Many divorcing couples seem to have the goal of revenge at any cost. These couples are unable to speak civilly to each other or mediate any issues. In some instances, they do their best to undermine each other, stall, and engage in other bad behavior.
Couples obtaining divorces using the two-attorney adversarial process spent 134% more in total fees than couples using comprehensive divorce mediation to resolve all issues. This study was conducted by comparing groups that did not differ in complexity of divorce, marital conflict, anger at spouse, anticipated disagreement, or household income.
Many adversarial couples not only create a poisonous atmosphere but often ratchet up attorneys’ fees. Family law attorneys often charge more than $350 an hour, require a $10,000 retainer (renewable when depleted, naturally) and charge you 15 minutes of billable time for reading one short email.
So often, money matters are at the heart of a divorce to begin with — so when legal fees mount up over “she wants this” and “he did that,” the acrimony builds to an all-time level. Then all forms of cooperation can deteriorate, causing a domino effect that makes sure no-one “wins” and everyone pays in the end.
Sometimes attorneys also engage other experts, such as business valuation specialists, pension evaluators, certified public accountants, investigators, and career and vocation evaluators, as needed. Fees can mount up.
If money issues are all you have to work out between you and your spouse, you may want to consider working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™) to iron out these issues. If you both can come to agreement on your own, then you eliminate the need for much of the drama and trauma of divorce.
When you are fully prepared with financial information in place, you can minimize legal and other fees, and move forward with your divorce more easily. When you engage in a non-acrimonious process, and collaboratively progress through your divorce, you will see lower costs, better relationships moving forward, and a better, more strategic outcome overall.
Whether you choose mediation, collaboration, or litigation as the means to your divorce, keeping the “fight” out of the equation, as much as possible, will go a long way to giving both parties not only a more equitable distribution, but a less stressful process.
Divorce is complicated enough with the simple fact that what once was a “we” will now become a “me.” Adding fuel to the flame of this difficult transition takes away from peace of mind, ability to think clearly, and, of course, financial accord.
So when faced with the process of divorce, remember these simple tips: Stop. Think. Breathe.
Stop. Before reacting to your spouse, before adding to the animosity, before engaging in their inappropriate behavior — stop. Take a moment, a day, a week before you respond. You are in control of how and when you respond. Don’t be bullied for a quick response. Maintain that control.
Think. Consider what you really want as an outcome of each element brought to the table. Think about your options, think about what you really need, think about what you are willing to negotiate. Fall on your sword only for those things that truly matter — not just for the fight.
Breathe. Only respond when you are calm. As much as possible, take the emotion out of the equation. A stressed response runs the risk of being unfocused. You have to get this right (the first time), so keep a level head about you.
Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co. Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Davis Financial and Cadaret, Grant are separate entities.
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