Think back to a time in childhood when you were losing a game. Most likely, your urge was to pack up your toys and go home. You may have even done so…only to be told by your parent or coach that you were not displaying sportsman like behavior. This emotional response may have been justified and even seemed logical to you at the time. But, you learned that nobody likes a sore loser.
There Are No Winners In Divorce
The emotions of divorce are overwhelming. They may have you thinking in terms of winning and losing. Here’s the thing…NOBODY WINS in divorce. If you asked one hundred divorced couples who they thought got the better end of the deal when they finalized their divorce, it’s a safe bet that most, potentially all, would say, “my ex.”
In every divorce, regardless of income bracket, the universal truth is there are finite resources available. Though the numbers can vary greatly, splitting the marital pie in two is always an adjustment. Divorcing couples must consider the entire picture and be financially aware and responsible now more than ever.
Avoid Feeling Like The Loser
So, where do you start? This is an overwhelming time in your life. The stakes likely could not be higher. The first step is to reject the negative thoughts in your head and take a deep breath. It’s going to take time, but you will be okay. By making time to learn, prepare, and protect, you are going to set yourself up to succeed.
Learn – Curiosity Is Your Best Friend Right Now
- Are we approaching the divorce negations in the most effective way possible?
- Have I adjusted my lifestyle to my current situation?
- Should I keep the house?
- Can I close joint credit cards and loans?
- How do we properly execute QDROs (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders)?
- Do I have appropriate health, life, disability and property insurance?
- What happens if I die during the divorce? After?
- Have we been strategic in my tax planning?
- How are we splitting miles and hotel points?
Questions you should be asking yourself:
- Where am I currently on the SARA (Shock – Anger – Resentment – Acceptance) feelings spectrum? Would I make the same decision if I were at a different point?
- Why am I making the choices I am making?
- Is my logical brain or my emotion running the show?
- Am I navigating the divorce journey with grace and dignity?
Prepare – Anything You Can Do To Gain Clarity Is Helpful
- Order your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com or www.CreditKarma.com.
- Gather important documents like tax returns and account statements if you can. Don’t worry, your attorney can get them if you can’t.
- Understand all your assets and all your debt.
- Stay off or limit use of social media during this time. Remember anything you say can and will be used against you.
- Set up your own checking accounts and credit cards.
- Track your spending and project what will change as you split into two households.
- Set up a new “Divorce” email to use for all communications with your spouse, attorney and CDFA® . This will make it easy to search for important past emails and prevent being surprised by bad news when you are reading day to day emails for work and children.
For your children (age-appropriate):
- Talk with your children to make sure they understand how family finances will likely change.
- Ask them what is important to them – even adult children.
- Assure them that even though it will be different, it will be okay.
Protect – Your Time, Your Money, And Yourself
Ask yourself: “How much of my life am I willing to spend (time, money, and energy) on divorce?”
- If what you are fighting for is more important to you than ANYTHING else in your life…keep fighting. If not, negotiate or let it go.
- Plan for your meetings with professionals, bunch your questions in one email and be aware of the fees you are incurring.
Focus on what you can control.
- Identify areas where you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are aligned in your goals. If you can find any common ground to quickly agree on, you can set the tone for a positive resolution for more challenging issues. If there is no area you can quickly negotiate, accept that you may be in for a fight and choose to do it respectfully regardless of your spouse’s actions.
- Do some physical exercise every day. Even five minutes of being outside walking or stretching will make a huge difference. Buy a punching bag or punch pillows to release stress – just do it!!
The urge to hold on to as much as you can during this time of your life is completely normal. It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction to want to stabilize your surroundings and lower the amount of change you are experiencing.
Try to view this time as a rebuilding of your life rather than a dismantling of your life. Understand that letting go does not mean giving up. It means choosing to embrace the future rather than the past. The best part about that is you get to choose what you take with you on the journey.
Can you put closure on your past to embrace your future with dignity?
Author: Heather L. Locus