Divorce affects you, your finances, your family, and every other aspect of your life. It’s critical that you go through the process correctly so you get the most favorable outcome possible. There’s no do-over. You get one shot to lay the foundation for your future. Do it right! The best way to ensure your interests are protected is to assemble a team of professionals to advise you along the way. A quarterback would not go out on the field alone and expect to score, would he? No way; he’d get pummeled! Instead, he would surround himself with qualified individuals to fill the positions needed to run the plays and get down the ball down the field. You are the quarterback in your divorce. And you need a team.
The team you assemble will depend on the specifics of your divorce. Every divorce is unique, thus each team is different. Here are a few of the players you may need on your team:
Attorney. Since divorce is a legal process most people know they need a lawyer, which is a good start. But don’t hire just any attorney, find the right lawyer for you. Consider your options: do you just need an attorney consultant to help you along the way on an “as needed” basis? Can you and your spouse use a mediation service to reach a resolution? Do you need to lawyer up and go to battle? Ask your friends or trusted professionals for recommendations. Do your research. Interview attorneys or mediators until you find one you are comfortable with and who fits your situation. Do you really need a $600 an hour pit bull for a low conflict divorce? Probably not. Take the time to find the right legal professional for you and your situation.
Financial Consultant. Divorce involves a division of all assets and debts. Your divorce will have a significant impact on your financial future. Get someone to help you evaluate the assets and debts obtained during your marriage, establish a realistic budget for your new life, determine how to meet financial objectives, avoid tax consequences, consider hidden expenses, etc. For example, if you want the house do you really know how much it is going to cost you to maintain it? Do you know its condition? Are there liens against it you’ll have to pay? Don’t be surprised after the fact. Also, your Financial Consultant can help you understand the impact of various settlement options so you can negotiate an outcome you are comfortable. Another important role is that they can help you track all the obligations of the divorce agreement, if you so choose, because sometimes years go by and assets are forgotten about, not retitled correctly or not assigned new beneficiaries.
Therapist. Even if you want the divorce and/or it is an amicable split, a divorce can be really difficult emotionally on you and/or your children. Don’t sweep it under the carpet. Get some help before, during and/or after the process so you get get through it as emotionally healthy as possible. A good counsellor can help you make the decision to split, advise you how to tell your children and help them through the process, and work with you to recognize your shortcomings in the relationship so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Like a lawyer, you want to find the right therapist for you…and there are a lot of different types. Therapists specialize in a myriad of issues including addiction, abuse, adultery, etc. You may need a professional to advise regarding co-parenting, custody considerations for special needs children, helping children cope, etc. Your therapist may also be able to direct you to support groups, children’s programs, and other services relevant to your needs. Get the right help so you and your family can move forward as emotionally healthy as possible.
Again, every divorce – and every team – is unique. These are just a few potential team members you may need but there are many, many other resources available. Take the time to determine who you need on your team, fill the positions with qualified professionals, and use their expertise. Don’t use your lawyer as your therapist, and don’t get your legal advice from your pals. You will not regret getting professional advice through your divorce process. If you need assistance putting together YOUR team, please do not hesitate to ask your Second Saturday Team to refer you to the right resources for your needs. We are here to help – and cheer you on – throughout your divorce process and beyond.