Divorce

Should You Invite Your Spouse to Join You in a Divorce Workshop?

When splitting up, you might think knowing more than your partner does about how divorce works might give you an advantage – but it doesn’t. Actually, it can be helpful to learn about the divorce process together with your soon-to-be ex.

As a financial planner, I participate in many different types of workshops, including for divorce. Due to the pandemic, these days they are usually webinars.  Divorce is no exception. Should you suggest to your spouse that they should join you in a divorce workshop? Or do you want to keep the information that you got in a divorce workshop to yourself?

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I often answer complicated questions with “it depends.” However, for this question, I will just say, “Heck, yes, bring him (or her) along!”  People go to these workshops to learn how to get started with divorce. In the workshops that I run with Vesta divorce professionals, we equip attendees with the financial, emotional and legal information to help them make the right decisions about their marriage and their lives.

I recently recommended to a Vesta divorce workshop attendee that she come back to more workshops and bring her husband along. As it happens,  they are still talking, and my workshops are still Zooming. So, she might be able to get him there.

A Divorce Workshop Can Get You on the Same Page

The primary benefit of bringing your spouse to a divorce workshop is that you will start to get him (or her) on the same level of understanding about divorce issues.

The first step is understanding that divorce is emotionally difficult to negotiate for both sides. It is even more challenging if the two sides start from different vantage points. Just remember how you felt the last time you dealt with someone with a completely different perspective.  For example, think of the last time you tried to persuade your toddler to eat his or her vegetables.

You and your spouse cannot have all your questions answered in one workshop or a dozen. Divorce is way too complex for that. But you will both learn something. And most importantly, you will both hear the same information and may learn the same thing. And that can form the basis for a productive negotiation and path forward.

You Can Get Some Valuable Guidance

If you and your spouse do go to the same divorce workshop, take it a step further and ask the questions on the points you disagree about. At the workshop, you will get a neutral expert opinion that may be helpful. Some of the issues you could get some clarity on:

  • How to achieve financial success after divorce.
  • Planning for retirement with a lot fewer assets.
  • Whether you can or should keep your inheritance as separate property.
  • The challenge of introducing the “D” word to the kids.
  • The difficulties of comparing pensions to other assets in order to divide them up fairly.
  • The tax consequences.
  • The potential for a creative solution.

It doesn’t matter what the areas of disagreement are. You will both hear the same answer and have a starting point to move forward.

In war, you want to keep to yourself all the advantages that you can. Divorce may be war, but it is different in at least one respect: it pays to make sure that your spouse is as informed as you are, because that reduces your legal bills and gets you closer to the finish line faster.

Heck, it is also worth it to find out that your position might be incorrect. That too can form the basis for moving on.

You should note that what you hear in a divorce workshop can be great information, but it is not “advice.” Because every situation is unique, you will have to go back to a professional for objective advice. However, all journeys start with one step forward. Getting on the same page can be that important first step.

About the Author

Chris Chen, CFP®

Founder, Insight Financial Strategists LLC

Chris Chen CFP® CDFA is the founder of Insight Financial Strategists LLC, a fee-only investment advisory firm in Newton, Mass. He specializes in retirement planning and divorce financial planning for professionals and business owners. Chris is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). He is on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation.

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