This is the audio from our March 2018 episode of We Chat Divorce, which aired in March 2018. You can watch the episode here.

In today’s episode, we’re joined by Cecilia Halseth, author of Walking is for Wimps. We had a great time discussing how to start, and keep, a healthy routine throughout a stressful time.

Karen: Welcome to We Chat Divorce. This is where we talk about real people, real situations, and real divorce. I'm Karen Chellew, and I'm here with Catherine Shanahan, we cofounded a Divorce Solutions company that really is committed to changing the way people get divorced. And we do that by having this show and having guests that help us help you navigate your divorce process. So today we're going to be talking about managing stress and how it affects your well-being physically and mentally.

Catherine: We see a lot of people and they are concerned, and we're concerned for them, and we assess them about their financial, emotional, and physical well-being. Have you ever heard of the divorce diet?

Karen: No.

Catherine: Okay so when I went through my divorce, there's this "divorce diet", and it was great. I lost 20 pounds, and it felt so good, but it just wasn’t good for me. It was all stress related. It wasn’t anything I was doing healthy for myself. I was just stressed out all the time. So, I'm really excited for our guest today to get us on track on what to do properly. Even though I lost that 20 pounds and I felt great, it has come back. As you know I can't fit in some of my clothes right now because it has come back. So, I need some help today and I'm really excited about today.

Karen: Me too. My divorce diet was not eating at all. When I manage stress, I just don't eat. I feel like crawling in a hole. So, I'm excited for Cecilia to be here. And we notice when people talk about divorce, one of the first things they want to talk about is "I'm a mess", "I don't feel good", "I don’t look good", "I'm not eating well", "I'm eating differently", just because the whole family dynamic is all shaken up. And, so, that needs to be address right at the beginning.

Catherine: Yeah. And we're all so focused on that. I remember my first spinning class. I'm by myself and I'm sitting in the gym, and I'm to the right and it’s a really dark room. And I'm spinning away, and the class is over and I'm trying to get off the bike. I hear a group of women, the instructor also, talking. And I hear the instructor say, "I lost 185 pounds." Now I don't know any of the women, or the instructor at that time either, and I'm thinking "Oh my gosh. 185 pounds! How did she do that?" So, I'm thinking "I'm pretty social. I'm going to go meet these women." So, I go over and say "Excuse me, this is such a great class. I'm so curious, how did you lose 185 pounds?" And they all start cracking up and she says "Well I just divorced the guy I was married to! He weighed 185 pounds and I'm rid of him now". She's a good friend of mine now and I found that to be so funny. But fast forward, me going through my own divorce, I realized maybe it's not so funny, that we focus on that. Or often you'll hear "Oh, he lost a lot of weight, He must be doing something he shouldn’t be doing." Or "He's preparing to divorce me." So, it will be really nice to hear a healthy approach to look at ourselves.

Karen: Absolutely. So, our guest is Cecilia Halseth. Cecilia is a ball of energy, and the author of a book entitled Walking is for Wimps. Cecilia holds a degree in exercise and physiology and she's been a part of the fitness industry for over 25 years, teaching exercise classes and giving lectures.

Catherine: She'll help us help you get on a healthier path to a nice future.

Karen: Cecilia, thank you for joining us!

Cecilia: My pleasure. Thank you thank you I'm so excited. So, I was listening to you guys and exercise is an important part for anybody to not only feel better, but as a mood booster, which is one of the big problems when you are separating from someone you loved sometimes for many years, and you're going through the stress of divorce. Exercise could help as a stress releaser, and as a fantastic mood booster.

Catherine: I'm so excited to hear how you'll help us stay on track. First, get on track, and then stay there, which is what I'm having a problem with.

Karen: But wait, walking is for wimps. Please tell us.

Cecilia: Wimpy wimpy. Well this is very interesting. I have for many years created and filled in my own personalized "keep in shape plan". One of the things I discovered is that so many women get frustrated because they exercise but cannot lose the weight. It's because they're not doing it efficiently and effectively. And that's one of the things I see. I see many women walking, having a good time. Chit chatting, and they take a nice long stroll through the park, through the street, but they're not trying. So, don’t take me wrong. Walking is a wonderful way to exercise. But, if you're doing it very easily, it's either because you're very old, because you've been injured, or because you're recuperating from illness. But most of us who are active and young, you must add what I call "moments of intensity". And those moments of intensity could translate to sprints or walk faster. So, that's what I mean by walking is for wimps. You must add moments of intensity. Even 30 seconds of where you feel your heartbeat go up, you start feeling moist, you start feeling sweaty. That's what will create changes. That's what will allow you to lose the weight faster. And nobody gets more motivated then when you start seeing it reflected on the scale. So, walking is for wimps means to add moments of intensity. Then you can lose the weight faster and stay motivated.

