A conversation with Michelle Sarao: How to organize homes and lives after a divorce

A conversation with Michelle Sarao: How to organize homes and lives after a divorce

A conversation with Michelle Sarao: How to organize homes and lives after a divorce

In the Collaborative Divorce process, we build a team of professionals who can guide the divorce process in a fluid manner. Recently, I met a woman whose business fits so perfectly into this idea of a divorce team.

Michelle Sarao, through her business Divorce Rx, helps divorcing people organize their homes and their lives. Based in New York, Michelle recognizes that a divorce is a complete upheaval of a person’s life – emotional as well as physical.

Michelle Sarao

What better time than that to welcome an organizer into the midst of the unraveling, and let her guide you to a more methodical approach to the separation and rebuilding?

This type of organizing can focus on the divorcing people – helping them rearrange their physical space or divide up their shared belongings. It can also help the newly single adults get organized in their new life – manage their children’s schedules, learn how to be focused in managing all the activities and responsibilities as a solo parent.

Basically, Michelle helps people prevent the logistics of their life from falling through the cracks.

“When you are going through a divorce, the first thing you do is start assembling your team,” says Michelle. “Financial, legal, mental health, parenting coordinator, divorce coach. But then the physical space and coordination of what happens with your children, and the transition from one household to two, those details and ideas can slip through the cracks. That is where I felt there was a need to step in.”

Every situation has a unique imprint, says Michelle. She meets clients where they are, looking at what will be most helpful in this moment, right now, taking it one step at a time. A divorce can create confusion and stasis – she helps people move forward, one step at a time.

As an entrepreneur myself, I felt this concept was brilliant and definitely needed! In speaking with Michelle, I thought it would be helpful to gather some of her best tips in this blog to share with people contemplating divorce – or who have already been through one but still feel a sense of disorganization. Here’s what Michelle has to say:


Regarding your physical space, a divorce begins with dividing your things. “Oftentimes, even in the most amicable divorces, people are emotionally tied to their stuff,” she says. “You’re already experiencing loss. No matter what you’re feeling about the divorce, it’s a loss. People have a hard time letting go of things. To have someone work with you and your soon to be ex-spouse as a neutral party to help divide things can be helpful, to help you stay on track.”


Dividing up physical belongings can stall a divorce – and it’s senseless to pay lawyer fees to have them sit in your home while you divvy things up.


Whether moving to a new space or staying in your current space, going through what you have and purging can be cleansing.


Get rid of the storage unit idea. Not only is it another expense, it’s the place people put things and forget about them. You will eventually have to go through it all – and likely discard most of it – so why not do it now?


If you just can’t part with goods but you don’t want to go through everything, label your boxes and mark your calendar for three or five months later to actually go through the items.

Michelle Sarao

Organizing is not just for physical items, Michelle says. It’s important for financial documents as well as for calendaring.

“It’s often the women who have no idea where the financial stuff is that they’re asked to bring into the lawyers,” she notes. “They’re paralyzed; they don’t even know how to find it or what questions to ask.”

While divorce coaches can help with that part of the process, Michelle can support clients through it as well.

“The biggest thing I do with people is just have a plan that is realistic and broken into manageable steps.” Once someone leaves the marital home, there is empty space to fill. That’s part two of Michelle’s work. She comes in to help the person who stays rearrange the furniture and fill the space – and she helps the person who left fill the new space where they will start their new life. “If you were not the one who wanted the divorce, it smacks you in the face when you see the couch is gone,” she says. “It’s a reminder of your loss. There are a lot of physical empty spaces – a whole closet that’s empty, drawers where silverware has been taken, empty walls. I help that person reimagine and arrange what you have before buying new things.” It’s better to move around what you do have and live with it for a few months than quickly buy new items, she says. For the person leaving, “talking it through is the first step,” Michelle says. “Then, it’s about finding resources – realtors, designers, etc.”

A member of the National Association of Productivity and Organization and of the National Association of Divorce Professionals, Michelle has resources far and wide.

Divorcing couples don’t realize all the details of this split when they embark on it. As granular as the photo albums and shared photographs – who wants to let go of their baby’s earliest pictures, or that family vacation they took to Hawaii?

Michelle Sarao

Michelle finds solutions. “Both parents want all the pictures. I have someone who is fantastic and will scan the pics and set them up for both parents,” she says.

A divorce is a transition from one stage of life to the next, but it’s not without heartache and emotion, and those very heavy phases can cloud judgment, obscure clarity. Michelle works with people at a vulnerable time to make the details easier – and less painful.

“There are areas of life you might not have thought of – who has the kids’ passports, can you get a second passport, do the children have toothbrushes at both houses? You don’t know what you don’t know,” she says. “I tell you what’s coming, I can help you get prepared, save time and money, relax and exhale.”

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In The Room Where It Happens

In The Room Where It Happens

In The Room Where It Happens

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Can you feel the energy?

Can you see it pulse in the sky, beneath the clouds? Can you feel it emanate from the person seated next to you?

Is your energy swirling in the middle of your rib cage? Do you feel a vibration when you’re sure you’re sitting still?

Energy is powerful, and it’s all around us.

