I giggle looking back at all the monumental mistakes I made in my divorce. But, Janet Fitch captures my sentiment perfectly:
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
I am thrilled to share this advice with you, on the 5 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid In Divorce. May it serve you well.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #1: MOVING OUT OF YOUR HOME
On the final, fateful day of my marriage, I left with my purse and two kids in hand. I never set foot in the house again. He changed the locks and installed a security system with video surveillance. 6 months later, he reluctantly turned over some of my clothes and makeup. 3 years later, I received some of the furniture and artwork in the divorce decree.
This is not the smart way to handle ending a marriage.
Avoid the rookie mistake of abandoning your home. I left my home out of fear and desperation, but others leave because they feel morally responsible to vacate the home because they are the ones who wanted the divorce. Cordell (2010) suggests that even if the husband wasn’t the one who filed for divorce, he may feel that moving out is the right thing to do (Cordell, 2010).
|"Moving out of your home is like picking up 40-pound pancake of financial burden, and carrying it around with your for the duration of the divorce process."
- Christina Lynn
Here are my reasons why moving out of the home is Rookie Mistake #1.
- I didn’t have enough money to rent a temporary home on my own. My parents were gracious enough to take me and my kids in, but that may not be an option (or a good option) for you.
- I didn’t have enough money to pay for all the living expenses on my own. Groceries, internet, electricity, gas, HOA fees, insurance, car payments, credit cards, and student loans.
- When it came time to make a list of our personal property for the divorce proceedings, was impossible for me to recall all the “stuff” in our houses, garage, office buildings and storage units by memory.
- Being the parent who left the home made me the “bad guy” in my kids’ eyes (temporarily). Divorce is a tough transition for any kid, but you can perhaps avoid appearing as the villain if you remain in the home.
- I lost control of all my favorite personal belongings. From my favorite cowboy boots, my children’s scrapbooks I labored over, and the heirlooms from my grandmother. My ex-husband either didn’t know where these items were, or he didn’t feel compelled to return them to me.
- According to Cordell (2010), staying in the home also will likely allow you to see your children on a daily basis, which is important for custody battles.
- I lost access to my financial and personal records. My birth certificate, passport, marriage license, social security card, as well as these documents for my kids. When my attorney asked me for bank statements, credit card statements, and investment account records, I couldn’t provide any of them. I left them all at the house.
If you have already moved out, Cordell (2010) suggests to move back in. Ignore the awkwardness. It’s more important to make wise decisions than it is to avoid feeling foolish.
If you are in an abusive relationship, disregard this Rookie Mistake #1.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #2: SELECTING THE WRONG ATTORNEY
I googled “best divorce attorney near me” and “high-net worth attorney near me.” With 60 minutes of research, I called it good. WRONG.
Here are suggestions to guide you in selecting the right divorce attorney:
- Interview 3 different attorneys. Just like you should get quotes from 3 different insurance companies or mortgage brokers, you should test out 3 different divorce attorneys.
- Cordell (2010) suggests to limit your search to attorneys who only work on divorce cases. My attorney did personal injury, elderly legal services, as well as divorce. Cordell (2010) explains that attorneys are best at what they do if they focus being good at one thing.
- Understand how the attorney charges, so that you are not surprised in the end. I remember being shocked when my attorney told me that he had been charging 10% interest on the attorney fees I had been accumulating over the course of 3 years. Please, remember my mistake -- know what you’re getting into.
- Ask the attorneys you interview to suggest their game plan for your case (Cordell, 2010).
- Ask the attorneys about options or alternatives for your case (Cordell, 2010).
- Search for or ask for referrals for attorneys that specialize in your situation. For example, Cordell (2010) suggests for men to look for code words, like “father’s rights.” Women can do the same. Try looking for attorneys who only work with women (or only men).
- Cordell (2010) advises not to limit yourself to attorneys who don’t charge for initial consultations. You get what you pay for. That initial consultation you had to pay for may be worth it.