Karen: Okay so we have young mom going through a divorce. She has two small kids, with no time. And as a matter of fact, she's overwhelmed because there's not enough hours in the day. She's not eating well, she's not exercising, she's totally stressed, what does she do?

Cecilia: This is very interesting because I've seen people being in that same situation. And I think to myself "Okay you're stressed to the max, you're probably also part-time working or full-time working, you go back home and must deal with the kids, there's not another parent to help, and you want to go work out? Oh please." What we want is a glass of wine, a little cheese and crackers, and to put the kids to bed. So, how do you incorporate? The first thing, I believe, to incorporate exercise into your life consistently is that you must start by being motivated. Motivation is a process in which you will start to feel motivated once you start losing the weight. But how do you start the motivation process? The first thing we must understand is that we must be absolutely at our whit's end. Out of frustration, of weight gain, and say "I have to incorporate a stress releaser." Even for ten minutes. So, the first thing these people must think is "Okay, I have all this stress, I have all these kids, and now you want me to work out for an hour?" No. That's also a part of the title of the book. Because if you walk wimpy, then you must walk for an hour, 45, 50 minutes! We don't have time. What I suggest for these people is that if you're an early riser, then think "I'm going to take 15 minutes in the morning before the kids get up, and if you can afford it, then get a little treadmill. [And it doesn't matter if you're in your pajamas], get a pony tail, and go before the kids get up for 15 minutes. And add those moments of intensity. Walk for four-five minutes and then push it a little bit. The moment you push, and your body wakes up, then you say "Ham! I think I can do another minute". So that's one of the things you must think. If you've an early riser, then do it then. If you go to work, go at lunch time. You just change your shorts and do it for 15 minutes, and you still have an hour of lunch time. So, go there, change, go outside, feel, inhale, push it and push it, come back, put a little deodorant on, and then it's over!

Karen: Speak for yourself!

Cecilia: Yeah, you can do wonders with perfume. And in the afternoon, if you finish early with your walk and you don't have to pick up your kids until 4 or 5, then incorporate that exercise. Again, do it efficiently and effectively, add your moments of intensity, and do it for 15 to 20 minutes, and then it's over!

Catherine: So, I'm hearing you say just start with day one. Take 15 or 20 minutes. Say "This is what I'm doing today for myself" because we deserve it. Everyone deserves 15 or 20 minutes to themselves. And you don't have to start with "I need to do a 45-minute class," or " I need to go work out for an hour" or "I have to run for 30 minutes". You can start with just a walk, add some intensity, and make it a regular habit.

Cecilia: A regular habit... That's very interesting that you bring that up because you cannot change physically, emotionally, and mentally if you don't achieve consistency. That's a big one – consistency. So, the first thing you must think is, most people think consistency means they must do it 3-4 times a week. No! Start twice a week. But really commit to it. Like I myself obviously have really committed to exercise because I already know the wonderful benefits of exercise and now its part pf my life. But it took years. Because the first thing I wanted was to lose the weight. I wasn't thinking "Oh I need to work out so that I can increase my lung capacity. No! The first thing I wanted to do was to lose the weight.

Karen: So, about being consistent with exercise – especially when you're dealing with a stressful situation. I wanted to tell you guys this story because exercise became a very important component of my lifestyle when I went through divorce. My kids were 7 and 5, and I didn't eat. So, it wasn't a weight loss thing for me, but it really was an anxiety reliever for me. So, I would have play dates for them. After school they would be on the playground and I would just run around. I started with ten minutes and I couldn't breathe. But over time it became a lifeline. It remains a core part of my day. But I always need to exercise with someone. So, I have an issue. When that someone isn't available, I sleep in.

Cecilia: It's very interesting. First, I want to say I also did that. If I didn't have the time, then I'd play ticklish monster. I'd chase all the kids in the preschool. And believe me after 20-30 minutes you end up with your tongue out. Something about the companionship, I highly suggest that if we love a song, and we're listening to the radio and we're driving, you start moving. Go write down those songs and say, " I cannot wait to listen to those songs!" And go out there whether you have a friend or not. In fact, no friends so you can go and pump it. It's a fantastic way to do it by yourself.

Catherine: Do you use music when you work out?

Karen: I do, just sometimes...

Catherine: You want the person?

Karen: Not necessarily that I want the person, it's just the pattern that I've set for myself. So, for instance my friend stubbed her toe and I didn't get up and my husband said, "Oh you didn't work out today" and I would say "Well no, she stubbed her toe, so I can't work out." So, I just noticed that about myself.

Cecilia: So that's the thing. If you have the plan A and plan B music and if you are listening to music when you're with her as well, your music is not like "YES I am SO energized" because you want it loud and clear to push you. In fact, some of the parts of good music that excites you, I use as moments of intensity.  When it gets to a certain part of the music, I know that's when I push it, and then come back.

