January 2019 - Hello Mojo

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Her Blog

My biggest pain point at the start of this journey (besides the thought of not being able to see my kids every day, and grappling with the harsh reality of being all on my own now) was how to get started with the process of separation.

In fact, I had absolutely no idea of what to do until I met with a lawyer a few weeks after our split.

I arrived at my lawyer’s office with an empty notepad, a pen and my purse stuffed in the side pocket of a baby bag (oh, and I was carrying my sleeping 4-months-old baby). I was trembling with fear. I was 110% underprepared and had never felt so vulnerable.

I sank down into the depths of a big armchair across from my lawyer and was schooled on what was going to happen. The panic set in as I learned more and more about the things I needed to do, or rather, the things I should have done already.

I started on the back foot with the admin process and felt like I never caught up. I was completely overwhelmed, extremely emotional, fearful, and of course stressed that I’d left myself wide open for possible financial ruin.

If only someone had told me the essential must-do tasks right back in week one!

Well, you won’t have to make the same mistakes or learn the hard way.

Here’s the guide I wished someone had given me on day one of my separation. Really it’s just the first steps for protecting yourself, your children and your money. Think of it like a personal insurance policy to help you go in the right direction more quickly, and less painfully.

This guide applies even if your situation is amicable.

It is not a complete list of everything that you’ll need to do throughout your separation or divorce – it’s just a good place to start in week one. And, did I mention, the information you gather here will be extremely helpful in your first meeting with a legal professional or mediator.

Firstly, here’s what to do in the first 24 hours:

1. Tell someone
And I don’t mean update your Facebook status! Think about telling your parents, a best friend, colleague or even the police: someone that will help you to feel supported, safe and loved. Things are real now and your only choice is to move forwards. Today, you need to breathe deep. You’ve got this.

2. Turn off iCloud sharing on all of the devices
Love it or hate it, you can’t argue: technology enhances and improves our lives in so many amazing ways. But in the wrong hands technology can be used as a tool to control and monitor. From today onwards you don’t need your spouse or ex checking up on your emails, messages or calendar. Stay smart.

3. Jot down those important details swirling around in your head
The “D” word – documenting – is an extremely daunting-but-vital part of the separation and divorce process.  I cover this in more details below. But for today, all you need to do is jot down any important details that spring to mind, and make notes about any incidents that involve you or your children (and stick to the facts). Stress will impact your ability to remember the finer details – and soon there will be so many things to remember that it’ll become difficult to recall correctly.  Get things on the record while they’re fresh in your mind.

Once you’ve managed to take a breath, you feel as safe and supported as you can be, there are some important steps that you should take.

10 ways to protect yourself, your children & your money:

1. Get some advice
I know the first week, especially, is extremely tough as you deal with an onslaught of new emotions. You can be too quick to make decisions (and the wrong ones at that). And your actions can be driven by fear or revenge, or one of the other five hundred emotions you are feeling! As soon as possible get some professional advice on your situation. You may not be in a position to appoint a lawyer in this first week or even want to – but, you should talk with someone about the legal ramifications of ending your marriage or de facto relationship. Think about contacting a relationship support line, government support agency (both usually free calls) or a legal firm.

2. Take a vacay from social media
Period. Ah-huh… that’s right. Period. NO posting cryptic memes. 

3. Communication Caution
What you say, write or do could come back to bite you if your split gets messy (or even if it doesn’t). Careful with SMS, emails, social media and all your conversations (on the phone or in person). Don’t sign or promise anything to your ex while you are in a heightened state of shock, denial or rage etc. Let your ex know that you need a few days to digest what is going on before you make any firm commitments (and use that opportunity to seek legal advice). Also, be careful with whom you speak to. Your friends may end up choosing sides (and quite possibly not yours!).

4. Change PIN numbers
Firstly, your email account(s). While you’re at it, set up a new email account to be used for correspondence from lawyers etc. Then go for gold: PINS, usernames and password for everything and anything – banks, investment houses, superannuation, apple ID etc. Keep all records in a single document and in a secure place. And, check who has their fingerprint registered to be able to unlock your phone. 

