The Anatomy of a Divorce,
Part 1: The Divorce Plan
The tumult of divorce does not mean that your world has to spin out of control.
You can improve your prospects for a just outcome and reduce your vulnerability to your spouse’s tactics by committing to the discipline of planning your divorce.
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The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 2:
The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 3:
The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 4:
Child Custody and Access
The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 5:
The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 6:
The Anatomy of a Divorce, Part 7:
Awards of Attorney's Fees
More Articles on Divorce-Related
If you are seriously contemplating a divorce, you may be
about to experience one of the most emotionally and financially tumultuous
seasons of your life. However, the tumult of divorce does not mean that your
world has to spin out of control; you can significantly improve your prospects
for a just outcome and reduce your vulnerability to your spouse’s tactics by
committing to the discipline of planning your divorce.
Like most things in life, the outcome of your divorce will be directly related
to the effort you put into it. In the absence of a divorce plan and a commitment
to it, you are more susceptible, at the most crucial times, to making disastrous
concessions just to “get it over with” – concessions that you immediately regret
and that have long-term consequences.
In most divorce actions, there are five fundamental issues:
(Responsibility for the payment of attorney’s fees often lurks as an additional
issue, but it is generally not subject to planning by just one party.)
Future articles will dissect each of these areas in more depth. For now, we will
focus on planning steps that you can take before a divorce action is filed and
that will improve your position as the divorce moves toward the issuance of a
Become Informed about Your Finances
In most marriages, one of the spouses does the lion’s share of finance
management. If you are not the financial manager, it is important that you
become reasonably familiar with your family's finances – the nature of your
assets and liabilities, how accounts are titled, who has signatory control, how
money and debts are managed, and how bills are paid – prior to separation or
further polarization of the parties.
Be Prepared to Reduce Your Standard of Living
Two households will cost more than one. Something has to give: In all
likelihood, you will need to generate more income to sustain your current
standard of living, or you will need to rein in your lifestyle.
Start Preparing Your Children
Children can be very resilient to change, especially if they are informed and
feel secure. Generally, children are more traumatized by emotional shifts than
physical shifts; changing logistical living conditions may even be a relief for
children, particularly if the current living arrangements are volatile or
Depending upon a child’s maturity level, consider how and when to tell them what
is going on – but not necessarily why it is happening. Explaining “why” may
unfairly cause a child of any age to self-impose blame for your breakup and to
try to correct the problem. Further, by the time divorce is seriously
contemplated, children generally have at least a vague grasp on why their
parents are splitting up.
Obtain Professional Advice
Counseling professionals, clergy, accountants, attorneys, business consultants
and other objective professionals can be excellent resources in helping you put
together the puzzle pieces of divorce planning and create a comprehensive plan
for your future. Even if you don’t specifically follow their advice, seeking
input from a qualified disinterested party can be beneficial as you formulate
your plan or tweak some of its finer points.
Remember: If you don’t have a plan for your life, to some degree you are placing
your future in the hands of someone who may not have your best interest at
Ultimately, you will choose your direction, whether through action or inaction.
The best conceived plans are useless if not implemented. By starting sooner
rather than later, you buy time to test your plan and to make course corrections
before your divorce takes on a life of its own.