Catherine: Yeah. I say we challenge Karen, and anyone else watching, that they should have their workout buddy be themselves. And you can log it in. I'd like to see how much you work out before our next show.

Karen: You're on!

Catherine: I love challenges.

Cecilia: You were talking about refueling. What does that mean?

Catherine: I lot of times in divorce, the reason couples grow apart is because someone is giving, like we give to our children, we give to our friends, we give to our spouses, and I remember being asked the question, by a therapist, is that "who's refueling you"? Being a stepmom of three children and then having two children ourselves, and with my ex-husband working all the time, I was always giving, giving, giving. Then because we didn't have a connection that was more emotional, I was feeling lonely a lot. So, the question was "How do we refuel ourselves?". I didn't grow up exercising. So, in your book I know you talk about that day to refuel which I'm excited to hear about because it could be something I could connect to.

Cecilia: Well refueling is interesting because it must do with how you manage your caloric intake? One of the first things I want to make very clear is that I love to eat, and I don't mean rabbit food. There's nothing I enjoy more than rich, high-caloric foods. If all the rich, high-caloric foods had the same number of calories as a carrot, we would not be overweight. One of the things that we must do is to plan – and it's okay to plan. It's not an obsessive thing. Every single person who has maintained their decent body weight think, every single day, how they are going to eat. How are they going to make themselves feel better through food or through exercise. I have fuel days, I have maintenance days, and I have cheat days. You must have cheat days. So, the fuel days, usually for me, are Mondays. Why? Because the weekends are mostly my cheating days. So, by Monday you feel so guilty, it is for sure a healthy day. You are going to put fuel in your body, but healthy fuel. Potato chips, fried chicken nuggets, are not fuel. I'm talking healthy fuel. And when you feel so guilty, your body and your brain tell you "Yes. You need to eat healthy." And then maybe Tuesday's another fuel day. Wednesday, I feel good, so I do a maintenance day. Maintenance day means you can still cheat a little bit, like, I'll have a nice salad, with a creamy dressing. Instead of liking on Monday I would have a salad with lemon juice. And maybe on a maintenance day you'll have a bag of Doritos or half the bag. And then cheating day doesn't mean that the whole day you're going to be cheating. What I'm trying to say is that you cannot cheat the whole day. So, what I do on a cheating day, I'm very aware of my exercise, a little quick workout, and then I know that that evening is the party evening. So, I can eat and enjoy myself, eat when I want, slowly. And there's specific tips on how to eat in moderation, a little lower portion, and how to enjoy right, high-caloric food within certain trade-offs – so that you will not gain everything back.

Catherine: You're pointing at me

Cecilia: No! Well you said that you will gain it back. So, one of the things is that you must fight back with all you might [against] that weight gain. And in my book, I have tips about it. Because nothing makes us more frustrated – us women – is [gaining] body weight. Practice managing the low-caloric fuel days, feel good about yourself with intensity and [sweat], and it will release the tension and you'll start feeling better with yourself. It will be a snowball effect. You start feeling better, you start losing the weight, you start being a little more aware or your food intake. Then people start saying "Oh my gosh you look great!" And that's the beginning of your new lifestyle.

Karen: That’s great. And you cover all of that in your book. Walking is for Wimps. Thank you for joining us as We Chat Divorce.

Catherine: And our viewers can get her book right from her website.

Cecelia: Walkingisforwimps.com

Karen: We look forward to seeing you next time. If you have any questions for us or if you want to suggest a topic for one of our next episodes, email us at info@DivorceUSolutions.com. Thank you for joining us.

Catherine: And remember – We chat because you matter.


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This episode of the We Chat Divorce Podcast also serves as the debut of our new television program airing on WHHI-TV in Hilton Head, South Carolina. What you’ll hear is the audio from the episode, which you can watch here.

In today’s episode, we introduce ourselves to our Hilton Head audience and share our divorce stories. We’re also joined by Colleen Kowal, of Hilton Head Island Counseling. Colleen is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of South Carolina and a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Karen: We were just talking in our last segment about how going through the divorce process is, sometimes people need to think about, "Am I emotionally ready?" They think they're ready, but they may not be. And we were saying we need to refer them to relationship experts sometimes. Your approach we find very intriguing so hopefully you can talk to us a little bit about that.

Colleen: I'd love to talk to you about that. I'd love to talk about Imago. Imago is about 30 years old, and it was developed by Doctor Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt and they wrote the book Getting the Love You Want. I was young and married and not doing very well in graduate school and fell in love with the work. And really decided then that this was the first thing that I had ever really read that made a lot of sense not just about marriage but about relationships in general. How to help manage conflict, and where conflict comes from. I really committed way back then to eventually study this work and I'm really excited now to be able to do this and I think I'm the only person in our area that provides Imago counseling.

Catherine: Is it actually a certain amount of sessions or is it an ongoing process?