5. Children
> Telling the children: If your situation is amicable, suggest to your ex that you make an agreement about when and where you will tell the children about what’s going on. My suggestion is that you first do some research or seek advice on the best way to do this as it varies a great deal by age group. Check out Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M Gary Neuman. And, never discuss your relationship issues in front of the children (even while you are on the phone). You can buy the book here.
> Sorting out a temporary visitation schedule: If your split means that one parent is moving out, you may wish to draw up an interim parenting plan with your ex as to visitation arrangements for the children. Ensure that both parties recognise that it is an interim plan until formal arrangements have been made. You should always seek legal advice before any agreements are drawn up or signed. Removing yourself from the picture (i.e. you leaving the family home without the children) is not recommended as this could potentially impact future custody arrangements. Always, seek legal advice about children’s issues as soon as possible. And, of course, if you have any concerns about your safety or that of your children be sure to seek support, remove yourself and the children from danger and contact authorities immediately.
> Inform the children’s school: It’s a good idea (in any case), especially if you have concerns, to inform your child’s school (extra-curricular co-ordinators etc) that you are going through a separation. Ask that they inform you immediately of any odd behaviour by the child or other parent. Ensure that teachers and carers are aware of which parent is to collect the child from school on which days.

6. Close off your joint accounts
Consider closing your joint account. Talk to your bank to establish your own account with your own pool of money, and make sure the other joint account holder can’t access it. Check that your pay is going into this new account. If you don’t close the joint account ask about a dual signature requirement for withdrawal.

7. Cancel your redraw facility
Talk to your bank to cancel any redraw facility on your home loan to make sure your debts don’t grow. This only applies to some markets.

8. Do a financial stocktake
> Assets & Debts: Make a quick list of all personal and joint assets and debts (and those for your ex if you have access to the statements). This information will be useful when you seek legal advice. Here is a sample template for assessing a Household Balance Sheet.
> Bills & Expenses: Depending on your situation, you may need to sit down with your ex and look over the upcoming bills, repayments and standard household costs. Make a list of who agrees to pay for what, if there is a need to make changes. But, as always, seek advice from a legal professional or financial advisor as soon as possible. You should never be pressured into making a decision or agreement that you are not 100% OK with.

9. Do a household items stocktake
Go room to room and list down anything of value that you feel needs to be on record (don’t forget to visit the garage!). Take photos of each item of value and make sure the geo-stamp and location tracker are turned on. Unfortunately, things do go missing during a separation and divorce. If you have something of personal value, consider moving it to a safer location if necessary. Remember to list the removed item in your property settlement if advised to do so.

10. Start documenting vital information
There are a few ways to do this: you can grab yourself a notepad and pen, allow your lawyer to do the work for you, or you can download Hello Mojo’s documenting app, a quick and easy mobile-based app designed to get you started on the right foot, keep you organised and get everything on the record — communication, vital information and evidence — start to finish. 

Either way, here’s what you need to know about documenting:

First things first, make a decision on how you wish to document.

If you choose to use a WORD doc ensure that the track changes function is turned ON, and always have a backup copy.

You will need a hard copy folder for printouts and other evidence.

Start documenting from today onwards. Don’t worry if you have missed documenting vital information, communication and evidence already – you will get to this in time (just don’t delete the SMS and email messages until you have copies on file). Make a few bullet points of past events if you think you will forget.

What to document? Note down important dates (like your separation date), and the details leading up to your separation (use only facts and non-emotive language). Do a personal profile for the adults and children in your family (i.e. names, DOB, address, employment, salary etc.). Keep copies of important communication both in and out (i.e. email, SMS, phone logs etc.), vital information, monies in and out, serious incidents (i.e. domestic abuse etc.), commitments made (i.e. a promise by one parent to take the children to the park and then that parent doesn’t show etc), and all matters relating to the children. It also a good idea to note down what assets and debts you and your ex brought to the relationship and what contributions either party made to them throughout the relationship. Lastly, make a quick list of your personal contributions (think: income, household admin, taking care of children etc) during the relationship and also right now.

