Staying Sane while Divorcing NEWS/BLOGS ARCHIVE

DIVORCING? Get Your Power of Attorney in Place At the Start

October 11, 2018 by Kathryn Lazar


It is important at the outset of a divorce to sign (or change, if signed previously) a power of attorney and a health care proxy.

A power of attorney is a legal document appointing another to act as your agent, either generally or in particular areas described in the document. For example, your spouse may have power of attorney to make decisions relating to your brokerage or bank account, including emptying it. A health care proxy is a document under which a patient appoints an agent to make health-care decisions on behalf of the patient when s/he is incapable of making and executing certain medical decisions. For example, under a health care proxy, your spouse may be the one who makes decisions about your hospital care if you are in a coma, including whether or not to resuscitate you.

You may not want to be in a situation where, if you become ill or incapacitated during your divorce, your soon-to-be ex is the person you’ve designated to be in charge of important decisions affecting you financially and medically. If there is no power of attorney, by default the right to make those decisions goes to your spouse. If your ex-to-be is reasonable, s/he may stand aside and allow a family member to step in and make critical decisions. However, such deference may not be sufficient in the eyes of hospitals, banks, and others who must rely on the legal authority of the agent/decision maker. These institutions accept undocumented authority at their peril. If there is no power of attorney or if there is a dispute involving an incapacitated person, it may be necessary to go to court and file a guardianship proceeding to establish who will have legal authority to make decisions on that person’s behalf. The guardianship proceeding may create a gap in decision making authority, and, needless to say, distracts those involved at a time that is already stressful for them.

However, if you sign a new power of attorney and a health care proxy early on in the process of obtaining a separation or divorce from your spouse, then there can be no gaps in authority to make decisions in the event of your incapacity.

It is also important to understand that there can be differences in how a situation involving incapacity is handled in a litigated divorce as compared to a collaborative divorce. If you are in litigation, you may get no cooperation from your soon-to-be ex and his/her attorney, which can make things unnecessarily complicated and difficult, potentially causing a situation where necessary medical and financial decisions are delayed. In collaborative divorce, more likely than not your spouse and his/her attorney will be more helpful and cooperative. This could make all the difference if you become ill or incapacitated during your divorce.

We seek to educate our clients to take the rights steps from the beginning, in order to avoid any potential issues in the case of unlikely, but not impossible unfortunate circumstances. Be sure to discuss these issues with your attorney.


Top Ten Strategies to Maintain Your Sanity

October 19, 2017 by Kathryn Lazar

Many clients who meet with us for the first time are stressed out and imagining multiple horrible possible things that might happen.  Most of those things won’t happen, but when anxiety takes over, it is hard to think straight.  We strongly recommend realistic thinking — which is neither overly optimistic nor overly pessimistic.  But it is hard to find that realistic place when your mind runs away with you.  We suggest the following


1.Take good care of yourself

2.  Learn to meditate or engage in whatever spiritual practice gives you a sense of peace

3.  Exercise regularly, eat right, get enough sleep

4.  Get a regular massage

5.  Center yourself in whatever way you can

6.  Talk to your sane friends and family, and tell the excitable people that you don’t need to get worked up, you need to think clearly

7.  Keep a journal in which you keep track of your questions for your lawyer as well as chronicling what is going on for you

8.  Don’t let your negative emotions take hold of you – someone said:  “I’ve experienced many terrible things in my life, a few of which actually happened.”

9.  Consider a good therapist — there are some who specialize in helping people through separation and divorce situations.

10.  Remember to breathe.



Kindness During Divorce

February 1, 2016 by Brett Jones


Many couples begin their divorces hoping for a kind and amicable process. Opposing views on this are expressed in these two articles.

You, your children, your spouse, even your family and friends may all benefit from kindness during your divorce process. You might not expect that perspective from a lawyer whose motto is “peace through superior firepower,” but he’s right. James Sexton’s article, Kindness During Divorce, is one view.

