Divorce is never easy, whether you enter an agreement early and easily or are constantly fighting to reach an agreement. Whichever option you fall into, there are things that you can do to help your divorce settlement reach a positive outcome.
Since 2014, we have helped hundreds of couples navigate the divorce process by offering advice and tips for a divorce settlement that is positive and allows you to move on. Here are three of those tips.
While we have encountered many challenging and unique divorces, the majority of my clients not only survived but thrived post-divorce by implementing the three tips described below:
If you want your divorce to be amicable, you are not alone. However, the definition of amicable can be an oxymoron given the dynamics of divorce. It means to avoid conflict. I think that while we can approach divorce with a spirit of friendliness and goodwill, we need to also be willing to speak up and advocate for ourselves.
It is definitely important to show up prepared to ask the right questions. Here’s why: you don’t know what you don’t know, right? The only way you will get the right answers is to ask the right questions.
In short, most professionals will not tell you what questions to ask. In fact, a few years ago we had a client who was struggling to understand her financial situation and was on the brink of agreeing to a bad deal. When we were in session, the attorney told us, “It’s up to her if she takes a bad deal.”
Our questions were:
THAT was the vital information we wanted to know.
When it comes to your divorce, you need a set agenda of what YOU want to cover and understand. There are essentially three divorces happening at once. You have the legal divorce, the financial divorce and the emotional divorce. With that in mind, you also need to have people around you that understand the legal, emotional and financial impacts of your questions and how the decisions you make are going to affect your life.
Your attorney is looking at it from a legal lens. The interactions with your attorney should not be a therapy session or a place to figure out how to best communicate with each other. This is a place to solve legal concerns and come to a resolution.
Budgeting is important because it helps control your spending, track your expenses, and save more money. Additionally, budgeting can help you make strong financial decisions, get out of debt, and stay focused on your long-term financial goals, post-divorce.
“While putting together a budget isn’t sexy or glamourous, it is a foundational exercise that helps answer all your financial related questions. I encourage our clients to make a list of all the questions they have (i.e. How much can I afford for rent? Can I keep the house? Do I need to go back to work? Can I save for retirement? Which health insurance option can I afford?) Once we have the budget in place, we can begin to unpack the questions,” said Rhonda Noordyk, CDFA®, CEO of The Women’s Financial Wellness Center.
To make your budgeting journey easier, we suggest you set aside two things: your emotions and the past. Instead of thinking about how a budget may limit your finances, we encourage you to think of budgeting as an opportunity to look straight into the present and plan for the future. If necessary, remind yourself that budget numbers are not about where you have been, but where you want to go.
Your budget will be critical in negotiating your finances and there will probably be several versions of your budget that take into account various financial possibilities.
If you believe your understanding of your household financial situation is limited or if you don’t have a good handle on how to manage debt or the investments in your brokerage and retirement accounts, then we suggest you hire a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
You need to be able to make decisions that are in alignment with your goals and that is going to require an expert—and it’s not going to be your attorney or your mediator. You need checks and balances in place to advocate for yourself and that requires you to have additional resources, support, and expertise behind the scenes to help prepare you for meditation.
For instance, let’s consider for a moment the value of a home based on Zillow. You need a fair market value or appraisal for accurate numbers. If that’s the only information available, an appraisal isn’t going to be ordered. You need to be prepared to request that or come prepared with the information.
While there are a number of reasons why you may choose mediation over traditional litigation, keep in mind that mediation is something to pursue only if it’s the right fit for your situation, not because you might save a couple of dollars during the process.
Most importantly, remember that by surrounding yourself with a team of people that have YOUR best interests in mind, you can feel confident knowing that your financial future will be the best it can be.
Since 2014, we have helped hundreds of couples navigate the divorce process and make smart and empowering decisions regarding their financial situation.
With the intention to create a safe place for divorcees, especially those in a vulnerable position, to find their paths, their voices, and the financial confidence they need to lift themselves out of seemingly hopeless situations, we work to change the narrative of our clients’ divorce experiences.