Five Things Your Divorce Lawyer Wants You to Know

Whether you’re thinking about divorce or already in the middle of negotiations, remembering these five points from attorney David Green can help you be more realistic during a difficult process.

  1. Understand that what you have as a family unit is what’s being divided. Think of it as a shareholder dispute and approach the situation with good sound business principals, not emotion. Be as logical and business-like as possible.
  2. You can only divide what’s there. At the end of the day, the lawyer, the judge and the courts are going to work with what you have at that moment. Think of it as putting all your toys in a box and then figuring out how you’re going to divide them.
  3. As in any settlement, both parties will leave a little disappointed. You’re probably not going to walk away feeling good. You have to be OK with that. Otherwise, you’ll go into litigation and that’s exceedingly expensive. At the end of the day, the lawyers can take your money or you can.
  4. Divorce is a legal process. No moral scale is going to weigh out which party is more right or more wrong. The legal court isn’t there to judge who’s the better person.
  5. In marriages, spouses allocate tasks. But when you get divorced, each party has to take control of their finances. The court isn’t going to do it for you and you shouldn’t count on your ex to do it.

For example, I know a woman who was married to a very wealthy man, with a palatial home, kids in expensive schools and $100,000 cars. When the husband wanted a divorce, she learned the money was gone. He’d invested all their savings in his company’s office building that was now in debt. “But I was a good wife,” she said. “I signed the papers he asked me to sign.”

Here’s the thing: The judge isn’t going to pat you on the head and congratulate you for being a good spouse.

You have no excuse for not paying attention and not being responsible. Don’t ever turn your financial well-being over to someone else and ignore it. At end of the day, no one else is responsible for your well-being. People lose that, especially in long-term marriages.

As another example, I know really smart business people — both men and women — whose spouse is running the home finances and the business-owner spouse isn’t paying any attention. These are business people who’d fire their company CFO, but they’re totally disengaged from what their household CFO is doing.

In summary, when it comes to divorce, the advice I give clients is the same advice I give business people: It’s going to be bad. But it can be less bad.

As a partner at Lawler, Green & Prinz, David Green applies his knowledge and experience in tax and wealth planning to the negotiation of prenuptial agreements and the resolution of complex financial issues in divorce cases.

This is the fourth in a four-part series from IRC Wealth on staying financially strong when dealing with divorce.

If you need help gaining control of your financial plan, contact IRC Wealth for an introductory call to learn more about our customized approach.

This article originally appeared in the IRC Wealth blog

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