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From the Red Carpet to Divorce Court: The Journey of Becoming the 'Only' Divorce Journalist

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Woman divorcing and taking off wedding band
Ilyssa Panitz
Ilyssa Panitz

February 27, 2024

The date was February 13, 2018. I was numb and in a trance. I could not process how I was sitting on the opposite side of an attorney’s desk sobbing uncontrollably about to do the unimaginable. I completely froze as I stared down at the document that read, “Petition For Divorce” and a yellow tab indicating where I need to sign my name. I couldn’t even hold the pen because my hand wouldn’t stop shaking from anxiety and fear.

My former spouse had no clue I was doing it, but after re-playing so many unimaginable things I tolerated, I had enough. My lawyer instructed me to act as “normal” as possible until the other side was served with the papers. “Normal,” I thought, “Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to do that when I just put my signature on legal papers that will end my marriage?”

All I remember was being in a dense fog for the next few days. I have no recollection how I kept it together around the house, with my family, at work or in town to run errands. But I did. After my spouse learned I wanted out of our marriage, all hell broke loose and my life was turned upside down; mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.

I could have starred in the movie, Clueless, because I truly had no idea what I was doing or how to handle the many twists, turns, detours and unexpected potholes that were heading my way. What I did see was my life blowing up and my entire savings disappear faster than an on-stage magic trick.

Just when I thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, Covid entered the picture. It was now March 2020. Not only did the entire world shut down, but I soon became unemployed, had to vacate my home with two young children and oh yeah, I was still in the middle of a horrific divorce with no end in sight. Scared out of my mind, I sat in my closet repeating the words, “What am I going to do?”

Then in September 2020, I woke up from a sound sleep at 2am and had the answer. It not only symbolized my rebirth after heartbreak but also the beginning of my personal transformation to create something to help others and surprisingly myself.

Quickly about me: for 20 years I was a Celebrity Reporter. Yup, I got to interview the stars, learn about their background, what makes them tick and how they overcame adversity to achieve success. The stories were endless, inspiring and each one had a powerful message.

In the media, Correspondents such as myself are assigned to cover a beat such as Politics, Weather, Sports, Foreign Affairs, Shopping, Lifestyle, Parenting, Diet/Fitness on a daily basis. I decided to find a Divorce Reporter to get educated about my situation but to my dismay, one didn’t exist. How is it possible no one was covering divorce on a daily basis yet 50% of all first marriages end in a divorce? That void became my reinvention and my ticket to becoming the voice and trusted resource people need when they are going through this shift.

I started as a small divorce column on Authority Magazine, from my dining room table wearing a pair of pajamas. That quickly turned into a syndicated weekend radio show called, The Divorce Hour with Ilyssa Panitz, that also became a Podcast. Next thing I knew I was getting booked for speaking engagements, to be an expert in the press and my Instagram inbox was blowing up with messages, comments and praise.

When I spoke about how one in four divorces involves a pet, I was offered a column in Pets Lifestyles Magazine and most recently, I am on the heels of launching a brand new 30-minute television series called, Ways Thru Divorce on Your Home TV that debuts in 2024.

The rolodex I spent two decades building went from Hollywood publicists, managers and agents to lawyers, mediators, financial professionals, mental health experts, child coordinators, life coaches, divorce coaches, dating pros, blended family specialists, former Judges and the list goes on.

Never in a million years did I envision my life to look like what it does today because I went from one extreme to the other on many fronts. I also don’t sugarcoat how it stinks to recall how I lost everything I ever worked for, but you can’t put a price on your happiness and peace of mind.

Today, I sign my name as Ilyssa Panitz, The “Only” Divorce Journalist, because I am. I completely devote and immerse myself into covering every aspect and angle of a divorce by interviewing experts in different areas and sharing the information with people all over the world so they can navigate their journey with a trusted voice they can count on and rely on.

My two favorite hashtags are #surviveandthrive and #buildbackbetter because they represent my journey, my mindset and the power we all have to come out stronger from the storm!

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About Ilyssa

Ilyssa Panitz is the foremost Divorce Journalist, known for her comprehensive coverage across various platforms including columns for Authority Magazine and Pets Lifestyles Magazine, and as a contributing writer for First for Women. With a background in reporting for major media outlets like CNN and MSNBC, she has transitioned her focus from entertainment to divorce, driven by personal experience and a commitment to fill a void in media coverage. Through her nationally syndicated radio show and upcoming TV program, she aims to provide support, education, and empowerment for individuals navigating the complexities of divorce.