Divorce is devastating for any woman, leaving her confused and uncertain about her future. It especially impacts the woman who, up until then, has been a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) who depended on her husband for support.
Claudia is a woman who knows this devastation first hand and is reaching out to other women, particularly stay-at-home moms, who have been hit by divorce — women who are unsure about their options and are dealing with the fear that they and their children aren’t going to make it. Claudia’s work is powerful and she is offering hope to many. I was able to “chat” with her recently, via the Internet, and find out more about her work.
I started off by asking Claudia if there was any hope for a SAHM to remain just that after getting divorced. She responded by saying that a SAHM is especially vulnerable during divorce and the bad news is, being a SAHM is not considered a valid occupation by the courts.
“However,” Claudia went on to say, “there are work-at-home opportunities that are doable for some moms, depending on their talents, abilities, and business sense. While a woman needs to be aware of the countless scams out there, at the same time, there are valid options available. That is where SAHM and WAHM sites can be indispensable to a woman pursuing this potential option.
Other women, who have been there and done that, can offer sound advice, based on their own personal experience. It may take research, but it is a possibility to be able to still stay at home with your children, while working to support both yourself and them.”
“At the same time,” she cautions, “it is crucial to keep your resume up to date at all times if the occasion arises that you are ever forced to return to your original career path. In the years you are at home with the children, changes will come and go from your field of expertise and if you don’t keep abreast of those changes, chances are, you won’t be hired for re-entry.”
One may wonder: Isn’t this a dismal look at one’s marriage, to constantly prepare for the potential of maybe having to return to the work force due to a possible divorce in the future?
“Dismal or wise?” Claudia argues. “This isn’t simply something you do because a divorce might happen. God forbid, your husband could die or become disabled and the same scenario could present itself.
It’s simply a matter of being prepared so that you can quickly find a job in the career world after years in the SAHM world, should the need arise.” “What about home schooling after divorce?” I asked.
“Is this possible too? Many moms that choose to stay at home also believe in home schooling. Does a divorce mean a mom has to let go of this dream?” “Anything is possible including home schooling. The mom must figure out if her business and overall schedule will fit into her financial and home schooling needs and goals.
It may be a bit tougher but I believe that moms who home school, can do about anything that they set out to do!” We then moved on to other matters. “How in the world does a mom afford her attorney fees during a divorce?” I wondered. Claudia sobered.
“This question breaks my heart because this is too often an overwhelming scenario that stay-at-home moms face as they are befallen by divorce. There are a lot of attorneys out there who drag things on and on so that their ‘billable hours’ increase. Since the husband is the ‘bread winner’ in a home with a SAHM, the man has the means by which he can usually afford to pay higher attorney fees.
Consequently, he gets a better attorney and a better chance to come out ahead. The reality is that, like in everything, it would be so much easier for all women if all women had a strong religious faith to get them through a time like this.”
She went on to share her own horror story of struggling to make it work financially when it came to legal fees. In the end, because of the generosity of a friend, Claudia was able to borrow what she needed to cover the retainer for her lawyer, but not before becoming completely overwhelmed with despair at the entire cost involved. We moved on to matters of the heart. “How in the world does a woman forgive her ex who rocked her world by leaving her and filing for divorce?” Claudia started out by saying that this was a difficult question for her to answer personally.
“Time really helps. In my case, I pitied my ex and prayed for him. That took the anger out of me.” Any divorce litigation that goes on for a long time makes forgiveness more complex, because old wounds are reopened and they bleed over and over again.
In addition, the very concept of divorce court is counterproductive to forgiveness. Too many attorneys act as vipers that thrive on the pain of a divorcing couple and they serve as a cancer that destroys any hope for forgiveness or friendship between the ex-spouses. That said, everyone involved must realize that divorce is just like death. Both require various stages of emotion in order to move on.
Dr. Worden, an expert on grief, stated that there are four important things that the one grieving must do in order to evolve: “…accept reality of loss, experience and bear the pain or grief, adjust to a world in which the dead (ex-spouse) person is missing, withdraw and reinvest emotional energy…”
In other words, life goes on, so look ahead instead of in the rear view mirror. “And what about the kids? How do you keep your relationship with your ex on a fairly cordial basis for the sake of the kids?” I wanted to know. “One of the very worst parts of divorce is what happens to and with the children. Both spouses see their own side and more often than not, one or both parents present the facts as they believe or pretend to believe.
“Each parent wants to be the favored parent and the reality is that kids don’t want to pick sides. They love both parents. “In my opinion, there is a middle ground for a mom to take.
If her ex berates or demeans her to the children, she should avoid getting into the battleground of ‘ex-spouse bashing’ because ultimately, the children get hurt in the cross fire. “One mistake that I made was in thinking that any of my children remained relatively unscathed by the divorce drama. Not so! Children don’t escape.
The kindest thing that parents can do for the children is to be friendly or at the very least cordial and communicative. Kids will work the divorced parents in what ever way suits them best and ex’s that can communicate can work their way through this issue.” I wrapped up our interview by asking, “All that said, reality is, some women are going to read this article, and none of it registers with them because they are in the very beginning stages of this upheaval in their lives. For women who are just getting hit with a crisis like this, what does an immediate survival plan look like for them?”
Claudia shared 10 Steps for The Road Ahead as listed on her web site. For sake of space, it is in abbreviated form but a trip to her blog will give you this in its entirety. Ladies, please do the best you can to be optimistic about your future as you read the 10 Steps For The Road Ahead!
Incorporate positive thoughts into everything you say and do. Think positively, believe in yourself and your abilities and work toward that end. Do what needs to be done and have faith!
- Believe in yourself, your abilities, and your strength! You will be OK. Just believe and do what needs to be done.
- Save everything and don’t assume anything about anybody.
- Remove or photocopy all important papers. Note, with proof, all marital debt and assets at the time of separation. Remember credit cards, frequent flyer miles, bonus points, stocks, IRA’s, mortgages, etc.
- Change the PIN on everything that you can. (Remember that he knows all of your personal information including your SS number, mother’s maiden name, kid’s birthdays and your anniversary. Well, maybe not kid’s
birthdays or your anniversary.)
- Remove your spouse as your power of attorney and healthcare surrogate.
- Take pictures or videos of all assets and document when and how each was obtained, and the value of each.
- Prepare an expense statement for yourself and each child. Include proof for everything.
- If there has been abuse, get a Protection from Abuse Order so that he can not come into the marital residence.
- Research divorce laws in your state and whatever specific laws that may pertain to your situation, such as military laws. Interview attorneys. Take notes during the interviews. Be aware of attorneys who try to “sell” themselves to you. Don’t be gullible or intimidated.
- Prepare a resume and research your local job market.
No woman ever wants to find herself in the unexpected situation of her marriage being over and ending in divorce, but the sad truth is, some women will. Claudia’s life is a display of beauty and purpose rising from the ashes of the devastation of divorce.
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