Streamlining the Divorce Process

Streamlining the Divorce Process

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.

 

Consider Counseling

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.

If you would like to know more about what we do please watch our latest video.

About the author:

Tanya Somerton 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. 

Tanya is also the Director of TLC Investment Group, a finance and mortgage company.

The author of the Book, ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. Tanya helps with pre-divorce planning, cost-saving strategies and life after divorce. Purchase your copy here

How To Avoid Costly Legal Blunders during divorce

How To Avoid Costly Legal Blunders during divorce

How to avoid costly legal blunders is a question l am regularly asked. When exploring the possible cost, there are no pricing guarantees because so much is unknown. If everything were straightforward, maybe the world would be a different place. Families starting again would not waste funds on unnecessary arguments and legal fees.

In some cases, you can’t control these costs. Because emotions are high and sometimes common sense is hard to find, but there are a few key areas to look out for.

In my experience, there are two sorts of clients. 

  • The client who hassles their lawyer endlessly and then screams about the cost.
  • Or the client who waits for the lawyer to contact them. Letting the process run its course, which in some cases prolongs the outcome.

Without a doubt finding the middle ground is the key to success. So in this blog, I’d like to give you some tips and tricks. How to avoid costly legal blunders during divorce and get a better outcome from your lawyer.

Let’s assume you’ve already chosen your lawyer. Please review my previous blog for helpful ideas. Five legal mistakes clients make when going through a divorce.

 

Legal Blunders No 1:

Lawyers are educated individuals who communicate vastly different from how you and I would talk to one another. Their role when representing a client is to remove all emotion out of their correspondence. They are only interested in the facts at hand. So right there is one of the biggest issues I see. Clients not having enough evidence for their lawyer to be able to support their case in correspondence.

So what do I mean by that?

For instance, say you (as the client) suggest a date, that such and such occurred which is now up for debate. If the letter goes to the other side and they reply saying, “We have evidence on the contrary.” Or, “There’s an issue with that point.” It means your lawyer has to go back and refute the issue or apologise for the mistake. In my book The Jelly Bean Jar – I refer to this as a legal dance. 

So the way you mitigate this is by having all the facts concerning every issue, point or concern at hand. Sometimes this is hard, but there are ways and means to collect the evidence required in many cases. Dates and times can be confirmed by recollections using social media and putting together a comprehensive relationship timeline of events.

Lawyers are educated individuals who communicate vastly different from how you and I would talk to one another.

When you have the history fresh in your mind, it makes it easier for your lawyer to get a better outcome and provide advice. As an example, it may be a question of assets and liabilities brought into the relationship at commencement.  

I encourage my clients to go back to their savings accounts or their old bank statements. Maybe even go into a branch and get proof. That way there is little room for error. And your lawyer is confident knowing this is evidence-based. Having a figure can make all the difference.

This way of dealing with a lawyer can save you a fortune, because I’ve seen it where people will state, “I think it was around this date, or it may have been this much, I’m not quite sure, but that will do.” The lawyer may include this in the correspondence only to receive back, “No, that’s not true and here’s evidence to support our side of the argument.”

So to try and reduce your cost, make sure that you can provide evidence on any point that you have your lawyer put in writing. Not only does it build trust with the lawyer as they’re 100% certain of their argument. In most cases, you have put the point to bed, and it doesn’t need to be debated any longer.

 

legal blunders

 

Legal Blunders No 2:

The second costly legal blunders I see being preventable is rewriting draft letters.  

And even though I coach my clients not to do it, for some reason, there are certain types of people that can’t help themselves. Red pen warriors I like to call them. If you hire a lawyer to represent your welfare and he/she writes a letter on your behalf, they will normally always do a draft first.

They will send it to you for approval making sure the facts within the document are true and correct before it gets sent to the other side. Now, you must remember that lawyers communicate completely different to you and I. They talk in let’s say ‘alien speak’. And they are communicating with their colleague, who also knows this language.

The letter is not written to your spouse; the letter is for your spouse’s lawyer or legal team. So time and time again I see clients go through a letter for approval and want changes made. Changes which do not make one ounce of difference to the context of the letter.

They simply want words altered or to add in something which may cause an emotional response.

