Divorce is no walk in the park for anyone, and it’s something that everyone should do their best to avoid. For both parties it’s traumatic seeing a love and a friendship that was meant to last for ever falling apart at the seems and two people who once idolised each other now squabbling over every petty little matter. Even more is this the case if you have kids who will often be caught in the crossfire. However these days it’s often doubly bad for the man (again particularly where there are children involved) and it’s easy for him to find himself with not only no wife, but no home, no children and no money with the law definitely backing the side of the woman. The argument will be made that while you worked to earn the house, your wife would have been unable to work due to staying home with the children. This would mean that she has no money that she earned herself, but deserves a cut of the household income. Similarly these stay-at-home Mums will have spent a lot more time with the children making it less of a traumatic transition for them to stay with her. Then of course because she has the children she’ll need a home and money to support them. The bitter irony is that many men would have wanted to stay with their children, and yet find themselves paying for their ex partners to do so.
Preventing this is a matter of being prepared and not being too ‘trusting’. It’s important to make sure that you understand the process if you want to stand a chance of having an impact on the outcome. Don’t just be spoon-fed what you’re told and don’t accept everything as truth. Question, learn and ensure you know the game better than your partner if you want to be successful.
You should of course hire an attorney, and they’ll be able to advise you on a lot of matters. However you want this to be an even discussion, rather than just being ‘told’ what to do. This means reading up on law and on all related aspects. There are many websites and books that can fill you in on the relevant areas, and the more you read the more prepared you will be and the less of a chance your partner will stand (remember though: with great power comes great responsibility). Learn the strategies you need and the legal terms and loopholes you can use to your advantage and win the dispute with better preparation.
There are also some tactics you can use to save yourself a little extra change and protect your assets. For example, make sure you close all of your joint accounts if you suspect you’re heading towards a divorce (half of the battle is pre-empting your break up, similarly cancel all of your utilities early on, and stop paying into joint pension plans and the like. Similarly if you have children, start putting in more time with them and spending more time around the house. If you can start working from home then think about this seriously as it may help your case in keeping the children. Alternatively if you’re happy for your wife to have custody then start thinking early on about how often you’d like to see your children and how you want that relationship to work. While ‘buying’ your children should certainly be avoided (you want to avoid them in the divorce as little as possible), making sure that your as well embedded into their good books as possible before you go to court will again help to improve your chances. Also make a note of any ill-fitting behaviour your wife may partake in (but do be fair, remember the price of victory and that your children’s wellbeing should always be your number one priority).
In terms of your finances, unless you’ve signed a prenuptual agreement (which it seems turned out to be good foresight), you will again need to protect your assets. As a rule, in a relationship keeping your finances as separate as possible is always a good idea, and if you’re spotting the cracks in your relationship early on then it may not be too late to do this (it can also help to improve your relationship before it becomes to late as it prevents arguments about who’s spending what). As you start free-wheeling towards destruction you can also start investing your money elsewhere. For example, buy yourself a few nice watches or a gold chain, or some classic art or fine wine. You’re far more likely to keep these in the case of a divorce so if you pre-prepared legal knowledge should fail you in court, you will be more likely to keep these items and can then sell them later after the divorce to earn back some money. Depending on how underhanded you want to be (and how morally and legally dubious) you can even make these purchases under the radar, or store them with a friend. It can even be a ‘gift’ or a ‘loan’ if you want to go Mickey Blue Eyes style, but beware again that this could be going down a bad path (and will reflect badly if you’re discovered).
While the extent of your machinations and double dealing then are up to you (if you own your own business then why not pump it into that, or even purchase something ahead of time on pre-order, man the ideas just keep coming… ), but remember at the end of the day you once loved this woman and you still (presumably) love your kids. The take home message then is that to do well in a divorce settlement you need to be well-read, well-prepared and forwards-thinking. Just don’t go to far and ruin any chance of a good relationship with your children and ex after the divorce.