A Black Woman’s Guide to Divorce  

Southfield resident Christal Eason, left, is the woman post-divorce that God wanted her to be. Shakeena Melbourne, right, is a licensed attorney who helps a lot of Black women, and couples, navigate through their divorce.  

Photos provided by Christal Eason and Shakeena Melbourne  



Detroit native Christal Eason, 53, of Southfield, has some words for Black women going through a divorce and wondering what their next step is: Fall in love with yourself all over again.  

Eason, a mother of two adult children, taught others that lesson after she filed for divorce in 2012 (officially divorced in 2013) from her husband of 15 years.  

“(We were) together 17 (years),” she said. “We were both in the ministry,” she said adding that they had a hard time getting along and when it was time to decide, or a crisis came up, they had “two totally different schools of thought.”  

Eason, who said she was “emotionally bankrupt” in her marriage was one of many countless Black women who divorced in the United States.  

According to statistics, Black men and women both go through at least one divorce at a rate of about 42 percent. Native Americans also have a high statistical possibility of experiencing divorce with the rate at 44 percent of men and 45 percent of women ending one or more of their marriages.  

According to First Horizon Advisors, when going through a divorce, women don’t have to end up with the short end of the stick, they should:  

  1. Organize their assets and debts after the divorce is final and revisit their policies, accounts and plans so the former spouse is no longer named on these documents. 
  2. Calculate monthly take-home pay when the divorce is complete and factor in alimony or child support payments to be received. 
  3. Create a list of monthly costs and consider new expenses like health insurance and find out what new coverages the divorcee might qualifyyoufor.  
  4. Tally up the cost of new monthly expenses for the house, car,childcareand more, along with any shared debt that was involved with the divorce agreement.  
  5. Develop a set of new financial goals for saving more, building up that emergencyfundand have even greater control over finances going forward.  

Taking charge of finances is important during this fragile time, because according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, divorced women might be more likely to work a full-time job after turning 50, due to needing to bring in an income for a longer period of time.  

Eason said that what helped her through her divorce was to use legal information as a strong support system so that she could fight legally and not emotionally.  

“When you fight emotionally it deters your power,” she said.  

Shakeena Melbourne, 33, a licensed attorney at Black-women-owned virtual law firm, Upton Law, PLLC, said that the most surprising thing she has seen is the split of debts 50-50.   

“Regardless of the income of the woman,” she said. “What I find the most interesting is that in the Black community, our culture, is the men protect and provide and the women are to nurture and take care of the household. However, when a woman makes any income the moment the divorce happens the woman must split the debt in half. At that point her income does not matter, rather she makes more money or less money than her ex-partner.”  

Melbourne said that she encourages women to consider all of their options before marriage and before divorce is even on the table.   

“Meaning, have an open door to discussing the hard topics,” she said. “Things such as a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial. Communicate about how the household will be run and who will take the lead on the financial concerns of the household.”  

Melbourne added that it is important to try to discuss issues such as savings accounts, pensions and what debts each person should have walking into the marriage.  

“These are sometimes the biggest concerns in marriages and in many instances will cause one or both partners to lead to a bankruptcy,” she said, adding that she deals with a lot of divorces among Black couples.   

She also said that the top divorce reason she has seen thus far is financial growth in one partner versus the other.  

“Or simply no growth in the relationship, where one partner may choose the kids, work, infidelity or even a midlife crisis and [fail] to communicate the change or shift with their partner,” Melbourne said, adding that while the pandemic did inspire break-ups and divorces, it brought good things, too. “The pandemic has also unified families that were once broken, distant or in already in a pending divorce proceeding.”   

She added that statistics have shown that while Black women are the “glue” in corporate America and are pursuing higher degrees in rapid numbers, when it comes to relationships Black women statistically are failing “because there is an issue in the Black community with finance and leadership.”   

If the man makes more money than her, should he lead?  

“But if the woman makes more money, is she the leader? Or is she still the follower behind the man that makes less than her?”   

“These questions are causing the stagnation in the Black community and the unification of the Black family at least in my opinion,” Melbourne said. “And until the answer to the question is addressed [rather that is based on the individual couple or the community] as a whole, Black women will continue to have the worst end of the stick,” she said.  

Eason said that she was older than her husband by five years and she had a dream of their family building a world that they would “conquer.”  

Their reality fell apart when he grew distant, she said, years before the divorce.  

Now, the author of six books with a license to minister, a Ph.D., a private practice and more, Eason is doing life her way and her journey back to rediscovering herself is one she prays other women will go on during their own divorce.  

“I discovered that I needed to trust God on a different level and believe that who He made me to be is who I am,” she said, adding that a marital status does not make the woman. “[That] has nothing to do with a calling or future. There is a difference between who you were, who you are now and who you want to become. Make that decision for yourself as a woman.” 

For herself, that choice was obvious when her journey forward started.  

“The woman I’ve become, I would say God is pleased,” she said.   



About Post Author

From the Web

Skip to content