Firm News & Updates

Not Just Surviving but Thriving During the Holidays

For my divorcing clients, as well as many of us, the holidays are certainly a time of heightened emotions. Besides dividing time among the usual festivity preparations, travel arrangements, visits with relatives, and gift shopping, some of us have the additional burden of braving a separation or divorce this season. Check out these tips for thriving this holiday season.

Focus on what matters

This might be your first holiday sharing your children’s vacation with your co-parent. Perhaps your communication with said co-parent is not always fluid. Maybe new financial concerns are a part of your reality. So many questions from relatives, none of which you have the desire to answer. All of these potential challenges should be taken into account as you tackle the holiday festivities.   

  • Try your best to stay focused on your family and loved ones and not on your pending legal action right now. Attempting to make great strides in your case during the holidays may not be realistic for multiple reasons. You may need a break from the worry and uncertainty caused by your new normal. Remember, this is a tough phase you are in and is in no way permanent. Meaningful opportunities to connect with your family and friends and special moments of reflection are here for you now. Manage your own expectations. 


  • Create new traditions. The tendency to look through old photos and relive the best times when you celebrated the holidays as a couple will be there – try to resist the nostalgia and trips down memory lane. These can be powerful emotional triggers. Acknowledge the tough feelings and seize the opportunity for a holiday make-over. Shake things up with family and friends with new recipes, books, music, movies, games or charitable endeavors. 


  • Give Yourself Permission to Close for Renovation. Reserve some time for YOU this holiday season. Dabble in self-care. Do something nice for yourself to rejuvenate and renew your outlook. Resist the pressure to “get things done” around the house or organized for your pending divorce over your winter break. There will be ample opportunity to be productive come January 1st! Rest, exercise and enjoy good food and cheer. Say yes to holiday parties and opportunities for connection and new introductions. Buy yourself a special gift. Count your blessings and cultivate gratitude.


This holiday season, be realistic. If this is the first holiday season away from your partner or a holiday where you are alternating custody, your life is in the middle of a major change. Chances are, your holidays and emotional outlook next year will be far different. Practice being as present as possible this year and diving into the things you love about the season. Whether decorating, traveling, caroling, shopping, playing sports, participating in faith-based activities and celebrations or catching up on the latest season of your favorite series – giving yourself permission to enjoy your holidays will pay dividends.


Gray Divorce: Preparing for Divorce Over 50


The divorce rate among those 50 and older has doubled since 1990. We as a society are continuing to experience later life divorce at an increasing rate. “Gray Divorce” or when Baby Boomers start divorcing, presents several unique challenges. These involve not only adjusting from “us” and “we” to “I” and “me” – but also dividing financial assets outside the prime earning years. Here are some issues to consider if you are preparing yourself for a Gray Divorce.  

Why Gray Divorce is on the Rise


I have seen an uptick in my own family law practice year over year of couples divorcing where one or both spouses are in their 50s and 60s. What accounts for this phenomenon? Numerous studies attribute this trend to a host of reasons, including:

Increased longevity. With a lengthening life expectancy, many couples reconsider their vows to stay bound to an unfulfilling marriage until “the end”, where the possibility of finding an alternate mate is still viable. The option of an empty shell marriage is less appealing the longer we believe we will live.

Increased Individualism. Those who are checking in with their own sense of long-term happiness based upon self-determination and solo decision-making. 

Extending professional life. While a greater number of Americans are working past the age of retirement, greater economic freedom and financial planning for the possibilities affords couples the ability to go their separate ways more easily. Earning and saving more for a longer period means there is more to divide.

An Empty Nest. A marriage that was satisfactory when both spouses worked and shared activities such as child rearing may flounder once the couple retires or sends their last child off to college or the workforce. 

Implications of Later Life Divorce


A Gray Divorce is commonly associated with a long-term marriage, a marriage of 10 years or more. However, many marriages associated with Gray Divorces span 20, 30 or even 40 years. There are several key aspects to consider here: 

Less time to recoup financially. Dividing assets in half which were accumulated over decades that were allocated to use “for retirement” for a couple is a “double whammy” because there will not be time to rebuild stock portfolios or reload 401K accounts with the same opportunity for appreciation over time. Also, because “two can leave cheaper than one” – the asset division will occur at a time when living expenses will increase.

