What’s Stopping You?

You have a dream, a goal, a mission. There is something out there just waiting for you to grab it, wrap it around your shoulders, and make it yours. Sometimes it feels like it’s literally just in front of you, waiting to change your life forever. You know you want it, you see it, and you reach out to grab it. But you don’t. You just stand there, not doing that one last thing you need to make it yours for ever. Your dream, your goal, your mission. So, what’s stopping you? 

As a lawyer, I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to count. Women come to me in pain, desperate for a solution. Sometimes they have a dream that they are determined to bring into fruition. When they are right on the brink of a breakthrough, they back down and continue to live lives that they described to me as “miserable” and “unfair.” 

All these women were stopped by the exactly same thing. 

Before I tell you more about that, let me share 3 bits of wisdom I have picked up over the years. 

1. There is always a choice.

Even if it seems like you are completely stuck, you always have a choice to make. For example, let’s say you are looking for a new job. When you have two offers in front of you, it is easy to see that you have to choose between the two. But, what if you only have one offer, and it is a job you really don’t want to take? You may feel like you are stuck with that job, but you are not, because you do have the choice to turn it down and not work or to keep looking for other opportunities. Maybe you have been going on countless interviews and have no offers at all. You have a choice there, too – you can keep going, you can change your strategy, you can look for other means of financial support, etc. What choices you have will largely depend on your goal, but you always have a choice, even if one of them is so undesirable it seems like it’s not a real option. 

2. The choice is yours to make.

I want you to really process this one: the choice is yours to make. 

It is not your mom’s, your partner’s, or your best friend’s. It is not dependent on the choices of someone else or the outcome of some circumstance. Unless you choose to base a decision on those things, none of them are relevant. When you are presented with a choice, that choice is 100% yours to make. 

Along with choices comes potential sacrifice. When you grow, you are giving up the comfort zone you have grown accustomed to. Choices are hard when they involve losing one thing to gain another. This can make it seem like choices are out of your hands. For example, if one of your job offers is across the country away from your family and friends, it may seem like it is not an option. But it is, even if you dismiss it quickly. Again, that is your choice. 

3. There are no wrong answers.

You cannot look at choices and always label which one is right and which one is wrong. If you get stuck in this game, you are going to drive yourself absolutely crazy. So, look at it this way: the world is full of choices and consequences. We tend to assume that positive consequences are good and negative consequences are bad. But what about neutral consequences? What about unintended consequences? 

Instead of looking for black and white, look around for your choices and focus on your innate sense of free will. You can do absolutely anything you want. You also need to take responsibility for the consequences that arise from your choice. If you are willing to bear the consequences, then no one’s opinion matters but yours. This means there are no wrong answers or innately bad choices. It’s all about you, your goals, your values, and which way you choose to go. 

When a woman comes into my office feeling stuck, one of the first things we do is to evaluate her options to reach her goals. Sometimes the choices are simple, sometimes they are very long and uncertain. They all come with their own set of consequences. But there has yet to be a time I have talk with a woman and tell her that what she wants is impossible. In fact, most people are surprised to find that there is a clear path to get them exactly where they want to go. 

So, what stops them? 

Fear, money, public perception, opinions of others…the list goes on. Sometimes they blame other people or circumstances for holding them back. Often they say they are going to go for it, just not at that moment. That’s the choice they make. All of these boil down to the same thing standing in your way: You. 


Want to talk with a lawyer friend about how to choose yourself above all else? Click here to schedule a no-cost call directly with me. 

What Do You Want?

If you want to save time, money, and heartache, there is one simple thing you can do before ever talking to a lawyer. All you have to do is answer this one question: What do you want? 

This one thing, while simple, is probably the hardest part for most people who approach me for legal help. You are so caught up in what is going on that you may not have had a chance to actually think about what you want. Or, you may be so dizzy with legal terms that you don’t even understand what’s what anymore. 

You would not be the first one to sit down with a lawyer thinking, “Isn’t my goal pretty obvious?” Many lawyers will take your problems, assume they know how to solve them, and tell you what to do. And their plans are usually legally sound and make perfect professional sense. 

But here’s the problem: How does that lawyer know how to coach you if they do not know what you want? It would be like someone sitting in the passenger seat, giving you turn-by-turn directions, without actually knowing where you want to go. When you arrive at the lawyer’s final destination, you may be nowhere near where you actually want to be. 

