Did You Hate Valentine's Day Keep Your Divorce On Budget

How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Divorce with Confidence & Clarity

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!


I may need a divorce.
Hi, I’m Lori Barkus, a family law attorney. My Colorado and Florida-based law firm helps women have a successful divorce by achieving the fairest resolution in the most efficient manner possible. And today, I’d like to talk to you about the what-ifs of divorce. Let’s say you’re thinking about divorce, or maybe your spouse has shared some shocking and devastating news about a betrayal or told you that they’re thinking about divorce, and you’re completely caught off guard by this. You’re still determining what you want at this point. You might still be thinking, maybe I can still save my marriage, or it might be unavoidable and the process is moving forward. Your friends and family are telling you that you should go forward. They’re telling you, you should talk to an attorney. You have so much going on. You know you need help but you’re trying to figure out where to go.

We can help with this situation, because it’s something that my firm and I have faced many times over the years. In fact, we’ve seen cases like this so often that we’ve created an offering specifically for you. We do what’s called a strategy session, and the purpose of this session is to answer all of those what-ifs? We’re here to help you, not just tell you that you should go forward with divorce. We want you to understand what would happen if this goes forward. We want you to know what the process looks like. We want to answer your question about mediation. What is it? Is it right for you? What can you expect in terms of custody of your kids? Would you get alimony? Would you pay alimony? How does child support work? What if you want to keep your house? Maybe you’re concerned that your partner is hiding money.

We can answer all of these questions and more. We can also provide resources to help you understand your financial picture and help support you in making the decision. That’s what we’re here to do. We want you to determine if the marriage can be saved and if divorce is the right step for you, and if it is, we want to make your divorce a successful one. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
Divorce FAQs

A divorce mediator is a neutral party who does not represent either person in a divorce. They can help you and your spouse reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues such as child support, parenting plans, dividing property and spousal support. Divorce mediation usually works best when both parties generally agree on how they want to resolve the various issues and are on amicable terms. At Barkus law, we provide a service that includes both mediation time to discuss and work out the details of your divorce as well as the preparation of all divorce-related documents you will need to file with the court. Although she is a family law attorney, in her role as a mediator, Lori Barkus cannot file paperwork on your behalf, nor can she provide you with legal advice. However, she can prepare all of the documents for you and give you detailed step-by-step instructions about how to file your paperwork. Should you have legal questions or require that paperwork filed on your behalf, you should speak with a qualified attorney about your rights and obligations before and even during the mediation process. Mediation is a low-cost and less stressful way to “untie the knot.” Sustainable Family Solutions offers a flat fee for the mediation process and an additional fee for preparing the documents you need to file with the court. Please call us for details.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties are represented by separate attorneys. The parties and their lawyers sign an agreement not to go to court and instead work together to create an agreement that is best for the parties and their children. The parties can end the process if it does not work, but, if they go to court to have a judge decide, they will each need to hire another lawyer. This keeps the lawyers and parties invested in reaching an agreement. Collaborative divorce can cost far less than a traditional or litigated divorce and can help preserve the family and keep children out of the process. If you are interested in a consultation or have questions, do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we’ll get right back to you.

In order to obtain a divorce, one party needs to state that he or she has lived in Florida for six months and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
A divorce can be granted over one party’s objection. As long as one party meets residency requirements and states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, there is no way to object to or to stop the divorce process from moving forward.

While you are not required to have a lawyer represent you, not having a lawyer can put you at a disadvantage. It is very important that you understand your rights and obligations before you reach any settlement or go to court. You may decide to seek legal advice or representation if you have questions about your rights in the divorce process.

While alimony can be modified, requesting a modification doesn’t mean you’ll get one. It’s not a matter of simply going before a judge and telling them that you no longer can pay what you have been paying your ex-spouse. These cases must be prepared carefully and those seeking a modification must be able to state a legal basis for the change. Under Florida statute 61.13, the trial court judge has the discretion as to whether alimony will be modified. It provides that when “the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes” either party may apply for an order decreasing or increasing the amount of alimony and the court has jurisdiction to make orders as equity requires, with “due regard to the changed circumstances of the financial ability of the parties.” The party seeking the modification carries the burden to justify the reduction by having to prove a substantial change in circumstances since the original alimony order and that the change in circumstances was not contemplated at the time of the final order of dissolution. The change also has to be “sufficient, material, involuntary and permanent in nature.” In other words, the party seeking a reduction can’t quit a job that paid them $100,000 a year and accept a job that pays significantly less. When it comes to being permanent in nature, this depends on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Should the spouse paying alimony choose to retire, the court can take that into consideration. However, that doesn’t mean there will be an automatic reduction or termination of alimony. The court has to consider the age of the payor, his or her health, and the reason for their decision to retire as well as the financial circumstances of the recipient. There are many scenarios that can be contemplated when seeking modification of alimony. Modifications require the consultation and assistance of an attorney who understands the process, the risks and the likelihood of success. If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.

The goal of shared parenting is for parents to collaborate and to remain actively involved in their child’s life, not just on weekends or holidays. In most cases, parents share parental responsibility and make decisions together regarding education, health, and other important matters. Timesharing refers to the time each parent is allowed to spend with the child or children. In more and more cases, parents have equal or nearly equal timesharing with the children. Historically, most children whose parents divorce have spent a majority of their time living with one parent — usually the mother — with the other parent getting visitation rights. However, there has been a big push in recent years to balance the amount of time children spend with both parents, giving parents the opportunity to be actively involved in the raising of their children. In most states, including Florida, judges make custody decisions based on a”best interest of the child” standard. However, judges need not explain the reason(s) for their decisions. Several states have gone so far as to pass shared parenting legislation. In 2013, Florida lawmakers approved an alimony reform law that included a provision for shared parenting. However, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the bill. Equal timesharing isn’t for everyone and works best for those who are ready, willing and able to take on responsibilities for their child. If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.

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