Spousal Support could be a non-issue.  If the marital estate is being divided in half, spousal support may not be indicated since both spouses are in the same financial position, especially if the earning or higher earning spouse is retired or his/her career prospects are waning.

 Remarriage may be less likely. From an emotional standpoint, this is a consideration if the goal is to travel and enjoy companionship as a married couple through the golden years. 

What you can do to prepare


Get the support you need. Whether a good therapist, a friendship circle, your adult children, or a support group, find your support system early. Studies show that Gray Divorce can lead to higher levels of depression as compared to those whose spouses have died. Check out Columnist Barry Gold’s 3-part plan to surviving a Gray Divorce – Survive, Revive and Thrive. As Gray Divorce becomes more and more common, know you are in good company. 

Take stock of what you have – assets and debts. It is very helpful to start sorting through your assets and debts early, even in the planning stages. Use the Schedule of Assets and Debts as a guide, a copy of which can be found on my website. While this document is a mandatory form to be exchanged during the divorce, it is also a good tool to use as you plan. Also, it is a good idea to determine what your monthly social security will be and if it is a better option to draw derivative social security from your spouse, particularly if you were primarily a homemaker. Reviewing all sources of income will help you budget for your future.

Take stock of what you need – will the cost of living be more or less? You oversee your own spending now. Do you need long term care insurance? Can you make smart choices with your monthly spending? Obtain financial advice on the affordability of keeping your house versus downsizing to a smaller footprint with less overhead. 

Obtaining solid legal advice in the planning stages of your Gray Divorce will pay dividends down the road. Working with an experienced financial planner can also be a godsend. Obtaining a realistic picture of your financial resources and needs will help you make the most of your “second chapter.” 

Back to School Tips for Co-Parenting

The Autumn foliage will soon arrive which means the school bus is already en route. Fall is here. Transitioning from the laid back and meandering days of summer to the structured days of a new academic school year can be tough for any school-aged child. Back to school is made even more complex and challenging when co-parenting is involved. These easy to follow tips will make the move from sleepy summer days to jam-packed school days as stress-free as possible.

Coordination and Cooperation


In order to ensure a smooth transition into the school year for your child, it is critical that co-parents communicate, coordinate, and cooperate early and often.  To avoid the pitfalls of co-parent conflict and a stressful homelife, keep in mind the following recommendations:

  • Structure and consistency are key. Work together with your co-parent to develop a plan to cover lunches, school drop off, pick up, extra-curricular, school projects and after school activities. Communicate the plan and stick to it. Agree to “stick to the script” to avoid any miscommunication. 


  • Use apps and technology. There are so many applications that have been developed with co-parents in mind. Use these to limit human error and keep track of schedules. At the very least, use a shared calendar so that everyone knows what the custodial schedule is and which parent is responsible for what task, project or transportation on a given school day. 


  • Keep track of your child’s day-to-day experience at school. Plan to spend some time every day after school to check in with your children regarding their school day and homework. The other parent should do the same on his or her watch. Show your children that you are both interested and invested in their school day and work. Set boundaries regarding schoolwork and bedtime. Assign a designated homework time and try your best to enforce it. 


  • Share back to school shopping duties. This can be an expensive time of year. Summers seem to produce growth spurts. Kids need new clothes, shoes, backpacks, and a multitude of supplies, not to mention electronic devices. Both parents should be aware of the items which need to be acquired and share the shopping duties (but most of all – the expense). Do not treat what your other parent is purchasing as “extra”. Attempt to limit parallel, duplicative spending for back to school related supplies and attire.


  • Attend important school events together (if possible). Most schools host “meet the teacher” night or hold open houses in the school rooms. If possible, both parents should attend. It shows your child that you can set personal differences aside to be there for them. It will also help ensure that neither parent is left out of school communication or other important classroom information. The teacher is also more likely to bond with both parents and feel less triangulated if an issue arises for your child during the school year. It is also key to list both parents’ names on all school forms and permissions. 


Need Help?


Co-parenting is a two-way street, and you can only be responsible for your own actions and responses. If you feel like you are being left out, it is critical that you do not step back and disengage. No. If you have concerns about your child’s best interests not being met, you may want to talk to an experienced family law attorney or seasoned co-parent mediator. If you would like to learn more about your rights and legal options, contact us to find out how we may be able to advise you or  help you with your circumstances.