Divorce Action Plan

The following information is excerpted from the Divorce Action Plan in the Appendix of Divorce Strategy. There are only 5 steps for each divorce phase shown here. The Divorce Action Plan in the book lists many more things to do and not to do.

Two of the most difficult things for you to do when you’re involved in a divorce is to concentrate on small details and to keep on track with your game plan. The Step-by-Step Divorce Action Plan is designed to keep you focused and organized. Refer to it during the different phases of your divorce. If possible, view your financial divorce as the separation of a business partnership.

Before Filing for Divorce

This is the time when you and your spouse are discussing the possibility of divorce. You may be in marriage counseling or individual therapy to save your marriage. It’s also the time to start your financial planning for a possible divorce.

  • Gather historical financial documents such as tax returns, banking records, real estate purchase and sale documents and any other records pertaining to your assets. Use the information in Divorce Strategy to prepare your preliminary worksheets.
  • Find a good divorce lawyer using the information in the Divorce Lawyer Questionnaire to help you in your search. Use your completed Personal Information Planner to more efficiently utilize your time when you interview a prospective lawyer to learn about your potential risks and results if the divorce truly occurs. Start your divorce financial planning.
  • Avoid stressful situations and conflict as much as you can. Plan any pre-divorce discussions with your spouse so that they occur in a neutral location. Avoid involving your children, friends and relatives in your divorce.
  • If you and your spouse can have reasonable, somewhat amicable discussions about settlement, begin pre-settlement negotiations. Start with a full disclosure of the information about your income, assets, liabilities and expenses.
  • If divorce is imminent and you and your spouse can’t communicate to work out your divorce settlement or if one of you is more in control and more powerful than the other, move on to the next step. Don’t waste time and energy on trying to work out an agreement until you are both on a level playing field.

Divorce Filed and Pending

Once you or your spouse have made the decision to go ahead, certain events occur whether you want them to or not. It is an extremely stressful phase. Do things in small chunks. Avoid trying to do everything at once. Manage your time so that you have a set relaxation period every day. Pay more attention to your needs and to those of your children.

  • If your spouse hasn’t already done so, file for divorce. Your lawyer will file a petition, financial statements and other documents with the court. This begins the legal divorce process. Ask your lawyer to explain the progression of a divorce case through the court system where your case is filed.
  • Take any mediated or negotiated settlement to your lawyer for review and comments. If you and your spouse do not have an agreement, work with your lawyer to come up with a proposal or encourage your spouse to submit a proposal to you and your lawyer. Don’t turn control of your divorce over to the lawyers.
  • Work on your divorce financial plan using the worksheets and ideas in Divorce Strategy.Research other sources for additional information. Organize your paperwork. Keep it up to date.
  • Make your own decisions. Be reasonable and receptive to new ideas and constructive suggestions. Accept responsibility for the outcome of your divorce. Work toward a settlement of your divorce. If settlement of all issues is impossible, agree with your spouse on as many issues as possible. Reserve any remaining disputes for a trial.
  • Make plans and set goals for your finances after the divorce. Be realistic. Review and revise your goals on a regular basis as your circumstances become clearer.

After the Divorce

Your legal divorce is over. Now the wrap-up of your financial and emotional divorce begins. Keep meticulous records of your financial separation. Plan for your future. If you have residual feelings of anger or bitterness, get counseling to work through your feelings. If not, you will always be held back by your past. Strive to keep your emotional divorce separated from your financial divorce. Don’t confuse child custody and relationship issues with money issues. See the Divorce Recovery Journal for some great tips for help you through the healing process after divorce and to help you get on with life.

  • Do what needs to be done to transfer ownership of assets. If you haven’t already done so, close all the credit cards, charge accounts or bank accounts in joint names so your ex-spouse’s name is removed from the accounts.
  • Keep copies of any support checks you have paid or received. Keep an ongoing accounting and ledger of the payments. Make sure all the necessary documentation has been done if payments are going to be made by a wage assignment or through the courts. Keep the employer and/or the court clerks advised of any address change. Prepare and send bills to your ex-spouse if late payments or account balances are a problem.
  • Prepare a financial plan for the next year. Set short, medium and long range goals. Make arrangements to pay any bills left over from the divorce or marriage. Start saving whatever you can, even if it’s only a few dollars each month. True Prosperity has some terrific ideas to help you with your financial planning.
  • Prepare a post-divorce timetable for future events, such as an anticipated change in an amount of child support due to a child graduating from high school or a date when you are to pay your ex-spouse a certain amount of money.
  • Live a happy, fruitful and prosperous life after your divorce. It’s the best revenge you can have against your ex-spouse.

A Child’s Advice for Divorcing Parents

Jill Greenstein is a psychologist who works at the Putnam Valley Elementary School located about 50 miles northwest of New York City. Her work with the students at the school has involved a group called Banana Splits.

Mrs. Greenstein says, “Banana Splits groups are for children who are experiencing a loss of family cohesiveness through separation or divorce. Last year (1996-97), many children got together in these groups to work with me on understanding their family situations, sharing their feelings and experiences and giving and getting advice. These groups help children handle the feelings often associated with divorce and separation.

After meeting for the year, these children came up with ‘advice for parents’. Although presented as advice for parents undergoing separation and/or divorce, this advice is appropriate for all of us!”

Advice for Parents

  • Spend alone time with all your children.

  • Tell the truth and don’t break promises or lie.

  • Don’t fight, yell, etc. in front of your children — it makes your children scared and worried.

  • Help your children with their homework.

  • Share important information with your children.

  • Listen to your children and pay attention to them.

  • Have patience with your children and try not to get too angry.

  • When you’re angry, try not to take it out on your children.

  • Communicate your feelings.

Mrs. Greenstein also advocates the following Bill of Rights.

Bill Of Rights Fof Children Whose Parents Are Separated/Divorced

  • The right not to be asked to “choose sides” between their parents.

  • The right not to be told the details of bitter or nasty legal proceedings going on between their parents.

  • The right not to be told “bad things” about the other parent’s personality or character or behavior.

  • The right to privacy when talking to either parent on the telephone.

  • The right not to be cross-examined by one parents after visiting the other parent.

  • The right not to be asked to be a messenger from one parent to the other.

  • The right not to be asked by one parent to tell theother parent untruths.

  • The right not to be used as a confidant regarding the legal proceedings between the parents.

  • The right to express feelings, whatever these feelings may be.

  • The right to choose not to express certain feelings.

  • The right to be protected from parental warfare.

  • The right not to be made to feel guilty for loving both parents.

Advice for Parents and the Bill of Rights were reprinted with permission from Jill Greenstein.