Like anything we do in life, information is key to success and l plan on giving you the keys to saving money at this critical time. In this blog, l will explain the five areas that can save you money during a divorce. Some are mistakes, and they can be easily preventable, and the others cost-saving measures. Depending on your highest values, will depend on the direction you take to achieve the outcome you want. When l went through my divorce l learnt a lot about highest values and how to align them with my new life. It meant rearranging mine to meet new expectations and putting money at the top of my list. I don’t mean before family, but money certainly changed from something l never really worried about, to something that kept me up at night. Money gives security and all l wanted was to feel safe and secure again.
To achieve this l needed a positive, yet fair and equitable outcome. l strive for this conclusion with my clients because l have come to see that SECURITY in all forms is what we need for a happy and healthy life.
My clients need to feel empowered, take back control and protecting their future. To come out of this emotional turmoil, and think with a clear and level head. When emotions rule your every thought, evidence-based decision making is critical. Now is the time to think differently and be smart and spending a fortune on getting divorced is not the answer. Wasting money because of your headspace can make other people wealthy. So, I have compiled a list of the five areas I see that can save you money during this time.
# 1; Divorce Folder. When my clients engage my services, we put together a divorce folder. It is a history of the relationship with every document the legal team and army of angels will need to support the best outcome possible. I have a checklist, which my clients go through and compile a comprehensive relationship record. The difference this can make to your overall legal costs is in the hundreds if not thousands, depending on how complex your relationship is and the assets and liabilities associated. Recently one of my clients put together two folders. A copy for her legal team and one for herself. It meant that during any conversations they could refer to the same page as they spoke over the phone rather than meeting in person. She did an index at the start, outlining bank statements, taxes, child costs and income, etc. By working this way, there was never any misunderstandings, and it builds a team mentality which is so very important.
As part of your recording of the relationship also remember to start a diary and record conversations and events after your separation. When going through a divorce remembering dates can sometimes be a blur, but can be so important in negotiation. And like the great Richard Branson, he never leaves home without his diary and records what is said at all meetings. He has kept decades of diaries as he fells you never know when you might need to recall something important.
# 2; Talking to the wrong people. Every day, I am available to help and support my clients emotionally. That’s my job, getting expert help and support makes the journey just a little easier to bare. However, when things are getting you down, and you just need to vent because of the hurt and anger don’t ring your lawyer. I see this happen regularly after an event or conversation, where the outcome has been upsetting, and the client wants the lawyer to send a letter. ( No NO NO!) That is not the answer.
But here is the thing, a lawyer is not a therapist. A lawyer is only worried about how they can represent you in a court of law and to do that; they need the facts. When talking to your lawyer about how you feel and what went wrong will only increase the lawyers billable hours and have you paying an enormous fee at the end.
When you see a lawyer, stick to the facts. Have a list of questions you want to have answered and move the conversation along. Preferable, work with a lawyer who offers a fee for service. And please see a counsellor, no matter how you think you are coping. You will be surprised at how much better you will feel. And learn the tools to help cope when you feel down and alone.
Otherwise, use a service like mine, if you need to talk about major hurdles or conversation and events that are causing issues, and you don’t wont to worry your friends and family, my clients call me. We workshop the issue and sort out the best course of action. All without bothering the lawyer or the client be charged.
3; Having a financial plan. A lawyer is not a financial advisor, and l see this occurrence regularly. Clients don’t get the correct advice or do proper due diligence before arguing over assets. They think they can afford to keep a property more for the emotional need rather than the financial. Keeping the family home, only to be put under financial stress is not the answer. Understanding the process of transferring a title and then re-mortgaging a property is not a simple task and a lot of people don’t understand. They think they can just have the house in the financial stages of the relationship breakup. There are other ways; you just need to be prepared to think outside the box and listen to the experts. In my case purchasing investment properties and having my loans serviced by my tenants made better financial sense than living in a property l could ill afford and was going to prevent me succeeding at my dreams and wishes. Make sure you understand how this all works before getting your lawyer to fight for a home you may not be able to keep.
4; Choosing the right lawyer. To me, this is the biggest mistake, and cost l see. Recently l had a client hire my company after spending $56K, 18 months and her divorce were still not completed. The level of service, simply terrible. She had been following up and getting no response. Just because you pay an extravagant hourly rate for a professional who apparently is the best, doesn’t mean they are. The more you pay, the less customer service and contact you have with that individual. There is junior staff normally handing your file, and you will be charged for every phone call, email and photocopy. All are adding up.
My new client has lost 8 kilos just from the emotional stress and the lack of support she has felt from her previous lawyer. Not to mention the ongoing admin mistakes and poor advice she has received. My team have gone over her file and are committed to achieving a better outcome and in a timeframe of 4 weeks, depending on the other side. Don’t think the more money you spend, the better the outcome. It doesn’t work like that. The family court has a framework and just as long as you have a team who are active, prepare to fight for your best interest, no matter what you paid your outcome will be similar.
5; Time is money. Just like any financial market, time is money. What does this mean? Let’s say you sell the family home and the equity sits in your lawyer’s trust account. While you continue to negotiate your financial agreement, you are losing out. That money is not growing as it is not an interest-bearing account. The quicker you can agree with your ex, the sooner your money can start working for you again. Time lost because you are not in the property or share market. Interest still accumulating on credit cards and personal loans, which haven’t been paid out. And then the greatest of all, you personally! Not being able to move on prevents you thinking about promotions, starting a business, buying new assets, educating yourself in whatever takes your fancy. This can be the greatest cost both emotionally, physically and financially.
I have just completed a Five video series on this topic, and you can watch it on my Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCySdgHmOO53cRYMqDW9THpQ. I hope these pointers can help save you money and give you some guidance in preventing mistakes others have made. If you would like to contact me, please do at firstname.lastname@example.org.