Getting Unstuck in the Divorce Process



So many people dread dealing with the divorce agreement or settlement.

I mean, let’s be honest, it’s where you basically feel like you’re fighting for what you’re entitled to after having been married to this person for however long.

And a lot of emotions bubble up that can create anger or resentment or even just apathy.


And for many, their lawyers may also inadvertently even cause friction during this phase, egging you on in one way or another.

But there is an entirely different way to divorce depending on your circumstances.

And that’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode of the Divorce Etcetera Podcast.


We’re the ex experts, Jessica and TH, although TH isn’t here with us today, so I’m flying solo.

We help you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life.

And on that note, I’d like to introduce today’s guest Heather McKenzie, the Co founder and president of Hello Divorce.


You may have heard our other prior recording with the other Co founder Erin Levine.

And if you haven’t, it’s Season 2 episode 48 titled Is DIY Divorce a Real Possibility?

And Heather is going to help explain why.

Yes it is, and give some great advice on how to get unstuck in your divorce.


Welcome Heather.

Thanks for being here.

Hi, Jessica.

It’s so great to be here.

Thanks for having me on.

Thank you so much for taking the time.

So I feel like we need to kind of start off by addressing the whole DIY situation because so many people out there like, I don’t think have heard about it and don’t know exactly what that means.


You see like an ad on a billboard that’s like get divorced for $150.00 and like that’s not exactly what you like.

You’re doing a little divorce.

You’re a you’re a little skeptical.

I’m a little skeptical.

When I see an ad that says get divorced for $150.00, it just doesn’t seem it’s uncomfortable.


I haven’t fees.

No, no.

And I will say that I think that that’s misleading.

Like with there’s certainly services that just spit out some forms after you put some information in, but you have no idea if the forms are correctly filled in.


You might not really know what to do.

With the court.

There’s local rules with the courthouses.

Court clerks can be grumpy and just reject your forms sometimes because they just do and so hell of a divorce is really.

I would not classify it as a strict DIY platform.


Yes, you can use our software and come and get all the forms that you need.

But the majority of the people that we help are basically off loading all of the things that most people would just pay a lawyer or a law firm to do for them.


Filling out forms, making sure the terms of their settlement agreement are incorporated in the right places where the court and their state might need it.

And we are basically taking that part of the divorce process and automating it, Yes.


But you also have the support of a team of experts to help you along the way wherever and whenever you need it.

And the difference, and this is how it saves money, is that it’s a la carte.

You are only paying for the services that you need.


And our most popular plans for divorce are our pro plan and our plus plan.

So we’re talking between 1500 and $2500 at a base, and that’s going to cover all of your divorce forms.

But also an expert divorce specialist who’s checking your forms, asking you questions, telling you what most people typically would do in this situation for their for their divorce.


And they’re managing the court for you.

Which is the best part about it, because you pretty much do not have to deal with the court at all.

If you’re in a state like an Illinois or another state that might require a court appearance, sure, you might have to show up in court.


But your account, your your divorce specialist is going to help you tell you what to expect.

And generally, that court appearance and uncontested divorce is simply going to be looking the judge in the eye and telling them that yes, you and your spouse did come to an agreement and everything is good, good, and you’re ready to get a divorce.


So it’s really like a hybrid.


It’s a hybrid and the reason we have set it up this way and you know since the last time you talked to Aaron, I think we’ve added a lot of other expert services to our platform is because we’re really finding and I know you talked to your guests about this, a lot that people are choosing sometimes they’re kind of being misled on the right experts for their certain situation.


They can’t tell you how many times people automatically assume that if they’re trying to figure out child support or amount of spousal support that might work for them, or even trying to figure out what to do with their marital home in a divorce, the first instinct they have is, oh, a lawyer can help me with that, right?


And Aaron, my Co founder is a lawyer and one of my best friends.

And she’ll be the first to tell you that lawyers don’t go to law school because they love math.

And treating a lawyer like an accountant, which is probably more of the right expert for those different situations that I just outlined, is not the right strategy.


