No matter the duration between your decision to divorce and taking action, it all becomes a blur. If you ever had any feelings for your partner, it is easy to get bogged down in constant distraction of the process. If I had it to do over again I would do everything differently. As soon as you make the decision to divorce you should immediately begin to strategize. Luck favors the prepared. Consider the following strategy process which I call Plot, Plan, and Prepare.
If the term Plot sounds shady, it is. Like it or not this is the hand that you will be dealt. The second the big “D word” rears its ugly head you should start plotting. Regardless if your partner is plotting or not, especially if you are a man, the system is plotting against you. Plotting refers to a great many things and can serve as a catch all. It is merely a process to slow you down, and to help you think about the second and third order of effects of your actions. What will happen if I do this? When do I need to do that? The example I have heard a lot about, and I wish I had done, is unloading assets. Selling your jet ski to your best friend, or someone you trust, for $1. Although the court provided temporary orders not to damage or sell any of our property, my ex-wife pawned her $30K ring and sold our $3000 dining set. The court did nothing to acknowledge or punish her behavior and actions. Anything left on the table will be up for grabs, and you can guess who will get the bigger grab. This includes your children.
The old military adage is that no plan survives the line of departure. Given conditions set by the court, forming a plan might seem pointless. While the plan might change daily, the process of planning will prove valuable. I recommend starting the plan with your spouse if things are still amicable. Do it now because chances are, they won’t remain that way. Even if it feels fake, start talking about what is in the best interest of the kids. Believe it or not, the court does not have the best interest of your children in mind. Set expectations early on for parenting time. What would fair look like? How can we ensure that the parenting plan is fair to all parties? That is not to say it will last. During our temporary orders parenting time was split 53% to 47%, but in the permanent orders it ended up 90% to 10%. If I had any idea that the court would skew the parenting plan so horribly I would have planned, and prepared better.
Most of us have heard of Murphy’s Law, that if something can go wrong, it will. Part of Murphy’s Law entails hoping for the best, but prepare for the worst. Yes, there is a lot of overlap between plot, plan, and prepare. Hopefully looking at things three different times from three different perspectives will enable you to see more, and clearly. In the prepare stage there are things that you can do and control, especially early on. Get your finances in order. The day you pull the trigger and file for divorce close your joint bank account. Any support payments that you make to your spouse between filing and temporary orders, pay with a check and clearly mark that it is a support payment. Lawyers will try to claim that it was a gift. These are the type of things that you can easily prepare for.
Ultimately, the way the system is rigged, much of what happens, you will have very little say in. I am just encouraging you to set yourself up for as much success as possible. Plot your escape, plan for the best, and prepare for the worst. This is happening.