When the emotional turmoil of divorce enters your life, it can be hard to focus on the crucial details revolving around financial issues. However, if you are not pro-active in covering your short and long-term financial needs, you can suffer the consequences for decades to come. Here are five mistakes to avoid when negotiating through your divorce.
1. Becoming a Financial Victim.
Take the initiative. If a separation or divorce may be in your future, don’t wait. Be sure to make copies of all your important financial records. Include all account statements and other documents — banks, checking accounts, credit cards, real estate mortgages, stocks and bonds, tax returns, wills, life insurance, etc. If there’s a chance your spouse may liquidate or re-title any marital assets, immediately notify the holder in writing and get a restraining order from the court. Keep your eye on the cash in joint checking or brokerage accounts. The idea is to avoid later regrets by being pro-active. Should your assets be taken, you’ll pay considerable fees for legal and forensic accounting down the road.
2. Using a Combative Lawyer to Punish.
This can be a foolish and costly decision. Because divorce settlements are determined by equitable distribution laws, it’s all about the numbers. Our courts are not geared toward punishing your ex financially for hurting you emotionally or in other ways not being a good person. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you are expecting morality issues to be settled in court. Remember that a combative attorney is looking for ways to keep you in litigation. The hours they can spend “working” on your case is limitless if you give them that option. Consider that costly divorces add up to less money for you and your children to live on. What’s the benefit of that? Instead, think of your divorce as a business arrangement. Rather than looking for revenge, look for ways to redesign your life so you’ll be living a more rewarding future!
3. Getting too Attached to your Assets.
Don’t get trapped by having an emotional attachment to your assets. The consequences of drawn-out conflicts over a piece of furniture, car, painting or vacation home can not only be costly – but exhausting and time-consuming. Too often, after clear exploration, many wives, for example, find they cannot afford to keep up the house they’ve been fighting for. That’s because a house is an asset that usually appreciates only 2 or 3 percent per year. Considering mortgage payments, taxes, repairs, etc., it is also a major expenditure. With this low return on investment, she may be much smarter downsizing and putting her revenue into income-producing investments and retirement planning. These options, which many women consider as a lower priority, can ultimately provide better pay-offs in the long-term.
4. Depending on your lawyer for non-legal services.
Want to throw away countless dollars? Turn your attorney into your therapist, financial planner or messenger. With attorney fees ranging from $200 to $300 per hour and more, be clear about why you are contacting them and for how long. Feeling blue? A therapist’s fees are much lower than a lawyer’s and you’ll get much better advice for your money. Have questions about your assets? Bring a certified divorce financial planner onto your team. If you need assistance with visitation details, career counseling, emotional support and a broad range of other information, contact qualified professionals and pocket considerable saving on attorney fees.
5. Disregarding the Impact of Inflation.
Good divorce financial planners should be providing this advice, but it’s also important for you to be aware of the impact of inflation on your future. It’s essential that you take inflation into account when calculating the cost of college education ten or fifteen years from now or realistic savings for your retirement in two or three decades. Ask your financial advisor for ways to gauge your expenses in the short and long-term – and make wise decisions accordingly.
When you are a divorcing parent you owe it to your children to make decisions based on wisdom, not emotion. Put together a team you can rely on and, using their best advice, negotiate through your divorce as if your future depends on it – because it does!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, plus Rosalind’s free ezine and other resources for parents, visit //www.childcentereddivorce.com.
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