Don’t ‘Fall’ for the Pumpkin Spice Divorce

By Tonya Graser Smith

Now that fall is here, I thought it would be seasonally appropriate to talk about what I call the “pumpkin spice divorce.”

Pumpkin spice isn’t just for lattes anymore. There’s pumpkin spice everything – beer, candles, Spam (Pumpkin Spice Spam!) and more – from late August until Thanksgiving, and it’s more prevalent every year. Doesn’t adding pumpkin spice to anything make it better?  I knew I was onto something when I saw a tire company billboard touting – in jest, I can only hope – pumpkin spice tires.

When I think of the pumpkin spice divorce, I think about frothy marketing speak for something that goes down easy. Divorce is anything but easy. Sit down, put your feet up, sip your pumpkin spice latte and hear me out as I dispel a few marketing-type myths when it comes to divorce.

You Can Do It Yourself

Yes, you can file your own divorce. The forms are readily available online and downloadable.

You can also do your own taxes, tree trimming, plumbing, oil changes, roof repairs and more. That doesn’t mean you should do everything yourself. Are you an expert? What are the risks versus rewards? Do you have the time? Is it worth your time to learn to DIY this, that and everything?

When it comes to divorce, I believe you need a specialist. Better to start with a family law attorney and have things done right from the start than have to bring one in at the end to do clean up, potentially costing you more time and money.

Collaborative Divorce Won’t Work

Some couples are resigned to the “fact” that divorce means divorce court and that that will somehow be easier. Easier? Absolutely not. More expensive? Absolutely yes.

If both sides are willing to do the work, collaborative divorce is possible – and faster and less emotionally exhausting and less expensive! Rather than fighting it out in court, you and your soon-to-be ex sit down with a shared divorce team with a shared mission. That mission is to achieve a healthy, fair, dignified split and to be transparent throughout the process. You agree to work together with a team –  a divorce attorney for each of you and shared resources, such as a financial specialist who is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or Certified Financial Planner, and a child specialist who is counselor if there are young children involved. These experts are neutral and objective.

If you want to avoid court and make all of the decisions, rather than a judge deciding everything for you, it is possible. With the collaborative approach, you can be in control of your divorce.

You Must Hire a Divorce Concierge

Pumpkin spice, meet another trendy term du jour: the divorce concierge.

Don’t be fooled by the fancy title. A divorce concierge is basically a life coach or divorce coach. And they have their place in divorce. In fact, collaborative law has had divorce coaches in place long before they were branded divorce concierges. They are often part of that shared divorce team.

You might need one and you might not. Whether you need a concierge or coach involved in your divorce and life after divorce depends on what you know you don’t know and what you don’t want to learn or do on your own. What are the tasks or subjects that overwhelm and exhaust you just thinking about? Maybe its finances. Every divorce could use a professional – divorce concierge, life coach, accountant or financial planner – for help with money matters.

Also think about the tasks your spouse handled during your marriage and that might now be your solo responsibility. What gaps do you need filled? Did your ex sign up the kids for summer camps and guitar lessons, book doctor appointments and find the best math tutor out there?  Does your work and business travel prevent you from making calls during business hours to take care of all these things? A divorce concierge or life coach can help do this or get the right person to pitch in.

The bottom line: What a divorce concierge – divorce attorney or family law judge or any professional, for that matter – can’t do is go through the emotional journey that is divorce. Only you can do that.

My best piece of advice: Remember that just like pumpkin spice divorce is seasonal. One day it is cold and rainy, the next day the sun starts peeking out from the clouds.  This is your season to own before you embark on your next season, your next chapter, your new life (with or without pumpkin spice).