They’re going to be able to tell you what the law says.

And generally speaking, the law is in your state is going to say it’s a Community property state or it’s an equitable distribution state, one of those two things.

And that’s the guideline of that law in your state.


And they’re going to tell you that that doesn’t really help you understand, like, what’s my budget going to be after my divorce?

Can I really afford keeping my home?

How do I get money to buy my spouse out?

What amount of money is not that I’m entitled to necessarily for like a spousal support award, but what do I actually need?


It’s like get myself off, you know, up off my feet in this thing.

And so we have CDF as who I know you guys have on your podcast who are certified divorce financial experts.

You can pay them by the hour to help you with that part.

We have mediators to help you get unstuck if you need.


You need to come to an agreement.

We have divorce coaches.

If you can’t figure out whether or not you should be getting a divorce or want to, or what your life’s going to look like after and this way you end up just buying the services that you need as you go along and pretty much can move through your divorce.


I mean, we clear 97% of cases who come to us, even if they come to us without an agreement or not knowing if they’re going to come to an agreement into an unconvested divorce using this method.


So the question I think for people before I want to get into some of your like great advice with the words to how not to get stuck in.

It all is like for someone, there are people out there who it’s just going to have to go to court.

It’s going to be a court battle.


There are difficult personalities that exist.

There are people just can’t so, so this platform it real you have to have certain circumstances.

You have to be in a situation where you and your soon to be ex have agreed on basically some kind of a mediated negotiated agreement or settlement because that’s not even what your service is doing.


You’re not going back and forth and figuring out the details of the settlement.

They you have to kind of be able to do it on your own.

Actually, that’s not true.

Yes, we have people and I think a while ago when we first started, yes, we were like, OK, use our platform.


You need to basically have like the understanding of kind of what you want to do in your divorce.

But now because we have all these, this expert help, it’s changed a lot.

And I mean Jessica, I know you know that in most cases, in most States and I write the divorce software for all the states that we’re in, we’re in 12 states.


We’re getting ready to launch in the 13th very soon.

We actually have automated marital settlement agreement for all 50 states, which I wrote myself as well.

But the divorce process almost always begins with some kind of petition or complaint that’s expressing one person’s wishes in the divorce.


The way we like to set that up when you’re using our service is we reserve a lot of those major decisions or opinions for later on in the process.

So instead of me saying I want this, this, this and this at the very beginning of my divorce, you’re going to say basically I’m hoping to come to an agreement with my spouse by the end of this divorce and you’re starting that divorce paperwork.


Then you almost always have to do some kind of financial disclosure or affidavit in your divorce.

That’s not controversial.

It’s just information out.

These first two steps, you have to do these forms.

So when the when it comes time and we do have contested cases that end up being contested and going to litigation that come through our platform, but those people have already gotten 2/3 of their divorce done and they might only be litigating, they might be litigating everything.


There’s certainly those messy divorces, right?

That note that one spouse is just not going to come to an agreement and that is absolutely true and we will refer you out to an awesome litigator if that happens at that case.

But sometimes people agree on almost everything and only need to litigate like one or two issues.


There’s just one or two things that they get stuck on.

So you can actually get all the way through our platform and maybe you only have to litigate one or two things in court that you can’t agree on.

And you still ended up making 80% of your divorce, Like, not as contentious as it could have been and.



Ton of money.


Ton of money.

Because that’s The thing is, we don’t believe that you should be paying a lawyer to prepare all of these beginning forms when there’s no controversy in them.

There’s just really, no, you’re not, you’re not messing yourself up by starting your divorce process without an attorney almost 100% of the time, you know, And that’s that’s kind of where we’re sitting with this is, I say to clients a lot, the only thing you have to do to know to use our platform in the beginning is that you’d like to come to some kind of agreement with your spouse and you’re hoping that that’s going to be out of court.


And if it changes during the process, you still save probably at least 50% in your divorce cost and will help you find an expert to help you get through the end of it.

And depending on where you live, that 50% can be an enormous sum of money.


