To ensure a smooth divorce process, some people think you need to have the best lawyer, a negotiation coach, or for your ex to give you everything you asked for without question. And while those things will make the divore process easier and more pleasant, they only come after having this one thing under control.
When I work with couples, the most successful clients are organized clients. They are on top of their paperwork, they have all of their documents prepared and ready to go, and they have double checked that they have everything they need.
If you aren’t organized, a whole host of headaches could pop up. You could be treated to additional back-and-forth with your lawyers (which means more billable hours used), delays, or even possibly having to go back to court to have your separation agreement revised. What’s more: if it isn’t corrected, you wouldn't get your retirement settlement. It isn’t as simple as just knowing an account number: you have to be on top of everything.
But how do you do that with everything else going on? Organization is important always when dealing with finances and accounts, but even more so during the divorce process if you want to have a smooth, stress-free divorce.
Some attorneys will refer to all retirement plans as pensions (even 401(k)s or 403(b)s - and they’re not actually a pension!). If it isn’t identified properly in the paperwork, it can’t be handled correctly. It’s so much easier to address this before it becomes a problem. You don’t want to deal with all of those financial institutions on top of divorce stress. That does not a smooth divorce make!
By being organized and knowing what accounts you have and where you have them, along with any paperwork you must have submitted in order for your settlement to be processed correctly, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience.
I recently helped a client with lots of annuities during our time together prepping her financials. What led her to working with me is that she discovered she had these many accounts, but she didn’t have the right form she needed or it went to a mystery person and it had to be resubmitted. It was quite a headache.
Here’s the thing… For an asset to be properly included in the divorce agreement, it has to be specifically identified. Many companies have multiple retirement plans. It isn’t enough to just say “T. Rowe Price.” You need to have specific account name and number information for it to be properly included in your agreement.
Some people prefer having a digital file of all of their paperwork while others prefer having it in hard copy. It doesn’t matter which one works for you. What does matter is having a system (any system!) that keeps you organized and houses all important documents that you’ve double and triple checked for proper information in one place. That way you can easily access everything all at once.
I highly recommend using a divorce binder. Once you have all of your documentation properly accounted for, it would be a shame for you to misplace or lose something and have to go through the whole process all over again. By using an organizational system, you’ll have everything you need in one place.
Related Reading: How to Stay Organized During the Divorce Process
Just like a football player has a coach specifically for their position on the field, you can hire a coach to help you at your specific juncture in life right now. There are divorce coaches, financial coaches, divorce financial coaches… You name it, you can find support to help you stay organized and ensure nothing falls through the cracks so you have a smooth divorce.
You may also want to have a strategy session or clarity call with someone (like me, for example!) to help you prepare all the pieces you need that you may not have realized you need. As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know! Hiring support short-cuts the confusion because qualified professionals are trained to know how to guide you. What a relief in the middle of an otherwise uprooted-feeling situation! Find a source of calm for you, whatever that looks like. You’re welcome to schedule a call with me to share where you are in the divorce process and explore options of finding relief.
Having a smooth divorce starts by being organized. If you began your divorce process feeling flustered and chaotic, it doesn’t have to end that way. You can get yourself to an organized, harmonious place absolutely any time. From experience, I’d recommend doing it sooner rather than later — why feel bad if you don’t have to!
Gather your assets, paperwork, and other documentation. Double check that you have complete information for your accounts. Hire help if you need or use my divorce binder layout with everything you need to have clearly marked (found inside my Divorce Resource Bundle!) and take responsibility for the assets you need to have a stress-free, smooth divorce.