Taking the approach to Prioritize, Organize and Simplify your divorce from the beginning will make the divorce process easier, reduce the potential stress levels, and help with securing the outcomes you would like to achieve.
This approach applies before, during, and after the divorce process. In fact, it really applies to all aspects of your life. Some key matters to focus on (and this approach covers all of them) are your mental, your financial, your children’s wellbeing. In the end, there is a high-level checklist.
Let’s see how Prioritize, Organize and Simplify your divorce works.
Prioritize: Take the time to think about what you would realistically like once this is all over. When starting the divorce process this could include the custody of your children and their wellbeing, your wellbeing, financial security and more. Reach out to me for more in-depth Priorities Worksheet to work from.
One may need to learn new skills, for example managing your finances and creating a budget because your partner always handled these important matters. Take a little time to think about what you need down the road and do not let less important matters cloud attaining this outcome. You and your children will be better off if you understand ahead of time what you are working towards.
Organize: Create a game plan! Remember the divorce is only the first step you will take toward your future. This may take the support of a variety of professionals and today you have more skilled professionals than ever – attorneys, financial counselors, divorce coaches, therapists and more. You may be able to group some priorities together.
For instance, as you are struggling, you can bet your children are too. Find help for both you and your children (and having the same person may not always be the best idea).
Simplify: Your life is about to become a whirlwind and very complicated. Making a game plan, sharing it with a trusted professional, and being held accountable to it will reap many rewards. Often you may want to work with a professional to make sure you simplify.
One example is to work with a financial counselor. A financial counselor can help you set up a realistic budget and help you learn to manage your daily finances. This will let you know what your quality of life will look like which, in turn, will reduce much of the fear you would otherwise experience without that knowledge.
Creating the budget is one major step to making sure your finances are simplified (not just when going through the divorce process, but after also. In fact, tweaking that initial budget is essential). It can also simplify your negotiations and positioning as you know what you need moving forward – especially if you have prioritized what assets and alimony you would like. This can empower you and build your confidence.
You will be stronger as you knock off items on your priority list mentioned above. Having a good attorney can simplify the mediation and/or court process significantly (working with an attorney in some capacity is critical – I would not recommend “you go it alone”). Working with a divorce coach and/or therapist can simplify your daily activities and angst.
Below is a high-level checklist for you to think through.
Please contact me for a more comprehensive list:
- Meet with an attorney
- Meet with a financial counselor
- Meet with a mental health professional (make sure your children do too)
- Make sure you communicate (appropriately) with your children
- Complete a financial inventory (take pictures for proof whenever possible) and have copies of all financial records in your financial inventory
- Understand the household bills and expenditures currently incurred
- Change all your passwords and ensure your privacy
- Create a support network
- Change your will and beneficiaries (check with your attorney as to when is legally permitted and appropriate)
- Be careful not to do anything illegal or inappropriate (in some states moving money may be deemed illegal). Check with your attorney.
Hopefully, this has helped you in prioritizing your thoughts. We would love your thoughts and comments on what we have shared or if you would like for us to expand on any of the ideas shared here.
Hirsch Serman, MBA, CPA is the founder of Lifecycle Financial, a company that helps those going through Divorce and other life cycle changes to navigate the financial pitfalls of a new life dynamic. The company was founded through personal experiences in divorce and watching the changes in an aging parent.