The Divorce Project

July 5, 2018
Madhu Kanwar

Your marriage seems plagued by irreconcilable differences and the future looks hopeless.

The fact that over 50% of partnerships in Canada don’t last 15 years doesn’t make it any the less painful.

Social stigma attached to divorce is strong. We feel personally ashamed; we feel heartbreak as a relationship ends, but a marital breakdown is loaded with social, family and cultural conditioning.

“Till Death Do Us Part” is a theme we are very familiar with; but nobody told us that our soul needs freedom and joy to survive and to thrive.

We often hide this shame with excuses … Staying together for the kids, we say. I wonder how many children thank their parents for staying together, especially if they have been part of a disintegrating family? Or even, thank them for giving up their own dreams and hopes.

Then there is the financial aspect. Having your assets divided in half isn’t exactly comforting. Having the courage to do it alone is even harder.

if you are going through this challenging time, before you get lost in the mire of it all, here’s what you need to know. It’s a process. But it will end even if there is no end at sight right now.

How you manage this process will have a profound effect on the rest of your life.

Getting into an acrimonious situation with your ex is challenging. They know you well, know which buttons to press and what will cause the most pain. As every action causes an equal and opposite reaction, you will likely respond in a similar manner. Before you know it, the damage escalates out of control. Both in financial and emotional terms. If you have children, they will be caught in the crossfire.

So … What to do?  Emotions are high; you are worried, scared, angry. Where do you get help? What’s the next step?

Consider treating your divorce like a project.

Getting divorced is your goal. Whether you chose it or not, you must resolve it.

Like any project, there are segments that need management.

These segments include:

  • finances
  • asset division
  • child support
  • spousal support and
  • budgeting

This is probably the most complex part of your divorce. It requires understanding of regulations, tax implications and often need third party assessments. I recommend working with a Divorce Financial Consultant (me)so you can come to an agreement that works for you, keeping your goals in mind.

Then there is:

  • Children
  • custody and guardianship
  • parenting time,
  • rules of engagement
  • holidays, homework
  • school and activities

If you are unable to discuss these details together, it is sensible to hire a divorce coach to help you through the process. The last thing your children need is to experience ongoing conflict.

  • Legal
  • Separation agreements
  • Court orders
  • Court documents
  • Your lawyer will help you to negotiate, prepare separation agreements and file documents.
  • Costs
  • Professional fees – Lawyers; Divorce Coaches, Financial Specialists; child specialists; Counsellors
  • Moving costs
  • Realtor fees

Finally, there is the cost. Divorce is costly. Like any well managed project, you need to budget for it. If not, your costs, as in most poorly managed divorces, will quickly spiral out of control.

Your Divorce Financial Planner can help you create a budget for these costs.

So how can you complete this project, under budget with limited collateral damage, within a manageable time frame while covering all the areas?

Here’s how.

Take the driver’s seat. Understand what the process involves and use the right professionals for the right job.

  • Your children are precious. Working through a well thought out parenting plan with a divorce coach will get results that you and your ex partner will likely agree on.  This will lessen stress for your children.
  • Deal with your emotions with a counselor; get your children in front of child specialists if you feel it necessary.
  • Divorce Financial Consultants will provide you with clarity and educate you on your financial options. Negotiating is simpler when you know what and why you are negotiating. They can also help you with a budget, during the transition period as well as after separation.  
  • Your financial and parenting agreements should be looked over by your legal counsel.

Given that there will be costs involved, its important you assign them to areas that most benefit your family and your situation.

Avoid the impulse to take legal action first.

Preparing for your project

Get clarity on your situation.

Tending to your emotions is important. Most decisions we make are emotional, so getting clarity on how you feel, will influence how you manage your project.

  • The decision to separate is mutual. while It is still painful, you are both able to work out a settlement cooperatively. You don’t want to rock the boat, but it is important you gather all the information so you make informed decisions.
  • You initiated the divorce, your partner is hurt and angry. Watch out for feelings of guilt or shame. You may compensate by walking away with less than your fair share and regret later.
  • Your partner initiated the separation. You feel betrayed and angry. Your self confidence has taken a beating, and you just want to get back at your partner. Impulsive legal action can add fuel to the fire.

Whatever you are feeling, anger, hurt, intimidated, shame, fear, relief. it is normal, but having awareness and clarity will help you get to the next stage. Working with a counsellor or coach will help you through this.

Take stock of your assets and liabilities.

  • Gather all relevant information
  • Take time to understand your financial position.
  • Be aware of your current household budget; your expenses after separation will not be too far away from it.

Speak to a Divorce Financial Specialist (Me) to help you get clarity and understand your situation. If you and your spouse can work together, your financial specialist (me) can take on a neutral role in gathering information and preparing scenarios based on both your goals.

Parenting plans, living arrangements

  • Think of your child’s best interest when taking any action. Whether it is the messages they get from you; guardianship and custody; conflict they are privy to.
  • Where will you live?
  • Will the children be displaced from their current school and activities?

A parenting coordinator can help you come up with a viable parenting plan. Many of these decisions affect your finances and your financial specialist (me) can prepare different scenarios for you.

Remember, your children will understand if they are not able to continue with a particular activity, but they will feel the stress and pain if they are exposed to ongoing conflict. Nobody knows your children like you do, and their wellbeing is your responsibility.

Your project is  complete when you have filed a separation agreement and receive your divorce decree.  it will likely be one of the hardest challenges you have faced in your life, but if done right, you will learn about courage and love in the face of fear and anger; you will kick start your life with a new vision and feel the freedom so you can thrive.