So you’ve come to the point in your life where you are one of the statistics; you’re getting divorced. Divorce is never easy but with the right attitude, and some planning, you can minimize the stress and pain it inflicts on you and your family.
Debbie Shawn of Divorce Matters suggests that the most important piece of advice she can offer is to remember that while you may be ending your marriage it is virtually impossible to end the relationship with your spouse. There will always be moments where you will find yourselves in the same room or needing to interact. If you can find a way to keep your interactions civil as you negotiate the terms of your separation and divorce it will make your future contacts far more palatable and will make life much easier on your children, regardless of whether they are 6 or 36. This is your incentive to “behave better”!
When asked what the biggest mistake was that she sees her clients make Debbie says people need to ask questions of their advisors when they don’t understand something. “The decisions being made during the negotiation of a separation agreement will have an impact on the rest of a person’s life, so it is crucial that clients understand that there is no such thing as a stupid question!”
So how do we start the process of “behaving better”? One idea is to avoid the adversarial nature of the legal system right from the start and look at mediation as a way to negotiate a fair divorce settlement. Mary Krauel of PRM Mediation and Fairway Divorce Solutions believes that mediation allows couples to find creative solutions to maximize their net worth and helps foster amicable co-parenting. Mediation can help reduce stress, costs, and the time spent on your separation and divorce. Mary believes mediation is right for the majority of couples but stresses that mediation is not the answer if there is a history of abuse or violence in the relationship. Mediation will also not work if one party is being dishonest, one party is in denial, or one party is set to WIN at all cost.
As a mortgage broker I deal with divorcing couples all the time. The biggest mistake I see people make is buying a new home before reaching a resolution on their separation agreement. The last thing you should do if you’re newly separated is go house hunting with your favourite realtor! I understand the desire to start over as quickly as possible but there are so many things that can go wrong in a real estate transaction if you don’t have your ducks in a row. You may think your ex is reasonable today but will they be reasonable tomorrow when you need them to release funds from the sale of the matrimonial home or help you satisfy a condition of your new mortgage? This is a time when your ex can employ leverage and WHACK you if they choose to. Don’t give them this power. Take your time and reach a settlement before you buy a new home!
Getting a divorce is an emotional and stressful time. Until I experienced it for myself I didn’t understand the breadth and depth of emotions that come into play. It can take a few years for the dust to settle and get your life back to a new normal so start the process properly. Find the right advisors to work with and “behave better”!
If I can be of any assistance just let me know.
Mortgage Broker & Investment Advisor
* Special thanks to Debbie Shawn of Divorce Matters (http://www.divorcematters.ca) and Mary Krauel of PRM Mediation and Fairway Divorce Solutions (http://www.prmmediation.com) for providing me with additional insight for this article.
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