You’ll need a team to help you through divorce
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Divorce is a messy business. As the fabric of a marriage is deconstructed, emotions run high and costs can run even higher. During the divorce process we are often unable to think clearly, and thus very vulnerable. Yet we are called upon to make big decisions that have lasting consequences. We are fighting for our future selves -- whom we don’t know and cannot fully imagine. It’s just overwhelming and sometimes terrifying. How does anyone get through this?
There are three areas where you will need competent guidance and advice: Legal, Emotional, and Financial.
Hire an attorney who specializes in divorce. A generalist simply will not do. The right attorney knows the laws and will inform you of the rules and procedures that must be followed, protections available to you and your family, deadlines that must be met, and strategies to get you more. An experienced divorce attorney will have gathered valuable information over the years about opposing attorneys and the peculiarities of the judge who may hear your case. It’s important that you feel you can communicate comfortably with your attorney and you feel you are being listened to and understood.
You will also need a damn good listener who is available when you scream, cry, rant and rage. Someone who can absorb your anger and pain and not boomerang it back to you. This person is NOT your attorney (at several hundred dollars an hour), and NOT your best friend or family member (with their own opinions). It’s your Therapist. You will need to blow off the emotional steam that builds up as you navigate life outside of your comfort zone. A trained professional can work with you to reclaim a state of mind that is not ruled by emotions. You’ll need that kind of focus for making smart decisions. You’ll have many decisions to make.
Some of the hardest decisions you’ll face are about getting what you need out of your divorce settlement. You’ll do well to sort out your needs from your wants. You should hire a certified divorce financial analyst to crunch numbers and examine “what-if scenarios” for your future, so when you negotiate, you can support your claims for what you NEED. (The unfortunate truth is most divorcees do not get everything they WANT out of a settlement). It’s reasonable to anticipate a somewhat lower standard of living post-divorce because the income that used to support one household now is stretched to support two.
Importantly, remember that your divorce is a process -- a major transaction that must be completed, and then it is DONE. It does not DEFINE you forever. You’ll emerge on the other side a changed person. A good team will hold your hand all the way and help deliver you safely into your better future.