Divorce Advice for Men – 3 Tips to Protect Your Finances

Scott Van Soye, Esq. and David D. Stein, Esq.

© Liaise® Mediated Solutions, LLC 2012

Well, you never thought it would happen, but you’re getting divorced. It’s a sad, stressful time – psychologists say that divorce is second only to the death of a spouse as a stress-producing life event. And divorce is generally more difficult for men than women, because men are more likely to suffer shock, isolation, worry over money, and disruption of the parental role. However hard it is, though, it’s a time for men to shift from strictly taking care of the wife and kids to also taking care of themselves.

Protecting your finances will often mesh with your other goals. Here are three simple tips that will help you maximize your assets both during and after the divorce process:

  • Maximize your time with your kids: Of course, you want time with your children because you love and miss them, and want them raised right. But a divorce lawyer will tell you that the percentage of time you spend with your kids can also have a dramatic impact on your child support obligations. The less time you spend parenting, the more you’ll end up paying.

    Sharing custody isn’t as hard as it used to be. Courts are no longer allowed to presume that awarding custody to Mom is best. California law supports “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, and in awarding custody, courts favor the parent “more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent.”

Quite apart from the money, children benefit from time with their dads. Children whose fathers have frequent visitation do better in school, have higher IQs, and exhibit fewer emotional and behavioral problems. So for yourself and your kids, be there as often as possible.

  • Keep your emotions in check. The divorce experience is a sad one for many men. Research shows that emotions affect our economic judgment. People pay more and demand less when they are sad. A spouse’s display of sadness can make men overly generous. Similarly, a man who feels guilty will increase concessions and decrease demands, even against his self-interest. He is less likely to evaluate offers rationally. This could be disastrous when it comes time to negotiate support or divide community property. So, men looking for divorce should go for attorneys who are offering divorce advice for men.

To combat the effects of sadness and guilt on their ability to protect themselves financially, men must plan, form a flexible negotiation strategy, and, to the best of their ability, abide by their strategy. Of course, this tactic must be weighed against the equally important need to be open-minded and accommodating of the future needs of a “Reorganized Family”, as is a trademarked Liaise method. Recalling the strategy can help put them in an analytical, rather than emotional frame of mind. An analytic mind-set will also help them to be receptive to, and mindful of, the needs and positions of their spouse so that the most productive negotiation can occur. A break during negotiations can also give men a chance to focus on the goal instead of the emotion. Finally, thinking of something that makes them happy can help rid men of sadness and guilt.

  • Mediate from the start. Mediating all aspects of a case from the start can save real money. In 2008, Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News and World Report estimated that divorce costs ranged from $27,000 to as much $78,000. Since then, costs have risen sharply. A 2011 estimate of these costs set them between $53,000 and $188,000. Mediation, in contrast, could cost as little as $3,000 to $7,000. In addition, mediation puts the parties in control of their own destinies, and decreases the severe stress associated with litigation.

By taking these few simple steps – maximizing time with their children, controlling their emotions during negotiation, and making full use of mediation, men experiencing the difficulties of divorce can protect the assets they need to move forward. At the same time, such divorce tips will improve the lives of their children, deal more effectively with painful negotiations, and reduce stress.

Scott Van Soye, Esq., is a full-time mediator and arbitrator working with the Agency for Dispute Resolution, with offices in Irvine, Beverly Hills and nationwide. He is a member of the California Bar, and practiced real estate, civil rights, family law and employment law for over twenty years. He holds an LL.M. in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University, where he is an adjunct professor of law and a friend/contributor to Liaise Mediated Solutions, LLC

David D. Stein, Esq., has been an attorney for 20 years and the founder of ® Liaise Divorce Solutions. He is a trained best divorce mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.

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15 Comments

  1. mike hansen

    My wife and I are looking at separating. Things aren’t working out and I wanted to come in and talk about options.

    • ddstein

      Hello Mike,

      When would be a good time to start a conversation? I look forward to talking.

  2. Rick Zapata

    I would like to consult with you re: California laws on divorce.
    This is an information only consult.

    Please call me 817-734-2241

    Thanks,
    Rick

    • ddstein

      Rick, It was nice talking to you. Let me know if we can be of service.

  3. ddstein

    By all means, let’s commence a conversation.

  4. The first bit of advice concerns me. I agree 100% that both parents need to be involved in the lives of their children and that fathers need frequent contact and quality time with their children. However, custody and visitation arrangements need to be age appropriate and based on the best interest of the child. A parenting plan should not lose sight of this primary goal. Especially in the case of young children, this means the child needs to have a primary custodial parent, and it is appropriate for the noncustodial parent to assist in supporting that family structure. (See, for example, that the topic for the national conference of AFCC in June is “Attachment, Brain Science, and Children of Divorce: The ABCD’s of Child Development for Family Law” with many sessions of this conference devoted to neurobiology of development showing the effects on children of being taken away from their primary caregiver.) In my own state I have too often seen a demand for 50/50 custody cynically used as a means of negotiating inappropriately low child support. This can work to the profound detriment of children in those cases where 50/50 custody is not appropriate.

  5. ddstein

    Hello Alexandria, First off, thank you for your thoughtful posting. I completely agree with you that ANY arrangement must be age appropriate.

    If the article did not make it sufficiently clear, let me assure you that every plan we make, every step we take is filtered through a single question, is this action in the best interests of the children?

    That said, we often find our clients to be busy professional people that even prior to dissolution shared every aspect of child rearing and that, by necessity, produced a bit of shuttling of little ones. If parents approach their “Reorganized Family” with the right attitude and loving concerns, the children will not suffer. After all, if in good faith the parents agree, the parents agree and they are the ultimate arbiters of how to raise their children.

  6. My daughter and her husband are considering divorce. Is CA a community property state? / What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine? Thanks.

    • ddstein

      Hello Tim, Yes, California is a Community Property state. This means that each party has , “an undivided one-half interest” in all marital property. Or, as you so eloquently put it, “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine”. Have your daughter and son-in-law contact me and Liaise will guide them to the best divorce possible.

  7. Hello,
    I’ve been divorced for 4 years, paying child support and having
    My visitations with my son, he’s 11 and asking about living with me,
    What is the legal age he can choose what parent he can live with?
    His mother is not in agreement about him living with me.my son is also
    Adopted by me and my ex back in 2001 when were still married.
    I know there’s a list of other details you would need to know to make
    An informed decision . I work fulltime but cannot an attorney retainer
    At this time. Thank you for your time

    Eddie

  8. Heey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow
    you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  9. Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data!

    present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this web site.

  10. Thanks for the kind words! I need to do more writing.

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