Support Groups

I was looking for images to go with a series of posts on support groups, and I found this one from Bakersfield (California) Heart Hospital:

I love this image because it captures what Your Post-Divorce Compass is all about – teamwork and process, and how the two can work for you to heal you and let you move on with your life.

Support groups are a great way to get the emotional support you almost certainly need to be able to move forward with your life in a healthy way. Thanks to Google, finding a support group near you is as easy as searching for “divorce support group [ZIP CODE]” and clicking around a little bit. If you haven’t done it, I urge you to do so today.

Do You Have a Tax Accountant?

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

*GULP* Tomorrow is April 15 – tax day! Oh no! Are you prepared?

A tax accountant is a great advisor to have on your team. Maybe your tax picture is pretty simple – you earn a regular salary, put a little in your 401(k), pay your bills, nothing exotic. But you never know where credits and deductions can be hiding, and even something as simple as an alimony obligation or a mortgage interest deduction can make it worthwhile to consult someone trained in tax matters. A tax accountant is also a great complement to your financial advisor, since he or she can help your planner minimize your current and future exposure for taxes. That’s why “Your Post-Divorce Compass” advises you to consult a tax accountant on Day 22.

Oh, and your tax accountant will also know that “tax day” is actually Monday this year, not tomorrow. 😉

Do You Have a Health Insurance Broker?

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Yesterday we looked at adding an advisor to your team (a financial planner) who will be able to help you comprehensively look at your entire financial picture and plan for all of your goals. Today, we’re going to look at adding a teammate who will be a bit more specialized – a health insurance broker. If you’re following the “Your Post-Divorce Compass” process, you’ll be looking at this specifically on Day 14.

Most likely, you’ll have some sort of health insurance option available from your employer. Still, those plans can be “one size fits most”, and while there may be options, you may not be able to easily sort out which one is best for you. I recommend finding an independent (i.e., not “captive” or beholden to a particular insurer) broker who can help you objectively evaluate your options and find what works best for you. They can be a wealth of information, and usually they are willing to advise you at little or no cost – hoping, of course, that by finding you the best option for you, you’ll let that broker sign you up.

Do You Have a Financial Planner?

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

The theme this week is “teamwork”. Who is on your team? If you’re following the “Your Post-Divorce Compass” process, on Day 23 you’ll start looking for a financial planner.

Do you really need a financial planner? I mean, do you really need someone to tell you “put some money in savings every month, get some life insurance, and don’t do anything crazy”?

A good financial plan is comprehensive and will help you meet whatever goals you want to set yourself, while also keeping those goals realistic. In addition, there are dozens/hundreds/thousands of options and products for you to consider, and it can be dizzying for you to try and sort them out – especially if you don’t have any training or experience in financial matters. A good planner will help you cut through the clutter and confusion and put a good plan in place. I strongly recommend you add one to your team as soon as you can.

Your First Meeting: What to Bring with You

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

This week we’ve been talking about your first meeting with a lawyer. Yesterday we talked about how to act and what to expect at your first meeting. Today I want to give you a few ideas about what to bring with you:

  • Financial information is usually helpful – for example, paystubs (yours and your spouse’s); tax returns; retirement and bank account statements; and recent statements for your mortgage, car notes, credit cards, and any other debts.
  • If there is a “fault issue” you want to discuss (e.g., family violence, or infidelity), documentation such as police reports and correspondence will be helpful.
  • If you and your spouse have already discussed divorce and/or possible settlement options, any of that documentation will be helpful. This can include anything from a spreadsheet showing a proposed asset division, to notes regarding a possible custody schedule, to pleadings in a divorce case that you or your spouse may have already filed.

This list could, of course, be much, much longer. The attorney will likely have a list of things he wants you to bring to the first meeting that he can send you when you first call. If he does not suggest it himself, ask him if he can email you a list.

Your First Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Yesterday, we talked about how to find a good lawyer. Today, I want to give you a couple of tips about how to handle the first meeting.

