Happy New You – Part 2!
Resolution #2 – Take Care of Business!
While you’re following my advice to care of your emotional needs arising from your separation or divorce (see Resolution #1) you also need to take care of some very important business.
In your case this means not only finding about your legal interests and obligations, but establishing some reasonable ground rules, until more formal arrangements can either be negotiated, or litigated.
At this very early stage, I find there are typically two reactions or approaches, neither of which I endorse for the reasons mentioned. One I call the scorched earth approach, and the other I call the mother Teresa approach.
Under the scorched earth approach one, or both, of the aggrieved parties will engage in a variety of “payback” behaviours. This could include everything from denying access, to stopping mortgage payments. While such action may offer you an immediate feeling of smug satisfaction, you can be certain this feeling will be fleeting, and soon replaced by your frustration that matters are taking much longer to resolve than you figured, and costing much more in legal fees.
I have a great deal of respect for the late Mother Teresa and all of her good works to help the world’s suffering masses. However, her unconditional acts of generosity and kindness should not necessarily be followed in your family matter, at least until you know what you are doing!
In my practice I repeatedly hear of one or the other spouse, whether motivated by shame, guilt, or ignorance, offering the sky, the moon, and the stars, to their spouse before knowing anything about their own legal rights and obligations.
Once this happens it is extremely difficult to negotiate a settlement which differs from your original (misguided) generosity.
So what do I recommend?
Before talking turkey with your spouse be certain you know your legal interests. Furthermore, until a settlement can, hopefully, be negotiated, simply continue to maintain the status quo, whether financial. or related to the kids.
If you keep these resolutions, I forecast, you will vastly improve your legal, financial, and emotional prospects for 2011, and for many years thereafter!