Divorce is costly, time consuming and emotionally draining. It worries me that we are still treating divorce like we are in the 15th century. Families are changing and people want to divorce inexpensively and efficiently. But unfortunately, the reality is that the prevailing wisdom on how to dissolve a marriage is hopelessly outdated.
So let’s start changing the narrative around divorce. To begin with, a “War of the Roses” type divorce is no longer the norm. You do not have to lawyer up the minute you decide that your marriage is over and start sending nasty letters off to your spouse/partner in the hope that you will scare him/her into doing the right thing. There is a better way of doing this. There are plenty of other options available so you can separate in a calm, reasonable and inexpensive way. Here are my top tips to achieve a less financially draining divorce:
- Get the necessary help that you need to cope with the emotional fallout of the separation. Remember that only around 20% of a divorce is legal and financial and around 80% is emotional. When you walked down the aisle you did not anticipate breaking up. Your marriage insulated you from your fears of being alone but now it all seems like an illusion. You are probably feeling very angry too and this is because of the failed expectations. The greater the disappointment the angrier you get and you expect the worst from your spouse. You sometimes feel that you want to escape and not face the reality of the situation but it’s not possible. You need to stay and face what’s happening. Sustained anger will wear you out and you will not be able to think rationally. Hence the reason you need to engage a professional who can help you deal with this swirl of emotions, so they don’t get the better of you. You need to do what you can to separate the emotions from the finances as it will cost you money when you prolong the process. You can get more information on Divorce Coaching services here.
- Communication is key – when you are feeling a little less angry, start working on improving the communication between you and your spouse. Most marriages break down because there has been a lack of communication. You may feel that don’t want to have to deal with your spouse but if you have children you are going to have to communicate with him/her for the rest of your life. Start by being mindful of this and listen to what your spouse has to say with curiosity and non-judgement. Take time to formulate your responses and respond in a way that truly conveys how you feel or think so he/she understands your concerns. Don’t react. If you feel upset by what he/she says, take some time out to calm down and continue the conversation later.
- Be patient – whether you are going to mediation, or you are negotiating through lawyers, divorce is a process that takes time. When sorting out financial issues, there has to be full disclosure of all the information relating to what the two you own, what you both owe, what you both made and what you both spent. Gathering the information relating jointly owned property can take time. It’s important to get significant assets valued. These could be real estate, self-owned business, antiques etc. The cost of valuing these are nominal so ensure you do it. The outcome of the property division is only as good as the information that goes into it.
- Start preparing for your post-divorce financial transition– Make budget and write down how much money you are going to need to live. Before you start negotiating getting clear on what you need is important. Start preparing yourself with all the numbers. Make a list of the assets, debts, income and expenses that you may have after the matter is finalised. You can use these templates to assist you. Reality check the figures. Transitioning to a life post-divorce usually means that you may have less than what you have been used to. Sorting out the finances, preparing budgets etc can be frightening if you have not been the one who handled the finances during the relationship. That’s why it necessary that you understand what you need to do so you have a good handle on your finances post-divorce.Once you have gathered all the necessary information, consult with a financial planner and an accountant. They can assist you with fashioning a financial plan that will meet the needs of your family in a tax effective manner. Is it your priority to keep the family home? Are some assets more important to you than others? Will you have any liquid assets? Should you take a portion of the superannuation? Once you have got this advice it is time to see a lawyer and get advice on what the legal position is. Keep in mind that the purpose of getting legal advice is to get an idea of what your legal entitlement is. As per the law the property division must be just and equitable However,YOU need to ultimately, make the decision as to how much you will settle for. In a no-fault divorce system like we have in Australia this does not mean that one spouse will get more than the other because he/she cheated or did something wrong.
- Mediate don’t litigate – engage a Mediator who has experience dealing with property settlement issues and try and reach an agreement on the division of your assets and liabilities through mediation. When you attend mediation don’t be positional. Rather, go to mediation with a mindset of being willing to compromise and show a willingness to discuss all the options. Treat the negotiations like a business transaction and don’t let your emotions get the better of you. The more you argue, the more money your lawyer will make. Once an agreement has been reached, the paperwork can be prepared by a lawyer who will file it in court so it is legally binding.
- Implement your post-divorce budget consistently. Set a date every month where you spend the time to review your budget and finances so you can make the necessary changes and hold yourself accountable. When you have sorted out the finances you can move on to the next chapter of your life. Remember tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life and you want to make it better than yesterday.
Anne-Marie Cade’s Bio
Hi, I am Anne-Marie and I am known as The Peaceful Divorce Lawyer. I am also a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner / Nationally Accredited Mediator, Certified Divorce Coach, High Conflict Coach, Parent Coordinator and founder of Divorce Right.
I have created a revolutionary new way for clients to heal and get over divorce or break-up. I am passionate about family and relationships and I work with clients to empower them to improve communication, manage conflict and reach a peaceful, amicable separation, so they can successfully co-parent together. I incorporate mindfulness practices into my coaching and mediation sessions so my clients are able to get more centered and grounded and become more mindful about the decisions they make.
This unique method helps clients manage the conflict, re-frame their relationship with their partner and finalize all the paperwork so they can move on to the next chapter of your life. I believe that this approach will ensure a positive outcome for the family. I am currently working on my soon to be released book “Peaceful Divorce, Happy Kids.”
I offer 1-1 coaching programs, group coaching, online courses, workshops, and mediation services.