So anything.

You can do to save money.

Yeah, like like we hear all the time.

Like I paid $5000 retainer to my attorney and I haven’t even seen a petition yet.

Like my retainer is $5000.

Is like nothing, I mean I think that right.


My initial retainer was more like 20,000, but right and you know.

In New York, NY is a kind of safe and I totally understand why your perspective in New York is like so litigant and I know Aaron talked about this a lot too.

New York is a state that’s really contention.


Like if if you don’t start your process in New York specifically without an agreement, it’s automatically contested in the court.

That’s just how they classify it.

So it’s a little bit different, but most states, you can start an uncontested divorce process with the hope that it’s going to be uncontested.


But if it ends up being contested at the end, that’s OK it it can switch that way, and you can litigate the few issues that you can’t agree on.

Right, right.


I’m going to just pause here for a moment, take a quick break.

Hey everyone, it’s TH here.

We know you’re listening to the Divorce Etcetera podcast because you are touched by divorce in one way or another.


What if I told you that I know where you could go to work with a trusted professional, save time, money, and heartache, all while moving through your divorce process?

Sounds too good to be true, right?

But it’s not.

Thanks to one of our trusted ex experts.

Hello Divorce will help you avoid a long and expensive divorce process.


Co Founded by our friend and family law specialist Erin Levine.

Hello, Divorce is an award-winning platform that has helped thousands of people skip the courtroom and confidently navigate their divorce from start to finish.

When I was getting a divorce and in the process, I needed a trusted professional to hold my hand and teach me how I could get through my divorce without going broke.


Like many of you today, I was lost and scared and wanted someone who understood me and my situation.

The importance of having a trusted connection with a qualified professional is paramount.

Call Hello Divorce today to schedule a free consultation and save $100 off your flat fee divorce.


Visit to learn more.

The Hello Divorce process meets you where you are, whether you’re thinking about it or somewhere in the middle.

Let’s reduce the stress and save you money so you can build a better life for yourself and your family.


When we got divorced from our exes, not not Heather and I, but TH and I, we hope that someone would take us by the hand to make sure that we didn’t make any mistakes with our kids, dealing with our ex, with our friends in negotiating the settlement, anything dating, you name it.

But you’re in luck.


Because just like building X experts for you, we also created a divorce rulebook where we share what we wish we knew back then so you don’t make the same mistakes that we did.

If you want your copy, all you have to do is visit

That’s E and it’s right there for you.


The link is also in the show notes.

Because you don’t know what you don’t know, but we do.


So I want to get back to the conversation, particularly with regards to like you know what some of the biggest concerns are for your clients that come to Hello Divorce so that everyone listening can kind of understand whether or not, you know, they can relate to it, understand they’ve been there too.



Well, number one, like can you really get divorced online?

You already alluded to that.

Can you really do it online?

Like skepticism, like the price difference alone?

Like it makes you feel like you’re gonna have like a jalopy experience versus like a you know, does like, fancy.






No one wants to lobby divorce.

So, so the first thing, that’s the first thing and I think the way we’re so different is we care so much about our clients and our customers.


Our customer service is amazing and if you’ve ever had any dealing with a lawyer or even trying to do your own forms at a court, it is not a customer service driven experience.

You could be waiting for two weeks, 3 weeks to hear from an attorney to get back to you.


You know you’re paying hundreds of dollars just for them thinking about you basically and writing you an e-mail.

And again, this is not to knock attorneys because there are so many well meaning attorneys out there and and and great attorneys, but that’s just how their pricing model is set up.


It’s just it’s an hourly model, right where you’re going to build everything you’re paying.


Something exactly and that’s just how the and and they’re local.

So they don’t have like the national reach.

So we have economies of scale.

We you are assigned your your divorce specialist within like that business day or the next business day.


Most of our clients are filing their forms within the week that they sign up.

You get your forms delivered to you within seconds of filling them out, and you can start your divorce basically in 10 minutes.

And like I mentioned before, you don’t have to have it all figured out at this point.


