Articles Posted in Divorce Recovery

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Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., a figure who needs no introduction. Fifty-five years since his famous speech, we are continuing to move towards King’s dream of “a nation where [we] will not be judged by the colour of [our] skin but by the content of [our] character.”

It isn’t just the speech that makes King stand out, however. In addition to being a powerful speaker, King was a champion of nonviolent activism. Tactics such as sit-ins sought to capture the public’s attention and force them to be aware of the discrimination occurring in racially-segregated restaurants. One of the strengths of a non-violent approach is that any retaliatory action on the government’s part just makes the protestors easier to support – they appear as underdogs suffering under the iron fist of big brother. Perhaps the best summary of nonviolent activism is simply Marc Riboud’s photograph of an anti-war protestor offering a flower to a soldier.


Marc Ribaud, “Jeune fille à la fleur (variante),” October 21, 1967.

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Tip #6 – Exercise boosts your mood. Go for a jog or bike ride when you feel overwhelmed.

Exercise isn’t just for getting in shape – it also can help you to regulate your mood better. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which are chemicals that trigger pleasant feelings in the body and reduce sensations of pain. Endorphins also can help combat depression, anxiety, and stress – all things you may be struggling with after a divorce.

If you’re really exercise-averse, you can find ways to be active that aren’t traditional exercises. Go for a walk downtown, explore a natural park, or try out a dance class.

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We started our divorce recovery tip series to provide advice in an easily-digestible format, but sometimes we can’t say everything we want to in one image. This blog series will expand on our tips and provide some extra insight into the divorce recovery process.

Tip #1 – Take time each week to pamper yourself.

After divorce, we don’t often feel great about ourselves. We may wonder why it happened, what we did wrong, or what’s wrong with us. And while we may know that there’s nothing wrong with us, knowing that doesn’t always make us feel better.

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by Benjamin Neece, Attorney

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air and it is a great time to express it to those who you care about most.  It is important that during this festive season that you remember that your children are the ones who need your love the most and we are here to help with some creative ideas on how to make the most of your time with them.  When it comes to time with your children, it is important to remember the deliberate nature in which you must approach each moment you have with them.  Visitation must become more than simply being together; it is of the utmost importance to engage your children, take part in new and exciting experiences with them, and create lasting memories that you can share together for years to come.  Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to express and grow the love between you and your children and it never hurts to have a few ideas in your back pocket to make your time together special.

For younger children Valentine’s Day is a big deal; a good way to keep within the spirit of the holiday is to set aside time for fun and celebration.  A trip to Charlotte, NC provides many options to accomplish this.  Charlotte is home to the Discovery Place Museum- a childhood utopia that is sure to keep everyone entertained while engaging in interactive learning.  Afterwards, crafting valentines to exchange with each other and even take home is a great way for kids to express their love to both parents in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Continue reading →

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CarolynCarolyn Woodruff, a North Carolina CPA and Family Law Specialist, frequently is faced in sending a divorce client in the right direction after receiving a retirement plan in a divorce settlement.   Here are her thoughts on the subject:

The recipient may be receiving generally one or more of three types of retirement funds: (1) IRA; (2) 401k; and/or (3) defined benefit plan. Each type of plan should be evaluated as each has unique characteristics discussed hereafter.

Overall, there are four questions the divorcee should ask immediately post-divorce: (1) Age: What is my age now and at what age do I expect to retire? (2) Debt: What is my debt? Do I owe credit cards? Car debt? Is my home paid for? (3) Advisor: Do I need a financial planner or advisor, or am I competent to make investments myself? If the divorcee can do some basic investment herself, she can save administrative costs with mutual funds such as Vanguard. (4) Goal:  How much will I need for retirement adjusted for inflation? The goal is to develop a plan that achieves the goal with moderate or low-risk investments.