- Cordell (2010) also reminds you that hiring a solo-practitioner comes at a higher price. If your attorney doesn’t have a good support staff, that means they themselves will be doing the grunt work and charging you for it.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #3: RUNNING EVERYTHING PAST MY ATTORNEY
I was afraid that I would lose custody of my kids. I operated for 3 years in a state of sheer fear. Thinking that one wrong move would destroy me. This fear resulted in me filtering many text messages, idle threats and random behaviors of my soon-to-be-Ex through my attorney. If my Ex changed the schedule without my approval, I sounded the alarm and requested an emergency meeting with my attorney. With every request, email and phone call made to my attorney, he was keeping a tally on his billable-hour-ledger. The vast majority of my concerns I brought to my attorney’s attention were rubbish. I didn’t understand at the time, what was vital to the legal proceedings, and what wasn’t.
|"A divorce coach is an economical way of avoiding unnecessary legal fees."
I recommend that if you enlist the services of a divorce coach, like Kate Anthony, to help you through the divorce process.
A divorce coach will also help you make better decisions. I was the first to admit that I was not capable of making clear-headed decisions. Most women handle their divorce with more poise than I did, but I haven’t met one person who wouldn’t significantly benefit from the services of a divorce coach.
You may feel like you can’t afford her service, but believe me, you can. Find a way. The amount of money she can reduce your attorney bill could be exponential. Plus, you’ll feel fabulous.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #4: FORGOING SPECIALIZED HELP FROM A DIVORCE FINANCIAL EXPERT
I didn’t know what a divorce financial analyst was when I was going through a divorce. Their job title hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. Once it does, everyone going through a divorce will be hiring a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®.
As much as you need an attorney representing your legal interests, you also need a divorce financial advisor to represent your financial interests.
- Did you know that most divorce attorneys are not financial experts?
- Do they know the tax implications of moving certain assets?
- Do they know which assets are easier to transfer into the spouse’s name post-divorce?
- Do they know which assets will cost time and money in further attorney fees in order to transfer them into your name?
- Do they know the long-term financial implications of your proposed division of assets? Do they know how to educate you on financial matters in divorce?
If you asked your attorney these questions, they would probably refer you to a financial advisor for advice. But you don’t want the run of the mill financial advisor. You need one who specializes in divorce finances.
You need a divorce financial advisor to work with your attorney in divorce.
|"You only have ONE SHOT at a fair property settlement in divorce. Enlist the services of a divorce financial expert to represent you."
A divorce financial advisor knows how to analyze divorce financial settlements and create reports to illustrate the fairness of them is called a divorce financial analyst.
A divorce financial analyst works with your attorney, analyzes all the financial documents you have, obtains all the pertinent financial information, and then creates reports. The illustrated reports allow you to visualize the fairness of the division of assets, as well as outline a
recommended plan of action for which assets would be best for you to walk away from the marriage with.
ROOKIE MISTAKE #5: FORGETTING YOUR MANNERS
Divorce brings out the ugly in people. You’d be surprised at the kind of back-stabbing and trash-talking sabotage that sweet natured housewives are capable of. While this would make an excellent reality TV series, it’s better to remember your manners.
Eventually, the heat will dissipate. You will regain your composure. It’s better to bite your tongue, and refrain from slashing any tires.
While I have a few stains from my days of righteous fury, for the most part, I kept it together. This might have been due to my proactive measure by that long bath I took where I blocked 100+ contacts on Facebook. If I couldn’t see or hear from them, I would be less likely to throw a verbal dagger.
The reality is that your behavior on social media can come back to haunt you. It feels like a safe place to voice your opinion. But, don’t be fooled. This will only hurt you, in the end. Focus on healing your heart. Pour your energy and focus into creating a new, rockin' life for your and your kids.
|“Option A is not available, so let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
Your #1 task in the divorce process is to dissolve the marriage while protecting the kids. It’s that simple. Your ego must take a back seat for a while. After the divorce, you can focus on self-care and career development. Yet, during the divorce proceedings, keep your nose to the grindstone (dissolving the marriage and protecting the kids), and don’t forget your manners.
Cordell, J. E. (2010). The 10 stupidest mistakes men make when facing divorce and how to avoid them. New York: Three Rivers Press.