We all hear about “divorce planning” – and if you’re in the midst of a divorce you may have even been accused of it (or accused your spouse) – but what is that really? Is simply thinking about a divorce the same as planning one? Well, does that mean just thinking about a vacation is the same as planning one? Of course not.
Dictionary.com defines a plan as “
When you’re planning to bake a cake, the “plan” is the recipe. The “plan before the plan” is the strategy (and yes, it’s a strategy, and if you need any further encouragement, just watch Martha Stewart in the kitchen). The strategy is the plan to gather the ingredients, which ingredients to use, where to get them, the supplies, setting up the workspace, and getting ready to start. Planning your plan and starting your plan are not the same.
So how do you divorce plan, you ask? Good question.
The answer is not the same for everyone. And it’s not the same for each spouse in the same marriage. Your goals are likely different and may oppose each other. One of the hardest realities for people to face in a divorce is often that you’re not playing on the same team anymore. What’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander.
Your divorce is also not the same as anyone else’s. What may have worked for your best friend may be disastrous for you.
The answer to this question depends on a few things:
(1) Where you are now. You may be focused on where you’re going to end up, but you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting. Think about reading a map. If you know you need to get from Point A to Point B, don’t you need to know where Point A is to figure out which direction to go? This sounds really basic, but I often see clients unable to navigate through their divorce simply because they’re in a panic and they can’t focus. You’re human. You’re allowed to have your moment of panic. But to devise a plan – rather than just be a victim of circumstances – you have to focus. This requires recognizing where you are now in terms of finances, resources, and options. You may need to be your own private investigator.
(2) Where you want to land. The next part of reading the divorce map is to know where you want to land. You may not know specifically the what, how, and when, but you should be able to identify the most important aspects of where you want to land. For instance, being able to stay in the house, or living near relatives, or keeping the kids in their current school district, or not going back to work until the little one starts Kindergarten, just to name a few. How do you get there? Once you know these general goals, you can begin to figure out how to reach them.
(3) What resources you have to get you there. Knowledge is power. What do you need to reach these goals? Money? Childcare? A down payment for a house? A new car? Liquidity? There could be any number of possible specific resources you personally need to further your getaway plan. How can you get them? Do you need to move money around? Take out a loan? Take a cash advance on a credit card? These may seem like extreme alternatives, but the best time to know your options is before they become an emergency. It’s amazing how money seems to mysteriously disappear as soon as the “D” word is uttered.
The most important aspect of divorce planning, what do you need to do before you go there? Separate bank accounts? Move money around? Get a safe deposit box? Or inventory the safe deposit box? Ask your spouse about that upcoming bonus? This is all very important information and the answers are not always easily forthcoming once the divorce has started. It’s better to approach your divorce like a puma instead of a house cat. And if you don’t know how to be a puma, well…I can teach you.
Contact me for a divorce planning strategy session.
- NJ Divorce Solutions (Previte Nachlinger PC)