Article written by Belinda Eldridge, a Chartered Accountant and the Founder and Managing Director of Divide. The team at Divide help smart couples who have separated to financially separate in a cost-effective manner without using lawyers. She is also a proud single mother of two boys.
Separating from your partner is often difficult and traumatic for both of you. It is normal to feel vulnerable and fearful of what the future may look like at this emotional time.
If you and your ex-partner are prepared to work together on financial and parenting matters post separation, you and your children will benefit. Working together when you separate can be easier said than done at times, so the following list of benefits will motivate you to regroup and stay on track during the challenging times!
Why you should work with your ex when you separate
You will save money on your separation
If you and your ex are prepared to work together you will be able to reduce your costs and not see your shared wealth disappear in expensive legal and other professional fees.
You and your ex-partner need to disclose values of your assets and debts in order to agree and finalise your property settlement. If you both choose to work together to voluntarily disclose / exchange information and agree on cost effective valuation options, then this process will cost you very little. If you choose not to voluntarily exchange information, then your ex-partner will have no choice but to go legal and legal letters/court orders will be issued requiring you to produce the information that you could have produced for NIL cost at the beginning. The information that will eventually be obtained will be the same information but there will be a significant difference in the costs incurred to obtain the information.
The same logic applies to parenting arrangements. If you are both prepared to work together, be reasonable and agree matters in relation to your children; you can create a parenting plan or agreement for minimal cost.
You will reduce angst during your divorce
Working through all the matters that need to be addressed post separation can be stressful and overwhelming, often resulting in emotionally charged exchanges with your ex-partner.
We all do our best to communicate in a factual and positive way with our ex, but we often find that our best intentions are quickly forgotten when important issues (children, home and finances) are at stake and being negotiated. We know, logically, that interacting in a negative way will not get us what we want, but will instead enflame the situation and result in us (and by connection our children) feeling hopeless, depressed and wanting to fight. Which causes pain and angst to all involved.
In order to save yourselves some angst, I recommend communicating via email as much as possible. When we send an email we put more thought and focus into what we want to say (compared to phone calls or texts) so our communication can focus on the facts and clearly outline what we are wanting to achieve. This factual and unemotional communication style will improve your chances of reaching an agreement. Plus, it will provide both of you with an accurate record of matters that have been proposed and resolved.
You will be educated and empowered
You may not have been involved in your family’s finances or not understand your investments and liabilities. You can use the financial separation process to learn about financial matters and understand your financial position. Learning what you have and understanding the options available to you will make you feel empowered to set and achieve realistic future financial goals. Plus it will set you up to successfully take control of your finances.
You are likely to be more successful coparents
The majority of parents that have separated have lost trust and credibility in their ex-partner. Separation is the time to create a new base line of transparency, trust, credibility and reliability, so that both parents can move forward with their lives, whilst successfully co-parenting together.
Flexibility and a “give and take” attitude between parents fosters a positive co-parenting relationship. Life throws unplanned challenges at us and knowing that you are able to contact your ex and re-arrange care for your children when required, is a huge stress relief. And your ex will juggle accordingly where possible, knowing that you will return the favour when required.
If you are able to have a positive working relationship with your ex in relation to your children, all will benefit.
Enjoy your family celebrations and wins
No matter how old your children are, both parents will always be their parents. Children want to celebrate all the important milestones with both their parents. Birthdays, achievements (sporting and academic), weddings, births of their children. They also want to be included in their parents’ lives.
A key benefit of working together after separation is that you and your ex will be able to develop the best relationship that is possible in your individual circumstances, for the benefit of your children.
And to know you’ve come through your separation and have remained civil with one another is something to celebrate in itself!