The Dangers of the Warp-Speed Divorce
If you're the wife, you're bound to get screwed.
By Eileen Conlan
Nearly 50 percent of marriages (including Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe's) end in divorce.
Photo Credit: J. McCarthy/Getty Images
You can now get divorced by filling out an online TurboTax-style questionnaire, paying $250, dropping it in the mail, and going your separate ways. The quickie divorce is getting quicker, but the trouble with the tech-aided no-fault split is that, if you're the wife, you're bound to get screwed. Experts report that women's quality of life drops 45 percent after divorce and not just for the homemaker with no credit. Those of you in Louboutin heels and corner offices are in serious danger of losing out for the sake of being done with it.
"The new DIY divorces work if you've agreed on everything; otherwise it's not so easy," says attorney Stacy Schneider, author of the new book He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce. "The goal isn't to take him for all he's worth, it's to make sure that when the dust settles, you're financially stable."
What are the biggest mistakes women make in DIY divorces?
Wanting to make a clean break. You're likely going to have some connection to your ex-husband because of alimony or last year's taxes whether or not you have kids. "The desire to quickly put the past behind you could haunt you in the future," says Schneider.
Going to pieces. Women are more likely to feel guilty over the failure of a marriage, whether or not it's their fault, says Schneider. "Put on your game face and keep your emotions to yourself," she advises.
Wimping out. Men's instincts are to protect their property; women's, their relationships. "Men are better negotiators by nature they've been doing it in the boardroom, at the bank, for longer. This is a narrow window to fight for your future. Make the most of it."
Assuming he'll make good on his promises. "Verbal statements don't hold up in court, and even good guys change their minds."
THE DIY DIVORCE
THREE THINGS YOU MUST DO
1. Stay home. If you flee the house, you may forfeit your rights to it.
2. Leave no document unturned. Take your husband's name off wills and mortgages as soon as possible. Get a written decision on who is responsible for debt and taxes. If he's paying support, be sure that you're the beneficiary on his life insurance.
3. Follow the money. "Research all assets before you even utter the word 'separation.' You should know what you've got and what you want to fight for before you file," says Schneider.