Avoid Mixing Business and Personal Issues During Divorce
This is the third in a series of posts on dealing with the business aspects of your divorce. This material is adapted from the award-winning book by Ed Sherman, “Make any Divorce Better.” Ed Sherman is one of the founders of Divorce Helpline. His dedication to providing compassionate and cost-effective personalized legal support to those facing divorce resulted in the unique service model that distinguishes Divorce Helpline from other California divorce attorneys and divorce document services.
In your divorce, you have a lot of business to take care of, so one of the best things you can do for yourself is to decide to keep business and personal/emotional matters separate — or as separate as possible. This will make a big contribution toward reducing the level of conflict and confusion in your case, and in your own mind.
If you would like information and support to help you move forward with your divorce, while maintaining a healthy separation between your business and personal affairs, we can help you with consultation and coaching. Alternatively, you may want to talk to us to find out how divorce mediation can help you resolve the issues that you need to address with your spouse in order to reach an agreement.
As you focus on the best ways to separate your business and personal concerns, be sure to tell your spouse what you have decided to do and explain that it will help you both. You can benefit from taking this step unilaterally, but try to get your spouse to agree, too. Set a good precedent by starting off with an agreement. Here are some things you should decide to do:
• Be very businesslike when you and your spouse are doing business. Dress for business instead of casually and adopt a professional attitude and tone of voice.
• Try to see yourself as two separate people — a business professional and an emotional, feeling human being. Be the emotional person some other time. Postpone meetings if you can’t be relatively calm and thoroughly prepared.
• Discuss business at appointed times and places. Always be prepared with a written agenda of what you want to talk about and check off each item as it gets done. Bring copies of necessary documents. Take notes. Again, if you need help with this, consider using our divorce mediation services.
• If you meet in person, do not meet at the home of either spouse. It is too personal, it triggers emotions, and someone may feel at a disadvantage. You should be able to get up and leave if necessary. Meet instead at a coffee shop, in a library or school meeting room, at a park or a friend’s house if it feels good. Anywhere quiet, safe and neutral will do, but do not meet at a spouse’s home or office.
• Decline to discuss business and personal matters in the same conversation. Be consistent and firm about this. If something personal comes up when talking business, say “I’d be happy to discuss that with you later, but not now, please,” and offer to set a specific time. If your spouse persists, hold firm, repeat your request once more. You may need to quietly explain that you will leave or hang up if it happens again. If necessary, do so. Don’t get excited or emotional; be businesslike, but stick to your decision.
•Likewise, decline to talk money when you are discussing personal matters. Do not get into a business discussion spontaneously or impulsively. You need to get properly prepared and emotionally composed each time.
• If your spouse is being difficult in your emotional life, try not to let that infect your business relationship. Similarly, if your spouse is being bad in business negotiations, don’t let that affect you emotionally. Don’t get upset — it’s only business.
If you and your spouse frequently violate these rules and if it appears to be affecting your ability to move toward an agreement, you should seriously consider working with a good mediator.
If you have questions about any aspect of your divorce process, please give us a call at 1-800-359-7004. We’re here to help.