Colleen: Well that's it, that's a good question because I think the answer is that it depends on the couple. I do a workshop four times a year where couples sometimes come and do the workshop and never really come to therapy. They actually learn a lot, and the purpose of my work is to help couples come in and be able to learn how to communicate. I see myself very much as a relationship coach, and if they can learn how to communicate safely and effectively then they can really develop a deeper connection, and once they know how to do it, they really don't need me anymore. 

Catherine: Wow that's interesting. You should probably take that before you get married.

Colleen: And some people say "Why would I do the workshop? My marriage is pretty good," and what I say is, "Would you like to deepen your relationship?"

Catherine: Yeah well you know a lot of people will ask me "What would you change about the divorce process because Karen and I are helping people get through this process. And my response is that I really wouldn't change anything about my divorce process because we negotiated it ourselves – my ex and I. But I would change things about my marriage, because we should have been in counseling the day we got engaged, honestly. Being a blended family is not an easy thing to do and being 23 and becoming a stepmother that quickly; really, I look at it now and I'm like "what? I look like a kid!" But our relationship went like this, and it worked, but the communication really wasn't there. So, really, it would have been nice to have that.

Colleen: The Imago process is based on a dialogical process that creates the safety of the conversations so that it doesn't go all over the place. You know, so you start talking about "Why don't you want my mother to come for Thanksgiving?" And before you know it you're talking about the last time that you know, you didn’t help clean the garage, and at the very end, you don't even know what you were fighting about. And so this process really helps keep it really safe, really tight, and it's actually a lot of fun.

Karen: Colleen, I noticed on your website that you have an entire page on your philosophy. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Colleen: Well, I mean, I was an educator for years, and so I taught first through seventh grade, and I was a school counselor, and I've been in private practice. For me and lots of friends and my own life, for me at the heart of every problem is a broken relationship. Whether it's a mother that's passed, something from childhood, a problem with your spouse, your brother, but at the heart it is really relationships. We're born into relationships, we're connected through relationships, and I really know that we can be healed through the relationship. And so that's the frame of the work that I use.

Karen: Wow! That's awesome. And I love seeing that one page dedicated to philosophy because I don't see that on a lot of websites, but I really appreciated that about yours. I know that one thing Catherine and I see a lot is someone coming in, thinking they're ready for divorce, because of infidelity. But when we ask them the question "Do you still love your spouse?", it becomes a little shaky. So how do you address that? Because some people want to work through it, for some people, that's a big line that someone crossed. How do you respond to that? And can some couples heal from that?

Colleen: They really can heal from infidelity. There's a lot of research about affairs really being a symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself. And, so, when we can help couples really identify what went wrong, and what did you really need, and what did you not get from a relationship that you were crying out for but maybe you didn’t know how to ask for it? And then for the other partner to not... it's really helpful for the partner who's been betrayed to realize that they really didn't do anything wrong, or that they were not enough.

Catherine: Which really frustrates me when I have someone in there that's heartbroken and blindsided, and they're told that if they would have only been better, "I wouldn't have cheated" or "If only you would have done this for me, I wouldn't have done that." So not only are they beaten down, but now they're taking all the blame for something that [really wasn't] their fault. There is no fault, I guess.

Colleen: Well no, I mean I think that people have to take personal responsibility for leaving the marriage to think they're getting what they need. What we know statistically is that second marriages fail to 60% divorce rate. People think that when they get in trouble in their marriage or that they fall out of love that It's over. And so then they start to seek that same feeling with someone else. Because when we fall in love, what we're actually in love with, is ourselves. We love the feeling that we have about ourselves. That we're vulnerable, wide-open, that I [want to] be with you all the time. There's so much freedom in falling in love. That period lasts between two and eighteen months, and all these great chemicals are released in our brain, which is the same chemicals that actually create the effects of ecstasy, the drug. So, we wonder why we're so in love with love, it's powerful. And then once those chemicals go away, and then we start seeing all the things that used to be cute, finding them annoying. We start to feel like "Ugh, maybe I really made a mistake". And that’s when I think people start to have affairs or find other ways to exit their relationship.

Karen: Wow. And we see financial infidelity a lot as well.

Catherine: Oh, wow yes, that's a whole other infidelity. And that is just spending, you know. Spending and hiding money from your spouse. And buying things and hiding things and that creates another level of tension.