Make documenting a daily ritual from here on in. Record by date and time. Attempt to link any conversations had over multiple communication channels. Always keep your documents in a safe location. I know this sounds overwhelming — but, you’ve got this!

If you’re on a roll, here are a few extras to add to your list:

11. Seek legal advice
It’s a good idea to research your options for legal representation as well as a number of firms before signing up. For a list of interview questions you should ask legal firms, check out my ebook, 5 Separation and Divorce Hacks.

12. Property
If you have property held in joint names, or just in your ex’s name it’s advised that you get some advice about what needs to happen, if property is held in your partner’s name, to prevent it being sold before the property settlement.

13. Wills
On the subject of legal advice – start thinking about updating your will, POA, healthcare directives, superannuation beneficiary nominations and life insurance policy.

14. Sorting out your living arrangements
> Discuss what is going to happen with regards to your living arrangements or seek alternative accommodation, if necessary. Always make your safety the top priority and contact authorities if you have any concerns about domestic violence.
> Update your rental agreement: if your name is on the lease then you can be liable for any unpaid rent or damage caused by your spouse or ex.
> Update your utility bills: if your name is on the account then you can be liable for any unpaid bill.

IMPORTANT FOR EXPATS: If you live abroad, immediately seek advice on how The Hague Convention Treaty may affect what you can and can’t do.

If you’re currently facing the reality of a breakup, separation, divorce, co-parenting journey or are a victim of domestic abuse, the Hello Mojo app is now available on the App Store in Australia, USA and UK — and in Australia on Google Play (coming soon to USA and UK). It will help you get started and document absolutely everything so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. Let Hello Moo help you to secure your best possible outcome. 

Download on the App Store

Download on Google Play


For more support, download my ebook, 5 Separation & Divorce Hacks for loads more tips and information on getting started.

You’re doing just fine. Take it one day at a time. And remember, be especially kind to yourself.

Love,






Annie Kendall
Founder | Hello Mojo

 

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Her Blog

It’s no secret: the first few weeks (and sometimes months) of a separation or divorce can feel like a never ending cycle of really, really bad days.

Suddenly, everything is unknown. And, if you’re like me, crying becomes your new conversation starter.

Is this really happening to me?
What am I going to do now?
Who am I supposed to be if I’m not with them?
What about our dreams and plans?
What am I supposed to tell the children?

It would be brilliant if we had superpowers that allowed us to bypass this stage of a breakup. But alas, no can do.

Right now, you’re probably overwhelmed by your unfolding situation, the needs of your children, legal advice, and the arrival of many unknown and highly volatile emotions. Yes?

So, the idea that you’d have time, or even the ability, to prescribe regular self-care at this stagehmm, it’s right up there with the idea that pigs may fly!

Well: so far, so normal. (I know because I’ve been there.)

For everyone else (happily married or happily single): a bad day may come along once or twice a year. And when it does, don’t we hear about it! These folk certainly know how to make hay while the sun shines. They go wild for treatments that pamper and soothe their soul. And, in no time at all: a three-day yoga retreat, colonics, a green juice and a few massages later they are fully revived, refreshed and ready to take on the world. (I know, I’ve been there too!)

So, why is it that when we’re going through a separation or divorce – one of the toughest experiences we can ever go through – self-care is as far from our minds as possible?

We don’t prioritise it and we certainly don’t give ourselves permission to have those ever so important me-time moments very often, if at all.

Perhaps the idea of self-care has not even crossed your mind? You view it as a selfish act at such a difficult and financially pressing time of life? You feel guilty? You’re fearful of not being able to attend to so many other more pressing matters? I could go on and on.

What is self-care?

Self-Care: “refers to actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.” – according to Wikipedia.

Well, I’d give myself a D+ with regards to how I dealt with self-care throughout my journey. My excuse: I had a baby and a toddler to take care of. They needed me.

In hindsight, my choice not to dish out self-care on a regular basis (although my excuse was absolutely valid) left me feeling emotionally and physically drained, stressed and angry most of the time. I gave myself no space or time around the avalanche of emotions to step back and reflect on what had happened or to focus on the benefits of consciously uncoupling and choosing how I wanted this experience to play-out.

