Are you considering, when is the right time to leave my marriage? It is such a difficult question. The consequences are life-changing and scary. It’s not something you decide overnight. It’s usually something you have contemplated for years, weighing up the pros and cons. Researchers say the person who is choosing to leave the relationship has typically thought about it for up to two years. The greatest struggle of all is when you should be happy, and you aren’t. People looking in think you have a great life, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
It’s not like you wake up one-morning thinking, I’m out of here. These feelings have most probably kept you awake at night.
To leave takes a lot of courage. And research has shown up to five years to get back on your feet financially. So it’s not something to be decided lightly.
I personally struggled with the decision for years. I had fallen out of love with my ex-husband and felt very unhappy. I didn’t dare to leave. Looking back now, the reasons that kept me in that relationship seemed massive at the time. My children, not letting others down, and I ultimately did not want to hurt him. He was a nice person.
When we marry our other halves, we do so with hopes, dreams and aspirations of a glorious future and hope it will last forever. So to say to someone you once loved, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ ‘This relationship is over’ or ‘ I’m leaving’ is life-changing for everyone involved. The words don’t come easy. It’s not something that anyone does without a whole lot of soul-searching.
Left and right brain thinkers
We, as humans, make decisions differently. That’s what makes the world go round, right? There is the concept that our brains have two hemispheres which allow us to make decisions. While this continues to be debated by researchers and doctors. I have witnessed this first hand with a close friend having a massive stroke. Doctors said he would be a vegetable if he survived. After coming out of a comma, he amazed doctors. They later stated that because one side of his brain was more dominant and it was the opposite to most of us, he would live with the consequence but is still able to communicate and make his own decisions.
Left side thinkers are goal oriented people, well-organised and analytical. Rarely absent-minded and logical. I think the best way to describe them; they like to plan. Left side thinkers typically have careers such as Doctors, Lawyers, Financial Advisors and Project Managers.
Right side thinkers are more impulsive and emotional, yet they’re creative and quite artistic. They can be very intuitive and a touch psychic. They typically have careers in the arts, music and love the earth and stars.
Now if you are a left side thinker and considering leaving your marriage.
You will want to manage and plan as much as possible. Leaving little to chance. Probably have a spreadsheet, a budget and trying to answer as many questions as possible before even considering having a conversation with your partner. A right side thinker is more likely to consider the emotions of the situation and how to mitigate the painful consequences for everyone. They will dream of a better life and believe things will turn out because they are a good person. Not because they have taken actions to get the outcome they want. The opposite can also be true if they have had enough of their unhappiness and one more argument will be enough to make them react, instead, then think and considering the long game.
By no means am l saying this is the only way we make decisions as there are many more factors to be considered, such as upbringing, environment etc. But having this insight may help. So do you know what side of the brain you use for decision making? Now maybe start to use your other side to cover all ramifications being analytical and emotional.
What happens if you have no love left?
Sometimes you need to go through the motions and explore all possibilities, even if you know things won’t change. One of those options may be counselling, and you come to a decision together that the relationship is over. At least you will know you gave it one hundred percent.
On the other hand, you also know you tried everything possible to save your marriage. And can work together on a phased approach with the help and support of your counsellor. The therapist or counsellor can assist in mediating the pain and hurting felt on both sides, especially if communication is not great.
And this assists when you have a partner who you know will not accept the outcome.
Do you have a partner who will not take any responsibility or blame for the failure of the relationship? He/she will automatically put the blame back on you and say it’s all your fault.
If this is you, please know, it takes two people to have a happy relationship. Both people must take responsibility no matter how small, for happiness and the breakdown.
If you are living in this environment, it will be toxic; you will feel like swimming in Play-Doh. Moving your arms but getting nowhere! You will feel like you are fighting a losing battle. When you are in this type of relationship, you are usually the pleaser and do anything to keep the peace. This decision for you will be a long time coming.
When is the right time to leave my marriage?
When do you know that your relationship is no longer working and what are the signs to look out?
Lack of affection if you find yourself feeling unloved because your partner is no longer affectionate with you, there will be no emotional engagement. Do you know why they have withdrawn, or maybe this is you? Many people who break up will say, ‘I fell out of love some time ago’.
So let’s be honest the minimum requirement for a successful relationship is emotional engagement and the willingness to discuss feelings and communicating at the highest level. Rather than just ignoring the elephant in the room. Did you know, this is how we develop knowledge about our partner’s needs and wants, and emotional engagement is also how we maintain our intimacy.
So making sure our partner’s needs are met, including our own are the minimum requirements for an intimate relationship.
Are you at this stage in your relationship where you no longer even give a damn about winning an argument. Disagreeing is not worth the energy. Your relationship is at a critical stage where you don’t even care anymore. You’ve given up?
These reactions show that you are removed from the relationship. Researcher, John Gottman, found a lack of communication is always what sinks a healthy marriage. Effective conflict resolution and healthy arguing build skills and communicating and shows a sign of respect for each other.
If you are no longer able to resolve differences without causing injury to your partner, then you have a problem. To either agree to disagree, we need to be able to get to the bottom of a problem and address what went wrong, instead of letting resentment build.
