Financial settlement after divorce or separation is complex. It can take a long time, and a huge amount of emotional energy.
It is completely understandable that for many couples the process is extremely stressful and triggering as you search desperately to find middle ground with the person you have chosen to separate from.
Yet, allowing emotions and past hurt to affect and even dictate your moves during a separation process will make it harder for everyone.
We don’t want to see your property settlement drag on for months, possibly years, with an emotional and financial cost to both you, your partner and your children.
One of the most powerful decisions you can make for a less conflictual and practical settlement, is to keep your emotions at bay
Of course, this is easier said than done!
From many years of experience working with separating couples, here is our advice on how to remove your emotions from a financial settlement process.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FORM OF COMMUNICATION
It is the communication component of separation that allows emotions to creep in.
Those who have been through the process will know that what can seem like a completely innocent question during this stressful time, can cause massive unintentional conflict.
For this reason, stick to the form of communication that works best for you and your ex-partner.
Most couples choose email because they can be read and digest at a time of choice, and take to time to plan and write them in a peaceful and dispassionate style.
It most cases it is best to avoid conversation, especially in person where a simple body language movement, hint of an eye roll or tone of voice can send emotions into high alert.
FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE
Right, let’s get clear about what the bigger picture is likely to involve in a property settlement. In other words: What is the goal you are aiming for?
The standard goal is to fairly divide assets in such a way that both parties can move forward separately to start new lives as single parents. Ideally, this will involve building a healthy co-parenting relationship to successfully and happily raise their children.
All up, it’s fairly simple.
Yet, splitting your assets can seem like the most complicated mission on the planet when you in the midst of it.
If you find your emotions are kicking-in and small, fairly insignificant details become overwhelming, focus on the end goal to simplify the task to hand.
LEAVE THE PAST IN THE PAST
Break-up’s can actually be quite nostalgic as you dig deep to create your asset pool and the paths that brought you to this point. You might reminisce about when you met, when you bought your home and other important family milestones.
This is all perfectly natural … but it is also highly emotional.
The past is there to learn from so remember this during your separation. You are now moving forward and must try to remain steadfast on “what will be” rather than “what once was” to keep the sentiment at bay.
There is a time for healthy retrospect but not while working through the fact and figures of a property settlement.
GET EFFECTIVE SUPPORT
Most couples enlist some level of professional support when financially separating. However, it is hugely important you get the “right” support.
The right support in our opinion is assistance to finalise your settlement in the most cost effective, fast and peaceful manner. Doing this will allow both parties to move forward with as much money as possible to begin their new lives and enough goodwill to build a healthy co-parenting partnership.
The process of engaging separate family lawyers to “fight corners” can be counterproductive. Be wary of this arrangement exacerbating problems as unknown parties become involved and create an “us and them” mentality with inconsistent advice which can play heavily on the emotions of separating couples.
Remember, the longer a financial settlement takes to settle, the more it is likely to cost. This alone is enough to fray tempers and heighten negative feelings.
For further reading see: How being amicable with your ex during separation can save you money.
WORK TOGETHER, NOT AGAINST ONE ANOTHER
Following on from our last point, if you and your ex-partner are amicable enough to pull together and work through this process, you will find it hugely empowering.
By this, we don’t mean you have to sit together in a board room for hours at a time thrashing out the meaning of life and where it all went wrong.
Instead, working with a specialist financial separation accountant will allow you to form a team where both parties can communicate and contribute with a third party whilst receiving the very best financial support.
By the time most relationships end there is a lot of sadness and anger. Further pitching against one another is going to create a headlock in which healthy decisions and agreements are almost impossible.
For further reading see: How to give and gain respect during your separation.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
There are many complex intricacies to a property settlement so making a decision to pick your battles is really sensible starting point.
In every agreement there is “give and take” and sacrifices to find middle ground.
Don’t fight for the sake of fighting.
For example, you might find yourself in gridlock over who has the family car, even though you never liked that car and would rather the money to put towards something different.
Step back from the fight and decide in a dispassionate manner whether to continue. This is also the time to focus on the bigger picture as mentioned above.
REMEMBER: IT’S ABOUT THE KIDS
So why are both parties so emotional and passionate about this?
Because of our children.
In most financial settlements, parents are desperate for enough money to move on and raise their children as co-parents. The thought of not being able to provide for our children is terrifying. It is this fear that can lead to emotions running high and ultimately hampering the process.
Yet, our children simply want mum and dad to be happy. They don’t want to live in cloud of conflict caused by a long-winded dispute over who has what.
The well-being and happiness of our children is more important than anything in the asset pool. When your emotions are fueling the separation in a negative way, think about what is best for your children in the long-run, take some deep breaths and re-gain your composure for a practical path forward.
For further reading see: 10 Simple tricks to control rollercoaster emotions during separation.