THE BLOG
10/21/2014 02:26 pm ET Updated Dec 21, 2014

Planning Pays Off

Divorces don't usually just pop up unexpectedly. That's not to say that there are not situations where someone is overtaken by emotion and just decides to call it "quits", that does happen. But more often than not, the divorce process is something that starts, at least in the mind of one of the parties, long before anyone decides to move out of the house or to file papers. Psychologists talk about "leavers" and "leavees". Often times the person left in the marriage is surprised, as the other party hasn't shared their level of dissatisfaction, or that they have been thinking of breaking up the marriage for some time.

Often times the person who is "leaving" thinks about the emotional implications of what they are doing, but not necessarily about the practical ones. More often they are working through the ability to separate emotionally and physically, or focusing on what life will be like once the separation has occurred; "will our kids be okay"," what will it be like to date?"," can I be happier on my own?". These thoughts can be overwhelming and they cause us not to pay attention to some other things we should be thinking about.

While we always hope that people can work things out when they separate, so as to do it as amicably as possible, oftentimes that does not happen. When it does not happen, a judge gets involved. He or she may be called upon to decide upon arrangements that will affect many things including who pays what, who has control over assets, what schedule the children will follow.

What the person thinking about divorce does not realize is that many of these decisions end up being made based upon what was being done prior to the separation. So, for example, if the parties were living a lavish lifestyle, once they separate the court is going to consider that lifestyle in fashioning a spousal, and in some instances, child support order. If someone owns a business, and in the latter part of the marriage she was having the business pay lots of personal expenses, it is going to be difficult for the spouse operating that business to argue that suddenly the business policies have changed and the money will no longer be available in that way. And, when it comes to arrangements for children, courts often want to know what the parties were doing before they split up. If both parents were equally involved in the day-to-day caretaking of the children, is much more likely they will have an equally shared custody schedule

If you are the "leaver", you are at an advantage in this situation which is something that oftentimes people do not see. If the "leaver" is concerned with what the custody arrangements will be after separation, it would be best to address that before separation. If you want more time with your kids once you split up, you need to spend more time with them before you separate. If you are concerned that too much money is going to flow out after separation, then you need to address that far ahead of the actual split by curtailing expenses, or addressing how the business pays for things well before the split.

While the concept of planning what happens upon a separation may seem cruel or too calculating to some, its' a fact of life that those who plan ahead for their long term goals are usually more likely to succeed at them than those who do not. Divorcing, to some extent, involves business-like decision-making at least when it comes to finances. Most people do not think of it this way and they do not think things like this through. The point being made here is that to prevail regarding issues which cannot be settled outside of court, you need to be aware that planning, and implementing a strategy far ahead of separation often results in dramatically different outcomes then if no planning ahead of divorce is undertaken.