As stated in the Book Men Are from Mars and Women are from Venus, differences are highlighted between the Sexes. When one partner no longer finds their spouse sexually attractive, then this can kill a relationship. Over time we still need to find our partners sexually attractive, and sex both expresses and reinforces the emotional bridge between the two so when a couple hasn’t had sex in a long period it usually is a reliable indicator that the emotional disengagement is advancing steadily.
It is yet another indicator that bond is rapidly eroding if not already in a terminal state.
Increased focus outside of the marriage.
When you no longer feel like rushing home, to see your partner. There’s an emptiness in your marriage, and you find yourself feeling lonely in the same room as your spouse.
People start looking for other activities to make them happy or feel fulfilled. It can be taking up a new sport, joining a new community group, it could simply be doing more with the kids or staying back at work.
And then we have the most significant indicator.
Preparing for single life.
When people are content, they sometimes let themselves go. It’s not uncommon for spouses who are initiating, leaving a relationship to stop and consider their appearance. So, in other words, lose weight. Botox and new clothes for women. Underwear for men; I’ve even heard stories of hair transplants for men.
They see these changes to increase their ability to start dating when their marriage is over.
Then there is the interest in refreshing or acquiring a career or even going back to school.
All of these indicators can show a person’s preparedness for a new beginning.
Understand the consequences, and I often get my clients to do an exercise. Reasons to stay in the marriage or reasons to leave. You need to have a minimum of 20 – 50 reasons under one of these statements. If they are even, you need to consider marriage counselling together as there is still hope for you to rebuild and maybe something else is going on in your life. Otherwise, you should have a list which will support your feelings and motives for the future.
When is the right time to leave my marriage, is a question only you can answer. Listen to your stomach and trust yourself. You know, deep down in your soul if things are not right and will never be right. At a basic level, your needs must be addressed to sustain a happy relationship. Consider counselling alone to help you with your decision making or if possible, together.
Many people want to know, How to choose the right divorce lawyer. In my business, like any industry, I see many gifted lawyers and some merely dreadful. Some do not care about their client; take their money, have big egos and do little work. And your job, as a newly separated individual, is to find a lawyer who fits on a scale from good to excellent. Otherwise, the consequences could be costly both emotionally and financially.
Before tackling this recruitment, you first need to understand, if and why you need a lawyer in the first place. As I highlighted in a recent blog, How To Get Divorced, a lot of people don’t understand the processes involved. So, put together your strategy, and then employ the people you need to help you execute successfully.
But when you decide that you do need the expertise of a professional, who do you employ?
There is also a lot of confusion around these different terms.
You might hear Solicitor, Lawyer, Barrister or Attorney. So which one do you need to help you? Are they all the same and do they have the same qualifications and abilities? Let me provide a brief explanation and the difference between the terms.
A lawyer is a person with a certificate to practice Law. This includes Solicitors, Attorneys, Barristers, Judges and Corporate Counsel.
Solicitor is a person who has a practising certificate but is not a Barrister or Judge.
Attorney is a term used in the US and is unusual to hear in Australia. However, an attorney, solicitor and lawyer effectively mean the same thing.
Barrister is a lawyer that passed the Bar Examination. They appear in Court on behalf of people and run technical arguments.
A Solicitor/Lawyer/Attorney ultimately can provide you with legal advice on your family law matter. You can give them instruction, and they can act on your behalf and negotiate for you, as your legal representative. They will also carry out admin tasks such as applications, writs, wills, correspondence, really anything pertaining to your case.
A Barrister is a person who has done further education and been mentored or worked under supervision for an additional period. They have expertise in dispute resolution and usually are a specialist in a specific area of the law. Simply put they cost more because they know more.
It is not uncommon to have a lawyer and a barrister if you go to court.
One will know the ins and outs of your case. The other would recognise the complications of the court. It is the barrister’s job to try and settle matters before they go to trial. However, in a small number of cases, this is unachievable, and the barrister will be required to assist in your hearing. How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer
So in most case, as soon as people hear the words divorce, they think COURT. That is not true. A form of legal mediation either in person or via correspondence is how most divorces get sorted. It is only when couples can’t agree that things get costly and out of hand. And that is why picking a great team of professionals around you, is so important and having a strategic plan and sticking to it.
I also say to my clients for every dollar we spend; I want to see a $3 – $5 return. So what does that mean?
Let me put this scenario forward. We need to go to court and hire a barrister, to represent our client. Costing on average $10,000.00 @ day lets say. Our major concern or the outcome we are fighting over is an additional $20,000.00 of assets. Making no sense what so ever to me. In this case, we are considering a spend of 2 – 1. So for every one dollar, we spend we may get $2 back. But the odds are against us.
Let’s weigh the reasons up:
Assuming we already have an agreement on the table which is extremely close to what the client is entitled to from their financial split. If we are considering $100’s of thousands in assets then $20K is a drop in the ocean, and why waste it. We already have a substantial settlement, and when weighing up the emotional cost of going to court, is it worth it?
If we are talking $100,000.00, then it is a different story but still makes no sense to go to court because we have limited funds and need every cent for the future. Here are the difficulties which need to be weighed up and why. No barrister or lawyer can 100% confirm you will get the outcome you want. They simply can’t say, if you spend $10K I will guarantee $20K via court. If they do RUN, their ego is running the show.
