My Ideas and Tips to Transfer On

A text appeared on my cell phone. It was my sister. “He’s single,” it said. Since my divorce, their matchmaking skills have stalled to say the least, so it’s no surprise that I ignored the text and got on with my day. It wasn’t until the headline caught my attention later that day that I discovered who it was referring to: “Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage after 27 years.”

Three thoughts came to mind: First, I had to clarify my sister. All seniors are taboo, including Bill Gates. Second, 27 years is an impressive year for the Microsoft mogul and his wife. After just getting divorced, I wondered what advice I would give to a couple with a total net worth of $ 150 billion. Will your divorce be different from the start (sorry, I couldn’t help it), or might the following lessons from my own divorce still apply?

Here’s what I learned from the divorce:

1. Focus on what is acceptable, not what is fair

Attorney Beth McCormack of Chicago-based family law firm Beermann LLP advises against the use of the word “fair” by her clients and prefers to replace it with “acceptable” – and for good reason. Fair is rather subjective. What is fair to one may not seem fair to another, whereas a little more black and white is acceptable. A wise strategy would be to consider a number of acceptable payroll results and keep an eye on the long game. Whether or not you are a wealthy couple, the reality is that you are not getting exactly what you want and sometimes it doesn’t always seem fair.

While the trivialities and complexities of your case hopefully pale away from the gates, the fact that you face multiple curveballs along the way and focus on an acceptable outcome instead of being derailed by what isn’t fair leaves you thousands save legal fees and considerable anxiety. Ultimately, a mindset that is fair enables a victim’s mindset, while an acceptable attitude puts you back in the driver’s seat and encourages accountability for a happy and fulfilling life after the divorce.

2. Organize, organize, organize

No matter the size of your bank account, segregating your wealth can be daunting. It can also be a great opportunity to get organized and really understand where your money is and how it can ultimately work for you. It is not uncommon for a spouse to be less involved in finances, especially when they are no longer employed raising children.

If it has been you, the discovery phase of your divorce will seem daunting and you and your spouse will have to disclose everything on your behalf, such as accounts, tax returns, credit card debt, and payment stubs, to name a few. Sometimes it seems like you’ve given your life down on paper, and in many ways you are, too. However, since this is a requirement, why not use the time wisely to get smart on areas you may have overlooked in the past?

If you still seem overwhelmed, a CeA certified divorce finance analyst (CDFA) may be worth the fee as they have both the legal knowledge and financial acumen to get from point A to point B and set long-term financial goals. Even if you do take up a CDFA, a hands-on approach will help you in the long run as any good analyst will train you and answer questions along the way. Much like doing spring cleaning a house, going through the financial discovery process is a chore and intimidating, but once you are behind you feel so empowered and in a much better position to make informed decisions about your money.

3. Avoid making big decisions

Unless absolutely necessary, divorce is not a time to make hasty decisions or make changes in other areas of your life. Whether it’s a new love interest, a change of job, or moving to another city, you’ll have to wait for the dust to settle. These distractions could jeopardize more pressing decisions at a time when clarity of mind is absolutely critical. This is especially important when dealing with children suffering from collateral damage from divorce. Remind yourself that they didn’t sign up for it. You need to feel like you are your priority during a transition that affects your life even more than yours. If not for you, then for your children try to maintain enough stability in their lives until they (and you) are used to the new normal.

4. Turn your divorce into a relaunch

It will be very tempting to think about regrets and ruminations on the past. Take it from me, don’t do it to yourself. Yes, hold space to grieve and give yourself time to cry, but whatever you do, don’t look back.

Living in the past is applying today’s knowledge to a time in history. This is fiction, really a fairy tale. Do you know what can be real? Take everything you’ve learned and apply it to the here and now. If you need to hire a good therapist or coach to hold you accountable and not to exhaust your loved ones, go for it.

Remember, when you have kids, watch them. You must put that oxygen mask on right away to help set the example that you can be proud of one day. How you deal with this transition will set the stage not only for how you will deal with it, but also how you will approach life’s greatest challenges. Would you like them to be the victim or the creator of their life? No matter how much debt you blame your future ex, the sooner you accept the role you played, the sooner you can move on to the good life you deserve without looking back.

What I learned from the divorce is that happiness is possible on the other side. This could be the rockiest time of your life. You will be scrutinized for your children, your spouse, the legal profession, and, if you are rich and famous, the world. But before you know it, the worst will be over, and in its place a blank board will be yours. No matter how fat your wallet is, these tips can be applied to most divorce cases, including gates. Indeed, as the saying goes, “more money, more problems,” so anyone lucky enough to have special notice should take special notice, even Bill and Melinda Gates.

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