If you can tune in to the energy in the room when you’re going through a divorce, you will be in a better position to succeed both during the process and once it’s finished.

There is your energy, of course, which comes as a result of your emotions, fears, and apprehensions. When you can breathe deeply and calm yourself, your energy will be more balanced and fuel you for positive negotiations, leading to livable outcomes.

But the energy of others – that is something you cannot control.

You can, however, avoid responding to it.
Energy affects the process. You can either let it happen unconsciously or you can notice it, recognize it, and accept that it’s there. When you do that, it can’t control the process.

A lot of people think the idea of energy and its power is hokey-pokey, but all I can tell you is if you go to a true energy healer who is a medium, you can feel the energy as it’s moving.

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Have you ever participated in that popular ice breaker where everyone stands in a circle and you hold your hands up to the people next to you, not touching, just to feel their energy buzzing? It’s real.

There is an energy around us to take with us wherever we go. It is a very real thing. (In fact, read this article about what some are terming the “Big Divorce Energy” of 2019.)

Some people believe we are energetically entwined with people we’ve had strong or long relationships with. There is a practice known as cord-cutting where you cut the energetic cords connecting you to that person, thereby freeing yourself from the hurt of the past, once and for all. (Read about it here.)

Many ancient religions believe in the energetic pathways and the need for healing when our energy is corrupted or broken. Some people believe the individuality of humans is an illusion and all that we are is energy. (Have I totally lost you on this woo-woo stuff now?)

Understand how to move and manipulate your energy.

I bet you know something about what I’m saying, even if it’s just on the surface. You know when someone comes near you and has bad energy. You don’t want to be around them. They bring you down. You automatically navigate away from them, and eagerly await their departure.

That’s bad energy.

If you feel your energy is stagnant, stuck in a place that is not positive, or you’re having trouble moving out of it, perhaps it is time to seek out someone who works with the energy in our bodies, an individual licensed in healing touch therapy or reiki.

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Healing Touch Therapy

I’ve done this, and it helped immensely. The first time I availed myself of energy work with an energy healer (the energetic therapy modality), I was litigating a terrible custody battle with an attorney who was an all-around bad person. He and his client exuded so much meanness, it was hard to fight it and to stay balanced and separated from it even in my personal life.

My healing touch therapist worked with me and my energies to keep them in a good place and gave me insight and tools to stay in my own positive space.

More recently, feeling overwhelmed and out of balance, after trying so many ways to move forward, I just felt that something was stuck somewhere around the center line of my body, from my heart down to my hips. I went to my energy healer and in fact there was a lot of energy not moving in the meridian; she moved it, got it flowing through my body again, and since then I feel that I am moving forward, things are happening.

Every few weeks, I return to her to keep that energy flowing. (Interested? I highly recommend my energy healer, Nancy Zucker.

Likewise, when someone comes near you with positive energy, you always want them by your side. It’s infectious. You want to be like them.

Energy matters. Being aware of your energy state, and of those around you, during a divorce is the best way you can navigate your divorce process with keen vision and practical strategy to come out on the other side proud of what you’ve managed to achieve, ready to start the next stage of your life on strong footing.

(Read about energy healing here.)

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Collaborative or Litigation?

Collaborative or Litigation?

Collaborative or Litigation?

Wondering which approach to divorce is right for you? Let me help.

While I practice both and have been an attorney for more than 30 years, I always prefer Collaborative Divorce if it’s a possibility, and I’ll tell you why.

Collaborative Divorce

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First, Collaborative Divorce is a more humane approach to dissolving a marriage. Both parties and their attorneys agree to a team approach to divorce. There will also be divorce financial planners, therapists, divorce coaches or someone just looking out for the kids present, and we all work together toward the common, shared outcome of the entire family. It’s not easy, but it is definitely satisfying and less stressful for all involved.

However, I realize not every divorcing family is cut out for a Collaborative process. If one person is playing dirty, wants to pull a fast one and take all the money or property, or is otherwise dishonest, untrustworthy, or downright abusive, Collaborative Law is not the answer.

For it to work, both clients have to be completely transparent and trust the process. 

We ask our Collaborative Divorce clients to put hurt feelings and bitterness aside in favor of the bigger picture and best interests of their family. Many people are just not ready, or not able, to be this forward thinking when the idea of divorce is so fresh.


In those cases, and in cases where someone is mean, dishonest, or abusive, litigation may be the preferred path. That’s a hard-lined, no-nonsense approach to family law that argues your case relentlessly until the clients agree to an outcome usually through mediation or a judge in court decides on the outcome following a trial.

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Trial is the last step in the litigation, it is the process we go through when the parties cannot resolve the issues through any other means – be it mediation, arbitration, negotiation, or settlement reached in their attorneys’ offices.

There are many couples who don’t get along and don’t play fair who are still able to agree on a settlement, guided by well-meaning, sharp attorneys. Trial, as part of the litigation process, is not always necessary.
Litigation is a valuable tool in the right situations.

Regardless of which path you choose for your divorce, remember to take the high road and truly listen to your lawyer’s recommendations. We’ve seen so many cases in the family law arena, and we know what is needed to arrive at a livable, workable settlement that will benefit you and your family.

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