Demystifying Divorce Series: "Deciding to Separate"



Divorce and separation can be extremely daunting and involve complex decisions and processes — and the way these play out has changed dramatically over the past decade. Couples and parents, today, are handling separation and decisions to live independently much differently than has been typical in years past.

Cindy Elwell, Founder of Divorce with Dignity, and Susan Regan MFT, Founder of Solutions Therapy & Mediation (two seasoned, divorce professionals in the Bay Area) talk about Demystifying the Separation Process in the modern environment. Together, these two cover the emotional aspects of navigating a divorce or separation, as well as the legal requirements and safeguards.

In this informative talk, Cindy and Susan share their experiences, spanning decades, helping clients to navigate these emotionally and legally complex and sensitive processes. They also share how today’s couples are doing things differently, how that often plays out, and what safeguards to put into place.


Cindy and Susan delve into the following topics:

  • A couple with kids, who are planning to separate. How they help them navigate the process.
  • Parents raising a child outside the institution of marriage. Creating a Parenting Plan and looking at the related emotional, legal and financial aspects to lend certainty and security in building community for their kids.
  • Couples over 60, who are fearful for their future, after enduring a challenging relationship for years. The couple is either feeling dependent or burdened with one another and unsettled because of the financial arrangement between them.

Cindy and Susan also talk about how they collaborate on these types of situations to best serve their clients. Many clients are self motivated and propel themselves to do their own divorce agreements, but still need guidance and a safe, predictable container to talk through their decisions and answer their questions.

Cindy Elwell is the Founder of Divorce with Dignity, an organization, which helps individuals navigate the divorce process, through non-traditional methods focusing on alternative dispute resolution, in order to promote a more peaceful process and spare her clients unnecessary expenses.

Susan Regan is a seasoned family therapist and certified mediator. She has the expertise to guide clients through difficult conversations, create a safe space to explore options, and help parents understand why their couple relationship has ended and help to find answers to the big questions that worry them, such as: what will they tell their kids, how will they manage their community and family, and will they ever and have closure?

Watch the entire video below, or select the individual items, which are of interest to you:

A couple with kids, who are planning to separate
An unmarried couple, having a child
A couple, together for years and unhappy and feeling unsettled with staying together
What can I do financially, legally, and emotionally to demystify separation?


We welcome your questions and feedback!

Please be sure to sign-up for our newsletters, as well, to receive additional resources around divorce and separation. Click on our website links below to sign-up!

Cindy Elwell
Divorce with Dignity
Divorce With Dignity Network, Inc.
[email protected]

Susan Regan, MFT
Solutions Therapy and Mediation
Relationship Solutions
[email protected]


We are not attorneys or financial specialists and we do not give legal or financial advice. Our focus is on the emotional well-being of people going through separation and divorce.



Cindy Elwell

Cindy Elwell is the founder of the Divorce With Dignity Network. She has been doing this work since 1995 and has helped thousands of people obtain a divorce with dignity, using alternative dispute resolution methods to dissolve marriages “amicably.” That’s her mission and she believes that our traditional method of litigating a divorce destroys and divides families and depletes them of money and assets that they need to move forward into their new lives. She is a mediator and also a registered Legal Document Assistant (aka Independent Paralegal). Cindy’s network serves clients in various locations throughout the Bay Area and Southern CA and Florida.

Cindy started the company in Alameda, California in 1995, as a result of her own divorce, which was litigated. During her divorce, she was unable to resolve some of their issues in the courtroom, but after a lunch with her ex-husband, they actually came to an agreement, and she discovered that the courts are not the right place to work out these issues and agreements.

She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Accounting from San Francisco State University, where she also did her paralegal training. She is a mediator and is also registered and bonded in California as a Legal Document Assistant (LDA), former Treasurer of the California Association of Legal Document Assistants (CALDA), a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and other business groups in Marin and the Bay Area. Prior to founding Divorce With Dignity, she worked in the accounting field as Controller and Business Manager for small businesses and nonprofits. She now operates Divorce with Dignity – Marin/Sonoma as well as the Divorce With Dignity Network.

Cindy specializes in working with couples who are either completely in agreement, or willing to resolve their issues with mediation — as well as helping legal professionals open their own Divorce With Dignity office.



Susan Regan is a family therapist and certified mediator who has been in private practice in San Francisco and Berkeley for over 25 years. Her interest in helping families separate and supporting children through the process started when she founded a nonprofit organization called Bay Area Children First. BACF’s mission was to provide counseling to families. Especially to help parents explore patterns from the family they were raised in, to heal themselves and the ways they were parented instead of passing these patterns onto their children. She has counseled hundreds of families, parents, couples, and children of families going through a separation or divorce.

In 2013, Susan founded an organization called Solutions: Therapy and Mediation. From her experience with BACF, she knew the only way to support children is to support the people raising them. Many of the families she works with are in the process of a separation or divorce. Susan’s goal is to help stabilize parents so they can ensure their children’s emotional and physical security while rebuilding a healthier family and heal themselves. Susan believes people can use divorce as a transformational process to recreate their lives and healthier relationships for themselves. Maybe the couple relationship didn’t work, but that doesn’t mean parents can’t be solid and continue having a happier life.

Susan Regan was raised in Boston. Some of her relationship models were conflictual and unhappy. Instead of fostering healthy connections in relationships, Susan observed many of the family and relationships in her community lack communication skills. Unhealthy patterns were passed on through generations. Susan saw and experienced the damage this dilemma had on families, especially children. Children deserve to be happy but if their parent’s relationship is dominated by high stress and conflict, it’s challenging for kids to feel cared for and seen. If separated parents can create a stronger parenting relationship and have less tension in their relationship, their children are more secure. Parents often need time to work on accepting that their couple relationship was not able to survive through all of life’s chapters, but that doesn’t mean failure. This just means the rebuilding of a different structure within the family and a new format of health and happiness.

Susan specializes in co-parenting therapy, mediation, facilitating divorce support groups, and emotionally supporting families going through a divorce.


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