While a couple’s wedding day is filled with hope for a lifetime of love and happiness, reality dictates that not all marriages last forever. And when the union isn’t living up to expectation, many couples call it quits, a move often initiated by women. “Women are more likely to realize dissatisfaction in a marriage and to want to make a change. In fact, women initiate almost 70 percent of divorces,” says Lisa Gill, a family law attorney and partner with the family law firm Thomas & Gill. “The biggest difference we see between men and women is that women more easily recognize divorce as a transition into a new life.” It’s a transition, though, for which they need to be prepared.
While women who file for divorce may have the emotional decision made, they don’t necessarily have the practical tools they need, making the process much more difficult to navigate. For women who are contemplating divorce, Lisa offers a way to help. Through the Second Saturday™ workshops, a panel of experts provides crucial information about the legal, financial and emotional aspects of divorce. Lisa spearheads the workshops in Memphis and provides her legal expertise for the women who attend each month.
“Women need to make sure they understand all the ramifications of divorce, not just what I would call the Eat, Pray, Love side of it — the self-exploration and introspection,” Lisa says, referring to the 2006 bestseller and 2010 movie adaptation. “Emotional preparedness is very important, but there is additional planning they need to do — things they may not have thought of. That is the purpose of the Second Saturday™ workshops.”
Now in its 13th year, the national nonprofit Second Saturday™ was developed to offer non-biased advice from local professionals. In Memphis, Lisa is joined by two financial experts, forensic accountant Cindy MacAulay and wealth manager Dollie Halford of Dixon Hughes Goodman, and licensed therapist Jessica Shea Frey, founder of Forward Counseling. Here’s a look at the types of support offered at the Second Saturday™ workshops.
Support for Legal Issues
The Saturday morning workshops are divided into three one-hour segments, followed by time for Q&A at the very end. In the first session, Lisa explains the legal process and fees, discusses child custody and support issues, and goes over ways to avoid court through mediation and collaborative law. The workshops are a good place to start before you hire an attorney, as Lisa offers suggestions on what types of questions to ask and what to expect from a consultation.
She advises women to go to more than one lawyer with the goal of finding the one that is right for you. “Everyone has a style of practice, and it is not one-size-fits-all,” she says. “It’s okay to interview and okay to say no to hiring someone. You are looking for a legal advisor who will act as a guide through one of the most difficult times of life.”
You should also visit more than one therapist and financial advisor with the same goal in mind.
Support for Financial Issues
In the next segment, Cindy and Dollie review financial preparations for a divorce, dividing property, and tax consequences of divorce. Women who have not managed finances or investments may believe they are not entitled to an asset (or portion of an asset). Some may not have any idea of the difference between a forensic accountant and a wealth manager — and why you may need both. Others are surprised to learn that there are Certified Divorce Planners, specifically trained to help people determine good settlements and plans for reinvesting assets. Cindy and Dollie make attendees aware of their rights and the options open to them.
It’s also important to consider making your own investments once the divorce is final. “I’ve asked women in consult if they have a wealth advisor, and they’ll answer that they will just continue to use their husband’s advisor,” Lisa says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is an opportunity to create your own financial team and build your own individual independent relationships.”
Support for Emotional Issues
In the final session, Jessica discusses dealing with a hostile spouse, helping your family cope with the stress of divorce, and rebuilding self-esteem. She covers ways to tell your children about an impending divorce; how you would tell a 5-year-old is different from how you would discuss it with a teenager, for example. Tough topics such as talking about adultery with your children are included, too.
Getting practical tools for handling emotional upheaval is critical, even for women who feel prepared. Everyone has heard that divorce is stressful, but many don’t realize that divorce triggers trauma and grief, akin to losing a loved one. “It is the death and loss of a life you once thought would last forever,” Lisa explains. “Even if you are the initiator, there is still an unknown life ahead. Though you may be hopeful about that new life, letting go of the old one is still traumatic.”
The hope for women attending the workshop is that they will get a broad amount of information without having to schedule multiple consultations or pay multiple large fees. The cost of the Second Saturday™ workshops is $35; Lisa estimates that one consultation with one expert can run to several hundred dollars. “We don’t sugarcoat the cost or the time involved,” says Lisa. To help with preparation, attendees leave with resource materials, including checklists of items a woman should gather in a safe place before starting divorce proceedings. This helps reduce both anxiety and legal costs because you can give your attorney the right information to get started immediately. The checklist is also designed to help a financial advisor determine an appropriate settlement.
“I see too often women assessing all this information after they’ve begun the legal process,” Lisa adds. “It is so much better to have at least some of the information beforehand. You are able to navigate all the decisions that must be made, and once you are certain of moving forward, you are able to do so fully prepared.”
Pre-COVID, the workshops were held in-person, but due to the pandemic, workshops are now held via Zoom. Lisa says using the platform has actually been helpful, as it provides a new level of privacy and anonymity that many women seem to appreciate. “Zoom makes the process very discreet,” she tells us. “I wish we’d thought of it sooner!”
If you are considering divorce, the Second Saturday™ workshops can help you think about the process in a different way and give you the practical tools you need to move forward. Attendees can participate in complete anonymity — you don’t have to share your name with other participants if you don’t want to. You can find out more about the workshops by calling (901)-295-4595 or visiting tg-law.com.
This article is sponsored by Lisa J. Gill of Thomas & Gill.