It doesn’t matter what your story is. The bottom line is that you are here now and will have to assume financial responsibility for the rest of your life. So “What the hell do I do now?” It’s simple – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Stop the pity party and get into the driver’s seat! Don’t let your anger drive you to crazy decisions. The absolutely most important thing for you is to keep your emotions in check as you negotiate your financial settlement. Many people are so wounded and emotionally exhausted that they leave it all on the table. The pain may stop when you just give in but only temporarily. Reality hits when your financial lifelines suddenly snap. When you wake up and realize that you’ve blown through your savings and maxed out your credit cards.
Before you start negotiating, find a therapist. Your therapist will work with you on regaining your self-esteem, so that you can be cool, confident and patient when negotiating your financial settlement with your soon to be ex.
The next step is to decide on a method to dissolve the marriage. Many couples decide to hire a lawyer. However, there are options that will allow you to control the outcome and the cost of the divorce.
One such option is mediation. Even if you feel that you and your spouse are so angry and polarized that you could never come to agreement, a skilled mediator may be able to coax you both into a mutually acceptable agreement. It’s a confidential process that takes place out of court. The mediator stays neutral and is completely separated from the outcome. Better yet, if you work with a financial divorce expert, like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who is also a trained mediator, he or she can educate you about the financial and tax impacts of your divorce and also model various “what if” scenarios.
The financial mediator can help level out the playing field by explaining (again to both equally) the current family finances and how each asset works. This way you both have complete information to work with before you make your final decision.
And remember, don’t try to enlist your kids into your war against your ex. Criticize him/her bitterly before them, and your children will understand exactly what you’re saying – not what you think you’re saying. If they come from your worthless ex, they’ll reason, then they must be just as flawed, just as worthless, and just as despicable as he/she.
Denisa is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Divorce Mediator, and Certified Financial Planner. For close to two decades she has been helping hundreds of couples with her unique set of skills sets to divorce smart.