The Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce: How to Navigate Everything from Heartache and Finances to Child Custody

The Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce: How to Navigate Everything from Heartache and Finances to Child Custody

by Holiday Miller, Valerie Shepherd

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510704060
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 08/16/2016
Pages: 172
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Holiday Miller is a passionate, creative entrepreneur juggling the roles of wife, mother, carpool taxi, household manager, homework helper, (not-so-wicked) stepmother, author, and CEO. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida and was an elementary school teacher before launching her own company, Office Buzz Inc., a marketing and design firm that supports direct-sales executives. As coauthor of The Ex-Wives’ Guide to Divorce, she hopes to encourage other women in the midst of the storm. Known for her contagious laugh and joyful spirit, Holiday resides in Atlanta with her family and can be found most often in jeans and flip-flops. She lives with her arms and heart wide open and is happiest when surrounded by the people she loves.

Valerie Shepherd, a transplanted Georgia Peach by way of the Windy City Chicago, has been helping clients organize their lives, as well as life events, for more than eight years. In addition to writing, she provides organization and personal assistance to her many clients in Atlanta, where she resides with her young son, his pet Ishy the Fishy IV, and a large collection of garden gnomes. You can frequently find the humorous articles she pens in several Atlanta-based publications. She enjoys traveling with her son, especially to any destination involving crystal blue waters and sand between her toes. A self-proclaimed divorce expert of sorts, having had three divorces, Valerie has the clever motto “Always the bride, never the bridesmaid.” You can learn more about her at www.thehelpinghive.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Meet the Ex-Wives

Are you shocked to be holding a "divorce" book in your hands? Does the thought of getting a divorce or being an ex-wife completely freak you out? Do you have a giant knot in the pit of your stomach? We can relate because we've been there, signed the papers, and have the many stories to prove it. Welcome to the club, girlfriend. The Ex-Wives Club. But don't worry. Our club isn't the kind that requires you to wear pink on Wednesdays or exclude those happily-ever-after friends who still have Mrs. in front of their names. In fact, our "Club" is quite the opposite; it's all about supporting each other.

You see, we ex-wives must stick together, which is exactly why we wrote this book.

Even though we are both ex-wives, what you might not know is this: we married AND divorced the SAME MAN. Yep, ex-wives to the exact same man. And now we're friends. Really, really good friends. In fact, we're such good friends we decided to write a book together, the same book you are now holding in your probably sweaty palms. A book charged to help women survive divorce.

Go ahead and let that sink in for a minute. ... Get the "Ohhh my!" out of the way. Some may call it crazy. We call it brilliant. Valerie (ex-wife #1) married our ex straight out of college. Sooner rather than later they divorced. A few years after their divorce, Holiday (ex-wife #2) met and married said ex. Eventually they divorced as well. But our ex really has nothing to do with our story. You, dear girlfriend, on the other hand, do.

Though the path to friendship took some time, we believe our meeting was fated and it was simply divine destiny. Valerie's motto is "Always the bride, never the bridesmaid." Divorced three times, she is a self-proclaimed divorce expert. She's been there, done that, has a closet full of "I got divorced and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" T-shirts.

Holiday has been divorced once, and has made it her goal to learn from the mistakes of those around her (namely Valerie — who was more than happy to share her long list of "Don'ts"). These "Don'ts" not only helped Holiday during her divorce, but equally as important helped her get on the right path towards eventually finding another "I Do!"

Sure, there are plenty of women in the world who share ex-husbands, but what are the chances of them becoming great friends? Now that is rare. So, how did we meet? Thanks to social media. We give all credit to the one and only Facebook.

Our connection began while we were both happily (well, kinda) married. During a random night of Facebook friend searches, Holiday and her husband "found" Valerie. Because Holiday was aware of their similarities (tall blondes, same initial college, same major, same sorority, both Junior League members ... you get the drift), she sent a short and sweet introductory message. After a few email exchanges, it was clear the ex had married almost the same gal twice.

