Tag Archives: divorce advice

Do You Need Divorce Consultation?

For most people divorce is a scary and confusing process. Law, lawyers and courts seem intimidating. You worry if you and your children will be alright.  You hear the horror stories as well-meaning but ill-advised friends and relatives vie to give you advice.  But most of this advice is destructive as it eggs you on to fight. You’re encouraged to find an “aggressive lawyer” who will protect your “rights.” So if you are like most people you eventually hire a lawyer about whom you know very little. You pay a large retainer and become a client. Then you wait.  The process crawls along with one adjournment and delay after another and you wait some more.  Calls to your lawyer are often unanswered or returned days later. You begin to feel helpless and out of control.

This rather extreme picture doesn’t happen to everybody but it happens to many.

If you are caught up in this you wonder how it happened. What would you have had to do to obtain a better outcome? What would you have to do to grab control of your divorce now? If only you had a better understanding of how it all works. If only you had someone who understood the system who could advise you and help you feel more in control. So where to turn?

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When Friends and Family Get Divorced

People often feel concerned when close friends or relatives announce that they are getting divorced. What do I say? How do I help? What can I do? We all want to offer support when loved ones are going through a crisis. But divorce seems to be one of those difficult issues in which well-intentioned people are not sure how to help. In this column I want to talk about what you can do and what you shouldn’t do. Continue reading

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My Latest Book as a Free Resource for You

Over the years, I have written several books on divorce and achieving a healthy, fair divorce for you and your spouse.  My latest book is titled Negotiating the Good Divorce, How to Divorce with Grace, a Little Class, and a Lot of  Common Sense, and I have decided to offer as a free download for you here on my website.  For now, individual chapters are available in PDF format.  Kindle and eBook versions are in the works. Continue reading

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The Six Signs of Impending Divorce

The next time you are in a restaurant look for the sad couple eating dinner in silence. They make little or no eye contact and have little or no conversation. They are completely disengaged and are simply enduring the meal until they can finish and leave. That is a couple on the verge of divorce.  It may not happen soon and may not happen at all because there are couples who are held together by nothing but inertia and fear. But at least one or both of these unfortunates are thinking about divorce.

There are six signals of impending divorce.

1. No Conflict Resolution

The noted relationship and divorce researcher John Gottman has argued that it is not lack of communication that sinks a marriage but, rather, lack of effective conflict resolution. Couples who have not evolved a way to resolve differences without injury to the relationship end up avoiding disagreement and conflict. One or both has arrived at a point of despair that it is pointless to try to resolve a difference with his/her mate. It may be that one or both are simply conflict avoidant, or one or both may regard every conflict as a fight to be won by bullying the other into submission. What matters is that someone has given up. Differences are submerged resulting in a loss of respect, increasing distance and gradual withdrawal.

2. Emotional Disengagement

Emotional engagement is a minimum requirement for the development and maintenance of intimacy. Willing discussion of feelings, one’s own feelings and the other’s feelings are a part. Interest in the emotional life of the other and empathic engagement of each other’s emotional life all constitute the required elements for an intimate relationship.

3. Disaffection

Emotional disengagement is generally accompanied by the withdrawal of affection. If your wife has disengaged emotionally from you she probably doesn’t feel much love for you. Divorcing people commonly say they have fallen out of love.  And depending on how sour the relationship has become one or both probably don’t like each other very much.

4. Lack of Sex

Sex both expresses and reinforces emotional connectedness. When a couple has not had sex in a long time it is usually a reliable indicator that emotional disengagement is advancing steadily. It is yet another indicator that the partners take no pleasure in each other and that the bonds are rapidly eroding if not already in a terminal state.

5. Increased Focus outside the Marriage

Empty marriages are boring. Some couples compensate by pouring themselves into their children so that child centered activity becomes the sole content of family life. Others pour themselves further into careers, working late every night so the time with the other is minimized. And as emotional satisfaction is sought exclusively outside the marriage the probability of an affair soars. The majority of affairs I see in my practice have started with a coworker who takes an interest and is fun to be with.

6. Preparation for a Single Life

I recall a couple I worked with many years ago in which the husband, as part of his planning for the coming divorce, took a second mortgage on the house to pay for a hair transplant to improve his dating prospects. Although a bit extreme, it is typical for the initiating spouse to begin preparing herself or himself by getting in shape, losing weight, attending to hair and wardrobe and other things to enhance appearance. And particularly with women who have stayed home, we often see a new interest in refreshing or acquiring a career to be less dependent on the earnings of the husband. We also often see the initiator taking up an activity such as tennis or golf without involving the other spouse and generally beginning to build a social network as a single rather than as a couple.

What to Do?

If you see yourself in this scenario your marriage is in trouble. I would not try to prognosticate about the precise tipping point beyond which a marriage is absolutely doomed, but I can say that these signals, or at least most of them, are present in almost every divorce I mediate.  At a minimum it is time for a long and honest talk with your spouse. If you can’t have that talk without it deteriorating into blaming and recrimination, suggest an urgent session with a marriage counselor or family therapist.  If you are heading for divorce, the sooner the two of you face the issue and plan for an amicable separation, the better your chances of achieving a good and non destructive divorce.

I am always available to answer any questions you have about North Carolina divorce law, custody issues, or separation and settlement agreements.  You are under no obligation and remember:  Divorce doesn’t have to be adversarial.  You can achieve a good divorce.  I can help.

Sam Margulies, Ph.D., J.D. 
(336) 669-3141

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