The Importance of Taking Care of Your Emotional Health by: Beth Riffe, attorney

If you find yourself experiencing extreme emotions as a result of your impending divorce or custody case, you’re not alone.  It is common for women to experience a jumble of emotions, including fear, shame, bitterness, anger, uncertainty or regret.  These feelings are all normal and natural reactions.  It is important for you to understand, however, the significant impact that your mental health can have on the outcome of your case.

Like many of the women we represent, you may be suffereing from low self-esteem.  This may be the result of years of emotional or physical abuse, or it may stem from the feeling that you’ve been rejected by the person you trusted most.  Whatever the cause, these feelings may have left you unsure of your ability to handle the challenges ahead, and you may simply want to settle things as quickly and amicably as possible.  However, the desire to avoid further conflict and heartache can lead you to make concessions on important issues that are difficult, if not impossible to undo later.  Or you may find yourself at the other end of the spectrum, so full of anger and hatred for your spouse that you can think of nothing else but making him pay for what he has put you through.  If left unresolved this anger can reult in a long, bitter battle.  In addition to the emotional tool this can take on both you and your spouse, such extended litigation can result in large bills for attorneys and court costs.

Taking the time to care for yourself mentally and emotionally can help you to avoid these negative outcomes.  Surround yourself with a support network of family and friends who can help you cope with the emotional challenges of your divorce or child custody case.  A clear head and renewed confidence will allow you to see beyond today’s challenges and chart a path to a better future for you and your children.


In case any of you were unaware, we are having a contest to give one lucky DAWN client a makeover valued at up to $500.  Jeffery Richard Salon, a premier Aveda salon on Wealthy, in Grand Rapids will be giving the lucky winner a new look.  Lee & Birch, a boutique that carries fabulous fashions for women will be supplying an outfit to give our winner a new style. If you have not entered as yet, don’t wait, enter today by going to our facebook page at, and click on the Win a Dawn Makeover button that is located at the upper right side of the page.  It will take you to the page to access the contest entry form and rules.  You may be our lucky winner and join us on 8 West on October 12th for a before/after reveal.

Every woman deserves to take care of herself.  Single moms are often working more than one job, many women juggle families and careers, but when a woman is going through a divorce she needs to be kind to herself.  A little pampering makes the stress a bit easier to handle, your self-confidence soars and you are ready to face a new life with a smile.  Enter our MAKEOVER CONTEST today and we may just pick you!


Initial Interviews Set The Stage For Your Divorce (By Matt Burns)

Divorce is scary, but for many women the prospect of beginning a divorce is the scariest part because of how it will affect their daily lives.  No longer will their husband be around, there will be days when the kids are gone and with their dad, and some women will need to go back to work for the first time in a long time.  Our goal is to help women through this time and the first step in that process is our initial interview with our prospective clients.  There is one thing that you can do to help yourself during the initial interview that will make things easier.  Be prepared to be open and honest when an attorney is asking questions about your marriage.

Many potential clients want an opinion on how their case looks from an initial interview and most attorneys will be happy to give an educated opinion based on the initial facts given by their client.  However, nothing derails that opinion faster than a piece of information that is withheld, or is completely wrong.  An example we see quite often is potential clients that are unaware of their families’ financial situation.  This is hard for many women because their husbands control the money and bills and their main focus is protecting their children.  Do not be afraid to tell an attorney that you do not know about income or marital bills because your husband controls them.  Attorneys are trained to be objective advocates for their clients.  A good attorney will not judge your morals, actions or inactions and if they do you have the right not to choose him or her as your attorney.  It is always easier to prepare a good case, and advocate for you when the clients are completely candid and we can know of any potholes that might come up in our smoothly planned road.

The main theme of the initial interview is information.  We need the information to represent you and represent you well.  By being open and honest we can prepare for short-term issues like temporary child and spousal support, while also keeping an eye on the long-term goal of getting you through this process in a position to move on with your life.  With this in mind, an initial interview should be helpful, informational and leave you with a sense of relief about your future.

WOTV4 Women’s Network Night

Last night, I had the pleasure of working at the first WOTV4 Women’s Network Night.  What a great evening!  It was amazing to see over 200 women who had started or were starting their own businesses.  GROW was there to assist and give mini-seminars to the participants.

As anyone who has gone through a divorce knows, starting over and standing on your own two feet can seem like a mountainous goal.  Seeing and speaking to hundreds of women who have achieved the goal was a testament to the flexibility, strength and endurance of women!  If you are a woman in West Michigan who is divorced, seeking a divorce, or thinking about it, put GROW in your back pocket as a valuable resource for any woman wishing to be their own boss and achieve independence.  We are very lucky in Kent county to have such a great resource.

Divorce Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Credit

It’s unfortunate, but many women face debt and credit problems soon after a divorce. A struggle to pay bills, raise a family, or reestablish yourself are signs that it’s time to give considerable attention to your own credit standing. Rebuilding your life and credit score go hand-in-hand.

Without good credit, it’s nearly impossible to purchase a car or house. It may even be difficult to rent a home or apartment. And in today’s world, your credit score may mean the difference in landing a new job or ending up in the unemployment line longer than you expected.

The truth is your ease of life can rise or fall within the boundaries of your credit score. If you haven’t already starting rebuilding your credit, the following tips can help place you back on the path to recovery.