Filing several motions with the court and setting immediate hearings is great if you need formal court orders, but it is not a great strategy if you want a quick and peaceful resolution. 

If your goal is to save money, why would I recommend a course of action that will cost you more than you could possibly win? 

When your goal is to achieve safety and stability for yourself and your kids, I cannot in good faith recommend you do anything to potentially jeopardize your parenting time. 

Most importantly, when there is a hard decision to make, I will not make that decision for you. You and I will have the detailed conversations, we’ll work through all the options, and we’ll talk about potential consequences. In the end, however, your life is yours, and you are your own best advocate

The truth is, no two people have ever come into my office with the same goal. Every step of your case should be tailored uniquely to you. So, in my office, I always start off with this simple but hard question: What do you want? 

I’ll rephrase it for you in case one of these questions resonates better: 

What is your goal? 

What do you want to accomplish?

What dream do you want to achieve?

What huge problem are you carting around right now that you want to resolve? 

When you are on the other side of this legal situation, what do you want your life to look like? 

Before starting any legal process, take some time and really think about your goals. Then, share those goals with your lawyer. Make sure they know your goals for your conversation and for your life overall. When you talk, ask them if they can guide you towards success on your terms. 

As your lawyer friend, I’ll tell you right now – if you cannot answer this question, then I cannot help you. But if you need help taking your head full of thoughts and really figuring it out, then by all means, give me a call. 

Here’s a hint: Do not think in legal terms.  

When determining your goal, think in terms of what you want your life to be. For example, your goal should not be “to get sole custody of my kids” or “to get alimony.” Instead, focus on the real larger desires behind those ideas, like “to keep my kids safe from neglect” or “to have enough money to support my lifestyle.”  

You focus on the dream, then we’ll work together to figure out how you can make it happen. 


Need to talk with a lawyer friend about your legal situation and your long-term goals? Click here to schedule a no-cost phone chat with me so we can hash it all out. 

Dear New Mom-to-Be…

Dear New Mom-to-Be,

Congratulations! I am so thrilled for this new journey you are embarking on. Becoming a mom is the single most scary, amazing, confusing, beautiful experience. I’m not saying that child birth is fun, or that the adoption process is easy, but the moment when you actually become a mother to a small human who needs you, that moment will change you for life. Despite all the fear and uncertainty, it can absolutely change you for the better if you allow it to do so. 

As your lawyer friend, there are things I know and things I have seen that I know can help you at this phase in your life. There are warning labels you need to read and things you need to think about before that child enters your life. There are things you can do right now that will make your life infinitely easier down the road. And yet, if I were to give you a laundry list of what these things are, I know that you would shake your head. You would probably think that some other moms may need those things, but you do not. At the very least, you may think these things take all the fun out of it.

How do I know? Because I have had so many girlfriends become mothers, completely unprepared because they didn’t think it would ever happen to them. I have worked with countless women who came to me, admitting they knew better, but they just didn’t believe it would happen. Because when I was a mom-to-be myself, I thought the same things about myself. 

So, here’s what I’m going to do…I’m going to give you my list of legal things for moms-to-be to consider. If any of these resonate with you, even just a little bit, then call me, and we’ll chat more. No sales gimmicks, no obligations, just some girl talk between you and me about this amazing journey you are on, and whether you really do need legal help before you get there. 

Here goes… 

Work on your relationship with your co-parent

If you are married, then it may be time for marriage counseling to work through the hard stuff you keep sweeping under the rug. Talk about money, how you’re going to support the baby, and who is going to be responsible for basic care. If you are not married or living together, talk about child custody and visitation. And here’s the hard part: Talk about what you want to do if your relationship ever goes bad. That co-parent is in your child’s life and thus in your life whether you like them or not. Start talking now. 

Figure out your work schedule and your finances

We live in a society where women are still expected to sacrifice careers for the sake of child care. Where ever you fall in that world, make sure you have a plan you can stick to. I can tell you right now that you’re going to need more time with your child than you probably anticipate. Whether it’s nursing or post-adoption bonding, they are exhausting. And if your child has special needs, you’ll need to spend even more time advocating for them and their care. Figure out how you can realistically work in between all this, and then factor in your budget accordingly.

