FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CONTEMPLATING DIVORCE
THE LANDSCAPE OF DIVORCE
There are many choices and options to consider related to divorce. Understanding that divorce isn't just a legal decision but a rollercoaster of emotions, life-changes, and processes that are often adversarial and confusing. With careful planning and consideration, you will be better equipped to make a decision about ending a marriage armed with peace of mind and intent that is more fact-based than emotion-driven.
During the process of divorce, individuals lose, on average, almost 80% of their assets-assuming the 50/50 split between spouses-On top of that, the average cost of divorce runs $20k to upwards of over $100k.
Source: Divorce Coaching, Inc. 2017
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE MOVING FORWARD
For the record, I'm not a divorce advocate. I'm an advocate of level-headed decision making that will help you avoid the mistakes and pitfalls of the divorce process.
What are your legal rights and responsibilities? The best way to learn the basics of divorce law in your state is to consult an attorney. Most will meet with you for a small fee or even do a call with you for free. An excellent place to start your research is your state's website. For example, California's is found here. Nolo is a trusted resource for divorce publications and digital information. You can purchase guides specific to your state and find other articles and resources throughout their site here.
What are your monthly household expenses and financial obligations? If you aren't the one in your relationship that typically handles the finances, this can feel overwhelming and even impossible to figure out. All of my clients get a comprehensive budgeting checklist to review, but you can create one of your own by starting with the most significant expenses and working your way down. Go through your bank statements and collect a three month average for mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, automobile, food, medical, credit card, and loan debt. It's imperative you understand even the basics of what you will need to support your life as a single-person or single-parent if there are children involved. This brings me to the next consideration...
How do you anticipate your family structure or restructure to look like during and after the divorce? Parenting and child-custody are other areas where the laws will vary state to state, but custody arrangements are one of the areas where things can get nasty fast. As a result of this, I always say, keep your children's needs and well-being at the top of your priority list. Unfortunately, children are used as pawns in high-conflict divorce negotiations. I highly recommend parents consider the short-term and long-term impact their divorce will have on their children. How do you want to show up during this process, and who do you want to be remembered as on the other side of this divorce? Check-in with your emotions now and create the best vision of yourself in the future as a co-parenting entity.
What is your earning potential? Perhaps you haven't been in the workforce for years and need re-training to become employable. Or you may work full-time, but in contemplating divorce, you are now facing the reality of having to support two households. Whatever your earning status is at the moment, it's important to get clarity on this sooner rather than later. Making assumptions that the court, attorneys, or even your soon to be ex-spouse will make a fair and equitable decision around spousal support is a recipe for disappointment and heightened conflict. There are laws around child-support amounts, but in many states, spousal support is a moving target. Assessing your ability to financially support not only your lifestyle, but potentially your spouse's before you file for divorce may save you money and your sanity in the divorce process.
What do you want your divorce and your life to look like beyond divorce? As a coach, this is the question I revisit the most with clients. Divorce, even the most amicable ones, are emotionally charged results-driven decisions that bring out the worst in people. Getting clarity on why you are contemplating divorce, how you want to act and be in the divorce process, and what you want your life to look like post-divorce will help you stay focused when negative situations trigger you along the way. Also, when you feel exhausted or frustrated by the decisions of divorce, having a post-divorce plan will help you stay on track and avoid giving up when things get overwhelming.
Wherever you may be in the decision process, being informed, having a plan, and getting clarity about why you are divorcing and what you want throughout the entire process will save you time, money, and your sanity. Check out my page on divorce coaching and learn the six most common mistakes in divorce. A divorce coach can help you sift through all of the decisions and steps needed to proceed. I offer complimentary discovery sessions. Click here to schedule yours today.