1. Get expert advice
Make sure you are engaged with the best lawyer and accountant you can find, and ensure they are working together on your case. When relationships break down, people can start to behave quite differently. When you witness such behaviours, generally money is the key driver. When separating most people head straight for the lawyer’s office (if they don’t try to ‘fix’ things themselves). Sure, this is a good plan, but if this is about money it can be a good idea to have the right accountant and trusted advisor on your side. Another reason why it’s important to have the right lawyer and accountant mix, is that the accountant can potentially ensure the delivery of financial disclosure quickly so it minimises delays in the legal process.
2. Know your numbers
Your accountant can assist you with all the financial preparation and disclosure required by your lawyer to represent you, and may be able to help shift proceedings in your favour. How? Simply by offering transparency. As the saying goes “numbers don’t lie”. Legal cases are based primarily on data – financial data. Where parties to a legal case attempt to cover up the truth or tell lies to gain ground, the numbers can expose lies by presenting the truth. They can be used as crucial evidence in court cases and can be the make or break of a settlement direction. Know your numbers.
3. Be careful about what you put in writing
Texting, social media, emails – all these tools involve making comments ‘in writing’. Avoid putting anything emotional in writing when you are going through a separation. Whatever you write can be used against you by the other party to build their case. Certain communications must be made in writing and are best done by your lawyer to ensure that you are not making the situation worse for yourself. The most subtle of behaviours can work against you in a legal setting, even if you think it is just a simple comment. Leave the writing to your legal team.
4. Try to keep emotions to the side
The key after separation is to try to shift your emotions aside and attempt to stay calm and logical. We see too many people in this situation clouded by the emotion and negativity. As soon as possible after separating, you need to take care of the financial side of the situation. There are several reasons for this. At a high level – time is money. The more time that passes after separation, the more your financial position is likely to be drained. The more opportunity one party has to potentially take advantage of the other party. The more aggressive and defensive people may become. And your once healthy asset pool slowly may dwindle.
5. Consider counselling
Think about attending counselling with a reputable psychologist or psychotherapist with experience in separation matters. If you are in a position whereby you are being manipulated, living in fear, being abused physically, mentally or financially, it is essential that you are being educated on recognising behaviours as they happen. Your psychologist will help you recognise red flag behaviours that may be holding you back from protecting not only your mental health, but your financial future.
Cover image source: Andrey_Popov (Shutterstock.com)
About Leah Oliver
Leah Oliver is founder of Minnik Chartered Accountants. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant, Registered Tax Agent and Public Practitioner, with extensive experience in accounting and finance. Leah is also a wealth educator who wants to teach people how to build a smart portfolio.
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