Do your estate plan

Yes, this is very lawyerly advice. I am so, so, SO glad my husband and I did our estate plans before our daughter actually appeared on the scene. Now that she is a walking, talking part of our lives, I don’t think I could ever appoint a guardian for her in writing – no one seems good enough. But if anything happens to us, the last thing I want is for her to be in foster care. With our wills done, we know that we have soundly-chosen guardians who will take care of her if the need arises. We, also, know that she will be taken care of financially. This is a huge weight off our shoulders in moments of fear.

Understand your legal situation

If you are married and having a child within the marriage, then you probably don’t have a lot of legal issues to consider. If you are a single mom, in a relationship outside of legal marriage (this includes couples that are married within a church but not with the state), dealing with a sick or deceased parent, or any other special circumstance, then you may have legal issues to confront soon after that child comes into your life. It is good to know what issues you may be facing and what decisions you’ll need to make before it’s crunch time. This is a really good reason to give me a call, because I do not want you blindsided with life-changing decisions when you are sleep deprived with a new child. 

Take a stand for yourself

New children bring with them a wave of potential family drama. Nothing can throw a new mom off her game like a whirlwind of opinions, advice, gifts, and other things that come loaded with more than just best wishes and good intentions. I’m not a therapist, so there isn’t a whole lot I can do to help you with this one other than share this nugget of truth: YOU are the mom now, so follow your gut and raise your family YOUR way.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Remember, if you want to chat with a lawyer friend, I’m here to welcome you into this beautiful world of motherhood. Because no matter what you’re facing, it really is beautiful. 


To schedule a time for us to chat, with absolutely no gimmicks or obligations, please click here. 

What to Tell Your Ex About Your Kids

In my experience as a family law attorney, parenting conflicts and disputes almost always boil down to one thing: communication. Parents get upset when their co-parent doesn’t tell them about something crucial. This creates bitter feelings, and that bitterness eventually brings them back into the courtroom. Just when you thought your custody battle was over, you end up right back where you started, looking at the possibility of a trial to change custody because of ineffective communication. 

At the same time, you can’t exactly detail every moment of your visit to your ex. That isn’t practical, and it is a major invasion of your privacy. Still, communication needs to stay open enough to make the co-parenting relationship practical and effective. So, how do you know what to tell your ex about your kids? Here are the quick rules of thumb I give my clients in a new co-parenting relationship. 

Make Everything an Open Book 

You do not have to detail every moment of a visit to your co-parent. That being said, don’t hide anything. If your co-parent has a question or wants to know a particular detail, be ready and willing to share it with them without any hesitation. The sooner you establish a relationship where they know you have nothing to hide, the more smoothly the co-parenting relationship will go. It also gives you the permission to ask questions about things you are curious about, and if they refuse or hesitate in answering, then you can clearly see the red flag. 

All too often I see co-parents back in court over a disagreement. One parent releases an important piece of information that it is clear the other parent had no idea about. Trust me when I say that sitting in a courtroom is not the time you want to give, or receive, information for the first time. Sometimes that little piece of information can prevent the dispute from getting that far in the first place. You can keep this from happening to you by keeping no secrets about your kids from the other parent. 

Problems or Conflicts of Any Kind 

Is one of your kids developing some problematic behavior? Did you get into a fight with your teenager that did not resolve by the next custody exchange? Communicate these issues to your co-parent. It allows them to continue parenting through the issues when the kids are with them. It also shows your kids that even if you two are not together anymore, you are still united in parenting responsibilities. 

Problems with the kids can also lead to more serious disputes if they are not shared. For example, I once had a client whose daughter was showing some concerning behavior that may be indicative of abuse. The mom was devastated, but did not share this information with the dad. Several weeks later, when the behavior had worsened, she approached the dad for consent to have the child start therapy. The dad, having no idea about any of this, took it personally and refused to consent, fearing that the mom was setting him up and accusing him of hurting the child. Had they discussed the behavior when she first noticed it, the mom would have had a more solid foundation and the dad may have shared her concern, leading to faster intervention. Instead, they ended up back in court because the dad did not know who to trust. 

Anything That Involves Money 

Money is a hot button issue in court. Kids are expensive, and no one likes to be hit with an unexpected bill. Whether it’s a bounced check or an upcoming sports uniform, communicate about those things with your co-parent as early as you can. This will help avoid disputes later about owing each other money, especially for expenses you are supposed to split. 

