When it comes to helping women who are getting a divorce understand the financial, emotional, and legal implications, Second Saturday has the bases covered. Since its start in San Diego in 1989, the organization has provided workshops featuring professionals in those three fields to help women prepare for and cope with divorce. In fall of 2015, Cynthia Thompson formed a Dallas location at Unity of Dallas, gathering women for three hours once a month on the namesake Saturday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual divorce rate in Texas has decreased from 3.6 per 1,000 total populations in 2004 to 2.7 per 1,000 total population in 2014. This puts Texas below the national rate of 3.2 per 1,000 total population throughout the United States.
But while the rates may decrease, divorce is still an overwhelming topic, said Thompson, the founder of Divorce Planning LLC. According to her, money is almost always a point of concern. Second Saturday seeks to serve those women who have not had a hand in the household budgets, or aren’t fully aware of how their finances will be impacted by the dissolution of their marriage.
“Divorce is a huge change in your life and your identity,” said Dr. Susan Sturdivant, a therapist of more than 30 years. “I think it never occurs to people to do what I call financial engineering to minimize the financial impact of a divorce without harming the other party.”
The monthly meetings provide a support system throughout the marriage by providing lawyers, financial advisors, or psychologists, such as Sturdivant, to help women face various trials. While these professionals don’t provide advice directly, the information presented is general enough to empower, Thompson said.
“Sometimes it’s a horrifying and horrible opportunity to get a hold of your own financial information if it affects you,” Thompson said. “There are so many situations where spouses are in peril if they’re not the wage earner.”
One technique Thompson uses to help attendees get a handle on their finances is giving them a checklist. This list can include learning their present financial situation; keeping copies of statements, tax returns, and life insurance; checking their credit; and figuring out what the household budget is and what it will be when the divorce is finalized.
Character disorders — such as a difficult person who causes stress to other people — can be a large factor when determining equity of assets.
“With finances, these are the kind of people, they’ll have a meeting for mediation, and the other party is not going to keep the agreement,” she said. “Or when there are children and there are dates and times set up for visitation, [the party] won’t show up or show up late. It’s so sporadic that it drives the other person crazy.”
Another psychological pitfall of the financial aspect of divorce is the guilt factor. The person who initiates the divorce feels guilty and doesn’t want an adversarial relationship, and in the end they give up everything, Sturdivant explained.
“Therapy during divorce can be really helpful with those issues, and with understanding what went wrong,” she said. “We humans don’t like unfinished business. We have a situation or a relationship that doesn’t go well, and we’ll go out and pick someone similar so we can get it right this time.”