Don't let your feelings get in the way of clear-headed financial choices.
I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on television, as disclaimers these days often point out, so this article will not be offering legal advice. I do encourage you, of course, to seek out the best expert help available to you in that area, to protect yourself financially when contemplating a divorce. We have all heard about, or have possibly experienced, the bad decisions that can be made in a divorce settlement, impacting you both financially and emotionally.
Common mistakes, such as forgetting to change the beneficiary of your will or insurance policies following divorce, will leave your ex-spouse entitled to more of your assets down the road. Others have let their ex-spouse have sole custody of the children; a short-sighted agreement that could limit contact with their offspring and the right to be involved in future decisions regarding their lives. Again, this kind of assistance is the reason you need a good lawyer, and should take your time finding one you feel you can trust to represent your situation.
That said, it is also important to not allow anyone — especially yourself — to rush you through the process. Going through a divorce is likely one of the most painful things that you will face in your life. Some people view the experience as worse than a loss through death. When grieving over a death, the loss is final; you never see that person again. With divorce, there is always the chance you will run into your ex-spouse, bringing up unresolved feelings, causing you to ponder what might have been, or wonder who they might be with now.
Ending a relationship can tear you up emotionally, and you may find yourself rotating through cycles of pain, anger, and hurt. It may be tempting to make snap decisions, hurrying through the divorce procedure and doing anything possible to make the pain go away. People involved in difficult divorce proceedings may agree to unfavorable terms, just to have the ordeal over with, or perhaps in hopes the relationship can be reconciled. It is a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and might do whatever you can to protect yourself from further heartache.
Let me advise you that the single most important thing you can do at this time, as hard as it may seem, is to step back and wait a bit before making any final decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Focus on distance from your ex — not just miles, but emotional distance. The less you have to talk with your ex, the easier it will be on you. Remember too, this is not the time to walk down memory lane. Avoid looking at pictures, watching videos, or listening to music that reminds you of your former partner. It will only make your divorce harder to get through, both emotionally and financially. Each of you will almost certainly have hired an attorney to represent your interests, so let them deal with all the communication that is necessary. Speaking with your ex at length will only serve to cloud your perception of what's acceptable for you.
Trying to save money by sharing an attorney is not a wise move, as it is not possible for one person to represent both of your interests. Divorce proceedings have the potential to turn nasty, and you should save yourself the pain of hammering out the details. Often one spouse might hire a combative lawyer to try to punish their soon-to-be former partner, but this is almost always a bad idea. Only with rare exception will a court or judge "punish" anyone for being a lousy spouse. Instead of benefiting from a fight, it will only cost you more money, as your attorney will be billing you for more hours. Higher divorce costs mean there will be fewer assets and cash left for you and your family. Try to take the emotion out of your divorce and treat your case as a business arrangement. Keep reading...
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