Colleen: You brought up something really interesting thought that I do see a lot and that is that someone will come in and that is that they definitely want a divorce and as we explore it, sometimes we do make that decision, but I love to help them get really clear about it. Because it affects lots of people – their children. Divorce has this huge ripple effect. When you're that emotional and you've been hurt, or betrayed, we really are in a part of our brain and do not make great decisions. And it's really important for people to find a way to work through all of that and I know you both help so much with that too, so that they can really make logical choices that are going to have better outcomes long term for the bigger picture

Catherine: That brings me to, I want to share a story about someone, we do a lot of divorce management planning. That is mostly women who aren't ready, but have been thinking about it, we have the Great Divorce which is very big now. There is no reason for the divorce other than your kids are grown and you want to be on your own, you feel like you've fell out of love, or you found someone else that you think you're in love with because you're going through the phase that you call it. And we have sometimes met some people who do this for months, and then when it comes to the serious conversation with their spouse that you know, "I don't really love you and it's time for me to move on, our kids are grown", and the guilt sets in. And the trigger with the children, and then they decide to stay. And for us it's fine. We give them counselors names, we offer counselors for their children, for their spouses, whoever you need, go seek that help. But I hear often that "It's just easier I'm going to stay," "I'll just grin and bear it," "I have this big house," "I have this, I have that," or "I have everything taken care of." How long, if they don't get help, will that last?

Colleen: It can last a lifetime. I think what we're experiencing now in our culture is that we've left the marriage of need and moved to the marriage of want, because women can take care of themselves. So now we have a more lateral partnership and we don't know how to do it. So, that's one of the things taht I do, I teach people how.

Karen: Okay. And do you also coach divorcing couples through their divorce?

Colleen: Absolutely. We do co-parenting sessions where they can create a vision for what co-parenting looks like. So when they have that vision they can really say, "We created this together and this was our goal and this was our long term plan for our children, how can we support that goal?" And that's how the couples counseling works in that sense as far as parent support.

Catherine: And I love that. I really want to mention your workshop because I do think that you should take the workshop maybe before thinking of getting a divorce. I'm always about giving it your last hope, or even before you get married. That's great. So your workshop is...?

Colleen: It's March 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 2018. It's right here on the island so you don't have to travel. They have them all over the world, so you can go to a more exotic place if you want to go away from home, but we are having one right here at the Hampton inn and they can find out more about that on my website which is HiltonHeadIslandCounseling.com.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Thanks for joining our community. We want to hear about the positive steps you are taking for yourself every day. Share them with us on our Facebook Page or via Twitter, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.  For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com




With many people divorcing later in life, establishing arrangements for elder care has become increasingly important. But what about situations where divorcing couples have special needs children?

Our guest, Linda Anderson, a certified elder law attorney, will help us understand how to navigate these issues. Linda is one of approximately 50 certified elder law attorneys in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her practice, Anderson Elder Law, specializes in the legal issues affecting elders, the disabled, and their families. We are thrilled to have her as a guest for this podcast to help us share the information necessary for families with special needs children who are divorcing to do so with clarity and confidence.

The statistics are not clear on whether the risk of divorce increases in families with special needs children. One report states the while the average divorce rate is 50%, the divorce rate for couples with special needs children is 85%.

The most common struggle for these couples facing divorce is how to meet the requirements of their special needs children, now and in the future.

Your Team of Experts

You are likely working with your family attorney as you begin divorce proceedings. You want to ensure that the family law attorney is bringing in a special needs attorney, who has the expertise as it relates to special needs planning and the role of public benefits, and a financial planner, to ensure the structuring of the estate plan for the child is established to determine the rest of the financial settlements.

There is an overlap between understanding the public benefits for both seniors and special needs children and the uses of trusts in both cases. It is a body of knowledge that applies not just to people over a certain age but anyone of any age struggling to maintain control of their medical, legal, and financial issues. When caring for the welfare of special needs children – in a divorce situation or not – there must be an understanding of the public entitlements and benefits. 

Educate Yourself about Public Benefits

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid: these are means-tested; they are determined based on income and assets.

SSD (Social Security Disability) and Medicare: these benefits are not means-tested.

Let’s take the example of applying for SSI for a 12-year-old special needs child in a situation where the parents are not divorcing. How do parental assets/income affect eligibility? They may choose not to apply for SSI because their resources might exceed eligibility. That does not mean, however, that they will not be eligible for Medicaid. So, it is not a mistake to not apply for SSI.

If the child is on SSI when the parents choose to divorce, there are two important issues to consider:

SSI and Medicaid are based on income/assets, so when child support enters the picture, it will be considered income. When the custodial parent receives alimony, that is considered income. 

Establishing Trusts

In most cases, parents choose not to rely on SSI until the child is 18. For a special needs child, child support may never end and will be held dollar-for-dollar against the SSI, in some cases eliminating that payment. The solution? Parents could seek out in-kind distributions or alternative payments, but most will establish a first-party, self-settled Special Needs Trust, aka a D4A trust. That way, the support payments are placed in this trust, and the SSI eligibility is not harmed. Know, however, that with a first-party trust, when the child dies, Medicaid gets paid back.

When parents proactively set up a third-party trust for their special needs child, there is no payback to Medicaid. In this type of trust, they need to make sure the beneficiary designations are drafted properly. The TRUST is the designated beneficiary.

