As any woman going through a divorce knows, stress and confusion go hand in hand, especially when divorce occurs earlier on in life. Trying to sort through legal and financial matters while also coping with emotional turmoil can easily lead to poor decision making—with costly long-term consequences.
In order to ensure that your divorce proceeds as smoothly as possible, try to adhere to the divorce management strategies outlined below. While there’s no one “right” way to cope with divorce, this time-tested advice will stand you in good stead to start rebuilding your life.
1. Give yourself time
Many women make the mistake of trying to ignore the conflicting emotions surrounding their divorce by immersing themselves in the many practical tasks that come with organizing a separation. This, however, is a surefire route to burnout and possibly even a breakdown. Instead of trying to take care of everyone and everything else, take care of yourself first. Talk to a trusted friend, a family member, or a counsellor and don’t hesitate to ask for their advice on how you ought to go forward with your life. Objective insight is incredibly valuable when a person is feeling overwhelmed.
2. Choose your legal counsel wisely
Remember, no two law firms are exactly the same; legal professionals have many different areas of expertise, so it’s incredibly important to choose a lawyer who has a strong background in family law. Christine K. Clifford, CEO of Divorcing Divas, learned this the hard way: “I used a criminal attorney,” says Clifford, “and got a poor settlement.”
Conversely, a lawyer who’s well-versed in the ins and outs of family law is likely to get you a better settlement than you expect; he or she will understand the complexities of the laws in your area, as well as being familiar with local judges and lawyers. Tim Moynahan, a Family Lawyer in Waterbury, CT reminds us that “You should be aware that if you and your partner have a long list of combined assets, you may need additional legal aid, e.g. from a financial planner”.
3. When you’re ready, gather all of the relevant financial information you can find
According to financial analyst and divorcee advocate Sandy Arons, fully 40% of divorce proceedings revolve around money. Your divorce will therefore go much more smoothly if you accrue as much information as possible about your shared assets and bank accounts before you head to court.
Jacqueline Newman, a partner at a boutique New York City law firm specializing in divorce, says that you should “Learn all of the online passwords to bank accounts, which accounts had automatic payments and where money is invested, including the names of all accounts, the account numbers and the investment advisors.” Seek advice from your lawyer as you do so and, if possible, also seek the advice of an accountant with a background in handling the financial affairs of divorcing couples.
4. Calculate Future Living Expenses
This tip comes to us from Max Smelyansky, a Family Lawyer in Albany, NY. Max says it’s important to calculate your future living expenses and account for inflation. Once you have assessed your current financial situation with the aid of your lawyer and accountant, the next step is calculating your future living expenses (using your current living expenses as a guide). As divorce financial expert and mediator Rosemary Frank so aptly put it, “Raw emotions will heal and legalities will be completed, but the financial impact of poor decisions, or default decisions due to lack of understanding, will last a lifetime… If you don’t know what you’ll need in the future, you won’t be able to ask for it and you surely won’t get it.”
Remember, those who fail to plan—and plan with the right professional assistance—plan to fail. If you are currently getting divorced or think you may be divorcing in the future, seek legal and financial counsel as soon as possible.
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