Decision Making on Divorce
Divorce knocks the wind right out of you. Even the simplest decision can be overwhelming. Some individuals do not want to think about choices which need to be made during proceedings. Trying to avoid decisions does not work any better than reacting hastily just to be done with them. An obstacle to decision making during divorce is having tunnel vision. This is having focus on the here and now and not seeing the broader picture. It is understandable to be concentrating on what is immediately happening. Not giving a thought to what is down the road can affect one’s financial future.
Unfortunately, I fell into this trap. Retirement was not on my radar when I divorced in my forties. I was concerned about getting liquid assets that would pay down my mortgage on a house I recently purchased. There was plenty of time to build up a portfolio for my elderly years, or so I thought. Unforeseen expenditures included the times post-divorce, that my ex-spouse took me to court for shared care issues. He lost each time, but since his solicitor was his drinking buddy, it only cost him a few beers. My legal fees were high. Helping sons with university expenses was another chunk spent. Plan ahead.
There are ways to help decision making during divorce go a bit smoother.
Decision Making – 6 Point Plan
1. Get in a calm state of mind.
Stress floods our body with hormones such as cortisol. This causes the brain to perceive a threat which then activates the Flight or Fight response. It is hard to make a rational decision when the body is prepared for battle. What helps many is doing meditation which has a calming effect on the brain. Other avenues are deep breathing, prayer, mindfulness and practicing gratitude. Engaging in physical exercise decreases anxiety. Yoga or martial arts such as Tai Chi, help bring relaxation to the body and mind.
2. Go to Experts.
They are a fresh set of eyes to analyse one’s assets and determine what is most advantageous to receive. When dividing personal property, an expert’s opinion can be invaluable. I had an art appraiser come to my house to informally look at a few paintings. He suggested which ones to request. It speeded up the negotiations. A tax advisor can see which investments may have tax issues. Getting advice from these individuals can make decisions easier.
3. Ascertain what are your short-term and long-term goals.
A person in their thirties will have different priorities than those in a Grey Divorce. If you want to start your own business post-divorce, then perhaps getting investments that can be cashed easily makes more sense than a large retirement package. Get realistic numbers for what you require to start a new enterprise after divorce. Knowing what you need right away helps with decisions during negotiations.
4. Feel free to ask for a short delay in order to think things through for your situation.
Acting in a panic can backfire later. If you need a break from decision making, then take it. My break in the middle of my divorce was a river cruise down the Rhine. I came back to the proceedings refreshed and ready to continue with negotiations.
5. Break down decisions into smaller segments if possible.
Looking at the multitude of decisions as a whole can be traumatic. Start with smaller ones first and work up to the larger ones. When looking at a huge decision, such as whether to stay in the marital home, I looked at the details. I wanted to stay in the house with the boys. The details showed it would be a financial disaster. I bought a much smaller house which turned out to be wise. The added bonus is that I do not have bad memories attached to it, like I would in the marital one.
6. Gather your support system around you.
When wavering between which decision to make, trusted friends can give you advice. They may have trod the same path as you are on now. Friends’ and acquaintances’ wisdom helped me to make appropriate choices. These people were my cheering section who helped get me through divorce.
On Your Side
Your solicitor is on your side. When you feel overwhelmed and cannot think, let them know. Their experience will guide you through this turbulent time.
For more details on this post or any other family law topic, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest news and views on family law.