There are too many variables
You have no idea what the other side may say, the evidence they have at hand or what the judge will rule. To be honest, it is a gamble. What happens if the judge disagrees totally and not only do you lose the $10K cost for the barrister, for the day but also the $20K you are fighting to get. You are now worsted off than when you got up this morning. That $30K is gone, and you now need to regroup and consider your options. Either, go back to the initial proposal which was on the table. Or spend more money and go back to court again. At this stage, everything is getting out of hand.
But we are contemplating an utterly different conclusion if it costs $10K to go to court and we are arguing over a $70,000.00 discrepancy. The risk is worth the reward. That is a 7 to 1 return. ( Seven Dollars possibly received for every one dollar spent) Hopefully, now seeing the reasons a good lawyer is so important for a successful outcome. Firstly to negotiate on your behalf and secondly to help you stay level headed and realistic. Unfortunately, we hear so many stories of the opposite being true.
You need to decide as part of your strategy where you want this to lead. Do you know for sure your case will end up in court? Or are you both semi amicable and prepared to compromise.
How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer
People sometimes say l am looking for a BULLDOG to represent me. Right from the start, you are leading with aggression, and therefore l can assure you will end in that same position. And it will be extremely costly. The choice is yours but pick carefully. Selecting the opposite could get everything finished and finalised very quickly. If you find a lawyer who has the following traits:
For a successful outcome, you are looking for the following individual.
● A person who is a problem solver. ● Has a good repour with people. ● Is not afraid of compromise. ● Who is also a specialist in family law and not a generalist in all facets of law? ● You also need a person who is comfortable in court because you have no idea where this can lead and know you can rely upon their expertise is essential. As we learnt above not all lawyers like court and you may need a barrister. ● Also looking for a lawyer who is a team player and prepared to work with others. ● A person who is a problem solver.
Now let’s look at each area a little closer:
Has a good repour with people.
You want a person who talks English and does not try and baffle you with legal talk or speak over you. I recently had a person ring saying she was scared of her lawyer and felt bullied. She had told him how she felt, and he turned around and said ‘Well if you don’t like my style get someone else’. What a guy!
Listen to your gut as much as your mind and make sure you feel safe, heard and supported. The person has empathy and shows kindness, yet is knowledgable and firm when needed. In other words, has a ‘’Game Face.’’
Is not afraid of compromise.
If you have children this is especially a huge thing. The children’s needs should always come first including their safety and happiness. Also, just a fraction of common sense, as we discussed earlier with the dollar return. I encourage all my clients to consider the consequences and love it when the lawyers support me. It shows that they want what is best for the clients. And getting the proceedings finished as quickly as possible rather than prolonging and charging a higher fee. Occurring so regularly; it makes me sick. Why argue for the sake of arguing. The only reason is so the lawyer can charge their client for more time and get their billable hours up.
Who is also a specialist in family law and not a generalist in all facets of law?
I have spoken about this before, but you would not go to a GP if you needed heart surgery. The depth of knowledge and expertise required by the heart surgent is hours and hours of experience, learning and performing the operation. He/She sees all different kinds of hearts, big, small, faulty, enlarged; you name it they have seen them all. But if you went to a GP, they may have learnt the procedure in theory but never performed the life-saving operation.
No different to an inexperienced lawyer. Why spend your time working with a lawyer who does not know the ins and outs of the family law. Who has no previous experience debuting or negotiating on the one thing that could make all the difference to your life and future?
You also need a person who is comfortable in court because you have no idea where this can lead and know you can rely upon their expertise is essential.
Discussed Barristers earlier, this is if you need to get serious and go to trial. In a lot of cases, the word Court is thrown around to scare people. With 85% of cases being negotiated on the steps of court with the opposing side. No one wants to go to court; there are too many things out of your controlled.
Lawyer Hack Technique
If you do think you are going to court, a strategy I have used before is asking people who work in the court. Such as police, other lawyers and barristers, court staff and guards, who they think is the most well-regarded lawyer, solicitor, attorney in the building. Who do the judges or magistrates respect and think good at their craft? I then rang that lawyer and asked for his assistance. He agreed. The case he assisted with was heard and completed very quickly.
Also looking for a lawyer who is a team player and prepared to work with others.
This is extremely important when considering the complexity of your breakup. Especially if there is a lot of assets to divide. Recently my team came up against a young female lawyer, who for some reason, thought she needed to be rude and write aggressive correspondence. Unfortunately, she was far from perfect, but our lawyer was prepared to share our information to support both parties and get a better outcome for everyone involved. The problem was, she did not want to listen and said…’ What does this have to do with the case?’ This is a problem for her client because she was portraying herself as looking after his best interest, yet was not taking into consideration, issues, like refinancing of loans, capital gains tax implications, and so on. If you have assets especially investments and businesses, it is not as simple as dividing.
It required other professionals to be involved in helping achieve the best outcome.