Nearly diametrical is 12 Hard Truths I Was Forced to Learn Through My Divorce in First Wives World (truth #5).

These perspectives are their authors’ truths. Unfortunately, there’s not just one. Google “kindness in divorce” and you’ll find a full array of experiences.

Be sure that encouraging kindness during the divorce process does not mean that your attorney will not zealously advocate for your rights and desires as is required under the Rules of Professional Conduct which govern the practice of law. However, kindness around the divorce process can go a long way to securing a satisfactory agreement while helping to keep your sanity through one of the biggest transitions that you and your family may go through.


How To Choose A Lawyer

January 25, 2016 by Brett Jones


Where does one start when they are either contemplating whether to move forward with a divorce or when their spouse has already made the decision to divorce? For some people, it can be an overwhelming time filled with emotions and uncertainty. It may be hard enough to figure out what to eat for dinner, let alone, how to find an attorney who will help with one of the biggest decisions and transitions that a person and family can go through. On the one hand, lawyers are in good supply. On the other hand, how do you choose well? That decision can make all the difference. The divorce lawyer that you select can have an enormous effect on how you get through the divorce process and on the ultimate outcome. There are objective and subjective factors, and the best decision-making process utilizes both.

Credentials. Objectively, your lawyer must be qualified to perform the service you want. If you and your spouse want a collaborative divorce, you need counsel trained in that process. The same is true for mediation: if you will be more comfortable at the mediation table with counsel by your side, your lawyer must understand the mediation process and his/her role in the mediation. If you are litigating your divorce, your lawyer should be experienced in matrimonial litigation. And of course you’re going to discuss counsel’s experience before hiring him or her. Be prepared when you consult with an attorney and bring a list of questions with you.

Referrals. Word of mouth is unscientific but effective and there are many referral sources that you can look to. Consider asking friends or family, your accountant or financial advisor, your personal attorney, your employer or co-worker(s), your therapist, a clergy member, real estate agent, or other professionals that you trust. If you know people who are recently divorced, ask about their experiences with their lawyers. Almost everyone has things they liked and did not like about their counsel, and most people are all too willing to share their experience with you. Then it’s up to you to decide whether those experiences are likely to be plusses or minuses for you.

There is another subjective component: fit. If your communication with prospective counsel isn’t fluid and confident, if you sense the two of you are “not on the same page,” hiring that lawyer creates stress in a situation that is already stressful enough. Go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable or feel you’re not the lawyer’s entire focus when the two of you speak, choose another lawyer.

Be careful of attorneys whose marketing relies on gimmicks or catchy jingles. These may get clients in the door, but after that, most service is often lacking. You have the right to fire your attorney and retain a new attorney, but depending on when this occurs, you may have then wasted time and money. Choosing wisely from the start is critical.

You want a lawyer who will educate you to the extent you wish to be educated. This is a function not just of counsel’s professional experience, but also his/her awareness and sensitivity to a divorcing client’s experience.

Bottom line: Do your research before choosing divorce counsel. A lawyer’s professional experience, public presentation and interpersonal style, plus your own subjective impression and common sense are the tools for the task. It could make all the difference for you and your family.


Parents and Divorce: Will We Make it Through the Holidays?

December 10, 2015 by Brett Jones


Whether you are currently going through a divorce or the divorce is now done, holidays and holiday memories, often involving family traditions, can stir up many mixed emotions. Can it ever be happy and bright again? Will your children ever look forward to the holiday season again? While we can tell our clients that they will get through it; they can create new traditions; they can have a happy holiday after all; we know that it might be easier said than done. Here are some resources for managing difficult feelings at the holidays. The first half-dozen articles focus on your children; a second group of articles put the focus on you. The final article focuses on adult children of divorcing parents.

