Divorce Do's and Dont's

Editor’s note: There is no prescribed path to ending a marriage. There are many paths, and they can be grueling, or they can be civil. Sally Boyle, a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, has years of professional (and personal) experience in guiding people through divorce. She’s learned firsthand that you can – and should – try to avoid the chaos of the courts and split like adults.

In my new book, DECONSTRUCTING DIVORCE: Taking the Mystery out of Divorce and Its Impact on Your Family, Finances, and Future (January 2018), I’m providing an essential reference tool for those who are considering divorce—or are in the midst of one—and wish to separate with dignity.

I’m confident that obtaining a divorce doesn’t have to ruin your family or destroy your finances, and can often be handled without litigation. I advocate strongly for clients to do their homework and fully understand their options. They will find alternatives that treat divorce as a process, not a war. Attorneys and clients can work together to troubleshoot problems, find solutions and mediate without the “fighting to defeat” mentality that happens in the court system. Some of my advice is:

The Do’s:

  1. Do educate yourself! Know the people, process and price of different divorce options. (Mediation, Collaboration and Litigation). Understand filing, custody, child and spousal support and the rules that govern them.
  2. Do recognize your emotional state, and if you aren’t at your best, take a break.
  3. Do find yourself the emotional support you need.
  4. Do try to cooperate as best as you can with your soon- to- be ex.
  5. Do be honest about your finances; fraud isn’t defensible.
  6. Do support your kids. This is tough on them, too! If you are the primary custodial parent, do be fair with sharing their time with their other parent.
  7. Do understand how debts are handled in divorce, how a mortgage is refinanced, how credit card debt is divided and how joint debt is treated.
  8. Do understand how divorce will affect your taxes.

The Dont’s:

  1. Don’t blame or shame your soon-to-be ex. Don’t post bad things on social media, get angry at family dinners or denigrate your spouse to your kids.
  2. Don’t violate any temporary agreements, no matter how unfair you think they are.
  3. Don’t flaunt a new girlfriend or boyfriend. Give your kids and your soon-to-be ex some consideration.
  4. Don’t hide assets, give them away to friends or put them in offshore accounts.
  5. Don’t go it alone. Legal advice, emotional support are both important now.
  6. Don’t misrepresent your business interests, income or expenses. Don’t hide income and don’t reduce income to punish your soon-to-be ex.

Divorce is a complex personal, legal, and financial transaction. DECONSTRUCTING DIVORCE allows you to arm yourself with valuable knowledge prior to meeting with any mediator, lawyer, or financial advisor.

Sally Boyle is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) who has provided financial planning and business advice for over 30 years. She is Principal of SJ Boyle Wealth Planning LLC in Hanover, New Hampshire. After working through her own difficult and unexpected divorce, she committed her life’s work to helping others in similar situations.


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