In this case, our client walked away $400,000.00 better off. Why?? Because the other lawyer did not take into consideration a mountain of tax liabilities involved with dividing the family assets. Clapping hands for us, but it made me sad to think we were prepared to share our knowledge, but she did not want to listen. Not only did our clients, ex-husband get an undesirable outcome, he also paid double in legal fees for what l see as poor service. The problem is, he has no idea of these issues and either would you unless you knew the system.
Make sure the lawyer you pick is a team player and happy to work closely with other professionals for your best outcome and doesn’t allow their ego to get in the middle.
I have a downloadable e-book (Get a copy here) which l put together to assist further with this topic. It includes questions to ask when you are interviewing a prospective lawyer and other areas to be mindful of to help make the right choice and limit mistakes.
When you’re getting a divorce, it can be so easy to point fingers and blame your spouse for what is happening. But let’s face it, it does take two people to make or break a marriage. You both have to take responsibility and most importantly, understand that the future is bright!
So, why do we point fingers and place blame during a divorce? And how can you overcome this tendency and move forward without tearing down your partner and them tearing you down?
Whether you realise it or not, your divorce is causing you to grieve. Researchers agree that there are five stages in the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Right now you may be engulfed in the waves of emotions that come along with grief. And yes, even if this divorce is something you WANT, you can still grieve.
Chances are, you and your spouse haven’t been happy for a while and it has finally culminated into issues that can no longer be ignored. In fact, your grieving process probably started a long time ago as you realised that your marriage was declining and headed toward separation and divorce. If you have been laying on the couch feeling stuck and depressed, you deserve better…and so do your friends, family and kids.
It’s important to allow yourself to feel these emotions. Don’t fight it, because even negative emotions are natural. The important thing to remember is not to allow your grief to change who you are and how you treat others. It may be that your grief is causing you to lash out and place blame because it feels like that’s the easy thing to do.
Instead, try to relinquish control and allow yourself to be engulfed by your grief. Acknowledge how you feel. Acknowledge where you are in your life. Acknowledge that it just plain sucks, no matter how you look at your situation. And then, rise above your grief and take your first step forward…and before you know it you will have started the process of moving in the right direction.
You Feel Like You’ve Failed
No one likes to fail. Even if you’re placing blame on your spouse, deep down inside you know that it takes two people to make things work – or fail. You know that you have just as much of a part in your marriage failing as your spouse does. We know. It hurts to hear those words. You may even be shaking your head and thinking, “Nope, not me. Not in my marriage!”
But if you really think about it, we’re sure you can think of ways you could have been a better husband or wife. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. It takes work, and a lot of us didn’t realise we were signing up for so much work to make our marriage succeed. At first, it can seem so easy. You’re in love, you have fun, you get along most of the time, and you can laugh off arguments and makeup.
But then you have the same argument 50 more times. Work, kids, sex, bills, extended family and so much more add stress to your marriage. Your daily life becomes mundane and more like a routine. Maybe one of you gains weight. Maybe one of you stops doing as much around the house. Maybe it’s worse than any of that and one of you is unfaithful.
Anger can easily become deeply rooted in your marriage over time. Then one day you think the D-word. Divorce. Then one of you says it aloud. Slowly, slowly things continue to get worse until it feels like there is no other way out. And maybe you’ve given it your all. Maybe you’ve tried counselling. You’ve tried bargaining with one another to each do better.
Society tells us that failure is giving up. In fact, we love to be so very positive and encouraging that we say “The only time you ever fail is if you quit.” And isn’t that what divorce is? Quitting marriage? It’s no wonder that divorce is such a tumultuous subject. No one wants to quit and ultimately fail!
It’s time that we change that perception. Instead of treating divorce as a failure, maybe divorce is a success. You were brave enough to stand up and say “No. This isn’t for me. I made a mistake and it’s time to move forward.” There is so much power in changing the way we view divorce and failure, and we challenge you to overcome the idea that you’ve somehow failed.
It’s Tough to be Accountable
While we stand firm in our belief that divorce doesn’t mean you failed, we also believe that credit should be given where credit is due. And the same goes for blame. We love to point fingers and play the blame game because it takes the focus off of ourselves. It’s like saying “It’s ALL their fault. NOT mine,” without actually using those words.
We love to distract ourselves and others from thinking that maybe we are at fault, too. Just think about it. In any other instance of your life if you make a mistake, even a super obvious one, it’s so hard to be accountable! Our instinct is to make excuses and try to detract from the fact that we messed up.
How awesome would it be if we just raised a hand, owned our mistakes and said, “Yep. I did that. I was wrong.” Marriage is no different. Part of the healing process is acceptance. Not only acceptance that your divorce is in fact happening, but acceptance that you do also have fault in the marriage ending.
Only once you acknowledge this can you begin to move forward. And you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or hang a sign around your neck. Just accept it in your heart and stop pointing the finger at your spouse. If someone asks what happened, they don’t need details. You’re not required to spill the details of how each of you messed up. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you expected.
It’s Easier to Focus on the Past
We also place blame because that allows us to focus on the past. We can look back and pick apart everything that went wrong. When really, the truth is that the future scares us. When you got married, you had a vision for the future. Now that future is uncertain. Will it be good? Will it be bad? The stress is probably already rising in your chest just thinking about it.