First of all, never forget that you are the “star of the show”. Meeting with a lawyer is no time to be modest – tell him your whole story, at whatever pace you feel comfortable. A good lawyer will be taking notes, listening a lot more than speaking, and only interrupting you to ask questions that help him sort out the story. If the lawyer has not scheduled a long enough meeting, schedule another meeting if you need it. You will learn later to be more efficient with the lawyer’s time, but early on, it’s worth it in the long run to take your time and make sure you tell your whole story. Don’t be shy, don’t lie, and don’t leave anything out.

Once you’ve done that, the lawyer should be able to explain the process to you in whatever detail you need. If you have questions, ask them, and don’t be shy. A good lawyer won’t judge you or get impatient and will want to be sure you have all the information you need. You can take notes if you want, and your lawyer may have some printed information for you if you need it. You can also ask him to email you a “recap” of your meeting.

You may be wondering if you need to bring anything to your first meeting. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

Finding a Good Lawyer

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Yesterday, I encouraged you to talk with a lawyer. But where do you find a good one?

Thanks to the internet, finding a divorce lawyer near you is remarkably simple, and checking his qualifications is just as easy. Unfortunately, however, it’s almost TOO easy – a Google search in a moderately populated area will probably yield hundreds, if not thousands, of results. How do you sort through them all?

Websites that provide rankings and reviews, such as www.avvo.com, are helpful, but my recommendation is that you ask people you trust for a referral. I know it can be a little embarrassing to tell people you’re about to go through a divorce, but in my experience there really is no substitute for a referral from someone who has already been through the same process in your area. If you can’t stand the thought of talking this over with close friends, maybe you can ask coworkers, neighbors, or people in other social groups. You can also call local bar associations and ask them for referrals.

You may be nervous, and that’s okay. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the first meeting with a lawyer you are considering hiring.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer?

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Although “Your Post-Divorce Compass” is about what you need to do after your divorce is final, many people come to us with questions about the process itself. This week, we’re going to take a look at the very beginning of that process.

First things first – should you even bother talking to a lawyer? My obvious answer is YES! You owe it to yourself to talk with an expert, especially since this is likely (hopefully!) the most important event of your adult life, and there are so many traps for the unwary. I know it can be unsettling to spill your guts to a complete stranger, but a good attorney will do everything he can to make you feel comfortable every step of the way. Keep in mind, even if you don’t hire the attorney, everything you discuss is covered by the attorney-client privilege, so it will stay between the two of you. And most attorneys will offer you a consultation for free or a reduced rate.

PLEASE see a lawyer as early in the process as possible. Tomorrow, I’ll give you some tips on how to find a good lawyer.

Who’s On Your Team?

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Who’s on your team? If you or someone you know have been through a divorce, then hopefully at a minimum you’ve had a lawyer on your team. You may also have a CPA/accountant, a financial planner, a counselor, a professional organizer, an insurance agent. You may even be involved in a support group.

The point is, you are more likely to work through your divorce more quickly and with less headache and heartache if you have a good support system in place. “Your Post-Divorce Compass” embraces this concept throughout, periodically directing you to consider hiring an appropriate professional to help you with many of the tasks in the book.

Support Through Counseling

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

Are you or someone you know unwilling to try counseling because it’s too “new age” or “touchy-feely”? Or maybe you think a counselor’s role is to judge you, or to tell you how crazy you are, or to make you take pills that have all kinds of scary side effects.

The reality is that a good counselor is trained to help you deal with thoughts and feelings that you have never had before. Often you can find a good counselor who is “in network” for your insurance, so the cost is hopefully manageable for you. If this is an option you haven’t tried and you’re still struggling, you owe it to yourself to consider adding a counselor to your support system.

In the same way, “Your Post-Divorce Compass” can help you work through your struggles with financial and other “nuts and bolts” issues after your divorce.

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