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The One Asset You Must Protect During Divorce
When I was growing up there was a DJ on the radio that had a thing called “Desert Island Discs” and the idea was if you were stuck on a desert island and could have only one album to listen to over and over, what would it be? As a music lover myself, I couldn’t possibly imagine listening to only one album for the rest of my life, so when it comes to divorce and determining what the one asset you must protect in a divorce should be, the choice seems equally impossible.
Why Can I Only Get One?
After all, most married couples accumulate a number of worthwhile assets over the course of marriage such as houses, cars, bank accounts, retirement accounts, businesses, etc. and so when it comes to selecting just one of those assets to protect and fight for in a divorce, the choice seems impossible. Sure you can weight their value, have them assessed, determine their worth to you versus the other party and so forth but when it comes to this asset, it’s not one you might typically find on a balance sheet.
So What Is It?
The asset I’m referring to can’t be bought but has immeasurable monetary value. It means nothing to anyone else but you yet others might try and take it away from you on a regular basis. You can’t lock it up in a vault or a safe as it’s not a tangible item but it can be stolen in a millisecond. So what is this asset I’m referring to that’s worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox? Your reputation.
Your reputation is THE one asset you must protect during your divorce and the best way to do that is by using the confidential process of divorce mediation. Now I know what you’re thinking “that’s great Joe but I can’t live in my reputation, I need to live in a house!” That may be true but think about it. In this day of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. your reputation has a greater impact on your future ability to thrive and survive than you think. Let me run a few scenarios by you.
Hell Hath No Fury Like the Internet Scorned
You’re now divorced and instead of using mediation you went the contentious lawyer-driven route and wore each other down to a settlement neither of you is happy with. Think there’s a small possibility that your ex posted what an awful, cheap, spiteful, good for nothing person you are on Facebook? There’s a BIG possibility. How about YouTube. Ever been on there and searched for divorce videos? I did. I’ve seen all kinds of personal stories ranging from “how my no-good ex hates our children because they won’t pay support” to “how I got screwed because my ex quit their job and I’m paying alimony.” Try it some time. It’s a scary world out there.
No One Will Find OutRight?
The point is at some time in the future, you will seek a new job. A new relationship. A new life. And when you do, if I were your potential new employer, you’d be darn right I’d search the Internet to see if I could find out what you’re all about. Don’t think it happens? Ask a friend of mine who’s a recruiter and she can tell you for certain that it does. And it matters. And you won’t get hired. So much for financial recovery post-divorce.
How about finding new love? I was married just before the whole online dating thing took off but now-a-days, for the singletons I know the only way they meet people is online. So if I were looking to date you, I’d be sure to troll the Web to see what I could learn about you before I said yes to your inquiry from Match.com.
Not to mention your children might accidentally (or more likely intentionally) stumble across what you’ve posted about their mom or dad. Not good.
OK, I Get It, Now What?
Not only is Mediation is a confidential process but it also focuses on helping two people to work together to come to a settlement they both find is fair and equitable. It’s not a win-lose process but rather a win-win and by focusing on what’s best for each of you and your children, we are much more likely to get agreement, stick to those agreements and have each of you walk away from the table feeling that you got a fair deal. From there it’s my hope that you’ll each make the very best effort you can to move forward with your lives and focus on your future instead of spending your time on the Internet bashing someone from your past.
In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses outlining the terms of the separation. Subjects resolved in a separation agreement can include child support, child custody, debt allocation and asset distribution. Notarizing the document ensures its validity, since there is no such case-type in New Jersey that provides for a "legal separation." Spouses wanting child support during the separation period, however, must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.
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