So instead we look back. We try to figure out what went wrong and we try to consider where it all began. How could we have done things differently? Was there a pivotal moment that it all began going downhill? But you cannot change the past! No amount of thinking and calculating will change where you are now. And if you and your spouse have agreed that your marriage is irreparable, then it is time to move forward.
Every time you place blame – even just thinking about it in your head – you drag yourself back into the past and away from the future. And the thing is, the future is imminent. It is coming whether you like it or not. You have to train your mind (and your mouth!) to let the blame go. At first, it may be a real struggle. But over time it will become a positive habit that helps you to move forward. It makes more room in your head to plan for an amazing future.
Understand that it’s Normal
Another struggle with blame is knowing that placing blame is wrong. Every time you open your mouth and say something bad about your spouse, you feel a twinge of guilt. Those feelings just pile on top of all the negative thoughts already in your mind and make it worse.
But blame is so very normal! It’s what you do with those instincts to place blame that matters. It all comes back to accountability and the desire to feel like we haven’t failed. It’s OK to feel the need to place blame, and it’s ok to have weak moments in which you give in and push it all back onto your spouse. It happens, and you’re human.
The important thing is to strive to rise above this tendency. Be purposeful in thinking positive thoughts and feeding your mind with dreams of the future. Think those thoughts full of blame, and then remind yourself that it goes both ways. Vent to a friend and then thank them for allowing you to get your feelings out. Follow up by acknowledging that you also have fault in your marriage ending and that everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to.
It’s so easy to look at divorce as an ending. It might even feel like your life is over and you don’t have a future. But that’s just not true! It’s time to change your perspective and realise that there is a lot out there that is much bigger than the two of you. You’re just a blip in this great adventure we call life.
That’s not to make you feel like your situation is insignificant. We know that for the two of you, this is the most important thing you may ever have to face. But life is so full of possibilities. We want to help you realise that your life is not ending with this divorce. This isn’t a funeral. You are closing one chapter and beginning another one. Your new chapter is full of blank pages that you can fill up however you wish.
Instead of feeling like life is coming to an end because it didn’t go as expected, start to think of ways you can make your future bright. What goals do you want to accomplish? What will make you smile again and give you joy? Chase those things in your life and get out of your rut – slowly at first, but then with more confidence. Start each day with positive thoughts and a mentality that looks toward the future instead of dwelling in the past and what could have been.
About the author:
Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, and helps facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’
Providing step by step processes which limits cost and conflict.
If you’re facing an imminent divorce, you probably want the process to be over sooner rather than later so that you can separate and move on with your individual lives. While we understand your desire to move quickly, (we’ve been there, too!) it is so important to think clearly and create a plan as you look toward the future.
This is not the time to make rash decisions, and we want to help you streamline the process of divorce. With a clear mind and the ability to truly focus on your future without dwelling on the past, it is possible. That’s why we put together Five Steps to a Seamless Divorce that will help you get to the other side of your divorce with your finances in line and a healthy outlook for the future.
Facing Your Emotions
One of the greatest battles during a divorce is confronting all of the emotions that come along with the decision to get a divorce. Even if you and your spouse decide together that your marriage isn’t working, there are still deep-rooted emotions that span the length of your relationship.
After all, no matter how much you’ve grown apart, you still remember the days that you couldn’t imagine life without your partner. You still remember your wedding day in detail, and probably still very fondly. There are happy, wonderful memories that flash through your head and cause you to smile, even in the darkest moments.
This can be so confusing when you’re also deeply hurt, disappointed and maybe even guilty. You may each feel like you’re giving up, like the other person is giving up and you may even wonder if you’re making the right decision. It’s important to accept that confusion is completely normal, among many other emotions you’re feeling.
And you know what, it’s OK to hold onto those fantastic memories you’ve shared together over the years. Just because things didn’t work out the way you each expected doesn’t take away from the good times you DID share together.
Maybe not right now, and maybe not even next year, but one day you’ll be able to look back and appreciate what you had while you had it…and you’ll also appreciate that you were able to let go and move forward with your life when that chapter ended.
Still, when your emotions are at a peak, and while you’re in the middle of a divorce, it can be very tough to make clear decisions. As we have seen so many times, spouses often just want to get their divorce over with quickly. While quick can be good, you also need time to heal.
And to an extent, these couples are in such a rush that they miss opportunities to begin the mending process. NOW and even save money and make each of their futures better.
If you’re struggling with emotions, and really even if you think you’ve got it all under control, we highly suggest you pursue counselling prior to settling assets. We’re not talking about marriage counselling together to “figure out your problems” because we know that ship has sailed!
We would love to see you pursue individual counselling to help you work through your emotions before making big decisions.
After all, you should never make big, important changes and decisions when you are in the throws of any emotional turmoil. But isn’t that so backwards for a couple getting a divorce? Of course, you’re feeling every emotion possible…but you can’t just wait to get a divorce until those emotions pass. That’s not how it works.
But it IS why we are here. Our Army of Angels includes counselors that can talk to you once, twice or even ten times. They will counsel you for as long as you need to begin healing. They will listen, offer their professional input, feedback from other couples they’ve helped and even their thoughts from personal experiences with divorce. If nothing else, at least you will have someone to open up to who understands what you are going through.
