Articles Posted in Divorce Recovery

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

Divorce and its aftermath can be (and usually are) chaotic. Having kids and keeping track of all their things was tough enough, and now you have to coordinate your parenting with someone you may not even want to talk to, much less strategize with. And on top of it all, you have to manage everything on your own. Talk about a trial by fire.

Luckily for you, there’s an app for that. Or several. These apps can’t do it all for you, but they can make things easier.

SquareHub (Free)

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Dear Carolyn,

I am a mother with primary custody of a nine-year-old daughter. The father has visitation. For Christmas, he bought our daughter a smartphone for Christmas, but he did not discuss this with me. He had spyware on the smartphone that allowed him to see her opening the Christmas present.  I thought that he disengaged the spyware after she opened the present, but I just found out that the spyware is still engaged on my daughter’s phone. This smartphone allows him to track everywhere we go.  He told our daughter to be sure to keep the phone with her, particularly when she is with Mommy. His spying makes me feel eerie. We are divorced, so why does he want to know where I am? What should I do?

Carolyn Answers…

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Jessica Bullock, J.D.

Whether you are a working parent or stay-at-home mom or dad, each role comes with a huge set of responsibilities. Being a family lawyer, I can only offer one perspective centered around achieving that work/family balance everyone always talks about. I’m not sure the perfect balance exists and have quickly learned that for me, it’s more of a day by day approach, kind of like March Madness – survive and advance. Below are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Be present. Whether you’re at work or at home, maximize your time at each by being present in the moment. When you’re at the office, try not to think of the disaster that is your house. When you’re at home, focus on enjoying family time and do your best to leave work at work.

There’s no place for guilt. Feeling guilty for missing time with your kids or feeling guilty for not being able to work late does nothing but cause more stress. There are so many things in life that cause us worry; this should not be one of them. Trust in yourself! It doesn’t matter if you work or stay home, your children look to you as their role model. They watch every move you make and listen to every word you say. Do not feel guilty for the role you have chosen as both provide your children with positive learning experiences!

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

Tip #16 – Take yourself on a date and learn to love your own company.Divorce Recovery Tip 16

Dates are a way of spending quality time with the person you love, which reinforces your bond with that person. When we go on a date with someone, we learn new things about them, create shared memories, and cultivate our love for one another. Why shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves?

Going on a date with yourself is a solitary activity – it gives you time to be who you are on your own, to pursue your interests, and to get back in touch with your innermost thoughts and desires. You might be picturing yourself alone at a candlelit table, but it doesn’t need to be anything that cheesy. Try going to an art museum, taking a scenic hike, or watching the sunset. Any activity is fine, so long as it leaves room for contemplation – put your phone away just like you would on any other date!

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

Tip #11 – Take time to enjoy the little things.

Divorce Recovery Tip 11
We often get bogged down by our worries, fears, and responsibilities. Remind yourself to take a moment to get out of your head – to breathe and really experience the life you’re living. Don’t allow your stress to rob you of simple pleasures.

Practicing mindfulness can be a valuable tool in reducing this stress and enabling you to truly live. You can start practicing anywhere – just take a moment to refocus yourself on the present. Pay attention to your senses and the information they give you, and allow yourself to observe the world around you without needing to react. It’s ok to go back to autopilot afterward, but try to switch it off every now and then.

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

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-riboud-usa-004

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

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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

itip6
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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Venn Crawford, non-attorney Marketing Assistant

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.

itip1After 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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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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