And how could you not like someone who was almost just like you? Had we met under any other circumstances we would have been buying BFF necklaces.

Since we both had children, a play date was organized so we could actually meet in person through a mutual friend at a local park. We're not going to lie; it was awkward, but nonetheless we became friends. Well, at least Facebook friends. From there we shared our lives via posts, family updates, and images of our "picture-perfect" lives. Just like everyone on Facebook, right?

Fast-forward a couple of years, and enter a moment of complete desperation on Holiday's part. She had just separated from her husband days before and was dreading her first weekend sans kiddos. During a bubble bath (complete with wine and iPad), she sent Valerie an SOS Facebook message.

"You might possibly be the only person on the planet who could understand the hell I'm in right now. Would it be okay if I call you? Or, how about meeting for lunch, or a drink, or both?" Valerie took only a millisecond to respond. Both being mothers to little ones, and having so much in common, Valerie wanted to do what she could to help. She didn't even care that they shared an ex. This was clearly a woman reaching out in need, big time. When Holiday didn't respond immediately to Valerie's email, Valerie quickly searched her ex-husband's relationship status. It had changed from "Married" to "Single." The picture of their happy family on the beach was removed. Valerie knew instantly what Holiday was experiencing. The "Big D." Divorce.

Little did Holiday know, Valerie was also in the middle of a stomach-twisting divorce ... only she was a few months ahead of Holiday in the process.

While speaking with Holiday the next day and hearing the details of what prompted her to reach out, Valerie, without really thinking it through, extended an invitation for Holiday to join her for the weekend. Her advice? Bring a notebook and pen; she was going to tell her everything she needed to know about getting divorced. Holiday quickly accepted the offer. Because, to paraphrase Hippocrates, desperate times called for desperate measures. Holiday arrived on Valerie's doorstep the next evening, with notebook, pen, wine, and cheese in hand.

Valerie felt an overwhelming desire to help Holiday and prepare her for what was to come. Making several mistakes during the beginning stages of her (third) divorce, she wanted to do what she could to help Holiday avoid them. She knew how much pain these mistakes had and would cost her in the unforeseeable future. Feeling that if she had the chance to save just one person from the pain, and from the mistakes she was experiencing, other ex-wife or not, it was her duty as a woman to do so. Holiday eagerly listened, soaking up Valerie's knowledge and experience like a sponge. The bond of friendship was instant, and the rest is history.

And we both bought BFF necklaces the very next day. (Umm, no. Hello ... we were both getting divorced and on tight budgets!) However, our friendship did blossom. Seven months later we took our first vacation together. Yes, you read that correctly. We did what most women who share an ex-husband would NEVER do together. We loaded up Valerie's ol' grocery-getter SUV with all the kids and headed to the beach for Memorial Day.

The idea of writing a divorce guide together was born during this trip. As Type A women, we both revealed we had massive files, binders, and notebooks filled with documents from our divorces. We both independently googled our little broken hearts away, searching for an organizational tool to help, but came up blank. With few to no available options, we each created our own. Which led us to this conclusion: If we had both run into the same problem, how many other women out there were in the same boat? As women we trusted our shiny, happy wedding planners to get us down the aisle. Where was the equally as shiny (but maybe not as happy) divorce planner we had been looking for? Nowhere to be found, until we created our own.

The Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce was Born

Regardless of where you are in the process of divorce, there are a few things you need to know. You might think your story is completely unique, and no one has ever gone through what you are going through. We're here to tell you that you're not alone. Even though your circumstances may be different, there's one underlying factor here. Divorce is not fun. Some might even go so far as to say it sucks.

Divorce is the death of a dream. It's the dissolution of what was supposed to be a lifelong commitment. Whether it's you, your friend, sister, mother, daughter, tennis partner, or any other woman in your life, the process of divorce is not easy. It's painful, emotional, and by far one of the hardest things you will experience in your life. But you will get through it. We wrote this book because it's exactly what we wish we had when we were going through it.