Have you ever heard the first step to solving your problem is to admit that you have one? Well, you may be trying to be strong for your family, friends and kids but now is not the time for that. You don’t have to put on a “brave face” to impress anyone. You owe yourself the chance to begin the healing process NOW instead of when your divorce is finalised.
Counseling can help to get all of your feelings out and work through the emotions before allowing them to impact financial decisions. It is so important to keep your emotions separate from long-term financial decisions, and we can’t stress that enough! You and your partner may be separating, but for now, you still have to work as a team to split your assets in a way that makes the most sense for BOTH of you.
Think About Your Children
If you don’t have children, go ahead and skip down to our next tip. But according to the Australian Institute for Family Studies (AIFS), around 47% of divorces will involved children under the age of 18. So there is a 50/50 chance that someone reading this is divorcing with children still at home.
Knowing that your children are entrenched in your divorce with you and your spouse can deepen the emotions you feel. All of the guilt, anger and sadness you feel is magnified when you think about your children. You probably feel like you’re failing them as a parent.
But consider this, the decision to get a divorce didn’t happen overnight. And even if it DID, the circumstances that led to the decision definitely didn’t. It’s not like you woke up one day and decided to get a divorce because you feel like it. No. Slowly, slowly over time you and your spouse grew apart. Maybe you started bickering more or began spending more and more time apart. Either way, your children have seen these changes. Depending on their ages, they are probably very aware that mummy and daddy aren’t happy together.
So many parents try and stay together “for the kids” and we implore that you consider the other possibility…the possibility that you divorce for the kids as much as you are doing it for yourselves. You kids deserve happy parents who function at 100%. If you’re unhappy in a marriage, you’re definitely not being the best parent you can be to your kids.
So, while it’s important to consider that this affects your kids as much if not more than it affects each of you, please remember that this is for the better. Together, you can show your kids that you’re still a team and you’re both still there for them 100%.
There are many parenting classes available to parents divorcing so that you can learn how to help your kids cope and move forward. You may also pursue individual counselling for your kids with a counselor who specialises in divorce – like those who are part of our Army of Angels.
Know Your Assets and Liabilities
Once you’ve worked through your emotions and cleared your head, you might think your next stop is a lawyer’s office. But it’s not! Before you even talk to a lawyer, you should have a clear picture of assets and liabilities.
Lawyers are experts in law, but that doesn’t mean that they should be making financial recommendations to you.
Instead, set the framework for your divorce in advance of speaking to a lawyer. Know what your entire financial picture looks like. Know what you want the future to look like. It’s so important for you and your spouse to sit down together and review ALL of your assets and liabilities whether they are individual or shared. If this is not possible, do the best YOU can do to put together a financial picture.
Take a look at all loans and outstanding debt, and then look at your savings. This includes superannuation balances and even college savings you’ve set up for your kids, etc. It’s also important to consider each of your individual incomes. And who is currently responsible for which debts until this is sorted? How will you split the assets? Will anyone be paying child support or spousal maintenance based on your individual circumstances and income and how custody will be split?
Many couples go straight to a lawyer’s office to solved all of these dilemmas. But, not you. You’ll have an entire team working to help you – an Army of Angels – that will help you review every aspect of your life. And it doesn’t end there. We will also help you assess what the outcome will be for the future.
When you’re done, you’ll feel a new emotion – relief. You still have a long way to go, but for now, you know how the assets and liabilities will be divided and what’s in store for the future. Then you can go to your lawyer or ours, with a plan in place to streamline your divorce process and your lawyer can help you make it happen from a legal standpoint. This is where our Divorce Roadmap Session answers all those questions.
When we approach the process of divorce, we want to see it streamlined and as amicable as possible – but not rushed or uncontrolled. And there is a difference! If you can work through your emotions and create a plan for the future, there will be a much better outcome for everyone. We want to help you make decisions from a place of love, forgiveness and amicability.
There’s a preconceived idea out there that you have to have a lawyer to be able to get divorced.
Now, in many cases, this is true, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. If your financial situation or child-rearing circumstances are such that everything is mixed together and confusing, then yes! Or, you are facing World War Three and need someone to help mediate.
Here in this article, I have discussed the five legal mistakes clients make when going through a divorce. These mistakes are avoidable and can save you a lot of money during separation and divorce.
Legal Mistake # 1:
Are you and your ex-amicable?
In a small number of client cases, everything is pretty amicable. If you think you can work together and still have each other’s interest at heart. You may not need to spend your hard earned money on legal fees. You both may agree to work together on bringing up your children and putting their interest first, then great. Have minimal assets and not much too divided. You may consider doing your divorce online
Or like a couple* I am currently working with. They sat down around their kitchen table, using our legal questionnaire and couples separation simplifiedprocess. They listed all their assets and liabilities and agreed to divide everything down the middle 50/50. This was completed after a ‘letter of advice’ was provided by one of our legal team.
Having very little guidance from us, they see no reason to make this anymore hurtful.
They are rare but why spend ten grand or more, each on legal bills?
Some couples don’t need to and can submit their paperwork, themselves online. Or compromise with a little hand-holding from us. And use our cost-saving system and employ the lawyers to draw up the consent orders. Saving them thousands in fees, time and emotions.
