By Dr. Wendy Walsh
There are so many ways to break up. Electronically, we unfollow, we de-friend. Breaking up can get complicated, and it can be difficult to remind yourself of just how lovable you are. Break-ups are a time to surround yourself with people who care, people who can remind you how to treat your body and mind. Break-ups are a time for us to be introspective and work on some of our issues, and get ready for the next relationship.
But, some break-ups are easier than others. If you’re married, there are kids and dogs and stuff to divide. And divorce is expensive: it used to be that whoever hired the most expensive attorney got the best outcome in the divorce. Not anymore. Now, there’s a new way to divorce – on your own, with a little online support. Erin Levine is a Bay Area attorney, a Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of HelloDivorce.com, a new platform that gives you step-by-step tools and information to take your divorce into your own hands – quite literally – with a little help along the way from real attorneys, if you need it.
On my show last weekend, Erin discussed the idea behind this innovative new platform:
“The longer I practiced law, the more people began telling me that if I could give them some tools and resources, they could do a lot of their divorce on their own. They were on to something. I realized that we have Tinder and Match.com for getting together – why not have a modern break-up service for mildly contested or uncontested divorces?”
But it’s not just the method of divorce that’s changing: our lifestyle choices are changing, and so are gender roles. Women who have stayed home to care for the children want to be sure their finances are protected, they don’t want to “wait and see” what happens. The choice to leave a spouse is also sometimes driven, or hampered, by economic choices. Some couples are more cognizant of the impact of divorce on their standard of living, choosing to live in limbo – perhaps separated but not legally divorced. Because, as Erin explained, “once you’re in the court system, you’re on the hook for spousal or child support and if you want to change anything, it has to be by agreement, within the rules of the system.”
Divorce is not a bad thing. Human beings have the widest range of sexual behaviors of any primate – everything from complete monogamy to promiscuity to everything in between. Because our life spans are so long, even the most monogamous among us will have maybe three long stints of monogamy in their lifespan – and that means in-between, a divorce and maybe some new mate selection.
Let’s look at it this way: if you were married in the year 1900 and you professed to live “until death do you part,” do you know how long your marriage would last? Twelve years. Because death rates were high.
So, there are many reasons we need to de-stigmatize divorce. Which is why I think Hello Divorce is a sensible idea – especially for people who don’t have big, complicated financials, assets, or kids.
But what about common divorce misconceptions? During our interview, Erin addressed a few common divorce misconceptions:
- Filing a response. “One of the most common misconceptions is that people don’t think they need to file a response to the divorce. If you do not file a response, you are giving your ex the ability to ask the court for any orders that they want. You’re no longer in the game. So, it’s very important to file a response, even if you feel that at this moment in time, you’ll have an amicable divorce.”
- Keeping track of the money. “We offer a lot of resources on Hello Divorce about pre-divorce planning. If you don’t have access to bank account statements, tax returns and other key financial documents related to your marriage, it’s important to start getting those together. And start putting aside a little money. If you have a contentious divorce, it could be a while before you get orders for financial support. That money might end up being reallocated down the road, but in the short term it can pay your child’s tuition if your ex cuts you off outright.”
While divorce can be painful and difficult, at least it no longer has to be painfully expensive – with Hello Divorce, your divorce could cost as little as $99 if you’re organized and have your act together.
Dr. Wendy Walsh is host of The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show on iHeartMedia’s KFI•AM 640 Los Angeles. She is a Doctor of Psychology and media commentator who is obsessed with the science of love. Walsh’s TV career began in Los Angeles at UPN 13 News where she worked as an anchor/reporter and later as correspondent on Telepictures Nationally Syndicated show, EXTRA. After a break from television to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and raise two children, Walsh returned to TV as a news commentator on CNN and Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. In 2012, she co-hosted The Dr. Phil spinoff, The Doctors and was nominated for an Emmy Award. Other Television credits include Investigation Discovery Network’s “Happily NEVER After,” and Dr. Drew on HLN. Dr. Wendy is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at California State University, Channel Islands. She holds a B.A. in Journalism, a Masters degree in Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and is the author of three books about relationships. Learn more at www.drwendywalsh.com or follow her on Twitter @DrWendyWalsh.