Archive for mental health

Dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic During a Divorce

Coronavirus and divorce presents unique problems for families.covid-19 button

I was pleased to connect via video conference with my colleagues Mark Hill, CFP, CDFA and Scott Weiner, Ph.D., J.D. to discuss the unique problems related to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis while navigating a divorce.

Watch the video below for practical tips and guidance for the legal, financial and emotional sides of divorce to get through your case during this difficult time.  We had a lot of fun making this video.  If people find it useful, we’ll make it a regular thing.


Mark Hill is a divorce financial analyst and founder of Pacific Divorce Management.

Scott Weiner is a psychologist and attorney who can be reached at or 619-417-5743.


Online Mediation

Divorce and Recession Fears: What’s Your Divorce Recession Risk Score?

Five Tips to Reduce Your Divorce Stress that Most Attorneys Won’t Tell You

Strategies for your family law case during the coronavirus pandemic

Looking at the New Year Post Divorce

new year post divorce, new year's resolutions

Alas!  A New Year has come and gone again.  For most of my current clients, 2015 was a rough year.  It brought them the end of their marriages.  The year may have been filled with conflict with a former spouse over money, kids, etc.  Perhaps there were tears shed.  Maybe dreams were shattered.  Sound depressing?  It can be.   But 2015 is over, so there is an opportunity to build a new experience for the New Year post divorce.

Here are my suggestions for some words to consider when making your resolutions for the New Year post divorce.  This is in no way a comprehensive list.  It’s just some of my own thoughts.  Perhaps you have your own resolution ideas that you would like to share.  Here are mine:


You got a divorce for a reason, right?  I’m sure things weren’t all butterflies and rainbows.  But now you are divorced. So take the opportunity to stop the fighting and discontinue the war with your ex.  If there is a legitimate legal concern that needs addressing, use mediation or Collaborative Practice instead of adversarial litigation to resolve those differences.  It’s a great opportunity to move on and find peace in the New Year post divorce.  A meditation or mindfulness practice can go a long way towards achieving some peace.


Before your divorce, parenting may have been easier.  Post-divorce, you still have to interact with the person you divorced to raise your kids.  Your kids need you to get along.  There is a lot of evidence that continued parental conflict after the divorce is very harmful to children.  Resolve now to be the best co-parent you can be in the New Year post divorce.  Look for ways to be cooperative (even when the other parent doesn’t).  If you haven’t always been a leader in the child rearing arena, now is the time to step up to the plate and make a helpful contribution.  Be the grown up here and your kids will thank you.


Now that you are on your own, you don’t have the other person there to rely on.  This is a great opportunity to stand on your own two feet with your head held high.  Be your own person.  Be strong. Be self-assured. Be independent.

If you are receiving alimony, look for ways to be self-supporting so that you don’t need support anymore.  Meet with a vocational counselor to make new career goals.  Enroll in school or get trained, or retrained, in a field that you can be passionate about.

Plan for your future financial well-being.  Meet with a financial advisor to make sure you are using your money wisely.  Come up with a five year or ten year plan.  Meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure you have updated your will and estate plan.


Perhaps during 2015 you let the stress of the divorce affect your health.  Maybe you didn’t eat well.  Maybe you stopped going to the gym.  Maybe you weren’t sleeping well.  Perhaps you were depressed or angry causing your emotional well-being to suffer.  Resolve now to restore your health in the New Year post divorce.

Take the time to eat well and exercise.  Get good sleep.  Perhaps get your annual physical from your doctor and make a plan for your physical health.  Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

But don’t forget your emotional health either.  Divorce can be such a toxic and painful experience.  If you are struggling, meet with a therapist and work through the changes in your life resulting from your divorce.  Before you date, make sure that you work though any lingering issues you may have so that you can be your best self before you involve another person in your life.  I have noticed a clear correlation in my clients who sought post-divorce therapy and their level of happiness years later.


I know that “forgiveness” is a loaded word.  It’s easier said then done.  You may be hurt or angry with your former spouse.  As mentioned before, you got divorced for a reason.  However, you are divorced now.  It’s time to let it go.  The past is in the past.