What they don’t understand is, this behaviour is costing them money, money they need for their future. The changes then require the lawyer to spend time updating certain words in the letter, to then be approved again and delaying the communication to the other side.

The letter is not written to your spouse; the letter is for your spouse’s lawyer or legal team

These behaviours delay the outcome and can sometimes have opportunity costs associated. Be smart about your team and trust them to act in your best interest. If you know, you are a micro-manager or want to control the situation remember the consequences and meditate on something more important.

In some instances, there may be words which you know will upset your partner or something within the letter which will cause a meltdown. (Your partner will get to read the correspondence, but their lawyer should be highlighting the content) This is different and needs to be addressed particularly if you are trying to be amicable.  But rewriting a whole letter  (don’t laugh this has happened) because you don’t like the tone will lose the support of your lawyer, and that is never good.

 

Legal Blunders No 3:

The third and final costly legal blunders is when clients ring their lawyer and have them on the phone for longer than necessary. Using your lawyer as a therapist is a bad idea and a very costly mistake.  If you are paying $450 – $650 an hour for your lawyer and you can go to a counsellor for $100 – $200 an hour, it doesn’t make sense to be ringing up and having the lawyer on the phone for longer than necessary especially about emotional issues.

Have your list of written questions ready and get on and off the call as quickly as possible. Be sharp and to the point, give them information or get the answers you need.

We make sure all our clients have some form of counselling, it is a necessity when you are going through a separation or a divorce to address your emotional circumstances and help with the loss and grief. But your lawyer is not that person. The lawyer certainly needs to know what’s going on from a factual perspective, but talking about issues that have occurred with no bearing on your legal case, is costly and is not fixing the root cores of the problem.

Using your lawyer as a therapist is a bad idea and a very costly mistake.

They are not there as a therapist or a counsellor. If you feel that things are getting out of control and you want them to stand up for your rights, that’s okay. But if you’re not coping emotionally, your lawyer is not the person you should be ringing because all it’s doing is compounding the issues.

Firstly you’re getting a larger bill, and secondly, you’re not addressing why you feel the way you do. That’s what a counsellor or therapist can help and support your address.  I hope this article on how you can avoid costly legal blunders can be of help to you!       

About the author:

Tanya Somerton 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. 

Tanya is also the Director of TLC Investment Group, a finance and mortgage company.

The author of the Book, ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. Tanya helps with pre-divorce planning, cost-saving strategies and life after divorce. Purchase your copy here

Five Legal Mistakes Clients Make When Going Through a Divorce

Five Legal Mistakes Clients Make When Going Through a Divorce

 

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 simplified process. 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

 

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.

 

 

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 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.

Tanya is also the Director of TLC Investment Group, a finance and mortgage company. 

If you need help and support in this area, contact tanya@tlcinvestmentgroup.com.au for help and advice.

She is also the author of ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy here

Divorce: Why Men Find Women Sexy Who Can Manage a Budget

Divorce: Why Men Find Women Sexy Who Can Manage a Budget

budget

 

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.

So I’m not going to tell you in this blog how to do a budget, because I’ve already done a blog before on that, click this link to access it.  Or check out my new budget course 4 simple steps to financial security – guaranteed. And there are so many ways to do a budget, check out Google or like me start with an excel spreadsheet.

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.

Amen Sister.

 

About the author:

Tanya Somerton 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.

If you need help and support in this area, contact tanya@tlcinvestmentgroup.com.au for help and advice.

She is also the author of ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy here

The Secret Key to Survival

The Secret Key to Survival

When you’re single everyone wants to know the secret key to survival. It is even more important when you are going through a separation or divorce. I hate to spill the beans so early, but the answer is simple…..MONEY. And being across your budget, knowing where your money is being spent and how much is coming in each week.

 

money

 

If you are not mathematically-minded that’s okay; you need to simplify your life and your spending, bringing everything back to basics. It is critical that you know how much money is coming in and how much money is going out, making sure funds are left over. It is just a simple math equation. But to get to the answer you need to do a deep dive into your living expenses, and that’s what we’re here to do.