Establishing a first-party trust is fine when the parents remain married. A third-party trust is the better option should the parents divorce.

The Special Needs Alliance (www. specialneedsalliance.org) provides a free trustee guide to help fully understand how to administer special needs trusts.

Linda Anderson’s firm is located in Media, PA and serves the five-county area. Visit AndersonElderLaw.com or call 610-566-4700 for more information.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Thanks for joining our community. We want to hear about the positive steps you are taking for yourself every day. Share them with us on our Facebook Page or via Twitter, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.  For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com

October 26, 2017

Episode 5: The B Word



In this episode, we talk about the “B Word.” BUDGET. Mention the word “budget” and reactions can vary from wide-eyed to confusion to sheer panic, but rarely do you receive a positive reaction. Mention the words, "lifestyle analysis,” and the responding look can be very similar. However, when going through the process of divorce, these two concepts are critical components before, during, and after divorce.

How many of us even think of our lives as “lifestyles?” When dating the person who became your spouse, it might have been the difference in lifestyle that was part of the attraction. Here’s this person that you really like and they’re bringing something new into your world. You get married, and now you’re faced with aligning your lifestyles, creating a new shared lifestyle together. Sometimes, your lifestyles are too incompatible for the long run, and you head for divorce.

Lifestyle is an important aspect to consider, especially when we have to make shifts in our budget.

Lifestyle Analysis vs. Budget

What is a “lifestyle analysis” and how does it relate to a budget? Your lifestyle is the way you’ve become accustomed to living. Do you dine out a lot? How large is your marital home? What car do you drive and what are its maintenance costs? Do you take family vacations, attend events, have a cleaning service? When going through a divorce, one of the first questions you’ll need to answer is what is your financial need regarding support, what is the lifestyle you’re accustomed to living, and how will those two factors work together.

Your budget is made up of the items and expenses you need to maintain a household. What are your expenses? What is the income you need for your cash flow? What are the “extras” that come up? Budget is a critical component before, during, and after divorce because the court system, your mediator, or anyone assisting you through the process will use your budget as a guide for what your needs truly are. Other factors -- if you're a business owner or receive bonuses from your employer -- aren't as apparent as a paycheck, so the ability to recreate your expense list and know your lifestyle is really important. It'll help them make sure you have what you need moving forward.

Know also that if you lived on a shoestring budget during your marriage, that shoestring is going to get a little thinner, especially during the divorce process. Prepare your budget based on a household income of one, especially until your support is decided and starts coming in. Even after all of this, if you can’t meet your budget, maybe you can negotiate a raise with your employer or arrange a loan from a family member to tide you over.

There’s no question; your money mindset has to change in divorce.

Put It on Paper

Committing your budget to paper will help you think through the process, and you’ll have it to keep you accountable. Laying it out like this will help you know exactly what you need, helping you know how to adjust, even helping you decide what type of job to get. Some of the categories you’ll encounter as you prepare your financials for divorce are:

  • Food Expense: groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and casual dining out.
  • Auto Expense: car payment, gasoline, maintenance
  • Clothing Expense: shoes, clothing purchases that are necessities, repairs/alterations, and related items
  • Laundry Expense: cost of laundry service, dry cleaning
  • School Expense: tuition, supplies, field trips, lunch money, dues, tutors, locker rentals, arts & crafts supplies
  • Entertainment Expense: fine dining, sporting events, concerts, movies, theater, vacations
  • Incidental Expenses: cosmetics, hair and nail appointments, books, magazines, business dues, memberships, pets, donations, gifts, hobbies, and other outstanding payments
  • Home Appliance Expenses
  • Savings Accounts (ideal goal is to save 10% of your annual income)
  • College Tuition Savings

Rule of Thumb on Percentages

A typical household budget breaks out like this:


A good exercise is to take your monthly income and adjust it to each of these categories and percentages to help you see how your current situation fits.

Making It Work

Catherine was working with a client who realized she was going to have to make some changes. Her monthly deficit was $200. Looking over her numbers, Catherine noticed her cleaning service was costing the client $400 per month for two visits. Rather than lose her cleaning lady, whose service she valued, she decided to cut down to one time per month and have her teenage children chip in and help her the rest of the month.

Are you used to going out in large groups, where the check is usually split equally? Talk with the person who organized the outing ahead of time. Share with them that you want to continue to go out, but you’re anxious about chipping in. Ask if they’d mind if you have your own check. Who knows, this might make the others happy or relieved as well.

You might be single with no kids but used to treating your nephews and nieces all the time. You all look forward to treating them to a nice dinner out but know you can’t continue to pay for these outings. Instead, invite them to your home and ask everyone to bring a dish, moving the sole burden off of you but continuing a good time together.

