The Common Mistakes That People Make When Going Through a Divorce and How to Avoid Making Them,
An Interview with Cat Blake
Catharine Blake comes from 20 plus years as a child and family psychotherapist. She turned to training as a Divorce Coach after going through her own high conflict divorce. Catharine coaches those contemplating, going through and post-divorce. Her specialties include Co-parenting, Healing from Abuse, Blended Families; as well as Dating. Catharine is the leader of the D.Source Team, located in the North Shore of Massachusetts. This team includes attorneys, mediators, child therapists, real estate agents, and divorce financial advisors who understand the complexities of the divorce process. She empowers her clients by being warm and non-judgmental. At the same time, she is an accountability partner and helps her clients confront their behaviors and thoughts that are making their divorce more painful.
Cat Blake was interviewed by Divorceify Co-founder, Sonia Queralt.
Sonia: How do you help people through the divorce process?
Cat: I am a certified divorce coach and I come to it after 20 plus years of being a child and family psychotherapist. Many families were bringing their children in with anxiety and depression symptoms. I would come to discover that for a lot of these families, divorce was somewhere on the horizon. At that point, I went back into the research and I realized there was a severe shortage of knowledge around the divorce process. I could not offer concrete guidance on how to navigate their divorce well and keep their family as intact as possible. I, myself, went through a high conflict divorce 10 years ago and I realized that I had wasted a lot of money because I made many mistakes that I will later share with you. So, I came out the other end with an intense desire to help people with divorce. I now have a full-time practice coaching people who are either contemplating, going through or post-divorce.
Sonia: What are some of the common mistakes that people make when going through a divorce?
Cat: The first one, which is a very common one, is betting it all on a new relationship. Now some of these mistakes might seem obvious in real life; but are something very different when dealing with legal process of divorce. But of course this is when somebody just gives it all away in the divorce agreement because they’re already invested in a new relationship. They might mistakenly believe that their new partner is going to be taking care of them. I witnessed one woman end up homeless with her children after her relationship fell apart a year after her divorce agreement.
Cat: The second one is throwing in the towel. Here I always explain to my clients that divorce is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s a long and lengthy process. Just like how somebody is running a race and they have to take breaks and get water, I highly encourage people to take breaks from thinking about the divorce. People can get exhausted by the process, get to the end and give in to everything that their ex is asking for. They are exhausted and tired! So it’s important to keep your reserves and energy up, practice some self-care, get into your good logical thinking so that you are intelligent decisions when you get to the final divorce agreement.
Cat: The third one is wanting guarantees and certainties. I always remind my clients that there is life post-divorce and because of this, your agreement should have a certain level of flexibility built in. When you dig your heels in and you want detailed guarantees, the problem is that sometimes the decision making power gets handed to the attorneys or it goes to the judge because you’re not willing to be a little bit flexible. This includes the ‘I don’t want my ex. to being any significant others around the kids for ___ years.’ I ask my clients – what happens if you meet somebody?
Cat: Number four is abdicating decision making responsibilities. I think that one of the scariest parts of getting through divorce is people don’t actually understand the legal process and it differs from state to state. So frequently I have people come in and they’ll say something like, “Well, I’m just going to give into that agreement because once I’m in front of the judge, the judge is going to see how bad it is.” I tell them that the judge doesn’t know them. The judge has somany cases that they’re dealing with. You’re just another person out of thousands that the judge may see – so do your work prior to being seen in front of the judge. Also, remember that your attorney works for you – but is not your decision maker! Your attorney might inform you that you can obtain a lot of financial resources from your ex. – but how might that impact your co-parenting relationship? It really has to be decisions that make sense for you as an individual.
Cat: The next one is listening to the wrong people. It is of utmost importance to have support. You should have a tribe around you as you’re getting through this transition . However, you also have to keep in mind that your friends are protective of you and they’re going to support you in your anger. This can often backfire. Sometimes it leaves you feeling more emotional, more angry, more vengeful, and more set on “winning” your court case. This also is not physically healthy for you. Did you know that every single time you retell your divorce story that it sends your body into Fight-or-flight mode? It can take two hours for your body to settle down to baseline. When we are walking around in an inflamed state for long periods of time this increases our chances of serious health risks.
Cat: The last common mistake that people make when going through a divorce is having the mentality that it is their way or the highway. Again, the problem with taking this position is it can drag out the legal process and end up costing more money. Again, the attorneys will take over and they’ll end up making the decisions for you. Here in our court, we often see the judge telling a couple to go out in the hallway and figure it out. They become very frustrated when they see that one party is not being flexible.
Sonia: What is the one piece of advice that you give to all of your clients?
Cat: You’re not alone. Often my client are so terrified and afraid to put it out there – that they are dealing with divorce. People will isolate and sit by themselves with their shame, guilt and grief. This is why we run community events both in-person and virtually – so that people can hear from others what their experience was like. Many of my clients, say that is the most helping component of our program!