Getting Unmarried: Taking the Stress Out of Financial Discussions

by | Oct 15, 2014 | Collaborative Law, Mental Health, Money and Finances, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Getting married is about love. Well the tide turns when a couple decides to get unmarried or divorced. Divorce is then about money and kids and hopefully not in that order. Being prepared to have financial discussions with your spouse, financial neutral specialist, or your attorney takes time, effort, and I think introspection, to create the greatest likelihood for a successful outcome. One of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks of getting unmarried is compiling all of the financial information necessary. One way or another you and your spouse need to provide copies of statements for all assets, liabilities, paycheck records, tax returns, deeds to your home, pension and 401k accounts, credit card accounts, bank accounts and more.  More than likely you will build a more complete documented financial record than most ever did during their marriage. I think the most important thing you can do to prepare beyond being fully transparent in disclosing and providing all financial documentation is to develop a healthy mindset.  While this is challenging it is certainly doable and worthwhile. The hard work it takes to develop a healthy mindset can save you time, money, and headaches. Just what do I mean by a healthy mindset? It helps to put all your focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past. Focus on your interests instead of positions. Interests are the underlying reasons why something may be so important to a person. Let us look at a simple example. Let us say we have one orange and two people who both want the orange.  They both draw lines in the sand saying no to the other in terms of giving up the orange.  This is a position, something both people decided. It is not until we ask why the orange is so important to them that we determine the underlying interests. What is it that caused each of these people in our example to decide they both want the orange? It turns out one wants the orange to eat and one wants the orange peelings for baking. By getting to the underlying interests, we solve the problem position of one orange wanted by two people.  Learn to think, talk, and express yourself in terms of your interests when negotiating with others. You will be amazed at what can happen and how seemingly unsolvable problems can be resolved. Helping you and your spouse speak in interests is something we as professionals do in the collaborative divorce process. Here are four other basic skills you can learn and practice to help you through the divorce process.
  1. Manage your emotions:  As I said earlier focus on solutions rather than reacting emotionally. Regardless of what someone else might say do not take it personally.
  2. Flexible thinking:  Flexible thinking will help you come up with new ideas and creative solutions. It is important for you and your spouse to maintain flexible thinking during the divorce process.
  3. Moderate behavior:  Moderating your behavior will help your spouse be a little more open minded, respectful, and less defensive.
  4. Checking in with yourself:  As you are going through divorce process checking in often with self on how you are doing on the above three items especially when under stress can help things go more smoothly.
While I cannot promise you, everything will be smooth sailing in your divorce by following these simple suggestions the seas of divorce can be less intimidating and help you reach your final port destination with a little less wear and tear.

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