  • Get a Feel for Your Credit Standing – A copy of your credit report is the best way to begin. is a safe and easy way to obtain your credit report from the three main credit bureaus. Make sure you thoroughly check the information contained within the report. If any errors are found, report them to the credit bureau. Once corrections have been made, the credit bureau will notify you and send an updated copy of your credit report.
  • Reestablish Your Credit – If your divorce left you wading in the water because everything was in your husband’s name, you’re long overdue to establish new credit. Your bank may offer a card with an acceptable rate, or, you can apply for credit at a local department store.
  • Avoid Late Bill Payments – Even if money is tight, the most important thing you can do is avoid late bill payments. If you’re in a situation where you have to prioritize bills, your rent or mortgage is most critical. A roof over your head takes priority over everything else. Then consider car loans, credit cards or any unsecured debts.
  • Exercise some restraint and a little common sense – The post-divorce period may not be the best time to buy a new vehicle or invest in a complete new wardrobe. Learn to cut corners and spend money where it will do the most good—paying down your debts.

Remember, a divorce doesn’t have to signal the end of the world. Keep your wits about you and have faith that your challenges are only temporary. Life can and will get better.

Sure Signs Your Marriage May Be Headed for the Rocks

Being paranoid about your husband isn’t always a good thing. However, there may be signs of marital problems that are too obvious to deny. If they’re addressed in time, you might be able to save your marriage before it reaches the point of no return.
The following signs could mean your marriage is in trouble:

  • No Sign of Tension – No sign of tension is a good thing if your marriage has always been that way. However, if you’ve stopped communicating, it could mean you’ve both moved into a phase where not talking is a mutual relief. It could also mean that one or both of you have given up on trying to be understood.
  • Failure to Show Respect – A lack of respect is apparent when there’s no longer a desire or attempt to address and solve issues. If your husband has stopped showing you respect, it could mean he no longer sees you as an equal.
  • Cheating – A spouse cheats when dealing with feelings of anger, low self-esteem, boredom or discord. When this happens you can both seek marriage counseling, or worse, file for divorce. Once a spouse has drifted down that forbidden road, there has to be a strong professional remedy in place to save the marriage.
  • Lack of Intimacy – When there’s no longer an interest in sex, and the reasons aren’t physical, it could be a sign your marriage is headed for the rocks. Couples, quite often, will avoid talking about this issue due to a feeling of shame or the fear of rejection. A good relationship coach may be able to help you discover the causes.
  • No Quality Time for Each Other – Are either of you spending too much time on the job? Have the children consumed your lives? It’s easy for you and your husband to lose the connection—and just as difficult to get it back even when the kids have grown up and moved out on their own.

No one said life was going to be easy. There are challenges around every bend. Your husband and you will either recognize and solve potential problems or drift apart and wait for the marriage to smash and splinter against the rocks of adversity.

The Far-Reaching Effects of Divorce on Women

A number of studies conclude the far-reaching effects of divorce for women are more powerful and negative than for men. It affects women on a deeper emotional and financial level.

Women Face a Financial Effect
While there are many women who work, there are still wives that choose to stay home and raise a family. Their sacrifice is a major contribution to the well-being of the family as a whole. Divorce, for a woman who manages the home, can cause deep financial distress due to loss of her husband’s salary as a main source of income. On average, a divorced woman has less income than a married woman. And while there are certain variable that may account for this, all women face significant economic challenges outside the marriage.

Women Experience Health-Related Issues
As previously stated, women face a different level of emotional and financial distress, which can lead to mental distress and psychological problems. These problems can occur immediately after a divorce and up to a decade or more afterward. The sustained level of stress can cause a myriad of health problems that may not show until years later.
Women usually take custody of the children, which can result in financial burden. Single women also tend to earn less than single men while often working at the same jobs for lower pay. Divorce, for men, often means more freedom and less responsibility.

The Far-Reaching Effects of Divorce on Society
Divorce also has a national economic effect that increases the taxpayer’s burden in a number of ways. In the United States, the percentage of single mothers in need of government assistance has risen almost 17 percentage points in the past 50 years. It’s believed that single-family households account for nearly 25 percent of the entire population. And mothers may account for 90 percent of the single-parent population. Ultimately, the government has to spend more money on health care services for single parents as a result.

If you’re a woman faced with the prospect of filing for divorce in West Michigan, contact DAWN (Divorce Attorneys for Women). We’ve helped women defend their legal rights for over 30 years. Our attorneys are experienced and compassionate. They can help you to take the initial step toward a new life. Contact DAWN today.

Filing for a Divorce? Make Sure Your Networks Remain Intact

A divorce can easily turn a woman’s life upside down. Everything about her existence can change, literally, overnight. For the husband, the only thing that changes in many cases is his address and phone number. And a divorce can be especially tough for a woman raising a family.

While there will be a million options to consider, there are several things you can do to get back on your feet as quickly as possible:

  • Keep Your Social Network Intact – An intact social network or family members may be able to provide a lifeline when the worst happens. A network of friends can provide a place to rest and recover for your family while you get back on your feet. Your network can be a trusted source that keeps an eye on your children while you work to pay the mortgage.
  • Stay Connected with Your Professional Network – Your professional network is just as important as your social network. Even if you’re no longer at your job, the contacts in your professional network can grow. Communicate on a monthly basis with those who can help. Remember, they care.
  • Keep Polishing Your Skills – Polished and up-to-date skills can keep you in the employment loop. Consider taking night or day classes to keep your credentials on par with the demands of today’s world. Education is always a tool that can further your knowledge and provide you with opportunities to network with professionals in your field of interest.

Contact the professionals at (DAWN) Divorce Attorneys for Women today for a free initial consultation.