Had I committed to a daily dose of self-care, I would’ve been a much more present mama, daughter, sister and friend. I would’ve dealt with a number of things differently.

And, (here’s the winning ticket) I know I would’ve come out the other side of divorce much faster than I actually did.

So, listen up: making time for self-care is uber important throughout your separation or divorce. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It’s absolutely OK to take time out for you, especially now. Don’t feel that you need to justify it – not to yourself, not anyone. You need this time as much as your family needs you to have it. Let all the painful or angry thoughts (and voices) in your head take a bathroom break.

And…get back in touch with YOU.

So, I want to share with you some of the ways that you can focus on your self-care each day. Ideas that don’t cost the world (or in fact anything at all) and certainly don’t require much preparation or indeed a three-day retreat to achieve results.

1. Get a dose of nature. Sit in your garden & simply admire the beauty of nature. Breathe. Zoom in on a bird gliding by, a beautiful flower or a ant going about his busy day. And remember: thank Mother Earth for all that she provides you. Here’s 11 cool scientific reasons that proves nature relaxes.

2. Take a bath with gorgeous essential oils and Epsom salts, and listen to some relaxing music or a meditation. When Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water, the magnesium is absorbed through the skin to help replenish magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium helps promote a feeling of calm and relaxation. It also increases energy and reduces irritability. Here are some tips to get started: HERE

3. Re-live your childhood. Think of 3 things you loved doing as a child and re-visit them. Think swimming at the beach, swinging on a swing at the park, or painting – that’s a big one. Painting and having a creative outlet can be like a form of meditation. It can lower your heart rate, reduce your stress and energise your spirit. You don’t have to be creative. You just have to give yourself permission to be the beginner. Here are some great steps to get started.

4. Star gaze. Lie down and just stare up at the stars. This can help put things in perspective.

5. Time for an e-tox! That’s right, a detox of all things electronic. Seriously: NO phone, NO computer and NO devices. If you really feel the need to, let people know the day before that you will be off the air or put a new voice mail on your phone. The true lesson here: it’s all about NOT feeling guilty. It’s OK (even liberating) to be uncontactable and not respond immediately. When you get this one right – you’ll feel a huge sense of freedom.

6. Rise & shine. Get the kids (or your bestie) up bright and early and drive to a vantage point to watch the sun rise. When you’re broken-hearted, depressed and feeling like the world is going to end, this is an awesome thing to do. Let the sun be your constant. It will always rise for you and bring with it a brand new day full of possibility.

7. An attitude of gratitude multiplies. The beginning stages of a split usually take you to quite a dark and lonely place. It may feel like there’s a hole in your heart and all the happiness and love have leaked out. Usually all you can think (and talk) about is your own pain and hurt. Well, let’s shake this up: turn your attention outward and do a random act of kindness for another. What you put out in the world you get back.

8. Live in the moment. Grab a cup of tea and then sit in your favourite spot. Center your thoughts on what you DO have in your life today. As difficult as things may be right now, try eliminating all thoughts about what you want or wish to have in your life, or where you think you would rather be. Consume your mind with being grateful for here, and now.

9. Pamper yourself. Look up a cheap and cheerful Thai place and get a loooong foot massage. Don’t use this hour of bliss as a counselling session – tell the therapist that you don’t wish to chit-chat. Caution: in the early days of your split when you’re super emotional, a massage can really stir things up: so watch out for this. And, drink plenty of water afterwards.

10. Connect with yourself. Spend the first 5 to 10 minutes of each day rolling your shoulders and neck, taking deep breaths, doing yoga, reciting a mantra or meditating. Get out of bed and put a little extra effort into how you look today. And, before breakfast drink a glass of hot water with lemon.

IMPORTANT: always have a box of tissues on hand during your time of self-care. If you feel like crying (which you probably will), just let the tears flow – don’t hold them in. Feel the emotion, experience the emotion and when you’re done, take a moment to breathe and reflect on how you feel now.

And…START TODAY


The best way to manage the stresses and strains of a separation or divorce is to practise self-care every single day.