If there's one piece of advice we give to women facing divorce, and we will continue to do so this entire book so take note now, it's to be prepared. We definitely learned that the hard way. If you're armed with an organizational tool, knowledge, proper expectations, a map of where you're headed, and the optimistic mantra "This too shall pass," the process of divorce is manageable. Sprinkle in a little humor and love from us, as well as this book, and it might even be manageable plus.

Welcome to the Ex-Wives' Guide!

Our ultimate goal in creating this tool was to help women navigate through what will be one of the most difficult times of their lives. If anything, the Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce will give you the ability to laugh, which, trust us, girlfriend, you will definitely need during this period of darkness.

So grab a pen, take a deep breath, and repeat after us: This too shall pass.

It's time to put your big girl panties on and get down to business!

(You will read the phrase "This too shall pass" and "Time to put your big girl panties on" about forty-seven times each in this book. We counted. Well, not really. But probably really close to forty-seven. So get down with the good intentions behind both of these sayings. We promise they come from love and wanting to see you have a little yin and yang of strength and peacefulness at a time when we know you need it more than ever.)

First, a disclaimer: The Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce was written with one goal in mind: to help women prepare, organize, and navigate effectively through the divorce process. We are not in any way encouraging or suggesting divorce, but rather providing helpful tools and resources. The topics presented in this book have been developed strictly from our personal experiences. Our mission is to share our stories with you so you can avoid making the same mistakes we made. Every situation is different, and only you can be the true judge of your marriage or relationship.

This book does not seek to replace legal advice or licensed professional expertise. We do not make any guarantees regarding results or outcomes in your personal relationship or divorce proceedings. Just like a facial scrub featured in Glamour magazine, we are simply sharing our thoughts and experiences. You might get zits. Don't hold us accountable. We can't guarantee a pimple-free future.

Please know that we have collaborated with others who have experienced divorce. Some names and events may have been changed or altered to protect the privacy of those involved.

Our wish for you is to prepare yourself, protect yourself, and remember to love yourself. We sincerely hope you can repair your marriage and restore your fairy tale. If this isn't an option, we hope to give you the tools you will need to effectively go through your divorce.

Regardless of your marital status, we wish you happiness, peace, and a happily ever after.

CHAPTER 2

First Steps

{knowledge is power}

"Always be prepared."

— The Girl Scouts

While there's really nothing in this world that can entirely prepare you for divorce, we're going to give it our best shot. If you don't read any other chapter in this book besides this one, we feel you've at least been given the "quick-start" overview of what you are in store for. You know, like when you buy that new camera with all the fun filter settings that will make you look thinner, decrease your wrinkles, and make you look thinner (totally worth repeating). It comes with a quick start sheet, because they know you want to dive into the basics right away so the camera will at least function. Because when you first enter or contemplate divorce, the one thing we know you have to be able to do is function.

Knowledge is indeed power, so put your big girl panties on, girlfriend, and let's get started. In our experience, below are the first steps you should consider when contemplating or entering divorce. These aren't baby steps, they're giant steps. But they're giant steps toward the future you need to secure for yourself and the ones you love.

Get Organized

Organization is so important, we dedicated an entire chapter to it (see page 37, "Get Organized, Girl"). There you'll find lists of the paperwork and information you need to collect, as well as tips on keeping it all organized. We've also created worksheets and checklists you can use to create your very own Divorce Planner, just visit www.exwivesguide.com. Samples of these worksheets can be found in the back of the book.

Finances

First and foremost, save your money. We are channeling both your mother and Suze Orman here. Whatever you do, don't spend money on anything you don't need. If you're anything like us, this might present a challenge; see the samples below to help you define wants versus needs.

Prepare Financial Documents

Preparing your financial information is tedious and time-consuming. Actually, it's more like super tedious and super time-consuming. But it's the first step in ensuring you receive or pay the right amount of support from/to your spouse. Do not take this lightly! In our experience, every minute spent preparing will save you ten minutes of worrying or scrambling.