Hypothetical: A 40- year-old divorcee would like to retire at 67, which means she has 27 years to plan for retirement. Let’s say she has a 20-year mortgage on her newly acquired home, so this should be paid for before retirement, and perhaps available for a reverse mortgage at some point after retirement if needed. The availability of a reverse mortgage might be the source for medical bills in retirement.  However, she still has school debt, credit card debt and a car payment. She thinks that she will want $4000 per month in retirement after inflation adjustments are made. Let’s say she receives $100,000 in a 401k at the divorce, $20,000 in an IRA, and a small defined benefit plan that will pay $250 a month for her life when she is 67. Her predicted social security is $1500. So with social security at $1500 and the defined benefit plan at $250, she has $1750 of the needed $4000, so she has to make up $2,250 per month or $27,000 per year.. Let’s say her life expectancy is 88, but quite frankly it is good to plan for 100 so you do not out live your money. So that means the money needs to last for 33 years in retirement. The question is how does the divorcee plan for $27,000 per year for the 33 years? What is the amount of savings she will need to make up the $27,000.  At a planned withdrawal rate of  5 percent in retirement, this divorcee is going to need around $540,000  in retirement to meet her goal. At a planned withdrawal rate at retirement of 4 percent, she will need a nest egg of $675,000.  While a financial planner could do some allegedly precise calculations, here’s generally how the discussion will go. (I say allegedly because no one can be sure what inflation will be and what investment rate of return will be. Conservatively, the IRA should grow to at least $150,000 in 33 years. The $100,000 in the 401k should grow to make up the remainder of the needed money. So, the focus should be on investment vehicles that will turn the $20,000 in the IRA and the $100,000 in the 401k into $675,000 between now and retirement.

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By Sarah Andrew, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

s.andrew headshotWhen I think of Friendsgiving, I think of my first attempt at baking pumpkin muffins. I remember my joy at having an excuse to try out my roommate’s fancy stand mixer, my panic at using so much butter at once, the brisk three-block walk to my friend’s apartment, in ill-advised boots, with the warm bowl nestled between my gloves. Steam rising from homemade food is such a cozy thing, even when you’re not jaunting about in the cold.

Maybe you’re feeling more cold than cozy this year. It’s the first major holiday since your divorce, or it’s your ex’s turn to celebrate Thanksgiving with the kids. You could visit your parents and extended family, but you have a news feed’s worth of evidence that dinner will devolve into a political knock-down-drag-out before you can even request the salt. Here’s the beautiful thing about Friendsgiving: Friends. Sanity. Casual, low-stakes discourse over a meal everyone makes together, in one kitchen or in several. If someone gets too mouthy, you can kick him out without worrying that you’ll be left out of the will.

So how do you plan for the ideal Friendsgiving?

First, start a group chat with a few people in your same—or a similar—boat. Suggest a menu with the basics, from the bird to veggies to dessert, and let everyone choose what they’d like to contribute. Maybe everyone wants to cook together at your place. Maybe they’ll cook at home and carry their dishes over. Maybe they’ll secretly buy a pie from Harris Teeter and transfer it to their great-grandmother’s china. Great! If you tend to be a perfectionist, stop and take a deep breath. It’s okay if every item isn’t vegan and gluten-free. Make sure people are aware of potential allergens—and you eliminate cross-contamination by shared utensils— and they’ll eat what they can eat, until they physically can’t anymore.

Have games and icebreakers ready. Perhaps you’re lucky enough that the members of your various social circles already know each other. Even if that’s the case, who doesn’t love games? Go around and let people share their favorite Thanksgiving memory, or funniest-in-retrospect Thanksgiving argument. Have a few games at your disposal, too: Trivial Pursuit, Last Word, and of course Apples to Apples are always popular choices. Continue reading →

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Diana Westrick, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

*This blog has practical wisdom and is not intended as legal advice.

Diana WestrickWe have all been there: something upsetting, traumatizing, and devastating occurs, and we look to those around us for comfort and support.  You know, someone who is willing to nod silently while we vent.  Now, be honest, how often does that actually happen?  The art of “listening” seems foreign to most people, despite their best intentions.  Instead, you get advice.

Don’t get me wrong; sometimes you actively seek input from other people, specifically those closest to you and your particular situation. Yet, most often, the advice seems to come in unsolicited form and only seems to add to the stress of the situation.  As a prime example, here is my advice to you that you should accept and apply whole-heartedly:  Don’t take advice.

After a separation, divorce, custody battle, or even an impending marriage, people will try to tell you what you should do. Continue reading for some of the most common post-breakup “wisdom” people like to dish out and how to respond without kicking them in the shins (while it is always an option, and may be satisfying, it is not recommended).

Scenario #1 – They didn’t really love you anyway; I saw this coming.

Desired Response:

Oh, really? You knew my 10-year marriage was doomed for failure while you helped yourself to the open bar at our wedding?  I’m glad you kept that to yourself!

Hindsight is always 20/20, except when it is not.  Some people gain satisfaction thinking that they can predict the future.  The gloating, itself, apparently is not enough; they need to share it with everyone.  Hence, bad advice.  No one knows your relationships like you do, and despite looking from the outside in, others can only speculate to the truth of your experiences.  So how do you react to these know-it-alls?  Stand your ground and assertively let them know their words are not tolerated.

