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Episode 06: Why you need a divorce strategy

It’s time for a game plan.

In this Episode, CEO Erin Levine Discusses:

  • How struggling with hundreds of emotions during divorce can distract from the real and practical considerations that may have profound consequences for your future.
  • How to get your divorce strategy on point. And when (and how) to shift your strategy as your divorce progresses.
  • How to establish ground rules for your divorce with your ex.
  • Why it’s so important to do the work and arm yourself with a basic understanding of the divorce process.

Actionable Steps You Can Take Right Now

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Read the transcript: Why You Need a Divorce Strategy

So today’s topic is why you need a strategy for your divorce and how to develop one. We view divorce as an event, as if one day you announce, “I’m getting a divorce,” and the next day your marriage is over. The truth is, and many of you have heard me say it before, it’s a journey. It’s a process. It’s a method by which you transition out of your marriage and reprioritize your relationships, especially your relationship with yourself.

In my 15 years of guiding people out of relationships, I’ve become really aware of the paradox of divorce. At a time when so much is at stake and you need to be on your game, you’re likely struggling with hundreds of different emotions that are distracting you from the real and practical considerations that may have profound consequences for your future. So what I’d like to do today is give you the steps you need to get your divorce strategy on point.

One caveat, your strategy may and likely will change throughout your divorce, and that’s okay. One of the big reasons why you’re developing a strategy now is so that you feel more comfortable living in transition and facing the unknown. Let’s get you started on the right foot.

Okay, step number one: Establish ground rules. Many separating couples choose to meet with each other or a third party to see if they can establish some ground rules for how they’ll navigate their breakup and transition into divorced life. If you can make this happen, do it. Work together to answer questions like when, how, and where will we discuss divorce-related topics. Is our endgame to get to an agreement that we both can live with? What types of professionals will we hire to see us through? How and when will we tell the kids?

Separating couples who start with these basics before moving on to more complicated stuff often fare much better. And if the answer is your ex won’t even sit with you in the same room to discuss these things, well, that will give you some information that you need, too, right? It will mean that you might need a lot more support and strategy – likely a lawyer who is experienced and successful at negotiating and litigating complex cases. Perhaps even a divorce coach, too – a trained life coach who can help you navigate some of the challenges that come up in a prolonged divorce. Remember though – some divorces start out nasty and get much better along the way – as spouse’s have time to process the breakup and get focused on making their next chapter better.

Step number two for your strategy: learn the basics. We can usually imagine, at least a little bit – what life will look like after divorce. But that transitionary period, the step between marriage and divorce, is what causes a lot of us anxiety. Many of our fears around divorce involve not knowing what to expect. So if you live in California, head over to hellodivorce.com, where you can learn what the process will look like. It’s not always a linear path, sorry to say, but you’ll get an idea of what you’ll have to deal with at each stage of the game. You’ll also find information, tools, worksheets and curated resources on your legal rights and responsibilities, self-care, financial guidance, co-parenting, and so much more.

Don’t want to limit yourself to lawyers to get the information you need. Many lawyers view law in a vacuum, and that’s not going to best serve your complex life. Get answers from reliable sources. You may even choose to head over to Divorceify.com for vetted resources and people to help you through divorce. Just remember, by getting educated, as you already know, you are giving yourself knowledge, and knowledge is power and makes us feel more in control about the process.

Your final step for your initial strategy is to determine your approach. Look at the different ways that you can “do” divorce and find out which works best for you and which might be agreed upon with your ex. I’ll briefly touch on a few. One is mediation. This is an approach that is one of the most cost-effective options for your divorce. You will work with a mediator, a neutral third party, to try to come to an agreement on all the substantive issues of your divorce. And once you have an agreement, that mediator will write those terms up in the form of a divorce judgment or marital settlement agreement, depending on what your state requires.

If your divorce is more complex or contentious, but both of you really want to avoid court, you can choose a collaborative divorce process. It’s expensive, but not as expensive as a highly contested divorce option where both parties have their own lawyers and battle it out in court. So in this scenario, it’s a legal process that you will use. You both will have lawyers and several other professionals, like financial planners and therapists. It’s a voluntary process, like mediation, but you guys commit to working outside of court and negotiating an agreement that makes the best sense for you.

Of course, you can always lawyer up. With this strategy, each party retains an attorney. Your lawyer prepares the necessary paperwork and works with your ex’s lawyer or your ex directly toward an agreement. To the extent that issues can’t be resolved, you often end up battling them out in front of a judge.

And then finally, you can choose to work it out on your own with some help along the way. You can use a virtual platform, like Hello Divorce, to prepare your forms through our software or have a legal document assistant help you through it. At any point, if you need or want some extra help along the way, on demand experienced lawyers are standing by to help – in increments of time as small as 30 minutes. If you’re divorcing a narcissist, someone who’s ready to do battle, or someone who’s abusive, this is probably not going to be your best option. However, if you have an uncontested or mildly contested divorce, this is your best bet in terms of doing the least amount of emotional and financial damage.

So, that’s your divorce strategy to handle the process. The next is to develop a legal strategy to handle the substantive issues of your divorce like how will property divided.

This is a lot of information, I know, but I want you to have it. Lawyers are notoriously the keepers of information. And quite frankly, I think that’s starting to be a thing of the past. If you have this information, then you can help resolve the issues that are most important to you. The bottom line is this, I know that you can and will come out of your divorce likely in a better place than you’ve ever been, but it takes a strategy. And with the right strategy, support, and some serious self-love, this experience will catapult you into the next stage of your beautiful life. Keep listening to this podcast for actionable tips to keep your divorce amicable and affordable, and of course to cover all your legal basis so you are ready for your fresh start.

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