Monthly Archives: February 2014

It’s About the Money, Honey.

They say that money is the root of all evil.  That evil has the potential to cause chaos in divorce.  When it comes to divorce it seems all issues revolve around money and the kids.

So what can you do to prepare yourself to take care of your own needs and be reasonable within the financial negotiations that will inevitably happen? 

First gather every piece of paper with a dollar sign that is part of your family finances.  Go to http://www.allfamilylaw.com/Client-Forms/ for a list of forms that can help organize that information.  If you have children under 18, also download http://www.allfamilylaw.com/Resources.shtml

These filled-out forms can be extremely helpful as you organize yourself for divorce.   Just looking at, touching, and sorting these items can begin to put you in touch with your financial reality.  You will see the household cash flow. 

Organizing these documents on a thumb drive and/or in a notebook with page protectors, should help you feel more confident in your decisions.  Remember divorce is about money and kids. This preparation can give you real numbers so you can be more prepared to make hard decisions and negotiate with your soon-to-be-former spouse from strength.

If all the financial stuff becomes too complicated or is just overwhelming, consider speaking with a professional.  CPA’s, who understand tax issues and Financial Planners (and there are even Certified Divorce Financial Analysts) will often give low cost or free advice about wise asset and liability division.  Consider the value of their input.

Once you know the income and outgo of your family you are better able to make the division decisions that must be made.  It’s always good to know what’s actually there in the family wallet and what you absolutely need to live.   Negotiation and preparation for the next phase of your life will be based on these numbers and the decisions you make about the minor children.

After organizing the finances you will have something concrete to show an attorney.  You might, in fact, only need a few hours of a lawyer’s time to handle your divorce.  That is what is so wonderful about The Manely Firm P.C.’s unbundled services with The Justice Café.  On your own you can accomplish as much as possible gathering information and filling out the forms – then talk with the attorney about how many affordable, pre-paid Justice Café hours it should take to complete the divorce settlement.

Information is power.  Calm yourself down and methodically gather and organize the financial details of your family.  The time spent in this preparation, together with the wise counsel of your Justice Café attorney, will save untold stress and regret in your divorce.  

Divorce is a Snow Storm

Here in Atlanta a few inches of snow has always caused havoc.  The only real surprise is that we are surprised.

Divorce, like bad weather, is complicated:

  • Divorce is often unexpected by one of the parties
  • Divorce interrupts almost every aspect of our lives
  • It is easy to blame the other guy for the divorce mess
  • Divorce navigation is treacherous

Whether you are the one who instigated the divorce or the one who was just hit by the snowstorm, divorce is hazardous.  Patience and wisdom are necessary to get to a safe place.  You just have to plough through.

Like a snow-jam, interruption of our lives by divorce is often total.  Your kids feel the pain of their lives radically changing.  Nothing will ever be the same for them.  Your finances are often completely torn apart and must be re-assembled.  You may have to sell your house, move to something smaller, or live with relatives for a while.  Every part of a life is subject to the upheaval of a snowstorm and of a divorce.

During our snow mayhem we blamed the broadcasters, the governor, and the school administrators for our problems.  Why didn’t they have this all worked out for us?  But perhaps some personal responsibility is in order here.  Do you carry a spare gas can, warm clothing, or drinking water in your car?  Might the divorce be partially your fault?

Regardless how we were caught in the snow, regardless how we become entangled in divorce, let’s take one step at a time in getting prepared.  First, attend to body and spirit.  You must be strong enough to weather the storm.  Then, assemble a team to help navigate the treacherous roads of divorce:  a therapist for the emotions, a financial professional for money issues, and an attorney to help with the legal piece.

Before you decide that’s more than you can afford, investigate your options.  Do you know that The Justice Café model, created by The Manely Firm P.C., can provide assistance for as little as $75 and not more than $750?   At $75 per hour, you just purchase the time your need – with no retainer.   That means you can let The Justice Cafe help you with the Child Support Worksheet, or the Financial Affidavit, or whatever seems too iced up to handle alone.  And, their intake specialist will also provide you with a list of free and low-cost family resources for the emotional and financial support you need.

Divorce and bad weather happen – each is better traveled with wisdom, integrity, and people you can trust.

- Margot Swann, Engagement Coordinator