Think Creatively During The Divorce Process
Once you have a good sense of your goals and priorities, you can begin to brainstorm settlement ideas. This is your chance to get creative.
One example is if you are trying to keep the house, but worried about cashflow. Many times the person trying to preserve the house might consider renting out the basement, or the driveway for a little extra cash. Its ok to think about things like that (although you really should talk about that with your lawyer before committing to it).
Don't Take Your Spouse's Word For It
It's ok to be trusting, and, in a divorce, that can often be difficult. The most important thing to remember is that everything can, and should, be verified. If your spouse says her 401k is worth $300,000, there’s probably a statement that can prove it.
Get supporting documentation to back up any of your spouse’s claims (account balances, separate property, etc.). By doing so, you can build trust in what your spouse says, while at the same time feel confident that the decisions you make are based on facts.
Do Your Homework
When negotiating, especially when you haven’t been in Court yet, failing to be prepared can be a real impediment. That's one reason why it's almost always a mistake to begin negotiations too early in the process.
If you show up to a negotiation without doing your homework, your spouse is sure to get frustrated. It’s a waste of time and money. If you don’t do your homework a few times, your spouse may have no choice but to take you to court to move things forward.
Be realistic about how much you’re able to get done and set realistic timelines.
Keep Your Commitments
If you want your word to be trusted, you need to follow through on what you promise.
If you back out, change your mind frequently or fail to follow through, your spouse will begin to question whether you’re negotiating in good faith. Not too soon after, your spouse won’t negotiate anymore, leading to more litigation, enforcement proceedings, and lawyers’ fees, not to mention, a worse deal.
Don’t commit to any you can’t do or afford. It’s perfectly acceptable to say that something sounds like it may work for you, but you need to speak with your attorney before agreeing to anything. Agreements are only as good as the people behind them, and no amount of great lawyering is a substitute for that.
Remember The Big Picture During Divorce
Spite is a dangerous thing in a divorce. It drives litigants to do “crazy” things – like spending hours trying to split up the spice rack, or a book collection.
This type of negative energy can cause you to lose sight of the big picture, to resolve your divorce in a reasonable, responsible way, move on with the rest of your life, and stabilize your financial future.
You want to be detailed about gathering financial records so you have accurate, thorough information. But don’t get bogged down with trying to track every single penny or put a value on all your belongings. This will just give you and your spouse more things to fight about.
Stay focused on the big picture and what’s truly important to you (financially, emotionally, and as a parent).