I will never forget the client who came to me because her ex signed their child up for a sports team. She had no idea the child was playing the sport or that her ex was paying fees and buying uniforms. At the end of the year, he gave her a pile of bills and expected her to reimburse her for half of the expenses. The mom was baffled and, more than anything else, she was hurt that she did not get to be involved in the activity. When you communicate these things to your ex in advance, you can discuss finances and alleviate the dispute that comes from being given a pile of bills to reimburse all at once. 

Success and Celebrations

Parents are so quick to discuss problems, but they are not so quick to celebrate success. What was a great thing that happened during a visit that you can share at the next exchange? Did you remember to share certificates and trophies from school? Sharing the good times is so, so important for you and for your kids. At the co-parent level, it allows you to share in the joys that come with parenting. It also tells your co-parent that you respect their role enough to give them important information, good and bad. Especially during an exchange, it helps you show your kids how proud you re of their achievements. It also shows kids that their parents can communicate about things that are pleasant, not just about problems. 

The short answer is this: tell your ex everything about your kids. Make it practical, but don’t hide anything. Hidden happenings are the ones that end up back in court sooner than anyone wants to be. 

A Note About New Children

If you have more kids with a different partner after leaving your ex, tread lightly when telling you ex anything about the new baby. While you should be able to share openly, it is hard to know what can be flipped around and used against you later. Since your ex has no relationship to your new baby, they do not need any information about them. I recommend only sharing with your ex the same things you are sharing with your mutual kids. That way nothing the kids say will surprise them. 


If you are unsure of what to tell your ex about your children, or anything for that matter, click here to schedule a coaching session with me.

What To Tell Your Ex About Your New Job 

You did it! You finally landed a new job that you are super excited about. This is going to make your life so much better, which in turn will make life so much better for your kids, too. Congratulations. 

Then, you freeze. What do you tell your ex? Does he need to know about your new job? Will it cause more problems between you? Will you be in trouble with the court if you do not tell him? So many questions start to run around, all of which are perfectly legit. 

Good thing you have a lawyer friend right here. Let’s talk about what to tell your ex about your new job. 

First and Foremost, Check Your Court Order 

When in doubt, always refer back to your court ordered divorce decree and/or parenting plan. Is there anything in there that requires you to share information with your ex? If so, exactly what are you required to share? Sometimes you need to share major life changes so that you are both aware of what is going on with your kids. Often you need to report significant changes in income, especially if child support or alimony are involved. Check your court order and make sure you understand what it says. If the language is vague (What qualifies as “major” and “significant” anyway?), talk to a lawyer so that you fully understand your obligations. A quick post-divorce coaching session is perfect for questions like this. 

Do They Need to Know? 

The next question to ask yourself is whether or not your ex needs to know about your new job. They may need to know if it requires and tweaks your custody schedule, or if you will be switching the kids to new health insurance. They most likely need to know if it means you will be moving, especially out of your current neighborhood. If it’s not ordered by the court, look at whether your new job will be impacting them at all. Then, decide what to share accordingly. 

Imagine The Consequences 

New jobs bring a lot of new things with them – schedules, income, and overall lifestyle. What will happen if/when you tell your ex about your new job? 

If you think they will be spiteful and take that out on you or on the kids, then revisit whether you are really required to tell them anything to begin with. 

If your income is changing and that impacts how much alimony or child support you get (or pay), would telling your ex be to your benefit? Does your court order or local laws require you to divulge this information regardless? 

Do you think your ex would use it as a reason to take you back to court, even if it doesn’t make any sense? Remember, you need to fight a court case even if it has no merit. If your ex is the type to file things for no reason just to drive you crazy, you should take that into consideration. 

One of the biggest questions involves relocation. Does your job require you to move? If so, make sure you are extremely clear on what your court order and local laws say about relocation. You may be required to give your ex notice of the relocation, but not necessarily about the specifics of your new job. 

If you want to rub it in your ex’s face that you’ve been successful at something, I get it. Really, I do. It also does a great job of making new partners jealous, which can be so tempting. But as I commonly advise, be the bigger person. Remember that your life is about you and not about your ex. Enjoy and savor your success without needing to rub his nose in it. It will be a healthier attitude and outcome for your entire family. 


If you are unsure of what to tell your ex about your new job, or about anything for that matter, click here to schedule a post-divorce coaching session with me. We’ll comb through your Missouri court order and figure out exactly what you should do to reach your goals. 