‘Or, you are facing World War Three and need someone to help communicate.’
Legal Mistake #2:
Can you afford to pick the wrong lawyer?
Where a lawyer is a necessity, choosing the right one can be the difference between a good outcome and a costly one. Like anything, there are good and bad, and the legal game is no different to any other business.
The big question is how do you know?
Between a good lawyer and a bad can be thousands of dollars. Either being paid in legal fees or worst yet, not fighting for your entitlements. Recently a lovely client who has two small children and recently diagnosed with a debilitating illness enquired. She felt her lawyer wasn’t fighting hard enough for her rights. Her ex-husband’s legal team were in her words ‘ bullies’. And she felt like her lawyer just wanted to get it over and done.
This couples combined asset pool was worth just short of $1,000,000.00.
Now her lawyer was happy with a 60/40 split in her favour. But when we reviewed the file, it was evident that she was entitled to much more given the circumstances and future needs. Our lawyer said easily 70 – 75 %.
In this clients case, the difference in choosing a good lawyer or a bad will cost her $100,000.00 minimum at settlement.
‘The difference in choosing a good lawyer or a bad would have cost her $100,000.00 at settlement.’
Legal Mistake # 3:
One of the biggest mistakes that I see is when clients think that they have to pay a large legal firm. Thinking they will get a better outcome. In some cases, this may be true, but it is not about the firm it is about the lawyer. Every day, I have people come to me having spent anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. On legal fees with corporate firms, and the level of service they receive is terrible.
It seems from the experience l have witnessed the bigger the firm, the longer it takes. I recently had a client tell me how she was on a Skype meeting with her lawyer. In walked another four lawyers, and she thought they were training and witnessing how he carried out the meeting. The other people in the room added no value, did not even comment.
When she received a bill for $22,000**, a month later, she asked ‘what for?’ She was told, the cost of five lawyers in the room. She hadn’t agreed to this and was shocked when she received her bill. These are some of the stories that we continually hear.
So just because you’re not paying the most expensive hourly rate does not mean you can’t get the best lawyer to represent you. There are just as many good lawyers in the suburbs that can deal with, let’s call them everyday divorce, and those lawyers aren’t going to charge as much because they simply don’t have the overheads of a city firm.
‘There are just as many good lawyers in the suburbs’
Legal Mistake # 4:
Why do so many people take on the first lawyer they meet who turns out to be wrong?
This problem can be avoided. You need to interview your lawyer. When you are hiring anyone to be part of your team, it is important to know they’re the best person for the job.
To do that you have to have aligned goals and make sure you both have the same expectations and agreed outcomes. Make sure the lawyer discusses the consequence and benefits of actions taken, such as keeping the family home or a certain asset. Reevaluate. Project manage your spend. Ask questions, review accounts and ask for clarification of costs.
Don’t be intimidated and if you feel this way, be mindful, as this is a train wreck waiting to happen and where most costs get out of control. Communication is critical. Confirming the lawyer is not making decisions without your approval. People often comment, ‘something in my gut said I should have sacked him/her, but l felt I was too far down the track to change lawyers.
But in hindsight…..’ If you think you’re on two different pages, cut your losses and move now. Don’t continue doing the same thing, because as Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.” To help with this issue l have put together; how to choose the right family lawyer.
Subscribe here to get a copy of a guide to "Choosing the Right Family Lawyer"
Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
Legal Mistake # 5:
Just because your best friend works or went to a certain lawyer does not mean that that lawyer is the right person for you. If they recommend a professional by all means, go and have a meeting, ask questions, get to know the person you want to represent you but remember, no two divorces are the same. They’re all completely different, just like our DNA. You and your partner are two completely different people than the couple who referred you.
Their partner could have had an agenda which made them want to settle quickly. They may have entered their relationship with a larger asset pool or could have a business. Or theirs could have been quite simple and therefore got it all over and done with quickly at a really good cost, where yours could be more confusing. You might need a special sort of help. He or she might be prolonging the supply of documents which need to be disclosed, and not coming to the party and being amicable in mediation. So don’t ever think just because someone else went to a lawyer, that lawyer is for you.
You need to complete due diligence. Just like a financial advisor, you’re not going to turn up and hire someone to look after your money if they’ve got no experience, they’re not the right person for the job. Do the same thing when picking your lawyer.
‘ But remember, no two divorces are the same.’
Now, something that I do when I employ professionals to help me, whether that be personal or business including my investment portfolio or someone in my team, can. I put together a list of questions, and I interview them. I’ve done it for my accountant, my financial advisor.
Pretend you are your own HR department and your life is your business. When you’re hiring someone, you want them to be the best you can afford. To add value to the problem at hand with qualities specific to your needs. I see it time and time again where people walk into the office of the very first lawyer*** and hire them.
At a time when life is in complete disarray, and they feel out of control. It is now that you must take back control. This one mistake could be the silliest things I can see any person doing at such a precarious time in their life.
‘Pretend you are your own HR department and your life is your business.’
*Couple have received minimal advice from our business as to what the court would consider fair and reasonable and have worked on that information. Taking into consideration: the ages of their children, incomes, future needs, etc.
