Wednesday, May 2, 2007

7 Tips For a Better Divorce

There are some actions anyone can take to improve their chances of having a more favorable outcome and avoid some of the problems that occur during a divorce. Seven of the best tips are explained below:

1. Be prepared. If you know ahead of time that you will (or may) be going through a divorce, it really pays off for you to gather documents and information about important issues, such as your finances. You may uncover unknown assets or you may just have proof of the existence and values of assets, which would probably help save quite a bit of money.

2. Plan for changes and be flexible. Realize that your family will become two separate units and that will stretch your resources. You may have to change your short- and long-range goals. In almost every case, someone virtually "starts over" and often both parties really struggle. Accept the need to compromise and be open to new ways of doing things.

3. Be honest with your attorney. He or she can’t do nearly as good a job with faulty information. Virtually everything you tell an attorney is confidential, so don’t hold back.

4. Prepare to use specialists. Attorneys can be very good helping you with the law, facts and procedure, but they often don’t know as much about specialty areas such as taxation as a CPA or divorce financial planner does. The process can move faster and better if you use (as needed) a:

Counselor/therapist, if you are sad or mad.

Financial planner, if you don’t have much experience in finances.

Business valuation expert for small businesses.
Child specialist to help find solutions for visitation, child support issues, living arrangements, etc.

5. Look at the big picture. Don’t get lost in insignificant issues or in keeping score to see who wins the most points. If you start to slip into arguing about tiny issues, make yourself go back up to the broader issues and get your spouse off the small stuff. Focus on the goals, needs and interests that are important to you. It doesn’t matter what your spouse is gaining or claiming to gain or wants to argue about. Leave the small stuff alone and stay true to your essential goals. You will be truly successful if you can achieve your important goals and needs.

6. Practice "putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes". Empathy can really help you in a number of ways. Since 90-95% of divorces settle, negotiations are a major part of any divorce. You can better understand and respond to your spouse’s requests and offers if you understand what important to him or her and what factors will motivate them. Being able to figure out what your spouse is motivated by can help you create settlement options that will be acceptable and even welcome to your spouse.

7. Reduce conflict. The more you fight, the more it costs. That should be obvious. You can choose to start or continue battles, or you can decide to work for solutions.

Following these tips will improve your chance of success, no matter how you define success. At the least, you should have a divorce with less fighting and more attention to the important issues.