It’s important, especially when dealing with the stress of divorce, to continue to do some of the things that make you happy, that help you relax and forget your troubles for a little while. The worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. All it takes is a little time and sometimes a little courage to prepare beforehand. Your family and friends will understand. Making these small personal adjustments is hard, but it helps bring your budget in line without completely missing out on these extras of life.

Get Advice from a Financial Advisor

Your cash settlement, alimony and child support comes in. You’re set, right? No, you can't rely on that forever. When those payments start coming in, you're likely still upset about the divorce, even after a year or two. It’s ok to treat yourself with a little splurge – buy yourself that handbag or ring you’ve had your eye on – and then sit down and get that budget on paper and live by it. Do it now, because when your children turn 18, what will you do? Plan now to be ready for the future.

The most important thing people forget is that your alimony is taxable. The IRS will not wait to get paid. Immediately set aside at least 20% pay your taxes quarterly or by April 15 of each tax year.

You Can Do This

All of this may sound like a lot of work, and it may be, especially if you're not accustomed to thinking in these terms. However, the alternative can be very expensive and overwhelming if you do not take these steps now.

Get Our Budget Worksheet

Email us at info@divorceusolutions.com and mention this podcast episode and we'll send you a complete copy of our budget worksheet so you can get started right away.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Thanks for joining our community. We want to hear about the positive steps you are taking for yourself every day.

Be sure to like our Facebook Page and Instagram Page and follow us on Pinterest and Twitter.  For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com


As we begin episode four of the We Chat Divorce podcast, please remember that divorce does not define you. Yes, it’s part of our stories and it may be a part of your story, but that’s okay. We’re here to share our insight and inspiration, addressing the good stuff and the bad stuff (aka the BS) and hope this podcast will help you move forward in a positive direction.

Being Present with Each Other

Do you find yourself having a hard time focusing? Does the activity in your life, not to mention in your divorce, have you feeling overwhelmed? It’s a problem we all encounter, especially in our world of instant gratification but disconnecting, especially from social media, is important.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, managing the household or you’re working full time, the most important thing you can do for each other – and your marriage - is be present. It’s deeper than putting the cell phones down.

Make it a point to have a transition time from work to home and then carve out some time to sit with each other and acknowledge you want to be in each other’s presence. Being married and being a parent is about relationships and if you can’t figure out the relationships, you’re going to have a lot of dysfunction going on. Being present and listening, making that person feel heard and affirmed is so critical to healthy relationships. We all need to slow down, listen more, and be in the moment.

Being Present in the Divorce Process

Being present throughout the divorce process is a critical skill to develop. You have a lot coming at you all at once – where to live, will the kids be okay, will you have enough money, will you have enough energy to get up and go to work each day, and on and on. Actively being present is a skill that will get you through each step. It may be helpful to start journaling, even if that means you write down each step and focus on them one at a time.

This is also true with mediation. If you’re going through divorce as two individuals, each with your own attorney communicating with each other on your behalf, you’re not even in the conversation in the moment. With mediation or a negotiated settlement, you remain present and in the moment about the decisions being made. Literally. You’re there in the room together and you’re able to hear you’re your soon-to-be-ex wants a certain asset or more time with your kids. This process allows you to communicate with each other and, above all else, be heard. It changes how you get divorced for the better.

Today’s Takeaways

  • Use the “24-Hour Panic” Rule: Give yourself time to not think about the issue. Write it down if it helps you. Put it on a to do list. When you come back to it 24 hours later, your perspective may be completely different.
  • Stop, Drop, and Let Go: Maybe you’re not wired to let something go for 24 hours. Try 10 minutes. Remember the fire prevention phrase, “Stop, drop, and roll?” Tell yourself, “Stop, drop, and let go.” If you feel overwhelmed or you’re not feeling heard, give it that time, that silence. The feeling may go away or you may master it.

Being present helps to set boundaries for yourself and others. It helps to quiet the noise in your head so you can tune into what others are saying. It helps you to focus on one thing at a time.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Thanks for joining our community. We want to hear about the positive steps you are taking for yourself every day.

Be sure to like our Facebook Page and Instagram Page and follow us on Pinterest and Twitter.  For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com


In episode three, we continue our real talk about the world of divorce with a conversation about the realities of co-parenting. Is anyone really ready for that? Co-parenting is always a challenge, for sure, but this podcast will give you practical tools to get through it with your sanity and current marriage intact.

Celebrities, They're Just Like Us!
With all of the money and resources available to celebrities, it’s easy to presume they sail through co-parenting or relating to an ex’s new significant other. At the end of the day, though, we’re all human and need to think of our children above everything else.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are one example. Jennifer recently took their children on vacation and Ben went along. They stayed in two connecting suites of the same size, so their kids could spend time with both parents. They made it work for them and their children.

Ryan Phillipe, who was married to Reese Witherspoon, has said that “You have to get to that point as a divorced parent, as any parent, where you’re not putting yourself first.”