Now keep in mind, I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to be abused if that is what happened before.  Keep in place whatever safety measure you have to make sure you can’t be hurt again.  I am just suggesting that it is time to move on from there.  Anger and hurt can be very damaging emotions.  Do what you can this year to forgive so that you can leave those terrible feelings behind you.  If you find you can’t do it alone (and most can’t) talk to someone.  Turn to a spiritual advisor or a mentor to help you leave the past in the past.

Don’t forget to forgive yourself.  Guilt has it’s place, but it can eat you up if you can’t get past it.  Perhaps you have serious regrets about how your marriage ended.  Rather than let the guilt consume you, find a way to learn from the experience, forgive everyone involved and move on.

 You have read my list of New Year’s Resolution words for the newly divorced.  What are some of your words?  I would love to read them!

Related links:

Five Tips to Reduce Your Stress in a Divorce that Most Attorneys Won’t Tell You

10 Essential New Year’s Resolutions for Your Divorce

12 New Year’s Resolutions for Divorced Moms

New Year’s Resolutions During Divorce

Top 10 Difficult New Year’s Resolutions for Divorced Parents

New Year’s resolutions, new year post divorce, new year’s divorce, san diego divorce attorney

Five Tips to Reduce Your Divorce Stress that Most Attorneys Won’t Tell You

Stress Management ConceptDivorce and legal separation can be an extraordinarily difficult time in a person’s life. Clearly, divorce is not just a legal process; it’s a human experience. Although there are legal and financial questions to address, the transitioning of the family is not without a good deal of divorce stress. Here are some ideas to help manage the divorce stress that a lot of attorneys will never share with you:

Consider a No-court Option

If you ever want to get depressed, spend a day at the family court observing the poor folks being shuffled through adversarial litigation. At court, the lawyers make a lot of money and the parties cede the control of their futures to attorneys and strangers in black robes. While some cases require court, most do not. There are many consensual dispute resolution options available such as mediation or Collaborative Practice that can keep you and your family out of court. Ask your attorney if she offers no-court divorce options.  If she doesn’t, then look elsewhere.

Consider Hiring a Divorce Coach

Resist the temptation to use your attorney as a therapist. In Collaborative Practice, mental health professionals assist as members of a team hand-in-glove with attorneys and financial professionals. While not doing therapy, coaches help the parties in a divorce situation deal with the emotions and the divorce stress. EVERYONE can benefit from time with a divorce coach. Even clients, who think they are handling the divorce stress without a coach, are often surprised with how much a mental health professional makes things go more smoothly. If nothing else, learning how to interact with you now estranged spouse and your kids during this difficult time is of huge benefit and can significantly reduce your stress. While divorce coaches are most typically used in Collaborative Practice, I have had a great deal of success incorporating coaches in mediation or even adversarial litigation.

Consider Hiring a Divorce Financial Specialist

Finances can be one of the biggest causes of divorce stress. Resist the temptation to use your attorney as a financial planner. I can tell you, most attorneys went to law school so they wouldn’t have to do math. As such, this is not the person to ask for financial advice. Hiring a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is a great way to get good financial advice and to find clarity regarding money—even if you were not the spouse who handled the money. There is no reason to suffer in financial ignorance. Financial knowledge is empowering!

a worried woman feeling divorce stressTake care of your body

Most people when they are stressed out first neglect taking care of themselves. When folks get scared or depressed, the temptation is to forget your health. Don’t do that! Besides, exercise is a great way to blow off steam. Join a kick boxing class. Lift weights. Put a punching bag in your bedroom. Also, make sure you are eating well. Eating too little or too much can exacerbate your divorce stress. You need good fuel for your body, mind and spirit.Get into the Spirit of Things. Prayer and mediation can be great ways to center yourself to deal with stress. No matter what your religious background, taking time to be mindful through meditation or prayer can significantly strengthen you. Talk to clergy or a spiritual advisor to find the best way for you to fuel your soul.

sport, box and people concept - young man in gloves boxing with

Forgive your Ex. This is a tough one for many people. But hate can do more to damage the hater than anyone else. So, look for ways to let go of your anger and forgive. Maybe the marriage is over, but holding on to hurt and resentment does little to help you move on. Look forward. Don’t look back! You will find that your load is much lighter.

Beautiful Woman Doing Breath Exercises With An Autumn Background



Try these steps to reduce divorce stress

These are only a few ideas to reduce your stress during a divorce or legal separation. But if you take even just these tips to heart and implement them in your life, you will find that you will be strong as you go through this difficult time in transition your family. Don’t fret. There is a light to the end of the tunnel!