It’s also worth your while to re-visit the Health and Well-Being section in my FREE e-book, 5 Separation and Divorce Hacks for loads of extra hints and tips.

If you’re currently facing the reality of a breakup, separation, divorce, co-parenting journey or are a victim of domestic abuse, there is now an app to help you document absolutely everything – information, communication and evidence – so you’re ready for whatever legal obligations that may arise.

Download on the App Store

Download on Google Play


I’d love to know your favourite self-care rituals too. Let me know in the comments below!

You’re doing just fine. Take it one day at a time. And remember, be especially kind to yourself.

Love,






Annie Kendall
Founder | Hello Mojo

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Her Blog

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, you guessed it: exactly the same applies when it comes to surviving a separation or divorce.

As early as possible, you need to begin assembling an A-list support team (let’s call them your entourage) to help you break-down, break-through and then move on from your breakup! Now, if you’re already well on the way to legal separation or divorce but still feel isolated or alone – this blog’s for you too!

What you need is a group of people who will act like a nice, cushy layer of bubble wrap – supporting you, guiding you and protecting you (and your children if you have them) from the pain and challenges surrounding separation or divorce.

Finding the right mix of people takes time and can be trial and error. Some might be on your team for a little while; others are in for the long haul. This is absolutely normal – so don’t take it personally if a few people drop out of the picture.

So, who’s in your entourage?
There are those you need to help manage your emotions:
  1. You need people who’ve been through loss and healed

  2. You need a sympathetic shoulder to cry on

  3. You need a professional that can listen and give you exercises to actively move you through your emotions

  4. You need people to soothe your soul and help you heal

Then there’s the crew you need for the practical stuff:
  1. Professionals who can guide you through the process – legally and financially

  2. Someone who isn’t emotionally attached to the situation

  3. Someone to straighten you out when you’re throwing a pity party

Some of us are blessed with a ready-made network of amazing extended families and incredible friends. Others may have some key people, but not all the bases covered. Whatever the case, believe me when I say you need to extend your network and start building your support team – because you can’t walk this journey alone.

Here are 10 tips to help you assemble your entourage

Emotional Support:
  • Carefully choose one or more of the following: a friend, relative, church leader, social worker, counsellor or professional that you can speak to on a regular basis for the purpose of downloading your emotions and heartache. Tell your story. Actively work through your emotions. Be open to personal growth and look inward at YOU during this process too. Don’t bottle things up and brew.

  • NOTE: be careful of people who thrive on drama, invite you to talk more than you want to or encourage you to embellish on reality. These people are not helpful and can set your healing process back a long way.


Legal & Financial:
  • Consider your options for legal representation.There are tips on how to do this in my e-book, 5 Separation and Divorce Hacks.

  • Reconnect with your accountant (or find a new one if there is a conflict of interest with your ex).

  • Find a financial mentor or advisor if you need support crunching the numbers or covering bills.

  • Make contact with a government support officer to discuss options and payments for single parents, children’s benefits or hardship.

  • Appoint a lawyer in the case a business is jointly-owned, or perhaps to get advice on protecting IP if you’ve discussed a new business venture or idea with your ex prior to separation.

  • Download Hello Mojo’s documenting app. It’s specifically designed to help you know where to  start the process, to help you document everything important along the way, and prepare for the unknown.


Mental Health:
  • Make an appointment with a counsellor, social worker, psychologist etc (government support agencies often have a list of professionals you can meet with free of charge). In some countries, doctors prescribe what they call Mental Health Plans to subsidize payment of private Mental Health professionals. Ask your doctor if this type of plan exists in your State.


Personal Safety:
  • If domestic abuse is present, it’s vital you have a police representative or domestic abuse officer on your case and continually updated. You should also have professional counselling support and get familiar with alternate accommodation facilities should you require them.

  • NOTE: domestic abuse covers more than just physical abuse. Conditions of domestic abuse include: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological abuse (including in person, on the phone, or via email or SMS), neglect, financial abuse (including withholding funds), stalking, harm to an animal or property, restricting your spiritual or cultural participation, or exposing children to the effects of these behaviours. Always seek support or advice from authorities if you have concerns.


