5 Ways To Feel Better About Divorce
Divorce presents one of the most stressful situations that we endure and some attorneys will promise to make it easy. The truth is that even the best attorney has limited ability to do that. You, on the other hand, have the power to significantly improve your opportunities for a divorce that is easier on you and your children, shorter in duration and less expensive.
Learn A Lot: Whatâ€™s at stake? Not all money is created equal. Often, one spouse manages the money or knows more about the overall financial situation. Usually, that represents a reasonable division of responsibilities within the marriage and does not signify any real problem with financial management (but you can read a little more about this in my blog post on adultery from April 7, 2014).
If that was not your role in the relationship, take two steps.
First, stop worrying about that history and do not waste your energy blaming your spouse for doing what needed to be done with your joint finances.
Second, figure out what you need to learn about your finances and, do not stop here, learn it. You need to know the value of real estate, details your mortgage obligations, where you and your spouse have bank accounts and credit accounts, where retirement assets are invested and in what type of retirement plan, what insurance you have and if it has any cash value. If there are funds set aside for your children, review my prior blog post about kidsâ€™ money (June 18, 2014). Educate yourself first, then the next parts of the process will be much easier.
Prioritize: If you donâ€™t ask for what you want, you canâ€™t expect to get it as part of a divorce settlement or from any court. Start with a wide view of the issues that need to be resolved in your case: custody and parenting time, division of property, division of debts, protecting assets that are not marital, spousal support, child support, funding the litigation. Make a list, a chart or an outline of your priorities. Be totally honest with yourself. Then, talk to your attorney about the way that each issue could potentially be resolved and be sure to understand the best case and the worst case scenarios.
Listen carefully for the bad news because that is the hardest to absorb and yet necessary to enable you to make an informed decision about how you want to resolve your case. If planning for retirement is more important than immediately getting cash from the sale of your home, but you know your spouse is reluctant to move out of the marital home, consider why you feel that way and whether it is a smart decision for you and your future.
If keeping the family holiday decorations will help make your next house into a home, acknowledge that personal need and put it on your list. Skipping this assessment and running straight into settlement discussions, directly with your spouse, with a mediator or with attorneys, may be tempting but resist that urge. You cannot expect to get a satisfactory result if you do not know what result might satisfy you.
Get Even Smarter: After you identify your goals, Getting divorced by yourself is like drawing a picture in the dark. You may think you know what you are doing but when the light come on, life does not look like you expected and you will regret that operated alone, without any guidance or feedback. Know when you need professional help to make smart decisions.
You might benefit from consulting with a therapist, a parenting coach, a forensic accountant, a financial planner, a tax advisor, an appraiser, a career counselor, a business coach. Consulting with a professional about a particular aspect of your life differs from trying to sift through well-intentioned advice from friends and family, whose perspective may be skewed by emotional attachment to you. Take support from those who love you; get more specialized advice when you need it.
Donâ€™t Wait for Your â€œDay in Courtâ€: Going to Court to resolve any dispute in your divorce should be the last resort. A good settlement is an achievement, not mutual surrender. Plan for that accomplishment by compiling the documents and records that you need in order to convince your spouse that your points are valid, supported by the facts and supported by the law as your attorney explains it to you. If you encounter a stalemate, try to learn why.
Ask your attorney what she perceives as the impediments to settlement and figure out how to get past those. Getting the finality of a ruling from a Judge may seem appealing but remember that a Judge, who hears about your years of marriage, condensed into a presentation over a few days, cannot realistically craft a better outcome than you can. A Judge is also restricted by the law and prevented from being creative. You, on the other hand, can be as creative and innovative as you and your spouse want to be.
Redefine â€œDivorceâ€: The word â€œdivorceâ€ means to separate, disconnect, divide, dissociate, disassociate, detach, isolate, alienate â€“ all very negative terms that connote loss.
Reframe the experience for yourself and instead of focusing on the negative changes that come along, try to think of what you are capable of rebuilding. Release (or reject) preconceived notions of how life should be proceeding and instead, plunge confidently into the next phase of life.
If you want to talk about how these ideas can help you, contact us at Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich, LLC. And please considering following me on Twitter at: @AmandaFamilyLaw.