Get the most money in your divorce
To get the most money in your divorce settlement does not require you to be a mercenary but it does require some degree of strategizing and intelligence. By the latter I do not refer to IQ but rather I use the word sort of the way someone who works for the FBI might.
There are 3 key stages in the divorce process for purposes of your divorce settlement: the prenup stage, the post nup stage and the pre-marriage rupture/divorce intervention stage. Let us take each one in turn to get the most money in your divorce:
The prenup stage
It is hard to believe but most people fail to realize that this is the most important stage of divorce planning as far as securing the most money post-split. This is where your divorce strategy should kick into gear. This is where you need to be the most strategic. What do you think a prenup is in the first place? It is a DIVORCE contract! But most people are oblivious that this thing they are signing is an agreement between two people who supposedly are madly in love that says, “if and when divorce, this is how we will do it.” It is at this stage that your divorce strategy is not only the most critical, but for purposes of getting the most in your divorce settlement, there is no better time to get the job done than now. Why? Because your spouse is madly in love with you; totally malleable and open to being persuaded to give you what you want so that you will say yes to the marriage. Pounce while you can!
There is one key consideration when faced with a prenup and it is:
Unless you are completely happy with the terms of the prenup, don’t sign it. Get legal advice first. Have a competent lawyer review the contents. Discuss your reservations with your future spouse in a reasoned and rational way. Again, this is the time when your future spouse is more likely to give you what you want if you ask the right way. For this reason, it is very important that you ask the right way because if you fail to get the best deal you can at this stage, your job only gets harder at the other two stages. (#get the most money in your divorce)
Don’t kill the deal, obviously.
Still, do not accept a raw deal at this stage of the game. A raw deal is a raw deal. Trying to set aside the prenup later, after the marriage cracks up, is always an option but don’t bank on the case being decided in your favor. Even if the deal is not so raw, but instead it is not a good enough deal for you, you need to negotiate a better deal at the outset and you need to be willing to walk away from the marriage if you think what you are getting at this stage is a deal breaker. Never marry someone who is willing to give you a raw deal prenup! Imagine what will happen when you divorce! Walk away if you have to; or better yet, bluff. Pretend you are willing to walk away. But do it right, in a loving way that leaves room to negotiate, to go back to the drawing boards and where at all possible, actually walk down the aisle when all is said and done. The idea is to get more money not lose the whole deal.
If your bluff backfires, though, see it as a blessing. No one who you marry should force you to accept a raw deal. Just make sure that the deal is really raw and you are not just greedy. (# get the most money in your divorce)
The post nup
If you went ahead and signed a prenup, even if it was a good deal at the time, (or if you did not sign a prenup) after the nuptials you may find yourself in a situation where a post nup is being discussed. The same rules apply if your objective is to maximize the amount you get in the divorce settlement when and if that time comes. If it is a raw deal, don’t sign it. The post-nup should theoretically give you more, not less, than you would have gotten at the commencement of the marriage. Negotiation skills are just as important as with the prenup if not more so.
If the marriage has already begun to sour at the time this post nup is requested or executed, beware. After marriage, greater skill will be required to secure your post-marriage interest because the fact that a post nup is even being discussed (and again, this is a DIVORCE contract) is a red flag in and of itself, if you really think about it. Why all of a sudden does your spouse think you need a divorce contract after you have been happily married for such a long time? Hme? Chances are they have divorce on their cerebral cortex; the marriage is about to expire and SOB is dropping you in a ditch.
Of course, if you are the one who requested the post nup you are in a better position and have greater bargaining power than if the post nup is being requested of you. Now, again, strategy is important. In order to get your spouse to agree to the money situation in the prenup, you will have to probably “induce” them, without actually inducing them. This doesn’t mean doing anything illegal (remember inducement if proven can render the contract void. Do not take this literally) It is about being seductive and unobtrusive and persuasive. You have to be subtle and you also have to be prepared to use a little bit of manipulation if you have to – just a tiny little bit – to get the outcome you want. Sometimes, that could mean doing things that someone else thinks is “really sneaky” like prolonging the marriage – by whatever means necessary – if more time is needed to get your spouse to agree to the postnup; or moving the family to another jurisdiction where you are likely to get a better financial outcome. That could even mean moving to a state where post nups are not taken so verbatim; or moving to another country(!) in some circumstances if you need to establish residency in order to file for divorce in that jurisdiction that is more favorable to someone like you. Time is usually an asset at this stage. (# get the most money in your divorce)
The pre-marriage rupture/divorce intervention stage
At this stage, the marriage is damaged beyond repair and a divorce is inevitable and everybody knows it. But hold up. You still need to get what you need to get in your divorce settlement. You need to maximize the amount of your settlement. So you have to turn on your inner detective and fast. First of all, the person who files for divorce has an advantage over the other spouse. So you want to be the first one at the courthouse to get an index number and you want to get those papers served first. But before that, you need to do the police work. You need to get the dirt on your spouse if there is any because this could give you greater bargaining power and leverage – even if all you have is the guilt weapon. Look at what Tiger’s guilt meant for Elin Nordegren. Guilt is a great negotiating tool!
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You will need help from competent professionals as soon as possible because there are a lot of pre-divorce steps you want to take and a lot of pitfalls which could affect your payday that you need to avoid. You also need to have a clear picture of what you want and what it is possible to get. Don’t get greedy; be realistic. Be fair headed. It is about getting the most you are entitled to if all parties play fair. But knowledge is definitely power here and knowing if your spouse WILL be greedy makes a difference in your strategy. So figure out your networth and that of your spouse. Know all the assets of the marriage including separate property and intangible assets (and you will probably need help in order to do this efficiently).
Know your spouse’s Achilles heel and be willing to exploit it if necessary but only as a last resort if they play hardball and refuse to give you a fair settlement.
Get the right lawyer
The right lawyer depends on your specific circumstances. Some situations call for a steel magnolia, others call for a shark, still others for a mediator/peacemaker type. And frankly, some call for a prick. Know your situation and interview a few lawyers and pick the one that you think is better able to listen to your goals and execute and succeed in getting you what you want. The right lawyer can help you maximize the amount you get in a settlement and the wrong lawyer can cost you money.
What to keep in mind at all times
- Negotiation is the name of the game
- You catch more bees with honey
- Be prepared to “hit em where it hurts” if it comes to that – but that never should be taken literally
- Be reasonable
- Keep in mind that cash is king but there are other cash equivalents that might hold their value even longer (think real estate, jewelry, intellectual property, stocks and bonds, and intangibles like “celebrity”) (# get the most money in your divorce)
What not to do under any circumstances
- Do not resort to fraud
- Do not steal marital assets
- Do not underpay the IRS just so you can amend after the divorce and defraud your spouse
- Do not stash money in dummy corporations
- Do not create bogus offshore trusts and hide assets
- Don’t be greedy and unreasonable
- Do not get killed (if you sense your spouse would rather harm you than give you more money in your settlement it might be better to just walk away. You know what they say: “he who fights and walks away lives to fight another day!”) (#get the most money in your divorce)