Divorce and Transitions: Mardi Winder-Adams
Divorce is a costly process regardless of who you are or how much money you make.
Financial Costs To Reconsider:
There are emotional and financial costs to consider, which are often more tightly intertwined than we recognize.
Most of the costs of divorce are somewhat under your control. However, recognizing how choices, words, behaviors, and even early decisions made in anger and haste can lead to higher divorce costs will help you to save money, stress, and pain.
“Most attorney websites are very upfront about their style or approach to family law.”
Let’s look at two aspects of the financial costs of divorce that you have some level of power to monitor and manage. Thinking about these things as part of your divorce planning strategy helps to avoid adding to the cost of the process.
1. Choosing Your Lawyer For Your Divorce:
Take the time to consider different styles of representation in family law cases. Most attorney websites are very upfront about their style or approach to family law. When the website states, “we will fight aggressively,” be prepared for an attorney that files many motions, does not compromise, and is interested in winning at any cost (read that as winning at any cost to you).
These “pit bull” lawyers often have difficulty playing well with others, which means the attorney for your spouse gives up trying to resolve the case with professional courtesy and collaboration. Instead, everything becomes a fight, from producing documents to attempting to schedule a mediation or case conference. Your spouse and their attorney may even ask for you to pay for their legal fees due to your attorney’s aggressive and unreasonable stance.
2. Get A Quick Settlement:
The opposite of the aggressive attorney is the attorney that is too passive. These attorneys tend to avoid questions, give up easily when information is not provided, and to take situations at face value to get a quick settlement. The passive attorney will cost you money by not negotiating thoroughly, settling for a low offer, or failing to take all the necessary actions to get what you deserve under the law.
“Research the attorney, read reviews, and check your state Bar Association for any disciplinary action or complaints.”
Somewhere between these two extremes is the ideal lawyer for your case. The ideal lawyer is not always the divorce attorney that did a great job for your coworker in her divorce. In fact, this assumption can also be costly.
An Attorney That Listens:
Instead, ask for referrals from friends, family members, and trusted people in your life. Research the attorney, read reviews, and check your state Bar Association for any disciplinary action or complaints. Then schedule a meeting to get a sense of how the attorney plans to handle your case.
You should feel comfortable and confident in selecting a divorce attorney. During the case evaluation or initial meeting, look for an attorney that listens, answers your questions, and provides information on how they approach the divorce process. Collaborative law attorneys or divorce attorneys that prefer to work together and settle in mediation (when possible) typically result in lower overall legal and emotional costs and a better settlement for their clients.
Let Go Of The Win-Lose Mentality:
Divorce is not about proving one person is at fault for the relationship breakdown. It is also not about using the court or the mediation process to punish one spouse for the problems in the marriage and reward the other spouse for their patience and willingness to try to make things work.
Unfortunately, this can feel incredibly unfair, particularly to the spouse who has struggled to hold the relationship together and overlooked the bad behavior. Letting go of these feelings of things being unjust and getting rid of the desire to “win” in the settlement process helps you to be in a better position to negotiate.
“Divorce is rarely easy or cheap.
Financial And Emotional Costs Of Divorce:
Moving from needing to “win” to a mindset of being able to get what you need from the division of property and the child custody issues helps you to save money. You are clear in what you want and can be creative in negotiation and mediation. By focusing on what you want and need and not trying to win, you create an environment that increases the chances of settling your divorce out of court, which is a significant cost-saving opportunity.
Divorce is rarely easy or cheap. However, you can control some aspects of the process to help reduce the financial and emotional costs. Thinking through what you want in a divorce attorney and how you plan to approach the divorce will help you save money in the long run.
About the Author:
Mardi Winder-Adams is an Executive and Leadership Coach, Certified Divorce Transition Coach, and a Credentialed Distinguished Mediator in Texas. She has experienced her own divorce, moved to a new country and started her own business, and worked through the challenges of being a caregiver and managing the loss of a spouse.
Handling life transitions and pivots is her specialty! In her professional role as a divorce coach, Mardi has helped hundreds of women before, during, and after divorce to reduce the emotional and financial costs of the process. She is the founder of Positive Communication Systems, LLC.