 

Over the recent weeks, several of our clients have struggled with their financial situation. Simple not understanding the importance of a budget and given it is the end of the financial year, it is a great time to review your spending. Starting this year with a fresh outlook and a plan to get back in the black. It is paramount that your budgets are updated and reviewed if you are separated or are going through a divorce.

You can no longer live as you did before. It is also critical to your emotional health at such a stressful time that you have a clear understanding of where your money is going. So, it’s not just about the money; it’s also about the other factors that come into play and making sure that you feel secure. And security comes from knowing that you have enough money to cover your debts and hopefully a little spare.

Ignoring your financial circumstances is the silliest thing you can do. What you need to do is address the issue straight on, and to do that you have to have a clear idea of how much debt you are in and how much money you are bringing in each week.

Putting your head in the sand and ignoring your position will only make everything worse. And emotionally that is the last thing you need to deal with. But so often finances can be the breaking point when you are dealing with all other kinds of emotional stresses. People think they will leave this till last as they feel there are other more important issues to deal with and they simply don’t have the strength to deal with their money concerns.

 

‘So obviously if your debt outweighs your income, then you’re in trouble, and the longer this continues, the greater the problem becomes.’

 

Now, this can be scary, but they say most growth happens in the face of fear. And l can attest to this. If you know, for instance, that your debt is far more than your income, it’s time to put the brakes on right now. If you can’t do this alone, then seek out a professional.

Sometimes just talking to an expert about the state of your budget can make all the difference because you may not be able to see the quick fixes. And l promise there are always quick fixes. You can also locate tools online that can be used and apps that will help you keep track of your expenses and understand where all your money is being spent. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard, ‘I have no idea where my money is going?’

 

‘You may have heard this all before but be, please don’t ignore the significance of a budget’.

 

There is no doubt that initially, addressing your spending behaviours can be hard. In my instance, I used to spend money because it made me feel better. Rather than thinking about the unhappiness, I was living.

I would go out and shop for gifts for other people, including myself to try and address the unhappiness that I felt inside my relationship. It also got me out of the house while l ignored the loneliness l felt. Looking back if l stopped ignoring my situation, I could have saved a fortune.

Today, however, my outlook on money is completely different, and I only spend cash on assets that are acquiring in value. It could be that my mental clarity and direction in life has changed. I no longer find it enjoyable to go and spend hours in a shopping centre. Because I don’t have a purpose and a reason to be there or trying to fill a void by buying things that might make me feel better. If only for a short period.

It is so much easier looking in the rear-view mirror, but all I was doing was perpetuating my problems rather than addressing them in the first place. So, no more ignoring your spending, let’s get this under control:

‘Fixing your life doesn’t just mean leaving an unhappy relationship or the shock of being told you are no longer loved. The approach to happiness is holistic and must address every part, so don’t underestimate the power of controlling all areas including finances.’

 

Step One: ( A position – Income)

Step two is looking at your income and the total of your funds. Here we are talking about income from your job, child support, tax A and B, spousal maintenance or any other including rental income. You may also get a regular bonus or commission from your job. Add this all up.  Now you can tackle this one of two ways. Divided by 12 and get a monthly average, or if you want to be more actuate you can do it as per your monthly totals.

Step Two. ( B position – Expenditure)

The first action is to look at where all your money is going. I want you to do a spreadsheet looking back over the last 12 months. Look at where all of your money has gone—so using actual figures. Look at amenities, such as gas, electricity and water. Add each bill up for the last 12 months.  Once added together, with a yearly total for each area divided by 12.

(So let’s talk about the gas bill. You’re going to add up the last six gas bills because you get them bi-monthly. Then divide by 12 because there are 12 months, and you’re going to get a monthly figure. This is the total amount you have spent in the  last year on gas.)You will do the same thing for electricity and water. Then move on to other expenses such as the internet, vehicle costs, mortgage payments/rent, and so on. Dividing all yearly totals by 12 to get a monthly totally.

Then tackle your food bill. This area has a lot of wastage. Think of the amount of take away coffees and lunches you may buy in a week and times by 52. The total may shock you.  Your weekly grocery bill and that sneaky fast food a few times a week. Go over your credit card statement or your debit card and have a look back at actual figures.

Also, review such things as presents. Work out how much you spend every Christmas, how much you spend on birthday presents, how much you spend on Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and presents throughout the year for friends and family. Add that all together and you get a total and divide that by 12.

