PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas December 2021

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surface during stress and uncertainty. Life brings painful lessons for all of us. We can stop, listen, and use the opportunity to grow, or we can carry the pain forward. Neither is much fun but learning healthier approaches — particularly when children are watching — certainly seems to be the best path. When you divorce, you are taking the same income stream, but doubling the expense setting up two households, plus all the legal and other expert fees involved. How do you counsel your clients to not drain their estate during a divorce? Spouses can quickly burn through their financial resources and dollars that could be divided between them when they over-focus on the past versus planning for the future during divorce. Over-blaming and staying stuck in revenge mode fuel the already emotional life stressor that is divorce. The best advice we can give to clients to avoid draining resources is to stay laser- focused on the future ("Divorce Day 2") versus spending legal time and personal energy on the past, blaming, or seeking revenge. Some clients may mistakenly think it sounds enticing for the court to make the spouse pay for his/her wrongs, so why not spend significant legal fees focusing on and proving those behaviors? The problem is that the cost often completely outweighs the benefits when it comes to litigation expenses. In fact, the more emotions are left unmanaged during the process, the more expensive the divorce. Making future-focused decisions from the beginning will not only save significant legal fees but will set you up for a more successful divorce outcome and "Divorce Day 2"! For more advice and to book an appointment, visit www. PAPERCITY ADVERTORIAL We always steer clients to work with a therapist to manage the emotional fallout that tends to flare at some point in most divorces. Along with neutral financial professionals, we involve neutral mental health professionals (MHPs) as much as possible in our divorce cases, whether collaborative or settlement track. "Neutral," again, simply means these skilled professionals have no dog in the fight other than helping to craft a fair and practical settlement that works best for both spouses. Finances, division of property, and post-divorce support can be touchy subjects. Especially in high-contest cases, bringing the neutral voice to the negotiation table through these trained divorce professionals effectively manages difficult conversations not just between the clients but the lawyers as well, as lawyers are inclined to see these issues only from their clients' perspectives. The neutral voice can diffuse the us vs. them mentality that stalls discussion regarding hot button issues such as finances. You don't always get what you think you deserve. Since Texas is a community property state, are there any reasons why a client might receive a disproportionate division of the estate? Many factors can be considered when a judge decides whether grounds exists for an unequal division of the marital estate. Some of these factors might include: (1) the spouses' relative earning capacities and abilities; (2) benefits that the party not at fault (in a divorce based on fault) would have derived from the continuation of the marriage; (3) the business opportunities available to the respective spouses; (4) the relative physical conditions of the spouses; (5) the relative financial conditions of the spouses; (6) any disparity in ages; (7) the size of any separate estate(s) of the spouses; (8) the nature of the property in the marital estate; and (9) disparity of income or earning capacity between the spouses. While this latitude is wide, it affords a judge the ability to divide the marital estate based on factors that may not be readily apparent or within either party's control. This is just one reason why we encourage clients to consider Collaborative Divorce, where the settlement is decided — with the help of lawyers, a mental health neutral and a financial neutral — by agreement of both parties. You can fight over anything and waste a lot of money just trying to get even. How do you keep your clients focused on the best possible outcome for themselves and their children? People do not come into a divorce with an overt intention to harm their children; in fact, most parents say their kids are their number-one priority. Yet many of these parents are not aware of their own lower emotional functioning while in the middle of divorce, which is normal given the significant stress divorce produces. Even those most well intended don't see how their emotional dysregulation impacts their thinking and behavior, much less how it impacts and potentially harms their children. Our belief is that it is vital to shine a light on emotional health and to find the right support to process through the inevitable outcome. No one in divorce is immune. Working with a therapist or coach can help identify what led to the divorce, including your role and what you want to address to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Therapy also provides space to process through the emotions of grief, anger, fear, and even the desire to get even that often bubble to the Dawn Ryan Budner Carla Calabrese 93

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