Get Your Divorce in Order!
The French have a way of preparing to cook called “Mis En Place.” The direct translation is “Put in place.” Experienced chefs know the value of preparing in advance. Putting all the ingredients in their proper format and proper place so that when it’s time for the actual cooking, everything runs smoothly. It’s a terrific concept that applies directly to the divorce process.
Imagine you had all the pieces in place in advance of going through the process? The Parenting plan was all decided, the financial documents were organized, you and your spouse both knew where you were going to live and how the assets and debts were going to be distributed and then you went to see an attorney. How smoothly would your divorce go? How much money would you save?
It may not be realistic to have everything ready to go, after all, humans aren’t as predictable as chicken cordon bleu, however, you can save time and money by getting everything you can ready before you contact your attorney. It’s not just for a negotiated or litigated divorce either. Preparing for mediation is just as important. Mediators also charge by the hour.
The process I use with my clients is similar to Mis-En-Place, we go through each aspect of the divorce process and try to prepare. Whether it’s full organizing and preparing for financial disclosure, thinking through the different scheduling options for your children, or, the most expensive part-preparing the questions and information for your attorney before you consult with him or her. Staying organized and prepared during the process can be even more important since your emotions are at an all-time high.
A few tips that will help you prepare:
Keep a single notebook or note file on your phone where you store all your information. Even if the information is unrelated, you’ll always know where to look for that “thing the lawyer said I needed to do.”
Use a calendar. As soon as you have a deadline for something, put it in the calendar and add reminders. The smartphone is a gift, use it!
Create an organization system for your documents. You will be asked for at least 3 years of financial data. Before you submit it to your attorney or mediator, organize it. In my online course, I have a sample organization system for your online files. You can simply use folders on your computer desktop or paper folders, but make sure you file things as soon as you have them in your possession.
Keep a running tab of what you’re missing. I find using a spreadsheet very helpful. When you’ve got multiple accounts, multiple years and multiple users, it can be a nightmare to stay organized. Imagine your attorney’s bill if you dump a pile on her desk?
When creating your Parenting Schedule, keep the children’s schedule and routine as close to what it already is as possible. You may have to tweak it as time goes on, but starting from a point that is familiar, is the easiest way to keep it together. If Sally goes to ballet directly from school on Tuesday and Grandma picks her up on Friday, don’t change ballet to another day to accommodate someone else at pick up, work around your children’s needs, not yours.
Do not send your attorney any correspondence before reading and rereading it. Is the email necessary? Does it convey the point I mean to convey? Can I put several points in one email rather than send 5 different emails? When emotions run high, I suggest clients email me whatever it is they were planning to email their attorneys first. This way, I can review it. Since I don’t charge by the minute (attorneys charge in 6-10 minute increments), you’ve saved money right there!
Finally, when you find yourself overwhelmed and spinning a million plates, stop and take a breath. Whatever action you need to take can wait a bit. Taking action in haste when you’re not thinking straight, is not likely to achieve the desired outcome anyway.
Divorce is a series of moving parts that are all intertwined, the more you can prepare, the better the process will go!
Sign up for a Clarity Session and create your ‘Mis-En-Place.’
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