How To Make The Most Of Time With Your Kids 

One thing I hear from all moms is that time goes too fast. And as a mom myself, I can tell you that time flies. There never seems to be enough time to impart everything I want to my daughter before she grows up a little more and her needs change. So, whether you have Siegenthaler visitation or are on parenting duty 24/7, let’s talk about how to make the most of the time you have with your kids. 

1. Focus on the Time You Have

We all have 24 hours in a day. What we do with that time is completely up to us. Similarly, we all have a set time to be a parent. Maybe you are on a structured parenting plan with a custody schedule that tells you exactly how much time you have with your kids each week, or maybe you are living with your co-parent and have more fluidity in your schedule. Either way, we have a certain amount of time that we are there to mother our kids. Will you choose to ruminate on how much time you are missing, or will you stay present and make the most of every minute you have together? Kids tend to remember how you make them feel in the moment. If you want to make the most of your time with your kids, focus on the time you have now. 

2. Forget What You Read on the Mommy Blogs

A word of caution about mommy blogs, social media groups, and other online communities: They are fantastic resources for connecting with other moms and learning from mutual experiences, but the problem is that there is no way to screen who you are taking advice from. Do you share the same core values? Do you have the same goals for your kids, your families, and yourselves? A frugal mom who is pinching pennies would probably seek different advice than one who is not worried about money. A mom whose child has special needs looks for different resources than those in mainstream education. Similarly, the moms who you meet online may be in a completely different life circumstance than you are. So, take their words with a grain of salt. If they do not seem to mesh with how you parent, that’s okay. It does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. 

When it comes to being in the moment with your own kids, there is no blog that can tell you what to do. It’s all up to you. A problem arises when people do things they were told to do, as opposed to things they feel are right. It gives them an excellent scapegoat when something goes wrong, but it also takes away the ability to actually make parenting decisions. As an adoption mom, I know what it’s like to be swarmed with education and resources on the “right” and “wrong” ways to handle different situations. Don’t get me wrong, that education is incredibly valuable for learning and developing parenting skills. But if your gut is telling you something in the moment, follow it. No blogger or educator knows you or your children as well as you do. Their systems and methods are guides, but they should not override your “motherly intuition.” Parent by being yourself, and take full responsibility for it. 

3. Be the Best Co-Parent You Can Be, Even If He’s Terrible

Too often, kids are seen as a bargaining chip between parents. This is especially true when parents are co-parenting from separate homes. An important lesson my clients learn during the legal process is that they can only control themselves; they cannot control the other person. So, you be you and be fabulous. Do everything you can to be a good communicator, share important events with your co-parent, and talk respectfully about them around your kids (even if you think they are a total jerk). Make sure your side of the co-parenting relationship reflects who you want to be as a parent. If they do not reciprocate on the other side, process the anger and frustration that comes with that, because those feelings are legitimate and real. Once you are done processing, hold your head high, and refuse to stoop to their level. If you can master this, you will enjoy your time with your kids infinitely more, because you will be confident in knowing that there is nothing you can do to make the co-parenting situation any better than it is. 

4. Accept and Love Them for Who They Are

I have seen so many moms lose time in prolonged grief trying to force their kids to be something they are not. I get it. Especially during the long months of pregnancy or waiting for an adoption match, it is natural to dream about what your children will be like. Will they be a world-star athlete? Will they find a cure for cancer? Maybe they will be the famous singer you never got to be. The longer you wait, the stronger those dreams can become. Take a moment – right now – to close your eyes and take a deep breath. 

The child you have is not the child from your dreams. They are a living, breathing, feeling individual. Everything you say and do molds them for life. That is a huge responsibility, and it is scary. But that child has a purpose, and they have innate skills and abilities that are just waiting to emerge into the world. If you want to make the most of the time you have with your kids, look at them with an open mind, get to know who they truly are, and love them unconditionally. 

5. Enjoy

My daughter absolutely loves to see me laugh. And when I do, then she lights up with happiness and laughs, too. Many moms are quick to say that they want their kids to be happy, yet they approach life in a manner that has them rushed, stressed, and too busy to soak it in. If you stop and enjoy the present moment with your kids, chances are they will enjoy their time with you as well. This makes whatever time you have with them a chance to make a real, positive impression that will last them a lifetime. 


Are you struggling to make the most of your parenting time? If you have a court-ordered parenting plan, you may be able to fix the problem before going back to court. Click here to set up a coaching session with our lawyer to discuss how you can make the most of the time you have with your kids.  

