for men, it’s the opposite.) So know that if you are deeply troubled about what you are sensing, you are well within the realm of normal. Be honest and open with your spouse about how you’re feeling. If they do admit they are having an emotional affair with someone, try to be the bigger person. Instead of escalating the situation and making the relationship worse, take a step back and evaluate your relationship to discover what might be missing for both of you and work toward reestablishing trust and emotional intimacy.

You can describe the hurt you have felt and your partner may see the situation in a much different light. It’s vital to set boundaries and reevaluate your priorities in the relationship so that you can move toward an emotional bond once again. You don’t want the baggage of the past moving into the new frontier of your emotional relationship. You want to break those ties so you can begin anew.

Seeking Professional Help and Exploring Your Options

If your spouse denies the situation, you could suggest you meet with a couples’ therapist, because you can’t keep living like this. If in response to that request, your spouse is not willing to work on the marriage and attend counseling together or to honor your feelings, then you have an answer as hard as it is to hear. To feel less trapped, crazy, alone (you name the feeling!), you could schedule a free consultation with SAS for Women, and learn about your other choices besides staying in a marriage where your feelings are denied.

Consider reading “Bad Marriage: The Real Impact and What to Do About It.”


No matter which way you look at marriage—it’s complicated. When we grow up, we realize marriage is a lot more than knights in shining armor charging in to sweep us off our feet. If we’re being real, it’s more about forgiveness, compromise, sacrifice, and navigating the complexities of love the best we can. The decision you have to make is, what is your breaking point? We’re all broken, we all have our faults, but it’s also healthy to have boundaries. If we choose to ignore the signs and our partner is in an emotional relationship with someone else, we can also become invisible—not only to our partner but to ourselves.


This article was written by Lori Ann Feeley who loves helping others find hope in the darkest corners of life. She is a freelance writer, adoption advocate, Certified Life Coach, and Founder & CEO of Faith Revolution Creative. Connect with Lori Ann at


Since 2012, SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. 

SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. All of it is delivered discreetly to your inbox.  

 Join our tribe now and stay connected.


*SAS continues to support same-sex and nonbinary marriage. In this article, however, we refer to your spouse as husband/he/him.

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5 ways to deal with burnout and thrive as a single mom

As a single mom, you’re already doing the work of two people.

Juggling parenting, work, and life can be a constant struggle. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and experience burnout. However, with a little bit of self-awareness and the right tools, you can overcome burnout and thrive as a single mom.

Here are 5 ways to deal with burnout and thrive as a single mom:

1. Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is key to avoiding burnout.

Schedule time for activities you enjoy, such as exercise, meditation, or a spa day.

This will give you the energy and focus you need to tackle the challenges of single motherhood.

2. Set Boundaries

Single mothers often struggle with the tendency to put everyone else’s needs before their own.

Set boundaries for your time and energy to avoid burnout.

Say no to additional responsibilities if they don’t fit into your schedule.

This will help you focus on the most important tasks and take control of your life.

3. Seek Support

Single motherhood can be isolating, so it’s important to seek out support.

Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, having someone to talk to and confide in can make a huge difference.

Joining a support group can also provide a network of like-minded individuals who understand what you’re going through.

4. Make Time for Fun

It’s easy to become so consumed with responsibilities that you forget to have fun.

Make time for activities that bring joy to your life, whether it’s playing with your kids, reading a book, or watching a movie.

Doing things you enjoy will help you recharge and avoid burnout.

5. Focus on Gratitude

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to focus on the negative.

Shifting your focus to gratitude can help you appreciate the good things in your life and avoid burnout.

Make a list of things you’re grateful for each day, and take time to reflect on them.

Implement and Thrive!

By implementing these 5 strategies, you can overcome burnout and thrive as a single mom.

Remember to take care of yourself and prioritize your needs, seek support, make time for fun, and focus on gratitude.

You’re stronger and more capable than you think, and with the right tools and support, you can overcome burnout and live a fulfilling life.

For more strategies for improving your life through Radical Self Care click here.



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