Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stop Re-living Someone Else's Past!

Tracy Stewart is a CPA in College Station and a very active neutral financial expert in Collaborative cases. She is also a very good writer and produces an excellent blog, the Texas Divorce Finance Blog. She mixes common sense, good financial advice and very appropriate suggestions for Collaborative cases. She recently posted about a common problem that many people face. No matter how many times attorneys and other professionals tell clients not to listen to what their well-meaning family, friends and even strangers want to tell them about how to act in a divorce, the easiest course of action usually seems to be to ignore the professionals' advice and do what the amateurs suggested.

I do my best to make it clear that such a course of action is almost always a bad decision, but Tracy really makes the case in a way that can't be misunderstood. Here's her excellent post:

"Not infrequently, I hear people tell me about the divorce advice they are absorbing. This advice comes from people they trust and believe.

"My friend, who’s been through a divorce, told me I need to hire the meanest attorney I can find so I can crush my nasty husband/wife.

"My friend, who’s been through a divorce, told me to withdraw all the money from our savings account before my wife/husband does it first.

"Do not allow these people relive their divorces through your life and at your emotional and financial expense. If you must engage in such conversations with them, keep it restrained to a pat on the head/hand/shoulder and murmur, 'There, there. It must have been an awful ordeal for you'. But do not get take their advice. Their divorce is not your divorce and vice versa.

"Normally, they are not divorce professionals. (Even if they are, they are not objective.) They don’t have a thorough understanding of marital dissolution law, divorce finances and the relationship nuances of your crumbling relationship.

"Not infrequently, I see people go through senseless emotional turmoil, wasted time and ill spent money in their efforts to follow their friend’s sage advice. Of course, you can have girlfriends or buddies with whom to drown your sorrows or cry over coffee. But do not take their advice. Seek professional advice.

"Remember: You are not divorcing your friend’s ex-spouse."

Advice from friends and family is an abundant commodity during a divorce. Sometimes it's good, and it's given with the intention of helping you, but following the advice can conflict with the strategies that your professionals are using for your case. You should keep in mind that your shadow advisers are not in charge of the case, they don't have the legal or technical knowledge that your professionals have and they don't know how their suggestions fit in, or conflict with, your overall case strategy. It's fine to pass along to your attorney or other professional the golden nuggets of information you hear, but let the professional decide whether to implement the suggestions. Your focus must be on taking care of your case rather than validating someone else's leftover strategies from their divorce.