How to Win the “Mom Game”

The mom game is about having it all, having the best kids, and being perfectly put together every single day. It’s about having a career, hobbies, and close personal friendships as well as the perfect marriage and an envious love life. And in creating this life of perfection, you still manage to be best friends with your kids from the time they are infants until the day you die. 

The more Pinterest-loving overachiever moms you know, the more you understand exactly what I am saying. And the more you try to be like this, the more you understand this truth: none of that results in winning. 

All too often I talk to women who missed out. They focused so hard on winning this complex game that life passes them by, leaving them weary and unsatisfied. In trying to win, they end up losing themselves. 

I’m here to tell you that you can win the mom game. You can win in a way that is fulfilling, satisfying, and overall beautiful. Here’s how to do it: 

1. Know Yourself and Your Values

Are you working yourself ragged trying to advance your career, when you are perfectly happy with the position you are currently in? 

Are you feeling depressed day in and day out as a stay-at-home mom because you think you can’t afford child care if you go back to work? 

Let me ask you this: who decided what you should prioritize in your life? 

I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who said child care was bad for kids, and also told me I had to work full-time and be my family’s breadwinner. Talk about mixed messages! 

Here’s the truth: YOU decide what kind of life you want to live. No one from your past and no one in your present gets to craft the future you. You can be anything you want to be. The only catch is that you have to know who that is. 

So, who do you want to be? 

Do you want to be a mom who makes perfect cupcakes, packs bento box lunches, and scrubs the house on a religious schedule?[Text Wrapping Break]Do you want to be a mom who teaches responsibility while also teaching your kids to shake it off and have fun? 

Do you want to have an identity that includes a professional career? Is it the career you currently have? 

The first and most important step to winning the mom game is to know yourself and who you want to be. This gives you the framework for what “winning” actually means to you. 

2. Accept the Phases

When I became a mom, a friend gave me a golden nugget of wisdom. She told me that everything with children is a phase, good or bad. Be prepared for everything to change, because it always will. 

Grasping this concept is a key to winning the mom game. There is never truly a finish line when it comes to parenting. Our kids keep changing, evolving, and learning. We should be right there doing all those things right with them. We can avoid the regret of missing out on things by embracing them as they come. Live in the moment, soak in the gift of motherhood that you are given today, and truly enjoy it before it goes away. 

Oh, and just like our kids keep changing, so do we. So those values and goals you established in the first step? Those may change over time, too. And if they do, that’s okay. Winning is about embracing the journey, not the destination. 

3. Choose Your Feelings

At the end of the day, the choice of winning and losing is up to you. How are you going to feel about everything that went well and everything that went unexpectedly? Are you going to feel like a failure for not getting any Instagram-worthy pics that day, or are you going to feel the success of nourishing one more day of life into your precious little humans? 

You choose how you feel. This concept can be difficult to swallow, but once you do, you will realize that you can win the mom game every single day just by showing up and being true to yourself. 


It’s hard to be your best self as a mom when you have legal questions weighing you down. If you need to chat with a lawyer friend at no charge, click here to schedule a coaching call with me.

How to Love Your Kids Through Divorce

When parents go through a divorce (or any breakup resulting in a custody battle), children are stuck in the middle. It is an inevitable truth. No matter how committed parents are to keeping things neutral, their kids are the ones who end up with a different way of life after having little or no say in the matter. It is a lot for undeveloped little minds and hearts to endure, and it leaves everyone in the family grasping for understanding, strength, and love. 

While you are dealing with all the different pieces of the divorce, you want your kids to know that you love them more than anything. It may be hard for them to see in the moment, especially when tensions run high. So many moms come to me asking how they can convey that love to their kids, and what they can do differently in times of such extreme stress. I embrace their desire to be the best moms they can be, just like I embrace you on your quest to learn how to love your kids through divorce. 

Focus On Their Needs and Know Their Wants

Make sure your kids needs are met. During this difficult transition, they should not have to question if their basic needs will be fulfilled. You may even want to do just a little extra by making their favorite foods more often, doing an extra load of laundry so that they have their favorite clothes, and triple checking to make sure their lovey is always in their backpack. Know what they would want to make them feel a little extra comfortable and try to make that happen for them. Especially if your children are very young, there will be plenty of time for them to learn the independence and adjustment that comes from a dual household. During the divorce, give them as much certainty as possible. 

