The second installment in our “Devil’s in the Divorce Details” series focuses on the crucial question, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Our work is to examine and help couples solve the emotional and financial questions that arise with divorce. Whereas an attorney is working on behalf of one party in an effort to win the best outcome for them, we want the best outcome for the entire family. Financial and emotional factors cannot be compartmentalized and if approached that way, it could lead to an undesirable outcome for one or both spouses.
For instance, you LOVE the marital home. You shed blood, sweat, tears and a few cuss words creating a garden, painting all the walls and converting your basement into a place to paint and be creative. Deciding whether to stay in the marital home is colored by these emotions and also the financial reality of whether you can afford all of the maintenance and upkeep. If you look only at the associated costs and decide to sell, you will lose the pride and security you feel in your current home.
We hear two very common objections to starting the divorce mediation process.
1) “I don’t feel ready to divorce yet.” and 2) “I’m scared or worried.”
For those who aren’t ready, it is usually either that they feel unprepared or afraid.
Only by asking questions can we determine that “unprepared” doesn’t mean that you don’t have your paperwork together, but that you’re not ready to deal with divorce emotionally. Or perhaps “unprepared” means you don’t know how to begin the conversation with your spouse. Divorce coaching can help with that. Acknowledge that usually “being ready” is a hurdle that you need to get clear about, and that there are divorce professionals if you need assistance.
Maybe you go to your friends for divorce help first. When they hear you say, “I’m not ready” they could offer objective advice like, “Here are the documents you should gather to understand your finances” They are confused why you seem frozen in place and don’t want to wade into your sea of emotions. Maybe talking about that is uncomfortable, brings up issues in their own lives or they don’t want to feel like they’re taking sides. Even if they help you sort out the emotional issues, unless they are also a financial advisor, chances are they won’t be able to assist you with that. Your friend’s duty is to just that, to be a friend and you shouldn’t expect them to function as your advisor.
“I’m just scared/worried” usually means you fear making the right decision. Is the fear personal or do you worry about your spouse’s reaction? Or are you reluctant to end the marriage because you think you should try harder to stay married? If it’s the latter, you may want to try counseling or find a new counselor. Understand that you, and ONLY you, know if you are making the right decision for YOUR life.
What happens to the person who is “not ready? They bury their head in the sand and ignore the issue. Their health suffers and they continue living a half full life.
What happens to the spouse who “scared?” They might make hasty decisions out of fear and experience unintended consequences.
Our divorce coach, psychologist and certified mediator, Suzanne Chambers Yates has created an acronym BEYOND to help you move forward so you are emotionally prepared for divorce.
For the second hurdle, not being financially prepared, it’s important to run through all the possible scenarios with a trusted, experienced financial advisor. DRCC's certified divorce financial analysts will scrutinize every area where money is concerned.
If you don’t want to give up the marital home, can you maintain it? Not only physically, but will you need to hire help or are you committed to doing it yourself? What stage are you at in life? Do you need to stay in a 2 story home with 4 bedrooms when it is just you? If the mortgage is much cheaper than moving to another single level residence, can you still afford all the associated costs like homeowner’s insurance?
You won’t be able to stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance so understand your options. Can you afford to get it on your own? Does your employer have a plan?
Children under 18: Can you support your children without a second income when your parenting time is Monday through Friday and your spouse has them every other weekend?
Divorce after 50: Unlike couples that divorce in their early 30’s, you don’t have 25-30 years to rebuild and feel secure in your retirement. “Silver divorce” is more complicated at this stage in life because you don’t have the luxury of “waiting for the market to rebound.”
We mentioned homeowners but there’s also car, life and disability. Most life insurance policies are revocable, meaning the policy owner may change the beneficiary at any time. If your ex spouse will be contributing a majority of money to your children, do you have a backup plan if something happens to them and their new spouse becomes the beneficiary?
DRCC’s owner Deb Johnson says that financial stress is one of the hardest types of stress to deal with. Her opinion is backed up by research. People with greater financial stress have more symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t financially stressed, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Anxiety, Coping and Stress. Source
Clients tell us that much of the ‘fear of the unknown’ is gone and they feel more empowered after they begin working with us.
The Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado offers divorce financial analysis, divorce coaching and divorce mediation. Each family’s situation is unique and we offer two ways to take a step forward. The first is to schedule a complimentary 20 minute call or we can go into greater detail at our 90 minute initial consultation. Call 303 468-5626 to discuss.
Documents include: Asset Worksheet, Household Goods Inventory, Financial Checkup, Priorities Worksheet and Mandatory Financial Disclosures.