Rob looked bereft. He knew, intellectually, that he wasn’t entitled to his wife’s family’s money. He knew that he and Sheila were getting divorced — after all, they both had moved on and were seeing other people. Rob also knew that he was a grown, healthy man who had been working hard and making a living for many years. He had built his catering business from the ground up. The business had had good times and bad — now it was doing fine. But he had always depended on Sheila to help when it was hard to make payroll, or when large repairs came up suddenly. And she’d always come through.
Now, there it was, in black and white. He stared down at the 50-page Separation Agreement that I had drafted, shaking his head in disbelief. He kept his business, including all of its income and all of its debts. She got the house.
Sheila was never going to bail him out any more.
Rationally, it made sense. But emotionally, well… sometimes the head and the heart move at two different speeds.
Sometimes agreements that sound logical and make sense in mediation — or in any kind of negotiation where you are considering the needs of many parties — just don’t look the same the next day.
How do you avoid this when you are negotiating your divorce?
- Do some reality testing. Imagine what it will really be like to live with your agreement for five years, or ten. Think in color here — in vivid detail as much as you can. Ask yourself “what if?” And then ask “what if?” again and again.
- Think of your other resources. What resources have been untapped because you have been relying on your spouse? This may be in the form of friends, help finding a job, financing — there are all kinds of support you will need!
- What actions can you take to adjust to your new reality? In other words, what can you control? Write them out. Perhaps, if it is a matter of cash flow, there are simple fixes, like eating out less often, that you can start to implement now. Or, there may be major changes you will have to make like moving to a less expensive town at some point in the future.
It is hard to go from a family unit to supporting yourself. But know that you can depend on yourself. It WILL be okay somehow. You will make it okay. Be resourceful.
Count your blessings. Remind yourself of what you do have, of the love and support around you.
What will you do without a safety net? … Weave a new one!
Joy S. Rosenthal, Esq.
Rosenthal Law & Mediation
225 Broadway, Suite 2605
New York, New York 10007
Phone : 212.532.4704