Accept Who They Are, How They Change, and How They React

Divorce has a way of bringing out change in kids, especially in the early teen years. They may react to the divorce in ways you do not anticipate. Some kids undergo big changes in personality, including likes and dislikes. Kids of all ages are testing the new landscape of their lives to see what it entails and, in the process, discovering who they want to be. Accept them as they are rather than trying to make them react a certain way. 

Do Not Put Them in the Middle, Even if You See No Other Way

Like I said before, kids inevitably end up in the middle of a custody dispute. You should avoid doing anything that highlights that. Using children as messengers, giving them adult responsibilities, or using them to avoid talking to your ex may seem like little things in the moment, but they have a heavy impact. Remember that your kids are just kids, and they should be allowed to remain that way regardless of the change happening in their family. Handle adult matters yourself and with your co-parent. 

Get Them Help

Even the most well adjusted kids are dealing with a complete derailment of their worlds when parents split up. Get them help sooner rather than later. Options may include individual counseling or play therapy, support groups for kids in similar circumstances, and having adult mentors outside the family. Try to know your options before starting the divorce so that you have resources to draw on when you need them. When you get the sense to act, find help for your kids sooner rather than later. Especially if you need court approval to get mental health treatment, that can be a lengthy process that you do not want to delay. 

Get Yourself Help

You cannot love your kids if you do not love yourself. Make sure you have a strong support system for yourself, including a counselor, therapist, coach, or someone else you can turn to when you need help. Too often, kids become sounding boards for their parents during a divorce. This puts unnecessary weight on your kids and stands in their way of healing. If you have your stuff together, then you are setting them up for the best chances of success. 


Do you need a lawyer friend to help you focus on loving your kids? Click here to schedule a complimentary coaching call. 

What is Love?

For years now, I have been curious about the answer to this golden question: What is love? What exactly does it mean to love? And after all those years of research, exploration, and discovery, what I have determined so far is this: there is no concise answer. Everyone will have their own answer, and every situation will have its own possibilities. 

As a lawyer, I work with women in a very specific and yet broad array of life circumstances. There are 4 key traits I see in people who radiate a sense of love during their journey through the drama into the lives of their dreams. Let me share them with you. 

They Focus on Themselves

Let’s start with the biggest one right away. People who exhibit love know that it means focusing on themselves. They take care of themselves, they understand their needs, and they make sure those needs are met before they give anything to anyone else. Does this mean that they have it all together all the time? Absolutely not. Their awareness and abilities evolve over time, so what they do constantly changes. What stays consistent is their focus on recognizing what they need and fulfilling those needs. 

We have all heard it said before: You cannot love someone else if you do not first love yourself. Focusing on your needs and how to meet those needs is a reflection of loving yourself. 

They Take Responsibility but Not Blame

Where you are in your life, regardless of the exact details or circumstances, is your total and complete responsibility. 

(I just lost some of you right there, and that’s okay.) 

Taking responsibility is not the same as accepting blame. This can be a difficult concept to understand, because we have been taught by discipline over the years that they are the same. Let’s illustrate this with an example. 

I have frequently come across women in abusive relationships. They come to me after a life of isolation. Many times, they have no job, no marketable skills, and no income or money in savings. They are tied to their abuser in several possible ways – through assets and debts, children, and complicated emotions. They want to be out of that life situation, but there are so many hurdles for them to cross to be truly free. 

Blame focuses on the past, and asks who made that situation happen. 

Responsibility is acknowledging her reality, recognizing that she has a lot to overcome, and making a commitment to a better life. 

People who love themselves do not focus on blame. Instead, they take responsibility for articulating their goals and taking the steps to get there. 

They Put Their Kids First

Women in family court who are dealing with child custody and child support disputes have a real opportunity to show love. They do this by putting their kids needs ahead of their feelings. 

Notice, I did not say that they put their kids needs ahead of their own. They do not sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their kids. Look back at my first point and see why that does not actually work. 

The most intense and emotional drama in family court comes out when discussing the best interests of a child. Too often, parents confuse what a child needs for what the parent wants. Mothers who show love can tell the difference between their feelings (i.e.: what they feel like doing out of anger, pain, or revenge) and what their child actually needs (i.e.: relationship with both parents and financial support). 

They Focus on Their Future

Family court makes it really easy to pull you back into your painful past. It brings up a lot of truths, reveals secrets, and materializes things you once thought were priceless. Even people going through an uncontested divorce find some dark feelings when listing and monetizing assets and writing out specific visitation schedules. 

