As published in The Florida Villager
People going through a divorce think once they hire a lawyer, they are fine. Not so! There is so much more that goes into a divorce. Although your attorney is the key piece, there are several pieces to this puzzle. Divorce is an emotional, spiritual, financial and legal mine field; therefore you need a team approach.
Thinking of divorce is overwhelming and an area one might not know how to navigate unless of course you are Elizabeth Taylor and divorced 7 times! So for those of you not so experienced in divorce, here is a guideline.
#1 Hire a divorce coach and here are the reasons why it’s worth the investment. A divorce coach will pull everything together for you, which includes:
Assist you to determine what is most important to you in the divorce process;
- Assist you to create goals for what you want for you and your family presently and moving forward;
- Identify and prioritize your concerns;
- Assist you in managing the emotions that are part of the divorce process and in reducing stress;
- Assist you to strengthen your communication skills and to communicate your needs;
- Teach you conflict resolution skills;
- Assist you in developing co-parenting skills;
- Assist you in developing a parenting plan with your spouse; and
- Assist you in setting up post divorce goals.
- Help you understand each stage of the divorce
- Will give you unbiased, objective and educated information
- Reduce the cost of the divorce
#2 Decide what type of divorce process works best for the both of you. There is litigated, collaborative and mediation. Litigated is the most common and ‘traditional’ divorce where each party gets their own attorney and financial person. Just because the word litigated is used, doesn’t mean you will end up in court but that is always an option. In collaborative, both parties have their own attorney but a financial neutral and a divorce coach/mental health professional that work as part of their ‘team’. This type of divorce proves to be less contentious and opens up communication between parties. Mediation is the third choice where by the parties go to a neutral mediator and come up with an agreement, which they then bring to their own attorneys to review.
#3 Interview and hire the appropriate attorney or mediator. If you choose to go the collaborative route, you will need to find an attorney specifically trained in collaborative. Remember, you are hiring an attorney to get you the best agreement possible, not to be your new best friend.
#4 Meet with your financial professional that works closely with your attorney. It’s always advantageous to work with people who have a good working relationship with your attorney.
#5 If appropriate to your case, meet with an estate attorney before mediation so that all changes/issues can be addressed before or at mediation and not after the ink has dried on your agreement.
#6 Meet with a financial planner before mediation as well. You need to have a clear picture of what your future will look like before you start negotiating.
Just like every marriage is unique, so is every divorce. Just because your friend or family member used a certain attorney or wrote their agreement on the back of a napkin over wine, doesn’t mean yours can be that way. Do your due diligence and you need to feel comfortable about your choices and decisions. This will be the first step and the most important one, into your new life.