You can really just be like, I want a divorce, I want this process to start and I’m ready.

And then you can take a breath because I think that that’s the biggest barrier is the hardest part of divorce, in my opinion, is actually making that decision to get a divorce in the first place.


And once you right, like, that’s the mental, like, burden.

And then if you haven’t done anything about it, it just sits on you like this giant elephant on your shoulders.

And you can’t shake it, ’cause you’re walking around knowing that you want a divorce, but you’re stuck.


And so that’s like the number one tip that I have is you don’t have to go and interview 20 million lawyers and pay a retainer and then wait a month and have your meeting to just get yourself started because you don’t have to have those major decisions made.


Nothing is final when you start your divorce.

It’s only final once it goes to court and you both sign it.

So I think that’s the number.

Wait, I just.

Want to be understand, like people listening, like just starting your divorce.

Nothing is final.

I mean, that’s what the whole process is all about, going through it, figuring out what’s the best fit for both sides.


So you don’t have to feel locked in in the very beginning.

But to your point, Heather, I think it’s about like once you finally made that decision, kind of not losing your momentum, it takes a lot of strength and a lot of gumption to like be able to move forward and progress with divorce.


So when you finally do make that decision that that’s where you’re going, like then you just want to do it.

So you don’t want to kind of get stuck, been held back because you’re waiting for things?


It’s just and also Jessica, just build resentment.

Again, more resentment against your spouse.


You’re already probably you might not be in a great communication place already.

Maybe it’s the opposite.

Maybe you’re actually in a really good place with your spouse and you’re kind of agreeing about a lot of stuff.

That’s another reason that you might want to go ahead and start the process and get through some of those decisions on paper, because things can change over time.


That’s another concern that people have.

Like, what if we’re agreeing now, but later on we start not agreeing about things and that’s where.

That’s when our experts will come in off of our platform and it’s like, OK, we I thought we knew what we were going to do with the house, but we looked at the finances and now everything’s changing and I feel like it’s crumbling around me.


Well that one way how a divorce will get you unstuck is first of all, we have a free tool called a a home Equities calculator.

So basically it goes through and tells you all the different options you could have for your financing your home after a divorce.


And it calculates the amount of money each spouse will get.

And you can then hop on a phone call with I know and you can.

It’s new.

It’s brand new.

We’re so excited about it.

And you can hop on a free call for 30 minutes with our real estate divorce advisor and he is a CDFA.


And he will walk you through all of the different options you have.

Because it’s not just by buy out or sell, it’s there’s tons of different options for your home.

And I know that’s on a lot of people’s minds.

It’s a reason a lot of people don’t get divorced.

That’s right.


The money.


Is a probably the number one reason that people don’t get divorced, not even because of the kids.

There are a lot of people that will be like, well, we’ll stay together until the kids are out of the house.

But it’s the financial concern, mainly on women’s parts.

Like, I need to say this unhappy marriage because I don’t feel like I can absolutely to live on my own.



Well, that’s a great point to Jessica because I I do a ton of our info calls and we do these free 15 minute info calls so you can like toe dip in.

It’s, you know, no pressure.

We’re not selling you a divorce.

We’re not divorce pushers.

We’re just telling you like about the process and about your options.


But so many women call me and they’re worried because they may not have been.

And I know this happens to men too, but they may not be the one who’s in the finances and that’s just not how they split their marital duties.

And they’re worried that they have a huge disadvantage because maybe their husband’s in finance.


Maybe they just are always the one paying the bills, maybe they’re the one doing the investment.

And at that point, that fear can hold you back too.

And that’s where I would say go meet with the CDFA, because we we hire our Cdfas.

So they will explain things to you specifically for you in the language that you’re comfortable with, so that you have a strategy and a good working knowledge of your finances going into a divorce, and that CDFA can recommend different ways you might split your finances.


You could take those ideas into mediation and discuss them with your spouse.

That all just gives you that empowerment that you’re not, because fear is the main thing that is going to mess you up and divorce.

