This past year, among many other cases, I’ve been providing financial reports & analytics for a fairly complex divorce client. Today I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with my client’s attorney, then immediately wrote a 9 page summary of findings for him to submit to the courts. Right after that I got right back on the phone and spoke with my client for another hour-and-a-half. After all of that, you’d think I’d be drained, right?
I was energized & excited! We had a major breakthrough & our work played a critical piece for our client being awarded an excellent settlement offer. It had taken nearly a year to get to this point. All of our hard work was finally paying off in the form of our client receiving a fair & equitable settlement in a highly contested divorce.
Unfortunately, if I could have a do-over, I believe our client & our client’s attorney would have sailed through this case in less than three months. I am not placing blame on anyone, but there were a variety of mistakes that slowed this case to a crawl.
As you begin navigating your divorce, you will find yourself making a series of mistakes. While there’s definitely a lot more than 5 mistakes you can make in your divorce – here’s our top 5 list.
1. Disorganization & Lack of Communication
The rules of procedure for divorce, while somewhat convoluted, are clear, distinct & need to be followed. When your attorney and CDFA provide you a list of documents to be completed …you must complete this list! Where should you start? Check out our getting started guide & other worksheets. (link)
One thing I tell my clients is they cannot possibly give me too much information. I would rather sort through hundreds of documents than constantly remind & beg for the most basic bits of information.
I recommend that you create a folder (electronic or paper) which will contain & document every single piece of information you provide your attorney & CDFA. Additionally, we strive to communicate with our clients every week with a summary of our activities & current documentation requests. Responding in a timely manner will ultimately save you money in the long run.
Years ago I heard this saying: DIY is just fine for tile & grout, but when it comes to legal protection, complex financial issues & systematic tax planning, it’s best to hire a team of professionals.
The most common DIY I run into are couples working together in an uncontested divorce. You don’t know what you don’t know. This is one of the biggest reasons we’ve created our divorce education program. You can save time & money & significantly improve your financial & divorce IQ by subscribing to our system.
3. Trying to hide assets
It seems logical enough not to try and hide money from your spouse. More than likely, you will get caught. The ramifications could be severe depending on a variety of factors. Plus, you will have an uphill battle when facing a professional like myself with years of experience in financial planning, forensic accounting & federal taxation & IRS representation. When I combine my skills alongside an excellent attorney…all I can say is, good luck. Do you think your spouse is trying to hide assets? Check out our video on the top 10 most common places people hide money. (LINK)
4. Not taking time for yourself
Years ago I had a friend tell me he didn’t want to become wealthy, “money is the root of all evil,” he said. I corrected him saying, “most people get that quote wrong,” “It’s the love of money is the root of all evil.” “Well,” he said, “money just isn’t that important to me.”
I left that conversation feeling drained. I’m sure you’ve heard other people speak just like my friend did, or maybe you have even said or thought the same thing. Without judgement, I find this statement odd because most people will spend the majority of their lives in pursuit of money. Stating that “money isn’t important,” is just plain wrong!
That being said, there must be a balance in all things. Crooning over your money like Ebenezer Scrooge will ultimately lead to a life of misery, devoid of all happiness & purpose. So, it is here at this point that I recommend you stop. Go back to the priorities list you made (LINK) and identify the most important things (or people) in your life. What must you be doing to seek for happiness, contentment & purpose? When was the last time you got a massage, facial or went to the movies? Are you exercising or seeing a therapist? Where are you emotionally, spiritually or physically? Take time for yourself. Slow down, set goals & take time to reset & recharge.
5. Letting emotion drive your financial decisions
Fear is extremely interesting. Fear can motivate men & women to a higher plane than what was once thought humanly possible. On the other hand, fear can be debilitating; fear can crush your dreams & push you into a dark cavern where the light of hope has no reach. Consequently, fear can also lead to greed & hatred – pushing your decisions past moral boundaries designed to protect you and your loved ones from horrific consequences.
So, when we take someone in a heightened emotional state, and force them to make long-term decisions about money, you can see how easy it can be to let your emotions lead your decision making. Fear, greed, hatred & sorrow mixed with money, makes a bad cocktail. As a CDFA professional, I have trained myself to remove the emotional issues from the analytics of a case. While I am not an emotionless monster, I do have the capacity to see beyond the feelings of the case. Working with qualified attorneys & CDFAs who can do this will significantly improve your ability to see beyond your own emotions & make smart financial choices.