Helping Children of Divorce Through the Holidays

Keeping the Holiday Spirit Alive During Divorce

How divorced parents can help their children survive the holidays

Facing the Holiday Season After Divorce

Children, Divorce and the Holidays

Divorce and the Holidays — Putting Children First

MIFR, a tool that can support you in creating the holiday you want

7 Ways to Create New Traditions For Your Family Post-Divorce

5 Tips on Handling Emotions During the Holidays

5 Tips for Making It Through the Holidays as a Single Parent

Tips for Enjoying the Holidays After Divorce

Holiday Tips for Separated and Divorced Parents

12 Tips for Bringing Light Back to the ‘Hard-Knock’ Holidays

Adult Children With Recently Divorced Parents: 10 Ways to Navigate the Holidays


Getting Divorced? Put YOUR Oxygen Mask On: Five strategies for surviving a break up

August 1, 2017 by Kathryn Lazar

One of the biggest challenges people experience when beginning the separation and divorce process is maintaining their sense of sanity.  Most people experience a wide range of emotions, and get caught up in the details of their own personal life.  For most adults, this interferes with their ability to be good parents, to be good employees, to be good friends.   What can you do for yourself to survive the period between when one of you decides to separate and when everything has been resolved and settled down for the next phase of your life?

Take good care of yourself.  How?

1.  Take good physical care of yourself.  Eat right, go to the gym or walk or run around the block.  Sign up for a yoga class or a cycle class, or ride that old bicycle.  There are gyms in the area that charge only $10.00 a month for membership. Find whatever kind of exercise gives you some physical relief.   Eat well.  Don’t forget to eat all three meals a day, and prepare decent meals for yourself and your children.  Falling into “pizza night” over and over again doesn’t nourish your body or your soul.

2.  Take good spiritual care of yourself.  If you have a spiritual tradition, don’t hesitate to spend a little extra time focusing on your spiritual values.  Meet with your priest, pastor or rabbi.  Mt. Alvernia has brothers who are especially understanding of the effect of divorce on Catholics.  Consider learning meditation – there is a mediation class offered at the KTC Monastery on Sheafe Road every Monday night at 7:30, open to the public.  Mediation is a great technique for getting on top of your own run away mind.  Consider getting a massage to help settle yourself down.  I can strongly recommend a masseuse, Sarah Bragdon, 914-433-0934,  She has developed a specific massage program for people going through divorce.

3.    Take care of your mental health.  Find a good therapist – it doesn’t mean you are crazy, just that you could use some support while going through a stressful time.  There are therapists who specialize in working with people who are going through divorce.  The mental health professionals in the Collaborative association,  Maria Alba Fisch, Allison Bell,  Joy Dryer,  Micki McWade, Howard Susser, and Patricia Thomas are all especially well versed in the challenges you face, and are ready to help you through this phase of your life.  Find someone who you can talk to and who can help you be the best person you can be in this difficult time.  Connect with your friends — but don’t spend the whole time talking about your divorce. Friends are a critical ingredient to realizing that your life is not coming to an end, just taking an unexpected turn in the road.  But if you spend your whole time talking about your divorce, stress will be increased instead of decreased.  So remember why you are friends, and focus your friendship on the future, not the past.

4.    Take care of your legal needs.   Find a good professional who can help you resolve your differences.  Read the materials on our website, to learn more about your choices.  Consider divorce mediation or Collaborative divorce to stay out of the Court system, and resolve issues in a way that is consistent with your own values.  Check out mediation at and collaborative divorce at

5.    Be smart.  It is easy to fall into bad habits when emotions run high – some people drink too much or party too hard; some people act impulsively, and then make bad choices that make their situation even worse.  You are smarter than that — use good judgment, pace yourself, and realize that this is one phase of your life that will be in the rear view mirror before long.

For more ideas on how to take good care of yourself, come meet with one of the lawyers in our office.  We can help you figure out what would be best in your particular situation.  Give us a call and set up a consultation with Kathryn, Brett or Melissa at 845-896-9651.