Taye Diggs, who is co-parenting his son with singer and actress Idina Menzel, acknowledges this: “When you have a kid in the mix of it there’s no time for negativity.”

No matter who you are, put your children first. We get married for a reason, we get divorced for a reason, but there’s never a reason to put your kids in the middle of it.

Keeping It Real
Co-parenting is complicated by so many things, the emotional residue of the divorce, new significant others or spouses on the scene, and the world of step-parenthood.

How can you navigate these relationships, stay focused on the well-being of your children, and stay sane? Know when to pick your battles. Here are a few ways we recommend to keep the peace, and your cool:

Drop the Rope
Often, you’ll find yourself in an argument with your ex. It could be a timing issue, or whether your children left things at the other’s home, or any number of issues. Instead of participating in this tug of war, simply drop the rope. You’ll feel more mentally free and present for your priority, your children.

That’s interesting.
This tactic is especially good to use with narcissists. When someone is battling head-to-head, and no matter what you say, you will never be “right” in his or her eyes? Just say “That’s interesting,” and leave it at that. It’s not worth the stress it will cause you or your children.

24 Hour Panic Rule
Things happen. The threat of court, an ex is late picking up your children. Whatever it is, give yourself 24 hours to not even think about it. Give yourself time to breathe. Often, whatever it is will resolve itself, or you’ll have a fresh perspective.

How do you know these tactics are working? React to the reactions of your children. If your child is happy and doing fine, that’s what it’s all about. Talk about it together so your child can feel secure.

When It’s All Said and Done
It’s hard to co-parent through a divorce. Stay engaged, try to better yourself. Be there for the kids, and you’ll all grow and develop together.

Give Us Your Feedback
The hardest part for us is not hearing your voices. Please give us your feedback, your comments, your questions. Let us know in the comments section below this recording. 

Be sure to like our Facebook Page and Instagram Page and follow us on Pinterest and Twitter.  For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com

And remember we know divorce is never easy, and your life may be changing.  Change can be good!  We want you to know – you are not alone, and you will be ok.  We’ll talk to you soon. We chat because you matter.


In this episode, we continue the conversation about real people and real situations in the world of divorce. Every person has their own unique story. We’re here to discuss the human element of divorce from a variety of perspectives – from personal anecdotes to divorce in the entertainment world.

Divorce in the Entertainment World

Celebrities can seem like they have it all, but beneath the glamour they’re people, too, with the same feelings and the same problems in divorce. Drew Barrymore has been divorced for a year now. In her 40s with two small children, “When you break up with somebody you’re like, ‘Yeah, that didn’t work,’ but when you get divorced you’re like I’m the biggest failure. This is the biggest failure. I’m so shameful and it’s so hard to actually go through that, even privately.” This feeling of guilt and failure is common in divorce, but isn't who you are.

Divorce in the Real World

A new client came to see us nine months after her divorce. We worked with her, reviewing her documents and creating a timeline, determining that what was happening post-divorce wasn’t supposed to happen to her. The system wasn’t providing what was financially owed to her and what was agreed upon. We helped her go from barely making ends meet to securing the reimbursements and the level of support she was entitled to.

Real Divorce: The Human Element

In our article that appeared recently on the DivorcedMoms.com website -- The First Year of Divorce: 10 Truths No One Tells You But Should – we talk about a lot of the feelings we ourselves went through in our personal divorce experiences, are we messing up our kids, do we miss our exes, etc. We also discovered an article on LinkedIn from the men’s perspective -- How Do Men Really Cope After Divorce? – which covers that men don’t fully realize how their lifestyles are changing until some time passes, that they miss all the activity of home life with their kids.

We’re basically the same – we have a sense of loss and we care about our kids. If divorced couples focus on that throughout that first year, on respecting each other and taking things one step at a time, it’ll make things better in the long run.

As we like to say, “Divorce does not mess your kids up. It’s how both parents behave before, during, and after divorce that can mess your kids up.”

Thanks for joining our community. We’d love to hear from you and love to hear positive steps you are taking for yourself every day. Let us know via our website, on our Facebook page or our Instagram account.

Divorce is never easy, and although your life may be changing.  Change can be good!  We want you to know – you are not alone and you will be ok.  We’ll talk to you soon. 


The We Chat Divorce Podcast brings you conversations about real people, real situations and real divorce. We’re Karen Chellew, paralegal and business manager, and Catherine Shanahan, CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst). We’re co-founders of Divorce U Solutions, where we work with clients to navigate the often complex and confusing process of divorce. We’re here to share our personal and professional experiences to demystify the big business of divorce. This podcast is time for you to gain clarity and even have a laugh or two.

First up, what we wish we had known as we went through our divorces.

For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our website at www.divorceusolutions.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. Welcome to our community!