Divorce is considered to be one of the most stressful events a person can go through. It is rated higher on the stress scale than losing a partner! The financial and emotional loss can be even more devastating for some women based on the fact that women live longer, earn less and manage the larger share of care-giving. These factors leave women more vulnerable in a divorce, especially if they do not advocate for themselves. For men and women who have become suddenly single, this is a crucial time in your life where you will need to reassess your priorities, and become an advocate (or better yet, an I-Vocate).
It starts with embracing your power, embracing your voice, and embracing the life you want to create for yourself and your children after you have moved on from this experience.
Here are 5 key points to keep in mind when working to become an I-Vocate.
Lesson 1: To ensure that you and your children receive the best possible outcome after a divorce, you will have to become your own biggest I-VOCATE.
I encourage you to Google the phrase “someone who advocates for themselves”. I did, and very interesting words showed up. Words like, selfish, narcissistic, and even egocentric all turned up. No one really likes to be described with these words, but looking out for your own interests does not make you selfish.
Society rarely teach women to advocate for themselves. Many women are hard-wired with an instinct to look out for their loved ones by virtue of becoming mothers. I want to encourage women and men to defend their own needs they way they would fight for the needs of their loved ones.
Lesson 2: The truth is, the only way you can truly be an I-VOCATE is to stop worrying about how others might perceive you.
Some people unknowingly negotiate away their financial security in order to get it over with. They similarly may not advocate for themselves out of fear of being perceived by their family or spouse as the “bad guy.”
They will take an unfair offer presented by their ex’s lawyer, often without doing the math. They may even forgo child and/or spousal support.
Lesson 3: Do the math. It is impossible to negotiate without knowing your family’s numbers.
The purpose of family net worth statements is to calculate what your family owns, minus what your family owes. This will help you to determine what to negotiate for, and what is fair. Family net worth statements include RSPs, non-RSPs TSFAs, assets in corporations and holding companies, and equity in real estate, to name some of the most common. It will also capture the amount of debt your family is in with respect to a mortgage, loans, lines of credit and credit card debt.
If you were a spouse who stayed home and put the family first, how will you support yourself and the lifestyle you want to maintain post-divorce? You will need to do the math to figure out how much you will need to live, and if you can afford to stay in your home after the divorce.
Lesson 4: Own your financial priorities and embrace a positive financial mindset.
Now is the time to be really clear about your goals. This will fuel you to keep pushing forward, especially as the negotiating process becomes more challenging. Without confidently advocating for what you want (especially when the math has informed you of what you need) how else will you get it?
Silence your negative beliefs about money and replace it with an expectation that you will create the best financial outcome possible.
Lesson 5: Ask for help! Ask yourself, Who do you have in your corner to support you ?
Chances are that the divorce process will get messy at some point, especially if you have an uncooperative ex. To confidently negotiate the divorce process, it takes a village. Seek out the services of a competent family lawyer who can help you to figure out what you’re entitled to. Hire a certified financial planner who can help you build a plan based on the assets you receive, an accountant who can work out the tax implications of your settlement, a real estate agent and mortgage broker who can help you work out your real estate budget. You may also want to enlist the services of a therapist who can help you to work on maintaining a positive mindset. Ask for referrals and trust your gut when choosing the professionals you will work with.
There is no better feeling than becoming an I-Vocate. The results are worth it! I promise.