Navigating divorce is one of the hardest challenges in life—it may even seem debilitating at times. Between the loss of a relationship you never thought would end and the endless decisions you have to make about finances and parenting, there’s not much left to give when trying to see eye to eye with your ex. You don’t have to agree, but getting on the same page is important if you want to limit the time, money, and emotional expense of divorce. Here are three steps you can take to make the process a little less painful.
Work As a Team
I know it seems counterintuitive to see the words “work as a team” in an article about divorce. But hear me out. You and your ex won’t always agree on how to live your separate lives; however, keeping the bigger picture in mind is helpful when trying to sort out the finances along the way. Financially speaking, there is still a need to work as a team with your ex-spouse (even when you don’t feel like a team). For better or for worse, your lives were tied together at one point. It will take some semblance of teamwork to untie the knots.
Working as a team can help speed up the divorce navigating process. Teamwork can also get both spouses on their way to a brighter future. For example, my team was working with a couple who entered the divorce process amicably and agreed to split everything 50/50. The divorce settlement was nearly finalized when the wife came back and asked for alimony in addition to her half. The husband came to us saying how he wished his wife would have talked through this request with us before making such a demand. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees when you’re in the middle of emotional, life-changing events. But in this case, alimony both complicated and extended the divorce process.
Understand Your Knowledge Gap
Even if you start out on the same page, it can be difficult to stay in sync throughout the divorce navigating process, as shown in the previous example. This becomes even more difficult when you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s impossible to anticipate every what-if scenario, and most people don’t even know what questions to ask. How will you handle the house? Retirement assets? Childcare? Those questions are just the tip of the iceberg, and I can guarantee you and your ex-spouse are unlikely to agree on the answers to them all.
The truth is no one goes into marriage thinking it will end in divorce. There is often a sense of betrayal and confusion when it does happen. You didn’t plan for this, which is exactly why there is a gap in knowledge when it comes to what you’re supposed to do next. Understanding that this knowledge gap exists is an important step in moving forward in the divorce process.
Partner With a Professional for Navigating Divorce
The best way to handle the gap in knowledge and the “you don’t know what you don’t know” scenario is to get the right professional team around you. This is so you can think clearly with professional guidance. This involves more than just your divorce attorney. I often recommend a financial advisor and a mental/emotional health coach at the very least to help navigate the throes of the divorce.
A financial advisor can help you reorient yourself by providing a clear view of your finances. When I was in the middle of my own divorce, my ex and I got nowhere (except more financially ruined and emotionally defensive) until we got on the same page with a solution to our situation that came from beyond just ourselves. We had to take a hard look at the bigger picture. This involved understanding our shared finances and how we could divide things up in a way that was workable for us both.
I believe the real enemy in divorce is fear, particularly fear of the unknown. It’s easy to make the ex-spouse the enemy; however, it can be much more manageable and empowering to realize that it is more than a person that we fear and feel grief around. A right-fit team of professionals can aid this process by helping to get a divorcing couple on more stable ground to hash things out, both financially and emotionally.
Navigating Divorce: How We Can Help
You and your ex-spouse might never see eye to eye, and that’s okay. At Calamita Wealth Management, we can help you navigate divorce. We can turn a challenging situation into an opportunity for empowerment, growth, and a brighter future. To learn more about how we help divorcing couples, schedule an introductory phone call. You can do this by using our online calendar or reach out to us at (704) 276-7325.
Catherine Dematte Burawski is a senior life planner and divorce specialist for women at Calamita Wealth Management. Calamita Wealth Management is an independent, fee-only wealth management company. When Catherine experienced a life-changing divorce and the resulting financial disarray, she felt like her life was ruined. But through the process, she realized that what she thought was ruin was actually a defining moment. Now Catherine uses her experience and passion to help other women navigate divorce transition. With the help of the Calamita Wealth Management team’s comprehensive financial planning services, Catherine, a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional℠ professional, provides compassionate emotional support. She also provides the guidance necessary for a seamless and empowering divorce transition. She loves to help women see the possibilities of life and move forward with excitement and hope.
Catherine is a Pennsylvania native who has called Lake Tahoe, CA, home for the last two decades. She and her daughter, Mia, enjoy skiing, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, river and lake swimming. Other hobbies of theirs include music, dancing, and boxing. The duo enjoys any adventure that comes their way (including a future trip to Italy)! To learn more about Catherine, connect with her on LinkedIn.