Divorce: A little help from friends

When your friend is going through a divorce, they’ll need help. Sure, they’ll need hugs (and maybe an adult beverage of choice). They’ll benefit, too, though, from the practical help of a trustworthy friend. What can you do? Glad you asked. Here’s a breakdown:

Consider the kind of help she’s going to need, as well as the kind of help you’re able (and capable) to give. If you’re a numbers person, ready yourself for the paperwork piles. If you have a knack for spending time with children, offer to babysit so mom gets a break. A trip to the library with the little ankle-biters means the divorcing parent gets solo time. Or, alternatively, tour alongside the family and take photos of the parent with their children. I hear from mothers and fathers alike that there is a gap of years with very few photos alongside their children. With the other parent absent, no one’s taking pictures (save for an awkward-armed selfie here or there).

In the financial and paperwork realm, get to know what your friend is going through. It’s a ton of paperwork. For starters, they’ll probably have to fill out this. And about 20+ pages of supporting documents. Look at that- three years of financial records. Pages and pages of debts, assets, retirement accounts, and records to back it all up. Grab some office supplies and ask to make a date to help sort through the stacks. Be ready to drive, walk, bike, or whatever, with her to the bank to collect records. Be ready to lend your printer, your thumb drive, your ear, all of it. 

Have a knack for real estate or research? Help her find an apartment. Consider the number of rooms. Consider the boundaries for her children’s school district. Know that she probably can’t move 25 miles away or more with the children. We have a network of qualified realtors and are happy to help with recommendations. See: Nicole or Joanne.

Do you have money and she needs money? Let’s think logical here. A gift of flowers or chocolates might not make sense. They’re a romantic reminder, and can stir up rumors in the office. Why not send a gift card for a ride share (we like Via) or CTA / Metra?  

Remind her of the basics: Change your email passwords, as well as anything linked to privacy or safety. Think hard before sharing on social media, and comb through that friends list with a skeptical eye. As a favorite housewife once declared: “Say it, forget it. Write it, regret it.” (We still think you should watch what you say. But written word is particularly important.

Our thoughts thus far has been for helping a friend who’s divorcing and has an attorney. What to do if they don’t? Well, tread lightly: your advice can cost. Too many gifts start to look like a stream of income. Too many nights crashing on your couch starts to look like a cohabitation relationship. We’ve seen it all, which is why a wise choice is to speak with an attorney for at least a consultation. Use your network of friends to ask for attorney recommendations. I suggest your friend does thorough research and finds the kind of attorney they like. Consider mediation. Consider Collaborative Law. Know that the average retainer will begin around a few thousand dollars. And why? Because it’s worth it. Because this is your future, and the quality and experience of an attorney makes a world of difference.

A family law attorney should walk prospective clients through child support and spousal support scenarios. These types of relief are available before divorce is final.


Our office walks clients through divorce step by step. Reach out to the qualified attorneys by message or phone: (312) 451-9358 to schedule a consultation.


Next up in our series is Divorce: The Process.


This post is original content by Katherine Holmes, Gipe Holmes PC

June 7, 2018