By Laury Adams

     When walking down the wedding aisle, no one ever dreams the dreaded “D” word will be a part of their life.  Yet one in two marriages end in divorce. 

     At the time of separation, a husband and wife are each thinking how they can survive the current situation and structure the best future for one’s self.  Very few think of how they can work together to get apart.  Instead, they play a game of self-defense.  Surprisingly, this game often turns into one of self-defeat.  Emotions can be intense resulting in unanticipated behaviors.  However, it should be remembered that every action and expenditure during a period preceding divorce may be scrutinized by the other party and attorneys.  The breakdown in communication and cooperation carry a high price tag.  

Treat Divorce as a Business
     Divorce is one of the most important business matters you will ever transact in your life.  The decisions regarding a property settlement and family arrangements will live with you throughout your life.  It’s a time to curb all your impulsive reactions. 

Control your emotions! 
      Everyone has their individual style of dealing with conflict.  Some react explosively by fighting while others are passive and flee.  Neither reaction is productive in this situation.  Remember that your spouse is going to be a party in your negotiations.  So treat that person as you would a business partner.  You wouldn’t purposely anger a business partner before going into negotiations to terminate your business, so don’t do that to your spouse!  Find another way to express your anger.

Recognize the importance of parent/child relationships
     All children have two parents.  Both minor and adult offspring will be affected by your divorce.  Agree on how the children will be told of your decision to terminate your marriage.  Be determined not to involve them in your conflict. 

     Minor children are not the possession of one spouse to give the other.  State laws give rights, privileges, and responsibilities to each parent.  Using children as pawns in your fight will make losers of all family members.

Plan for financial obligations
      When individuals separate, they often start operating their finances separately with each person doing what he or she thinks is best in the given situation.  Disposing of assets and accruing debt can turn a divorce into an enormous morass.  The law and taxing authorities consider a marriage to be a financial partnership until there is a court order or a divorce is finalized. 

      To avoid trouble, plan for a positive cash flow in which family income will be used to cover joint obligations and the necessities of all family members during the period prior to divorce.  Eliminate any unnecessary spending. 

Account for financial transactions.  
     If money has been moved from accounts or debt has been accrued, be ready to verify and support all transactions.  Whenever attorneys suspect unscrupulous use of money, there are added costs of requesting, producing, and examining documents.  It is best to voluntarily make your records available. 

Share information regarding assets and liabilities. 
     This is not the time to be possessive with your records.  One of the first tasks in any divorce is to develop an inventory of assets and liabilities and provide supporting documents.  If a couple does not do this together, each attorney duplicates efforts in creating this inventory.  DivorceSavvySavesMoney is a software program for clients to use.  It is available at on this web site or at www.divorceinfo.com.

Make decisions together. 
No one likes to be controlled during divorce.  You may be making the best decisions in the world, but if you haven’t discussed these with your spouse, you may get obstinacy and rejection.  Communicating can eliminate misunderstandings and bad feelings.  When there is a decision to be made, describe the situation to your spouse.  Then ask for his/her thoughts about the matter.  If possible, explore several options for a decision.  Then, present what you had in mind.  While this may not seem the most efficient way to proceed, it will be the most effective in the long run. 

     Never has the old adage been truer:   “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Couples who have used the preventive measures above have found they not only save money, but also salvage relationships so they can experience some peace and harmony in their lives after divorce. 


Copyright 2008 Laury Adams