Mentoring:
  • If no one within your family or friends springs to mind, search further afield for someone who may be sympathetic to your situation but emotionally unattached. The idea: they mentor you on being able to approach the legalities of your separation or divorce just like it’s a business transaction. They help you remove the emotion from the facts and figures of the legal process, and save you valuable time and tons of money. It’s always good to bounce ideas off someone (other than your legal representative) regarding the merits and cost of battling contentious issues – both for and against you.

  • Connect with someone who has been through a loss and healed. They can inspire you to see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe in love and happiness again.


Religious:
  • If you are in any way religious, or even if you’re not, think about becoming more connected with a place of worship. This can be invaluable in helping you through the dark days and difficult decisions.


Spiritual:
  • If it interests you, meeting with a spiritual reader or psychic may offer some comfort or hope at this difficult time of your life. It did for me!


Child Support:
  • Seek professional support for your children. Student counsellors at your child’s school may be able to offer support for free or point you in the right direction.


Health & Well-Being:
  • Contact a friend, neighbour, yoga studio or personal trainer to lock in some regular exercise times. Not only does exercise offer so many benefits for your body and mind, but also, you are likely to meet new friends along the way. It releases endorphins and helps promote a feeling of well-being you will most likely be struggling with.

  • Speak to a nutritionist or doctor about the most beneficial food & beverage choices – there’s a ton of science and research to support the fact that whole foods and healthy eating can dramatically affect our mood.

  • Write a list of people including your go-to hairdresser, skin and beauty salon, nail parlour, massage therapist, kinesiologist etc. People who can help you with self care and add a little more sparkle when you’re feeling down.


Empowerment:
  • Choose a few books or authors who can deepen your understanding about relationships, breakups and healing, and everything in between. Check out Breakup Emergency by Eris Huemer, or Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, or Life Code by Dr Phil.

  • Bookmark pod casts, TED talks and YouTube videos that inspire through others’ acts of kindness, triumphs over adversity and words of wisdom. This uplifting Youtube video features a disabled, female, muslim, comedian discussing how she overcame her challenges in life. OK, it’s totally unrelated to the subject of breakups but gives you perspective; it shows you how humour helps in difficult situations; it shows you that times can be tough but you CAN make it through – move forwards with strength, a positive attitude and determination. Or this Youtube video, for anyone who’s ever loved. Relationships expert Ester Petel examines a completely alternate point of view on infidelity. Opens your mind!

  • Join a positive online forum for support (but, of course, exit the group if it’s making you feel more depressed or idle in your journey).

Important to note: be aware that your family and close friends will live this entire separation and divorce alongside you. They love you. Their support will be genuine and unfailing. However, do keep in mind that they have a life to live as well. Attempt, as best you can, to have a laugh with them from time to time and let your positive ‘old-self’ shine through when possible so your situation doesn’t drain them, too.

So that leads me to my last point: make sure there is someone in your entourage who can make you laugh – out loud and A LOT. I know: it’s not easy to see anything funny in your situation at the start, but little by little you’ll find ways to lighten up. Laughter – and a good sense of humour are some of the best forms of medicine you can get on this journey. This is definitely a case of more is more!

To make things simple, download this My Entourage checklist. In no time at all you’ll be surrounding yourself with an awesome team of love, support and good advice.

 

I’d love to know your recommendation for books, resources, people, motivational courses, videos or blogs on the subject of relationships, breakups, healing or overcoming adversity. Let me know in the comments below!

If you’re currently facing the reality of a breakup, separation, divorce, co-parenting journey or are a victim of domestic abuse, there is now an app to help you document absolutely everything – information, communication and evidence – so you’re ready for whatever legal obligations that may arise.

Download on the App Store

Download on Google Play


For more support, download my FREE e-book, 5 Separation & Divorce Hacks. It’s packed with helpful tips and advice from those who’ve been right where you are now. It will help you go in the right direction faster, and less painfully.

You’re doing just fine. Take it one day at a time. And remember, be especially kind to yourself.

Love,






Annie Kendall
Founder | Hello Mojo

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