Recommended Response:

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By Diana Westrick, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

Diana WestrickWhile life in the Triad is far from the Hollywood experience, celebrities have a way of infiltrating our lives in such a way that allows us to live vicariously through them. Key in point, how many of you have yelled at your television when an episode of your favorite reality show ends on a cliffhanger?

Said in your most super-dramatic voice:

“How will I ever function through life if I can’t watch how >input celebrity name here< lives theirs?”

For those believing that a celebrity’s life experiences are just like those of the “lay” people, I hate to ground your illusion, but it is all scripted.  Sure, there may be some relatable moments, but keep in mind that they have a team of professionals whose sole task is to ensure their client maintains a positive media image.  Real things happen to celebrities, but you only get to see the pretty, shiny surface.

With all of that said, I am going to be completely contradictory and enact that you take note of and partake in some celebrity behavior, particularly when it comes to your divorce dealings. Have you ever noticed that, when asked about their impending divorce, celebrities always make a statement such as “we have together come to the difficult decision to split up . . . We have and will continue to have much respect for one another . . . Please respect our privacy during this time.”

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By Amy Setzer, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

AmyWhen you become newly divorced, a funny thing happens: everyone in Greensboro gets in line to provide (mostly unsolicited and sometimes contradictory) advice on how to move on with your life. It’s a remarkable phenomenon, indeed; all of a sudden you’re surrounded by expert attorneys and therapists. However well-meaning those folks may be, there’s something none of them can help you recover, and that’s your ability to trust.

I suppose you can count me as one of those amateur psychologists too.  Being divorced myself, I usually write about my own experience—I share things that helped me get through my own breakup and the aftermath that was my life in the months following.  For weeks I’ve been trying to write an article—this article—about how to recover faith in people, only to get stuck and give up. I could not for the life of me understand why it was so hard. I mean, I found my ability to trust again, so how come I couldn’t explain how to do it?

I tooled around on Google for a while to get some perspectives.  Let me tell you, the number of editorials on this subject is overwhelming.  Many of them actually do have step-by-step instructions. But none of them made sense to me. I don’t think there is a standard set of directions. That’s why I had so much difficulty with the topic.

I can give suggestions on how to communicate with your ex or share ideas to help you think positively.  Those issues can be tackled by suggesting some small, concrete lifestyle modifications.  Trust isn’t like that. It isn’t exactly built upon anything. It’s not consistent or steady. It’s not an emotion either-no exercises can create it or alleviate it. It’s not a way of life.  I don’t think a few quick tips organized into a quippy blog will help you feel good about putting your eggs in someone else’s basket.

So how do you help someone get it back? How did I get it back?

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By Kristina Pisano, Blog Writer, Woodruff Family Law Group

Fourth of July, a day of grilled hot dogs, pool parties, and fireworks. I always look forward to this fun summer holiday both because of the traditions I have enjoyed with family growing up to now enjoying new celebrations with friends as I get older. The Triad area offers many activities to enjoy with your friends and family on this day of America’s independence.

Fun Fourth Festival If you have not yet been to downtown Greensboro to experience the Fun Fourth Festival, you need to make plans to do it! Every year it grows bigger and bigger, and I always think there is no way they can do more, but they do. Start the festivities off on July 3 the Freedom Run 10K, or for those who don’t feel like running quite so far, the Firecracker Road Race is only a mile. Then the big show starts at 8:00 pm with the Sleeping Booty Band at the Elm Street & McGee Street Lot. Then on the 4th itself, the festival starts at 2:00. There are several bands, craft and food vendors, community group presentations, kid games and more. Of course, it wouldn’t be 4th of July without patriotic music from the Trombone Shout Band, and the City of Greensboro Philharmonia, followed by a spectacular firework show. The best part about the Fun Fourth Festival is that it is a free event and family friendly.

Independence Day Celebration at Old Salem What better way to celebrate America’s Independence than to spend the day at Old Salem. Bring the family to see how the Moravians lived in the 18th century. They will have hands-on demonstrations and activities for kids of all ages. Old Salem is open from 9:30 am-4:30 pm and what is especially unique about this celebration is all guest will be invited to Salem Square to see how the first 4th of July was commemorated by the Moravians. Of course, there will be live patriotic music playing all afternoon to keep you in the spirit of the holiday. Continue reading →