And so if you’re worried that you don’t know more about the finances, you might get overly aggressive right with like your demands, which could take an uncontested divorce.


Not take it, but just make it more contested.

You know bad feelings, and then the person is going to be inclined to want to move forward in a productive way.


Or you might just feel like they’re trying to screw you over because you don’t know what you don’t know, and they may not be.


You know, and that’s that’s good information to know when you’re going in.

Knowledge is power.

Like getting in in an hour, meeting for $300.00 with a CDFA.

To have that, that financial confidence to move forward with your divorce, that is huge.


And a lawyer’s not going to give you that confidence in your finances.

They’re not going to look at a spreadsheet of all of your expenses and tell you some ideas about what you might do.

So I feel like all of those things are ways to be able to get unstuck.

When you have like the guidance on the side and you have these professionals absolutely some other you know pitfalls that you see where people are stuck and need to be unstuck, that hello divorce will be helping them live.



So one thing that people really get caught up in is the idea of what am I entitled to in divorce?

I love that, you know, I like to be entitled to anything.

I no one has titled anything and and I say that because people use that word all the time and I understand why.


What am I entitled to?

What am I entitled to?

So and I’m not a lawyer I’ll just put that out there.

But my expertise is taking complicated things and making them like into normal people speak.

So if I want to translate what I think people think they mean when they say entitled is there are guidelines in every state.


The guideline will be something like Community property, which is a 5050 split from the day you got married to the day you both agree you separated of your marital assets or equitable distribution, which means divide them and make sure it’s there.

But it doesn’t have to be 5050.

Those are guidelines.


So in an uncontested divorce in every state, you have the option to pretty much decide to do whatever you want with your assets when you split them.

If you can agree.

If you can agree and you go to court and you get it litigated, a judge could decide and they may do the guideline.


They may say, OK, everything, split 5050 down the middle.

That’s it.

Here’s the Child Support guideline number from the calculator.

You’re going to pay that.

They may not though, because the judge can do whatever they want to.

But if you are working under the framework of Wow, if I agree with my spouse on these things, both of us can kind of craft like something that’s not just everything down the middle, 5050.


It opens up a lot of possibilities because the house might be super important to you and not to your spouse, and so they’re willing to like do something different to make sure you can stay in your house.

If you give up on maybe asking for spousal support or something, you can.


I hate to use the word but horse trade those things in a negotiation.

That’s right.


It’s a business deal because you have already overcome the very emotional decision of deciding to uncouple from this person.


That is the emotional part.

And when you then think about the divorce as a business transaction, because the emotional is, it’s not out of the picture.

It’s still there.

But that’s that was your big burden.

That was your big emotional burden.

The rest of this is setting the two of you up for success in your uncoupled future.


Both of you, not just one of you.


Love that in your notes prior to the show, one of the things was you don’t have to like your spouse to come to an agreement.

And an agreement also doesn’t mean you lost your divorce.

Yes, it’s business.


Yeah, because like there’s tons of tons of our clients, they some of them don’t even want to talk to each other, but they can still use a mediator.

Our mediator will go in, will be in a Zoom room with the two different spouses in different zoom rooms, and go back and forth between the zoom rooms and communicate with the spouses that way because they get triggered when they’re speaking to each other.


Maybe it’s that one spouse always talks over the other person.

Maybe it’s the the sound they make when they’re chewing and they just can’t stand it.

There’s just those triggers.

And so we, we like, know that, but we also don’t feel like that should make you end up in court in front of a judge who it’s basically in their hands to just do whatever.


And I have to tell you, judges don’t care about your divorce for you pretty much unless kids are in danger.

They the first time I’ve ever seen your case is that day.

They open it up and they’re just going to decide whatever they feel like that day.

So that doesn’t feel like a good outcome to us nor does like lawyers ratcheting up the the heightened like well you know you could you could get more out of them because that’s an entitled thing again.


But it’s not really true and a little an interesting fact I said, I ran these numbers recently and just in California where we most of our divorces happen now like you know, because we started here, our outcomes on average for both child support and spousal support are higher than the state average for divorces in general.