**I have instructed the client to ask for a breakdown of the cost from the legal company and what service they provided to her case. If she is not happy with the response to go to the legal board in her State and make a complaint.
***Our lawyers have been put through a stringent interview process as per my book, the Jelly bean jar, we place our clients into one of the three categories. Thus making sure we have the right team in place for every client.
About the author:
Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, whose business is to facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’
She provides a step by step process to limits cost and conflict.
Why do men find women sexy, who can manage a budget?
Budgeting is not sexy at all. Some may even consider budgeting boring. We men and women are different beasts. Women are the nurturers and men the hunters and gathers. We have different interest. What women find enjoyable, some men think is dull and boring.
Have you heard the gents complaining about waiting while their partner is trying on clothes. Why does it take so long? To the extent, that some shopping centres are thinking up ways to keep men entertained. Knowing it will bring in more women shoppers if their partners are happy.
And what men prioritise, we women can find tedious and time-consuming?
I know a man that had to organise his family holiday around a Tuesday night table tennis game. He had played 96 games in a row and wanted to get to ‘100’. They left for their holiday on a Wednesday morning and returned the following Tuesday morning. With just enough time contingency for a delayed flight. Because l don’t want you to worry, he made his game and reached his 100th game.
At Divorce Angel, when talking to our clients, the different sexes seem to show a pattern.
Our research and findings have highlighted two areas men and women think differently. Especially when going through a separation and divorce.
Women’s greatest struggles are related to the children, and we often hear comments like, ‘He is trying to take the children’.
And for men, it is about money and finances.
I overheard a comment while having drinks the other night. There was a group of guys supporting their mate who was having relationship problems. The guys saying ‘All she wants is your money’. And there is no doubt that the girls would be saying, ” He’ll try and get the kids”. These similar conversations occur throughout most relationship breakups.
But if we look back at history, we were all brought up to believe women are the nurtures- being children and the men hunters and gather – being money.
So, why men find women sexy who can manage a budget?
Simple, men worry about money. They go out and (hunt and gather) to get paid and don’t want to see it misused. They want every bit of value out of that hard earned dollar. Think back centuries ago when men would bring back the animal. It would be used for everything from food, to clothing and blankets.
Today, their masculine brain still thinks the same. Whether they are in construction or IT, men still see going to work as a form of protection and security. It pays the bills, it feeds the family and keeps them warm.
Now, please don’t think l am sexist in any way, and l am far from a kept women. I am just explaining this in simple terms.
Bringing this conversation back into the 21st century, we women work as hard as men, some would say harder. Does this sound familiar, working full time and then coming home to look after a family? A single woman in control of her finances is my hero! And it all starts with knowing your numbers. The power and control that comes from knowing your budget can make all the difference to how you live.
Being in control of a budget can make the difference between having a secure future or finding yourself in debt. Having money is empowering. Money gives you choices. Having money gives you freedom. So if you think doing a budget is boring, a waste of time, and there’s no need to do it. I suggest you think again, because knowing at your fingertips your cash position, at any given time, allows you to think differently.
‘Having money is empowering.
Money gives you choices.
Having money gives you freedom’.
Developing a money mindset allows you to think more about investments rather than instant gratifications. It becomes second nature and rather than spending money on THINGS that can give you regret straight after you’ve purchased them, you live within your means and don’t rack up unnecessary debt.
But her is the thing; a budget can make all the difference.
Not only to how you spend money, but how you attract your next partner. That’s right! I am going to tell you the difference it made to me. Being in control of my money, and knowing how much I could spend and I couldn’t spend, was simply the most empowering decision I ever made. You know why….. it is all about control. Control of my money put control back into my life.
After 22 years of marriage, I found myself having to make my own decisions. Shitting myself and being excited at the same time. No longer having to get another opinion or consent as to where money was being spent. Being a single, newly separated or divorced women, it was my job to know and my responsibility to keep control of my budget.
There’s nothing worse than laying in bed at night wondering how you’re going to pay the next bill. Where the rent money is going to come from or how you are going to buy the shoes for the kids? All of those things keeping you up at night.
But when you have a budget, that is in control, and you have rainy day money put aside, I can’t tell you the strength a single woman or man gets from that knowledge. I may make this all sound easy; it is anything but. However, taking control of your money takes time and effort. And you had better start today!
So if you think budgets aren’t sexy, I’d suggest you think again.
The power of controlling your life and knowing you have financial security allows you to walk with your head held high. A swagger in your step and an air of self-assurance. Every man and women in the room will be attracted to your poise and self-confidence wondering why you move light on your feet. Then, when he learns you don’t want him for his money.
You don’t need him to carry your grocery bags or pay your bills, what is left. It all comes down to satisfaction, ladies. And if he isn’t satisfying your needs, then kick him to the kerb, because you are self-sufficient and in control.
About the author:
Tanya Somerton is the ‘Divorce Angel’, whose business is to facilitate a seamless and amicable divorce and separation with the aid of her ‘Army of Angels.’
She provides a step by step process which limits cost and conflict.
Tanya is also the Director of TLC Investment Group, a finance and mortgage company. She helps her clients budget and plan, rather than wondering if you can keep the family home.