What to Expect When You are Divorcing/Ms. Shiffie Grossman

Posted on August 1, 2010


Divorce isn’t an ideal solution, but sometimes it is the only one. Before you decide to divorce, make sure that you have exhausted all other options. This article will touch on a few basics factors you should be aware of when going through the divorce process. When deciding whether or not to divorce, the question you should be asking yourself is, am I better off with this person or possibly having a life alone indefinitely? You don’t want to have any regrets later on. It is most important that you and your spouse speak to each other, and really figure out if you can work together to save the marriage. Some people find that a trial separation can give you insight into whether or not the permanent separation of divorce is the right choice.

Children in Divorce: When thinking about divorce, do not lose sight of the most important part, the children. However, staying together for the children isn’t always the right answer either. Whether it is before, during, or after the separation or a final divorce, always allow the children to continue to love the other parent. It is usually not in a child’s best interest to take that away from them.

Therapy: If you are still living together with your spouse, go for couple’s counseling. There are success stories where the right therapist at the right time has been able to save a marriage. Divorce is a very emotionally tiring time. You may need someone to talk to, some third unbiased uninvolved party. It is helpful to have someone who can help you think clearly.

Divorce will have a large impact on the children’s mental health, as well. They may need someone to talk to. They too will have very strong feelings, and emotions about the divorce. Sometimes children present emotional red flags right away. At other times these red flags only appear later on, even a few years later. All children react differently. The biggest thing you should be looking for is changes in behavior of any kind. For example, academic changes, change in mood, friends or friendships. Children can become withdrawn from family or friends. Changes in older children may involve staying out later, avoiding home, and even drug use.

Economics: Divorces are costly. Beware it is not easy. The divorce process can be very costly, and life after the divorce is not cheap. Many institutions will not give you a break in tuition just because you are divorced. Divorced families have the extra costs of the upkeep of two households.

Rabbi: Speak to a Rav, either together with your spouse or apart from him or her. Find a Rabbi in your community who you can connect with as a couple or an individual. You need someone who can advise you through the process and answer your halachic questions that may arise. Remember though, a Rav is not a lawyer or a therapist; you may need them in addition to a trusted Rabbi. Find a Rabbi who has experience with divorces, someone who has been involved in a divorce before and has a good reputation.

Talking with people: You may need to identify some friends with whom you feel comfortable speaking; people you can trust and confide in. However, do not cofide if you fear they will gossip, or share your feelings and emotions with others.

Time frame: Be aware that a divorce can take time. Do not expect instant results.

Post-Divorce Relationship: A couple can have an amicable relationship after the divorce, after everything is said and done. However,it will take some work on both sides.

Method of divorce: There are many different methods and options to use for a divorce. All the different options have pros and cons.

Mediation: The simplest form of mediation is basically where the two parties sit in a room together, with a lawyer, mediator or therapist, and negotiate in the attempt reach a settlement agreement. Mediation is cheaper and usually it helps build an amicable relationship between the two parties divorcing.

Beit Din: When going to the religious Court you have two basic options; you can go alone or with a Toen. A Toen is comparable to a lawyer, they represent you. Not all Toanim have legal training. Beit Din is the Halachically more preferred method. A get is usually part of the Beit Din process. If you choose another method of divorce, you will still need to get a get from a Beit Din. In my opinion, a get should not be used as a weapon because no good will ever come of it.

Collaborative law: In collaborative law each party is represented by counsel, and mediate together out of court. The collaborative lawyers will not represent you in court if it eventually heads that way, and you will have to get a new lawyer. Collaborative lawyers try their best in order to close the case outside of court.

Secular court: Some people feel that they can fight for more rights in secular court. Keep in mind the extra expense for the money that you will be spending in court. Make sure it is really worth it before following through with this option. Halachically speaking, going to secular court increases the risk of a Chilul Hashem (i.e. profanation).

Whatever method you use, you should have your own legal counsel because you should always have someone looking out for your best interest. Try to keep in mind what is really worth the fight and what is not.

Ms. Shiffie Grossman runs a divorce support group, affiliated with Sister-to-Sister, in Passaic, NJ