Coming from a place of love means that while you may feel all the feelings associated with this ugliness, you stay focused on your future potential. 

An asset may be undervalued, or you may not be getting what you think is a fair share. Once you reach an agreement, you focus on how you will use the money to jumpstart your new phase in life. 

Your coparent may get the kids for a holiday you were looking forward to spending with them. Instead of sulking over it, you help them pack extra feel-good items and make special plans for yourself. 

Whatever the situation, you focus on the opportunity to maximize your potential, rather than finding something to keep you down. 

Is that all there is to it? Of course not. Love is beautifully complex, and it will be nuanced for every single one of you. Take some time to reflect and ask yourself, “what is love?” There are no wrong answers. 


Do you need a lawyer friend to help you through a bump in the road? Click here to schedule a complimentary coaching call. 

The Difference Between Separation and Divorce

Let me tell you one thing I dislike about the legal system: the words. Especially the terms “separation” and “divorce.”

The terminology in this world is crazy. Even after going to law school and taking the bar exam, I resorted to Google to teach me a lot in my first year of practice. Most of the time, it was just unnecessarily frustrating. In family court, however, getting the terms wrong could lead to huge mistakes and highly emotional misunderstandings. Even lawyers who don’t practice in this field enough get it wrong sometimes. (Remind me to tell you about the time when I was a law student, and a lawyer told me that clients who get a “dissolution” end up better off than the ones who get a “divorce.” It still makes me shake my head.) 

It is not surprising that I have friends and clients asking me all the time: What’s the difference between a separation and divorce?

And this one is a big one. Misunderstanding the difference can actually lead to you filing the wrong kind of case in court, and with all the myths running around on the Internet, it may produce results you do not want. 

I do not want you to be one of the women who gets stuck in this technicality because you have much bigger things to be thinking about. So, let me break it down for you. 


A divorce is also called a “dissolution of marriage.” You may also hear things like “dissolving the marriage.” This all means that you are ending a marriage, giving it a precise end date. All property and debts will be divided in a divorce. If you share children with your spouse, then child custody and support will be determined. Alimony, also called spousal maintenance, would be determined or waived. At the end of a divorce, the goal is for all issues to be resolved. There should, ideally, be no outstanding issues left to deal with. 

Moving forward, child custody and support are the only things that would be ongoing matters for potential court involvement. A divorced person is free to get married again if they choose to do so without any knowledge or involvement of the prior spouse. Divorce is the ultimate end of a relationship. If the two people wish to get back together, they would most likely need to get married again. 


The simple word “separation” means that two people are not currently together. Some people separate temporarily to take a break and give each other breathing room. This may be anything from sleeping in separate rooms for a while to actually setting up separate living arrangements. A separation itself has no legal ramifications. All property and debts are still held the way they are when two people are married, and child custody does not change until a court gets involved. 

What makes this slightly confusing is that if you do file for divorce, you may be asked for a date of separation. I tell my clients to think of this as a date that they started living separate lives. Many people who still live together use the approximate date that they decided to get divorced. For some, that is the date they are sitting in my office having this very conversation. 

Legal Separation 

The term that messes people up is “legal separation.” In Missouri, while a simple “separation” is not a legal term, the term “legal separation” is. Think of it this way: a legal separation is exactly the same as a divorce, but in the end, you are not free to remarry. 

In a legal separation, property and debts are divided. Alimony or maintenance is established. Child custody and child support are determined. It is presumed that the two people will no longer be living together or mingling their finances. The only catch is that they are still legally married, so they cannot marry someone else without first getting divorced. 

In my experience, people who seek legal separation instead of divorce usually do so for a reason. One of the most common is that they need to get out of their marriage for safety reasons, but they feel religious or societal restraints on getting officially divorced. Another reason is that they are unsure about getting divorced because that word just bears so much weight, so they opt for a softer blow. This latter group almost always changes it to a divorce before filing the first round of paperwork. 

People reach out to me all the time with some very obscure questions based on things they read online. If you have any questions about the difference between separation and divorce, please talk to a lawyer who can give you a real honest answer. I do not want you to be one of those people who makes a bad decision based on something that is just not true. 

Need to talk to a lawyer friend about a separation and/or divorce? Click here to schedule a no-cost coaching call with me.