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, youwant 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 lesstime 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.
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.