Other articles related to divorce stress:

Stress, Divorce and Down Dog by San Diego Attorney Win Heiskala

CNBC: Collaborative divorce can ease emotional, economic stress by Deborah Nason

Forgiveness During Divorce: A key to finding peace

Will I be able to keep the house?

Helpful Hotlines


Top Nine Collaborative Divorce Tips for Success

I was pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to the blog for the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego. I wrote about my Top Nine Collaborative Divorce Tip for Success. I have been very pleased to have gotten very good feedback on the post. Read it here and let me know what you think:

Top 9 Collaborative Divorce Tips for Success

SPLIT … a film for (and by) kids of divorce

I came across an excellent video about children going through a divorce or custody battle.  It is “[a] candid, poignant, and often humorous film about kids and divorce… from the kids’ perspective.”

This is an excellent film and should be required for any party going through a custody battle. It’s so important to see it from the kids’ perspectives.

Here is the link:*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1



It’s Official: Parental Alienation Syndrome is NOT a Psychological Disorder

So it’s official.  The American Psychological Association has made it clear that Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) will not be included in the forthcoming DSM-V as a psychological disorder.  Frankly, I am relieved.

Read about it here:

I have seen some very alienating behavior over the years in my family law practice.  It comes from both genders and every time it comes up, a child is harmed.  Sometimes it is driven by emotional issues such as addiction, abuse or even a personality disorder.  More often than not, however, it is just because someone is being mean by putting their poor emotionally defenseless child in the middle of their divorce.

To get an idea of what Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is, here is an article from

PAS has not been well received in the California courts.  For one thing, the science is not very good and is not deemed as sufficiently reliable for use in custody proceedings.

Here are some links to sources by skeptics of Parental Alienation Syndrome:

I have had many potential clients call me wanting to launch a legal campaign in family court based on PAS.  I try to explain that the science is considered unreliable.  However, these parents often feel so convinced that they are victims of PAS that they won’t hear anything else.  When I start to explain that PAS is not a recognized psychological disorder, I am quickly written off.

I try to explain that the BEHAVIOR, without talking about the label, is what counts.  It is universally accepted that exposing children to alienating behaviors is harmful to them.  We can hang our hats on that concept in court rather than getting caught up in the label of a so-called syndrome.

As a caution, experience has also shown me that many parents who complain of PAS often miss the point that it is quite possible that the child is alienated because the alienated parent truly IS terrible for that child.  It is not uncommon for an abuser to complain that the other parent is alienating. But that’s a discussion for another day.

My recommendation to all parents in difficult custody cases is to focus on the undesirable behaviors and not assign psychological labels.

My brother, in describing how he can spot an emotional problem without being a trained psychologist, relates the story of how a mishap on a swing resulted in his own self-diagnosis that his arm was broken.  How was this child able to diagnose his fracture without being an M.D.?  He simply looked at his arm and noticed that it was bending at a forty-five degree angle the wrong way.  No medical books required — his arm was broken!  It’s not much different in figuring out that there is a serious problem in a custody battle.

I have observed that most cases where alienating behaviors occur often involve psychology that is more reliable than the very unreliable “unscience” of PAS.  For instance, there is often abuse of a parent or the children.  Very often substance abuse is involved.  Perhaps one or both parents suffer from a personality disorder.  I don’t need the en vogue diagnosis of a psychological disorder to show the court that there is a problem and that a child is suffering.  Just like my brother’s childhood diagnosis of his own broken limb — Judges don’t need it either.

Here’s an idea. When there is bad behavior in a custody battle — the Judge should simply call it out and put an end to it. You don’t need a DSM diagnosis to conclude that it is bad for kids if one parent is on a campaign to alienate the other parent.  It’s just rotten, nasty and mean behavior. Period. This is not about gender, because I see rotten behavior from moms and dads equally. Where I practice family law in San Diego, it is almost standard in every case that there is an order that neither parent shall speak negatively of the other parent in the hearing or presence of the child. I believe a child has a right to draw his/her own conclusions about a parent without being subjected to either parent’s mean-spirited histrionics — no DSM diagnosis required. As Bob Newhart would say, just “stop it!”