Important points to keep in mind when suddenly faced with the prospect of being single!
It’s cold outside and the bills are piled up from the holidays- no flowers or love notes on Valentine’s Day and you realize your marriage is over. Now what?
The first thing most people say is I am calling a lawyer! This is usually not the best place to start.
Do some research and find out what options you have to negotiate settlement. Don’t think you can go it alone? Build a team and minimize the cost by understanding the process.
Usually one person has left the relationship long before the other person is let in on the secret. There is a definite cycle of emotions that you will go through. That’s okay; just don’t let it cloud your judgement when it comes to negotiation. The property and support issues are strictly survival of the fittest and a business negotiation.
The first thing to do is some damage control for the future. Take copies of everything financial you can find. Go to bank and get statements of all accounts dated the separation day. Store it in a safe box far from away from anyone else can get their hands on it. If you had assets prior to coming into the marriage, then start to find the information that can back up what it is you want to protect.
Research, research, research! The better organized your information is and the more documentation you can provide to back up your story the better off you will be. Start to determine what your new financial reality is- working with a CDFA can help a lot in this matter. By doing this you will be in a much better place to negotiate. It will be based on fact and need rather than emotion.
Notify all financial institutions that have joint loans for you and tell them that you want the accounts frozen as of that day. Make copies of all insurance policies, pension statements, investment statements, bank accounts.
Set up a separate bank account and move as much money as you can get your hands on into it. You will need money to build the best team possible.
Start a journal. Write down every event. If there are children, make sure to log the amount of time being spent by each party with the children
Research which type of process you feel most comfortable with. Alternative Dispute Resolution is becoming the most popular means due to the cost savings
Build your team. Find the lawyer that best suits your desired method of settlement. Talk with a CDFA to see if you require that type of support, a mental health professional or a support group is also very important.
My book, “Divorce Isn’t Easy, But It Can Be Fair” is a great resource for people who are in the process of Separation and Divorce. You can order a copy by emailing my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 613-634-1323.
Debbie Hartzman CFP.CLU.TEP.CDFA