Do You Have a Strategy For Your Divorce?

Feb 26, 2024

When you are in the midst of the chaos that is your divorce, strategy may be the last thing you are thinking about. You may be thinking how you are just trying to survive this time, but I want to talk to you today about taking a pause, grounding yourself, getting prepared, and taking steps that just don't help you survive, but help you thrive.

I'm going to give you three things to think about today. You can do this! 

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Why Strategy Matters 

If you have spent years or decades building a life with someone, shifting to strategizing to get the most out of your divorce can feel like a harsh shift. You may even be thinking that isn't who you are and you just want things to be fair.

Unfortunately, divorce rarely ends up fair. And in my 25+ years of experience, it's usually the woman who comes up short when dividing the money.

It's sad but true....Divorce requires negotiation, foresight, and the ability to stay in an uncomfortable mental space to protect your interests. You must be strategic in order to get the money and assets that you're supposed to get. It may be helpful to shift to thinking of your divorce as a business transaction because you need to make sure your side of the deal allows you to build a life again. 

Tip #1 Calculating Income 

If your divorce will involve child support or alimony, calculating both your and your spouses income correctly is critical. If you don't have the right numbers for income, your child support and spousal support numbers will be off.

How will you calculate the income? You will need to gather all sources of income for both you and your husband. This is where it can get tricky, especially if you suspect your husband is not being upfront about his income or, even worse, is hiding income. Do your best to be thorough and think of every possible source of income that you and your ex have: wages, bonus, commission, interest or dividends on investments, rental property income, and anything else that represents money coming in.

Tip #2 Calculating Support

Once you have the income numbers, your attorney should be able to help you calculate support numbers under your state's guidelines. Each state has a different way of calculating child support and alimony, so don't rely on internet friends to tell you what the numbers should be. Have your attorney help you do this because he or she will know exactly how your state does it.

Check out my PREPARE for Divorce guide for my expert tips on finding the best attorney.

Child support and alimony are meant to level the playing field between the two spouses, particularly if there is a large income disparity. Different states have different rules and you will need to have an understanding of your states guidelines. You will need to give your attorney as much detailed information as you can about your financial life, needs of your children, and current lifestyle. Gathering this information is going to give you a step up in the process of calculating support and allow you to begin budgeting for your post-divorce life.

Tip #3 Setting Expectations 

Divorce is rarely clean and often will come with some stark highs and lows. One of my biggest tips is setting your expectations from the start. You have to understand both a) what the law says you're supposed to get, and b) what your attorney thinks you will get, given your unique circumstances. Judges have a lot of leeway in the decisions you make, so sometimes what you actually get may be a bit different than what someone might expect just from reading the law.

Ask your lawyer:

  • What is my best case scenario?
  • What is my worst case scenario?
  • What is the likely outcome, given the facts of my case?

Attorneys are not psychic and do not have crystal balls, but they can give you an idea of what judges usually do in cases like yours. By setting your expectation properly from the start, you will be less likely to be disappointed or blindsided when your divorce is final.

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