There’s a reason they say divorce is one of the highest stressors for humans, second only to the death of a spouse.
Divorce can feel isolating, challenging, and emotionally depleting, especially if children are involved. And divorce is also the biggest financial investment of your life. A bad divorce outcome or settlement can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).
The good news is there are some tips you can implement to make the process run more smoothly and to prepare for success after the procedure is finalized.
With this in mind, Robin Depies from Confidence & Clarity recently spoke with Lori Barkus from Sustainable Family Solutions on the topic of having a successful divorce.
The discussion centered around the biggest mistakes that divorcing women make and how to avoid them so that you can enter the next chapter of your life without regrets.
Whether you’re a woman embarking on a divorce or a legal professional representing a divorcing woman, you’ll benefit from the tips that Lori and Robin have to share.
Here’s what we discussed.
What Does a Successful Divorce Look Like?
A successful divorce looks different for everyone, but most people would agree that a good divorce involves the fair division of assets and an amicable relationship between the ex-spouses going forward, especially if children are involved. In the best-case scenarios, both parties are satisfied with the outcome.
If you cannot have a friendly relationship with your ex going forward, the divorce should at least leave you in a position to move on with your life quickly afterward, both in terms of mental well-being and financial stability.
Divorce is never a happy thing – everybody marries wanting the marriage to last – but by entering the divorce process with the right mindset, you can effectively pave the way for future success.
The Biggest Mistakes Women Make During a Divorce
Now, the divorce process is a stressful one, and even if both you and your partner agree it’s the right thing to do, tensions and emotions are high, and mistakes are going to be made.
However, losing your cool and shouting at your partner is less of a mistake than overlooking some important legal term. When we say “biggest mistakes,” we’re talking about the parts of the process you want to absolutely make sure you’re focusing on getting right.
Not Setting Themselves Up for Success
It seems cynical to approach your divorce like a business decision, but the reality is that a divorce is one of the most significant financial changes you’ll ever go through.
What happens during your divorce can either set you up for success or leave you financially unstable.
Many women fail to set themselves up for success by being reluctant to take the process as seriously as they should. Instead, you need to be proactive, educated, and assertive.
Rather than working with the cheapest lawyer possible or leaving the finer details of a divorce to a paralegal, a complex divorce with assets and children involved should be carried out by an experienced professional.
Naturally, finances are tight in the current economic situation, but opting for the first, cheapest consultation you see will damage your finances in the long term. Remember to balance the effect on your short-term budget with long-term outcomes.
Paying attention to detail is especially when it comes to creating parenting plans. No matter how amicable your relationship with your ex is, you must set out everything in an official, written parenting plan – even if you’ve agreed on something verbally.
There’s also a temptation to get the divorce over as quickly as possible, which is understandable because of how stressful the process can be.
But rushing through your divorce won’t set you up for success – quite the opposite. Take the time to iron out the finer details, collect the right documentation, and seek advice from trusted professionals.
If you’re concerned about the impact on your mental well-being, seek counseling or therapy from a professional, and talk to a trusted friend or family member.
Divorced men and women suffer from higher rates of depression than their non-divorced counterparts, so the importance of taking care of your well-being can’t be overstated.
Settling for Too Little
It’s understandable to be nervous when entering into a negotiation, especially if your relationship with your ex is less than friendly or you’re intimidated by them.
Not to mention that women are socialized to be more likely to compromise in a negotiation. However, anxiety about the situation or fear of upsetting the other party should not hold you back from getting what you’re owed.
Work with your lawyer to establish what roadblocks you might encounter during the process and how you can overcome them without simply backing out or settling.
The intention of a divorce is never to bankrupt the other party, simply for each party to leave the process with what they’re owed.
Be careful not to fall for emotional blackmail or guilt-tripping. It’s quite common for one party to falsely claim that splitting their retirement funds or pension, for example, will leave them in poverty to deter their spouse from asking for half.