So using our platform is not a disservice.

You know what I mean?

It’s not, it doesn’t mean you’re getting less or you’re getting screwed.

It just means people are clear headedly thinking through these major decisions.


And for parents especially, I think the biggest like realization out outside of the fighting in the lawyers is we’re always going to be Co parents.

So, like, how do we lose sight of that?

Go on.

Yeah, I think.

A lot of people lose sight of that, be this person or yeah.


That’s right.

And and the idea also that so many of our experts that we’ve spoken to over the years are like a good divorce is when it ends with a settlement where both sides are like a little disappointed, like no one ever comes out.

I say that a lot.


I say that all the time because nobody, nobody’s going to be happy at the end of what They get into divorce.

Just like if you get a promotion at work, you never feel like you’ve got a big enough rate.

You never feel like you’re making enough money.

I mean, nobody feels that.


They’re zero.

People feel like they make enough money for what they do.

I don’t think it’s just like that, a divorce.

Yeah, no, I totally agree.

I totally agree.

Well, listen, I feel like this conversation could really like keep going on and on, but it’s a it is a conversation that we will be continuing with you guys.


I love the collaboration that we have in place.

I love the fact that you’ve taken the time to help explain all of that today.

I think that these were some really good tips on people being able to get unstuck because the settlement, the negotiation, that’s the part that people are the most scared about, like having to kind of deal with that direct negotiation.


And again, not to stereotype, but for most women, it’s a tough place to be in.

Like we’re not absolutely negotiating.


And you just feel like the other person’s going to take advantage of you.

But that’s The thing is, you know, mediators are not on anybody’s side.


They’re there, they’re they’re they they have to by court mandate do something that is good for both sides and that feels like a good outcome.

CDF as are under the same mandate.

So if you think about it that way, it it could be a really good tool.


And you know, even if you end up in a contested situation and you use mediation to get you through some of the other, you know, get some agreements happen, that’s still a win.

It’s still a win the least if you can lessen the conflict.

To me, that’s a win.


And you know, for people who are feeling stuck, you know, make sure like come to our site, check out that home equity split calculator.

It might.

It’s anonymous, like you can like just do it on your own.

Nobody needs to know you’re thinking about divorce.

Hop on the call with us for 15 minutes.


We here tell us about your fears.

Like we talk to people about their fears all the time.

And if you can’t, if we don’t think you’re a good fit for us, we’ll tell you that too, and help you with other resources.


That’s amazing and great to know.

And also for everyone out there listening, like if for whatever reason you feel like you don’t need a lawyer, we don’t recommend self representation.


At the very least, check out a place like Hello Divorce that can give you the guidance that you need while you’re going through it, so that if you don’t feel like you need to have a lawyer breathing down your neck or taking care of every single aspect of it, the alternative should not be you’re going to completely take it on yourself because you really don’t know the process.


You need a professional involved somehow, some way to even at least, like Heather said in the very beginning, make sure you’re filling out the forms correctly.

If you’re not, even if you’re doing it completely on your own and you don’t fill out the forms correctly, you’re going to get stuff bounced back to you and you’re not even going to understand why or how you did it wrong.



So important to be able to.

Have that kind of guidance?

So important and I will say like you know our automated forums, we have done tons of work to make sure there’s the least amount of questions to do all the forums in the correct places.


But Jessica, just like you said, it doesn’t mean that there’s not going to get.

We had a guy who got rejected like four times in Sacramento for bindings because he was doing it on his own and he didn’t know it meant Staple and that he had stapled it in the wrong place and like, it just kept coming back.


And we finally had to do it for him.

Because it’s just this, they operate in their own world of legal lingo and it’s really just not an accessible thing for somebody completely on their own.


At least get the minimum help you need through.


Hello Divorce, So thank you again for all of that, Heather and for everyone listening.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Divorce Etcetera podcast with the ex experts today, then can you help a girl out?

Please take a moment to subscribe, rate and review.

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