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Divorce Registries Are A Thing, & We Love To See It

Every big life change deserves some support.

Originally Published: 
Emma Chao/Scary Mommy; Getty Images
The Divorce Issue

Whether you're getting married or having a baby, nearly every major life transition has a registry. So, why wouldn't you have one when you're getting divorced? The whole point of registries is to offer both financial and emotional support during a huge change in your life, as if to say, "Life's going to be so different for you; let us help." Shouldn't the same regard be given to those who are recently divorced, notably a time when financial and emotional resilience might be at its lowest?

Besides, divorce registries make a lot of sense. Before getting married, most couples already have a number of housewares since most people are either cohabitating or living on their own before getting hitched. Let's be honest — no one really needs another blender or set of steak knives.

But once you get divorced, everything a couple once shared must be divided up, which means your favorite casserole dish or your beloved Vitamix might be something you need to give up once you and your spouse officially call it quits. Of course, some might argue that you could always purchase your casserole dish and Vitamix post-divorce, but the same could be said about wedding and baby registries.

Eliza Cussen and Elizabeth Paulson, founders of the former registry site Divorcist, were inspired to create their divorce registry by Eliza's baby registry. "The experience of building a wishlist and seeing the things she needed manifest in her nursery empowered her during a difficult pregnancy," they tell Scary Mommy. "A gift registry for divorce and breakups should offer the same thing: a community coming together to hold you up as your family changes shape."

Below, Cussen and Paulson offer their advice and insight when it comes to divorce registries.

What are the benefits of a divorce registry?

Cussen and Paulson point out that when people are going through a significant life change, those closest to them want to help but don't always know how. Having a divorce registry can be a great way for your loved ones to help you celebrate — or just help you get back on your feet.

And if you're concerned that having a divorce registry might be a little extravagant, Cussen and Paulson offer reassurance.

"A divorce registry is entirely practical, the same way wedding registries used to be," they say. "These days, people usually live together before marriage, so they've already set up their home. Establishing a home is expensive ... people understand that. Separation and divorce is the time when essential home items or a cash gift are most helpful. As more people go through divorce and domestic partner separation, there is a growing understanding that this is the time you need support the most."

What can you ask for your divorce registry?

You can basically ask for whatever it is you need. One person may want to decorate their new apartment, or another might be struggling to pay a deposit. Both are welcome on your divorce registry.

According to Cussen and Paulson, bedsheets were the most common item they saw added to gift registries. Logical, right? Who wants to sleep on the same sheets that you shared with your ex?!

Additionally, they saw a lot of customers ask for children's toys "because they're often hard to pack if you're leaving in a hurry," they say.

Bottom Line? A divorce registry is about survival.

While everyone deserves nice things after a breakup, including a casserole dish or blender, Cussen and Paulson stress that divorce registries are much more about survival. (In fact, they originally designed their site with domestic violence victims in mind.)

"Most women in America live paycheck to paycheck, and very few are equipped to take over a mortgage or move house without warning. If cash, bedsheets, or a blender make this even ten percent easier, the divorce registry has done its job," explain Cussen and Paulson.

So, yes, divorce registries are essentially for meeting the needs of people learning to live on their own terms. But honestly, says Cussen and Paulson, "Whatever makes life easier and brings you joy at that moment is valid and worth asking for."

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