Most attorneys will email or send you a financial worksheet to complete. Do your best to fill this out in its entirety prior to your first meeting. You may think it's overkill at first, but take it from us, it's not. This will save you not only time, but also money. And money is what puts a roof over your head and food in your mouth. Many state courts also have a standard financial form available online.

Open a Separate Bank Account and Credit Card ASAP

In addition to gathering financial documents, you'll want to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. Not only should you save money, but it's time to open a separate bank account. Don't get caught in a financial trap. If you can save money and keep it in a secure account, you'll be prepared for future expenses. Far too many women become trapped by their spouse's control over money, especially in the case of abusive relationships. Don't let this happen to you. It might be the one thing you'll be high-fiving yourself for in years to come.

If possible, open a separate credit card in your name only. This will help establish your credit as well as provide spending flexibility.

The sooner you take these steps the better, especially if your income is significantly less than your spouse's.

Close and/or Freeze Joint Credit Accounts

Sure, a Caribbean vacation would be great right about now, but in reality it will get you into trouble (and we don't mean the fun kind of trouble). To avoid incurring additional joint debt, it's in your best interest to cancel any accounts you share. Some creditors require a balance of zero prior to closing an account. In this case, call and request a freeze; this way no spending or charges will be allowed without your written/verbal consent. In addition, follow up with a signed and dated letter stating your marital status, and again request that a freeze be placed on your credit. Don't forget to file copies of each letter sent for documentation.

Know Your Credit Score

You are entitled to a free credit report every year. Get one now, as in right now. You'll need to settle any disputes and monitor future credit history like a hawk. Remember, knowledge is power. To receive your free credit report, visitwww.freecreditreport.com. You will receive a detailed report on your credit history, outstanding debts, etc.

Is This Really Happening?

Divorce is like a bad dream. You're hoping for that moment when you'll wake up and everything will be okay. While we hope this happens for you (and for some of you it will), the reality of the situation is just that. It's really happening.

Chances are you've got the following questions swirling around in your head:

• Is this really happening?

• Is this normal?

• Can I, or more importantly we, fix this?

• Is it really over?

• How and when did it get so bad?

• Am I going to be okay?

• What about the kids?

• What will my family and friends say?

• How am I going to make it on my own?

• Am I being selfish or unreasonable?

• Did he seriously just say what I think he said?

• Did I seriously just say what I think I said?!?

• Will I ever be happy again?

• And many, many more questions

Emotional Management

Emotional management is absolutely crucial during your time of separation/divorce. Don't get ahead of yourself. Take things one step at a time and do your best to think clearly. If you don't keep your emotions in check you will drive yourself (and everyone around you) crazy. And crazy ain't cute. Trust us. One of us tried it. (Notice we didn't specify which one of us.)

Whether you're the one leaving or you're begging him to stay, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. And not in the clichéd kind of way, more in the I'm-about-to-take-a-plunge-on-the-tallest-oldest-most-rickety-wooden- rollercoaster-without-a-seatbelt-and-I-think-I-am-going-to-vomit-up-that- crappy-funnel-cake-I-just-ate kind of way.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Ex-Wives' Guide to Divorce"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Holiday Miller and Valerie Shepherd.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Meet the Ex-Wives ix

First Steps: knowledge is power 1

Is Your Marriage Really Over?: maybe it is, but maybe it isn't 7

Preparing For Your Journey: this is "the big" pep talk 17

Stages of Divorce: brace yourself 27

Get Organized, Girl: let's talk money, honey 37

Choose Your Crew: a.k.a. your "peeps" 47

Oh Captain, My Captain: hiring an attorney 57

Kids' Club: how to help the kiddos 71

Get Off the Boat: settlement options 95

Shine On!: how to get your groove back 123

Acknowledgments 130

Resources 132

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