This is Tammy R. Ferreira, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ with some tips on how to divorce well while saving your money and your bank account. At Divorce Life Solutions, we understand that saving money is a priority. But saving money won’t do you any good if you are unable to protect important assets, or survive financially after the divorce. Whether you decide to go it without a divorce lawyer, or decide to hire the lawyer to the stars, your results will depend to a large extent on your own preparation and care in proceeding with your case.
1. DESIGN YOUR POSTDIVORCE FINANCIAL PLAN
We commonly see this situation: you struggle and struggle to make your marriage work, then finally decide that the problems just can’t be fixed. You are to be congratulated on making a tough decision, but that’s just the first stage. Now you’ve got to do some thinking: What is my postdivorce life going to look like? How am I going to support myself and the kids? What am I going to need in terms of support and property to retire with dignity?
If you are at the beginning stages of your divorce or separation, I urge you to do some hard thinking on these questions. As a CDFA™ I can give you some solid advice on what assets to ask for, how much support to ask for and what you may be entitled to.
It is vital that, at a minimum, you prepare a budget for your post – divorce life. Include a war chest of at least $5000 to hire an attorney or financial advisor. If you haven’t figured out how to make it on your own, you might not be ready to end your relationship.
2. DEVELOPE A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS.
Many divorcing people mistakenly believe that they can simply hire an attorney, throw all their divorce problems in the attorney’s lap, and hope that everything will turn out okay. I know this is a tough time in your life, but proceeding this way is opening the door for you to get ripped off by the unscrupulous and to be denuded of the cash you’ll need to survive.
I strongly advise you to take a trip to the law library or the bookstore to read about your financial rights and obligations. There are also excellent seminars available, such as the Second Saturday Workshop or the Divorce Life Solutions Quarterly Workshop held at Palomar College.
Consulting with a lawyer without a basic education is like taking your car to a mechanic when you know nothing about cars. Unfortunately, many attorneys will point you to the most expensive option, when all you need is a minor repair.
3. DELEGATE TASKS YOU ARE NO GOOD AT.
So now you have a plan, and you’ve researched your rights and obligations. Now, it is important to know your limitations. Many people are excellent at standing up in court and are doing their own case, but are poor at writing. If you don’t use an attorney for anything else, it is a good idea to have an attorney draw up your pleadings, declarations and settlement agreements for submission to the court.
Some excellent family attorneys offer their services as “unbundled services.” This simply means that the lawyer can handle a piece of your case, rather than representing you for every aspect. For example, an attorney can write your declaration regarding support, and can help you to incorporate the report of your CDFA™ as expert evidence.
The biggest advantage of unbundled services is that you won’t have to shell out a large retainer. You simply pay the attorney as you go.
If you have little or no experience in budgeting, a CDFA™ can help you learn this vital skill. Remember, you are going to be on your own soon, and those things that your husband or wife used to do will still need to get done.
4. DISENGAGE FROM CONFLICT OVER MONEY.
Discussions about money tend to lead to conflict, because money is about survival. If your soon–to–be–ex is in acute shock over the announcement of your divorce, negotiations with him or her might be difficult. You may wish to suggest a professional mediator to assist you in obtaining agreements about support and property, at least to get you to the next stage of the process.
Mediators are trained to keep the conversation about the business at hand. I myself am a Divorce Life Solutions mediator, assisting is a financial consultant as well as a conflict resolution specialist during mediation. In that first session of mediation, I can show the nervous parties how they will get through the next several months, and also assist them to plan their postdivorce lives.
Even if you don’t choose mediation, see our website for some important tips on negotiating. Negotiating temporary and permanent financial agreements are where many divorces go off the rails and into high conflict.
Remember, high conflict is expensive conflict.
5. DIRECT ATTORNEYS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS.
Whether you use attorneys for unbundled services or to represent you throughout your case, it is important that you take an active role in protecting your own interests. Take charge by obtaining important documents, such as tax returns, bill and credit card statements, pay stubs, retirement account statements and other financial documents.
I recommend that you see a CDFA™ before you see the attorney. Seeing a CDFA™ will help you to walk into that attorney’s office with the ability to communicate your goals, desires and needs.
Although it is important to listen to your attorneys recommendations, the more legwork that you can do, the more money will save on attorneys fees, and the better witness you will make it the case has to proceed to trial.
I wish you good luck as you go through this tremendous transition of divorce.
Disclaimer: Tammy R. Ferreira is certified by the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™. Ms. Ferreira is not an attorney, but has a background in divorce financial analysis and planning. The information set forth in this blog or on our websites are not intended to as a substitute for consultation with CDFA™, lawyer or other professional. This information is not intended to apply to cases or jurisdictions outside the State of California, and those viewing this information outside of California, or having business before jurisdictions outside of California, should consult a local professional, financial analyst or lawyer. The information in this blog is not intended to be an evaluation of any particular asset, support amount or other legal position, and should not be construed as a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the results of your legal matter.