If you had a credit card, with an outstanding balance, I want you to use the credit card limit for this exercise. For example; let’s say your credit card has a $10,000 limit, but you have $8,400.00 outstanding. I want you to times that credit card limit of $10,000 by 3%. ($10,000 by 3% is $300 or $5,000 by 3% if that is your limit being $150). Now use that     3% figure in your budget. $300 per month is the figure that I want you to use in your monthly. You also need to include any mortgages, car or personal loan repayments at today’s repayment amounts.

 

‘All of a sudden you have a clear picture of where all your money is going. With calculations done you now have your debt position or expenditure’.

 

We now have an A position and have just completed your B position.

  •       A position – income
  •       B position – expenditure

 

Now that magic number, drum roll, please! We are going to work out your C position. Either a negative cash flow or a positive surplus. Let’s take A – B = C

 

All of a sudden reality hits and for some it may be hard. If you have a negative surplus, straight away you need to stop what you’re doing and address this problem because it will only compound month after month. If you have a positive position, I want you to make sure that it is at least 10% of your wage. This 10% is your rainy day money.

There is a possibility that you are still shaking after finding out your financial truth and feeling a little sick in the stomach. But this is a step in the right direction and kudos to you. Now to address this moving forward, I’ve had many clients who have done some completely outside-the-square thinking. Which has benefited their bottom line.

 

  •       They’ve sold unwanted clothing on eBay.
  •       I had a client that went through their partner’s garage and took everything that had a price on it back to Bunnings. They ended up getting $10,000—or just under $10,000—in credit notes back from Bunnings.
  •       Selling unwanted furniture, goods, clothes, shoes, camping gear that you haven’t used for years that you can put on your local Facebook group and buy swap and sell.
  •       Renting out your spare room. (One client pays back her monthly mortgage this way)
  •       Walking dogs.
  •       Selling your hobbies at markets or online.
  •       Sell your car if you work inner city and use public transport or shared vehicles.
  •       There are apps where you can rent out your car to people who don’t have a vehicle.
  •       Get paid to do market research. ( A client of mine get roughly $400 A month)
  •       Become a Customer service rep. ( check this out online for after-hours work).
  •       Baked goods or cater for additional income.
  •       Consider house sitting or moving in with a family member and renting out your home.
  •       Cleaning services or repair person in your spare time.
  •       Write people’s CV and charge them.
  •       Ask for a raise.

 

‘Every little bit adds up.’         

 

With your extra money consider paying down the debt with the highest interest rate first. (This is normally a credit card facility). It is the accrued interest that is keeping your poor. So get a handle on it. Cut up the card if you must but don’t spend another cent unless you can afford it and it is not credit.

The next part of this is to go back over your providers and see if you can get a better deal. Ring your gas supplier, and ask for a cheaper rate or move somewhere else. This hard work will all pay off.

 

Now attached to this blog I’ve added a budget template. I want you to download and use it, and get this under control. Security is knowing you can pay your bills. Ultimately one of the strongest positions that you can have as a single person. As part of our 5 Steps to a Seamless Divorce, the area of finances is key to a positive outcome and future. We spend time and effort on this because no good comes from ignoring this area of your life. Empowerment comes from investment and investment cant happen if you live outside your limits.

About the author:

Tanya Somerton 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. 

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.

If you need help and support in this area, contact tanya@tlcinvestmentgroup.com.au for help and advice.

She is also the author of ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy here

Five Areas That Can Save You Money During a Divorce

Five Areas That Can Save You Money During a Divorce

save money

 

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.

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 and thus, does not help you save money.

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 you save money and give you some guidance in preventing mistakes others have made. If you would like to contact me, please do at tanya@tanyasomerton.com

About the author:

Tanya Somerton 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.’

Tanya provides a step by step process which limits cost and conflict that sees you achieving your most financially beneficial outcome possible, now and for the future.

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.

If you need help and support in this area, contact tanya@tlcinvestmentgroup.com.au for help and advice.

She is also the author of ‘The Jelly Bean Jar – Empowering independence through Divorce’. If you are looking to prevent any mistakes and save money this book is a must. Purchase your copy here