Divorce and Separation are tough for everyone, but single mothers going through the process can sometimes feel like they are getting hit with a double whammy.
For those women out there who are feeling overwhelmed and panicked about going through this ordeal alone, don’t panic! Help is on the way, and it can be as close as right down the street. A wealth of resources for divorcing mothers, many of them low-to-no cost, are available in your community.
Resources for Divorcing Mothers
1. State Coalitions Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. If you are in a situation where you and your children could be threatened, there is help for you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline works with state offices to provide women with immediate support that will enable them to leave abusive situations and locate a safe environment that is free of violence. For more information, women can call the national hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the website’s statewide organization page for local support at http://www.thehotline.org/resources/resources/#tab-id-1.
2. Local Government Agencies. For single mothers who need immediate assistance with income and housing, state and local branches of the Department of Housing and Urban Development can help you look for housing and receive housing assistance. Check out http://portal.hud.gov/h and the tab “State Info” for more information. Local offices of the Department of Health and Human Services can also help mothers apply for temporary financial assistance. Mothers can locate their local office at the website http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/help. Last but not least, local offices for the WIC program to assist mothers in providing adequate nutrition to their children can be found using the program’s local agency listing at http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic.
3. Local Community Organizations. Your local branch of the YWCA is an excellent resources for help with women’s health, job training and education, financial literacy, childcare, and more. For more information on local addresses and services to meet your needs, visit www.ywca.org, where you can find a local branch under the “Find a YW” option. If the YWCA is not in your area, your local United Way is another source for information on housing assistance, job assistance, and health and wealthness for adults and children. Locating a branch near you is as easy as entering your zip code at the top of their website at http://www.unitedway.org.
4. Legal Aid Centers and Pro-Bono Lawyers. When you need legal advice about your divorce but are afraid that you cannot afford a lawyer, many legal aid centers and pro-bono lawyers are happy to assist you at little to no cost. Start the search for legal aid centers and pro bono lawyers in your area by visiting http://www.lawhelp.org and The American Bar Assocation’s Legal Services site at: http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm.
5. Local Divorce Clinics. These regularly-scheduled clinics will discuss the ins and outs of filing for divorce according to the jurisdiction in which you reside, and are usually staffed by volunteer attorneys and paralegals. Call or visit your local county courthouse for more information.
6. Local Support Groups. For women who want to connect and gain strength with other women going through the same difficult time, community support groups are an excellent way to reach out, heal, and gain accountability on this frustrating journey. Your local library, community centers, places of worship, and health care providers are good starting points for information on support groups in your area. Online sites such as www.meetup.com also provide the opportunity for people to join local meetups based on common interests.
7. Public Library. Do not overlook your local public library as a resource–there are more to them than just books and magazines! Information on their location and hours are usually found online. Stop by or check out their webpage for information on upcoming events and classes. You’ll be surprised at what they offer—recent events in libraries across the country have included classes on resume writing, seminars on re-entering the workplace, computer classes, tax assistance, storytime and homework help for children and teens, and yoga for stress relief. All of these classes are usually free or low-cost.
These suggestions are my no means the only local resources available to single mothers going through a divorce. Are there other local resources that have been helpful to you that may benefit others? Feel free to post your ideas in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!