The best way to approach a divorce is to let the numbers speak for themselves. You’ll see what your spouse can share if you get a full, transparent overview of their finances.
Some spouses are much more amenable to compromise than others, which is why having a talented lawyer in your corner is so important if your spouse is high conflict or difficult.
Explore your spouse’s retirement income, pension, assets, and more, rather than taking the first figure offered at face value. What’s more, you need to look not only at the current value of pensions, assets, and the like but also at how much they’re set to generate.
Not Working on Parenting Plans
We can’t count the number of times we’ve heard couples saying that they’ve made a verbal agreement to split time with the children 50-50, and conversations about Christmas plans and college funds can come later.
No matter how amicable your relationship with your partner is currently, failing to put an official parenting plan in writing is a recipe for disaster.
How detailed should a parenting plan be?
The truth is, your parenting plan should be as detailed as you can possibly make it.
You’ll need to discuss everything, from the amount of time each parent spends with the children, to funding for college, to life insurance plans, and put it all in writing.
Failing to make a comprehensive parenting plan will come back to bite you down the line if your spouse chooses to dispute your agreement at a later date.
Not only that, but you’ll both enjoy better peace of mind knowing what every situation looks like. Your children will enjoy more consistency, too.
Start by creating a schedule for the children – where will they spend their birthdays, holidays, weeks, and weekends?
If one of the parents is in the military, will the children move with them or stay with the parent who lives in one place? Can the parents spend amicable time together, such as celebrating a child’s birthday at one party? All of these finer details must be ironed out.
The financial aspects of raising children are a must-discuss topic, too. Couples should establish who will pay for everything, from school field trips to medical fees or dental check-ups. The more you negotiate between yourselves now, the less chance of conflict at a later date.
Not Keep Children Out of the Conflict
Children will naturally find it difficult when their parents divorce, and it may have temporary repercussions on their behavior. In fact, there’s a direct link between conflict in a divorce and a child’s academic performance.
The easiest way to avoid your children being negatively impacted and make this period as stress-free as possible is by keeping them out of any conflicts.
Sure, we’re not saying you need to exclude them completely, but if there are heated moments, it’s not beneficial to show this to your children.
However you might feel about your spouse, if they’re a safe and loving presence in your children’s lives, it’s crucial not to speak badly about them in front of the kids.
Children should not be dragged into adult conflicts, nor should they be used as a weapon to hurt or punish the other parent. Children pick up on more than you think, so avoid making throwaway comments, however insignificant you might think they are.
If the other parent insists on bringing children into the conflict, consider sending the children to an experienced child therapist or bringing in a third-party professional to coordinate communication.
Is There Any Scenario in Which a Parent Doesn’t Have to Pay Child Support?
In most divorces, one parent will have to pay child support money to the parent who looks after the children the majority of the time and even if the parents spend equal time with the children.
The only circumstances in which this scenario may not apply is when both parents have an almost equal income and split their time equally between the children.
Tips for Preparing for a Divorce
- Gather as much financial information as possible. Come to meetings with bank statements, retirement fund statements, three years of tax returns, and any other relevant information. The more prepared you are, the better, and the quicker the process will be if you have everything in one place.
- Consider working with a mental health professional. As supportive as friends and family members can be, many women benefit from having professional support from an independent therapist during the divorce process.
This is especially crucial if you’re one of the 10-15% of people who suffer from severe mental distress throughout a divorce.
Having help from a licensed therapist can not only help you approach the process with a clear head but also have a better chance of long-term happiness once the divorce is finalized.
When it comes to any divorce, no matter the circumstances, the more prepared you are, the better.
Women especially can easily slip into settling for too little – both in terms of assets and family matters – so it’s important to seek advice from experienced professionals and avoid rushing the process for a quick outcome.
To listen to what Robin and Lori had to say in more detail, check out the complete and original discussion here.
Thanks for reading!