Don’t get us wrong, it doesn’t say, “don’t have emotions”, we just want to keep you from letting them get in the way of sound financial decisions. Even in the best of circumstances, divorces represent an ending and those endings usually bring about feelings that can get in the way of your decision making around finances. Making bad decisions during this time could have a long-term effect on the rest of your life. We have seen lots of people go through lots of different emotions, but we’d thought we’d share some of the most common emotional mistakes that result in negative financial consequences.
When you get divorced, you are more than likely going to need a professional team. You may or may not want to use the same people you used with your soon to be ex, so you may need to do some interviewing. You will most likely hire a divorce attorney. Most of the people you hire will charge by the hour, so don’t confuse their jobs with a therapist. We often see people who spend way too much time talking to their attorney about their emotions and feelings. But they are charging for their time and they will charge you whether you are talking about strategy or how he hurt you. Do not hesitate to hire a good therapist early in the divorce process and pay that person. First, they are more qualified to help you move through your emotions and second, they are likely cheaper!
Another mistake we see often is an attachment to the family house, or the summer home, or the horses, or something else that the new financial structure of your life can’t afford. If you weren’t divorcing, chances are you are a practical enough person not to jeopardize your future by purchasing something that you can’t afford, so why would you let divorce justify that behavior? People can convince themselves that personal consumption types of assets are “investments” but they are often lousy investments that have a cost to maintain and could depreciate. Later, when you must give it up, all the hurt can come flooding back. If you can’t easily maintain it after the divorce, don’t fight for it during the divorce.
We see people who just want it over already and don’t care what they get or how it works out. They want to take whatever is offered and just to move on as fast as they can. While keeping the divorce going for a little bit of money is foolish, so is handing over the farm to avoid conflict. A good attorney can handle most of the communication so that you don’t have to do so, and your team can help you with documentation and organization. But walking away with a small portion of what is rightfully yours can do a lot of long term damage.
On the flip side, clients who desire revenge over resolution are equally capable of hurting themselves. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. You may be so angry all you can see is red, but having the underlying goal of “destroying” someone financially by taking “everything” and leaving them with “nothing” will just set you up for more anger and frustration as that is not a typical outcome. We’ve seen some clear cut scenarios dragged out longer than needed eat up a lot of resources for little or no reward- financially or emotionally. When your advisory team is telling you that you have an equitable offer, listen.
No matter how hard it is and no matter how old they are, don’t get the kids involved. This can be expensive but more importantly emotionally damaging for all involved. If you are taking on the primary responsibility for the children, you need to make sure they are going to be cared for financially, but you do not need to discuss it all with them and try to get them to take your side. Further, your kids might be going through trauma, but don’t overspend on them to try to win their love. This is another emotion in the short term that can have long term repercussions. Don’t forget your role as a parent will be one of the most important ones of your life and when the divorce is over, you still want to be good at parenting.
Finally, for some, the emotional toll of divorce can be debilitating. Make sure you are putting your oxygen mask on, and do as many little things as possible to take care of yourself emotionally, and physically, so the emotions don’t take a toll on family or work life. This includes seeking out professional help if needed. Remember, this is a temporary state, and things will get better- most likely more quickly with the help of a good therapist.