You Only Get One Chance At Divorce. Don’t Screw It Up!

You Only Get One Chance At Divorce. Don’t Screw It Up!

By Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

When you are facing a life-changing decision like a divorce, what do you think would be more valuable: Someone to make you feel better by saying that nothing needs to change, or someone who will give it to you straight? I feel strongly that not enough divorce professionals will truly tell it like it is. They tell you what you want to hear which can lead to some costly, and avoidable, mistakes.

During the divorce process, you need someone to tell it like it is. Your household income as a couple will now be supporting two households so, yes. Things. WILL. Change.

Let me guide you through that change with some simple facts and help you be smart with your choices!

Here are a few things I see repeatedly when it comes to divorce. Settlements are agreed to (and sometimes even ordered by a judge) then the people come to me after-the-fact confused and bewildered and I read through their decree and shake my head.

Please don’t be someone who makes the following mistakes!

#3 – The settlement doesn’t take taxes into account – AT ALL!

We all know that Uncle Sam will reach into our pockets at every opportunity. Do not agree to a settlement without knowing the tax implications! What people often find is that the tax burden on their half of the marital assets is significantly higher than their spouse’s half. More specifically, don’t expect your attorney to explain this! Attorneys are not accountants or financial advisors and most of them won’t bother to warn you of issues like that. Buyer beware in this situation! Either you know what’s coming your way on taxes … or you don’t.

#2 – Pensions are split 50/50 but what does that really mean?

Over and over, I see divorce decrees that order pensions split 50/50 but no one has any idea what will actually happen. When do you start collecting? Is there an option to take a lump sum? Will there be a cost of living increase each year? What if you or your spouse dies? Will it keep paying? Will it double? When I ask these questions, normally no one has ANY IDEA what the answers are. How can you possibly agree to a settlement without understanding something so crucial to your retirement? Again, don’t expect attorneys or mediators to be of much help.

#1 – Keeping a house you can’t afford.

I understand you can get emotionally tied to the family home and really want to stay. Before you even consider this option, you must do a budget. I also strongly suggest you meet with a financial planner.

Helpful hint: Consider talking to a Certified Divorce Lending Professional® to get some guidance on how to qualify for a mortgage that allows you to keep the house … for good!

I have witnessed situations where, one or two years down the road, the spouse who “won the house” has run out of cash. At this point, they come to the all-too-late realization that they can’t sell a window to put food on the table and they can’t refinance because now they don’t have enough income to qualify for a new mortgage. They have no choice but to sell.

The selling costs are about 8% of the sale – all of which would have been split 50/50 with the ex if they had sold as part of the divorce. Now, it’s entirely out of their pocket.

Completely avoidable.

Please take time to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. Then spend some time working on changing that. Bring in the right professionals for your divorce to make sure that you are making smart decisions with all the information in front of you! Don’t go this alone.

As we say at Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC, “You only have one chance to get it right!”

We would be glad to help you get it right the first time.

The Start of the Divorce Process Can be Terrifying. Have a Plan!

By Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

Speaking the words, “I want a divorce” could be the hardest moment you’ll face during your entire divorce process. With some courage and good planning, along with keeping the right frame of mind, you CAN get through it.

Half of the people going through a divorce will be on the receiving end of this message, while the other half are the bearers of this incredibly bad news. So, let’s start with what NOT to do!

Many people aren’t prepared to accept it. You’re not sure how your spouse will react (especially if infidelity is involved) and that fear can cause you to make extremely bad decisions during a very emotional time.

For example, thinking about having this conversation in a public place? Don’t! It won’t lessen the chance for hysterics and can cause an absolute train wreck of a situation. It translates into your spouse having to sit in a public place while their world crashes down around them. This discussion will uncover emotions that many don’t even know they have – let alone having to sort them out in public.

So, what is the right answer? There probably isn’t one. This will be one of the most difficult discussions you ever have. Here are my best tips:

  1. Make sure the kids are somewhere else. It’s a great time for sleepovers with friends or a night with grandparents. You both are going to need space to work through this. And for the kids’ sake, just figure out a way to remove them the situation.
  2. Allow your spouse time to process. My best advice is to say it simply and directly and then let them know you don’t want to discuss anything right now. Maybe even decide to leave and spend the night somewhere else. You’ll both be better off for it.
  3. Do it in person. Whatever you do, do not do it in writing, through an email, or, God forbid, a text message! Have the courage to tell them in person.
  4. Speak only about yourself. Do not attack! No “you” statements. It should go something like this; “I have decided for myself that I need to tell you about. At this point, I can no longer stay in this marriage, and I believe it will be best for both of us to start the divorce process. The reasons aren’t important right now. I just know that I need things to change. I also know this is a lot to absorb and it’s not really a good idea to talk about anything now. I’ve planned to stay somewhere else tonight, so you can have some time to yourself. I’m sorry.” And quietly walk out. It may not go that smoothly, but it’s a good intention to begin with.
  5. Make sure you’re safe. If there is a possibility that you might be met with anger or violence, be sure that someone is with you. Have them stand by the front door while you speak to your spouse in private and then immediately leave.

I know this can be scary, but your life can’t move forward until you do

Great Divorce Support Is Not Hard To Find!

By Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

Confused. Scared. Lonely. Stunned. Sad. Angry. Bitter. Relieved. Hopeful.

These are just some of the stops along the emotional roller coaster that is divorce. It’s not anything that anyone should have to endure alone. Now that divorce is so common, plenty of resources are available to help you survive the process with some level of dignity.

First, let me tell you the one resource not to rely on – friends and family! Their advice is often misguided, uninformed, and downright damaging to your ability to think straight. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great for a shoulder to lean on. They can help keep you distracted and to remind you that you are loved, things you will need during this ride. I have seen a friend talk someone out of a good settlement and into a worse financial outcome with their “helpful” advice.

Do your best to get advice from objective professionals and not biased family and friends. You’ll come out of this much better for it.

The first resource that I think everyone needs during the process and for at least a little while after is:

  1. A Great Therapist – There is so much emotional trauma caused by divorce that you really need to talk it through with a qualified professional. A therapist will help you explore your role at the end of your marriage so you can get clear about your goals for the next phase of your life. This is the only way you can hope to form new relationships that aren’t doomed to end in the same way as your current one.
  2. Non-Profits – Almost every community in the country has a non-profit that offers divorce support resources. In South Carolina, we have a number of organizations that offer resources for those going through or considering a divorce. Check your local community for those in your area. A good place to start is They have a directory of support groups by area that are trained to help you get through this.
  3. CDFA® or Financial Planner – The most common and paralyzing fear that nearly everyone feels in divorce is “Will I be ok, financially?” It’s inevitable. Before you agree to any settlement, you really need a second set of eyes and some financial projections to know what you are looking at. Of course, I’m biased and would prefer that you find a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® who is specifically trained in the finances of divorce but, like I said, I’m biased.
  4. The Internet – Divorce has become a big business. New sites pop up every day offering a wealth of free information, downloads, blogs, referrals, directories, advice, etc. It can be overwhelming so, just pick out what you connect with and skip the rest. Go slow. Be kind to yourself. Also, is a great resource for local divorce support groups. Going to a few is a good idea but don’t let yourself sink in too long. Recovery is supposed to be about getting better and I know too many people who are stuck in the grieving process and never move on. Use a support group to move through the process and then – move on.

This is going to be a challenging time in your life. Ultimately, you will be stronger, happier, and okay – if you choose to be. Use the resources available to you to make good decisions for yourself. Today truly is the first day of the rest of your life

Keep More of What’s Yours During the Divorce Process

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC –As soon as you begin to contemplate a divorce, the nauseating, panic-attack-inducing realization of losing half of your money kicks in and you find yourself wondering if it’s even worth it. Why even consider leaving if you’re just going to end up broke and starving anyway?

There are ways to ensure that your financial future is not destined for failure. Most importantly, get a financial advisor that specializes in divorce on your team so that you are fully informed of all the creative settlement possibilities that may be available to you.

A couple married 24 years were referred together to a colleague for assistance with their divorce. They had gone to an attorney together and were completely amicable entering the divorce process. The attorney made it clear that he could only do their document preparation since he was ethically bound to represent only one party. That was ok, but they asked how they would determine their property division. He responded, “This is a community property state, so we’ll just divide everything 50/50.” The couple just didn’t feel like that was the smart thing to do. They were referred to a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®), to explore additional options.

After gathering their financial documents and completing the analysis, the CDFA® put together two reports for the clients. The first reflected an exact 50/50 split as the attorney had suggested. The second was a creative settlement solution that also resulted in a net 50/50 split but took into consideration tax planning and consequences as well as the needs of each party as they planned for the next phase of their lives.

This couple didn’t have a huge net worth, but the creative settlement solution resulted in a significant increase to the bottom line for both parties –all because some financial intelligence was used to determine their settlement. Needless to say, the couple was thrilled knowing that they were able to walk away with more money than if they had listened to the attorney’s simplistic idea of a 50/50 split.

Don’t go blindly into this process! There are so many options that could help both of you keep more of your own money. Get the right professionals on your team. We’d love to help so, call us today!

Get Ready For The First Holiday Season After Your Divorce

By Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – Is this it? Is this the first time since the birth of your babies that you will be forced to spend at least part of the holidays without your children because of separation or divorce? It’s no fun and the first year is definitely the hardest. It doesn’t have to be all bad – but it will be very different. Let me offer you a few tips:

  1. Realize that life is different now and will never be the same again … and that’s okay! You have to embrace change!
  2. Plan early! Don’t wait until the last minute to coordinate with your former spouse what the schedule will be. Remember, the kids want to spend time with both parents.
  3. Christmas does not have to be December 25th! If you won’t be with your kids on the 25th, simply plan a “Special Christmas” when you will be together. There’s no reason to look at it like you are giving something up, just rearrange.
  4. If this is your first Christmas without the kids, reach out to friends and family to see what they have planned. Invite yourself if you have to! Do not spend it alone! That is a recipe for disaster!
  5. Start new traditions. To help both you and the kids embrace the new reality, start some brand new traditions that you’ve never had! Rent a house in the mountains or at the beach. Go to an amusement park. Anything to make it different! Because it is!

Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If this is your first holiday season as a single person, you are still in the grieving process and you can expect to have some emotional ups and downs. Do your best to think about your new future and try not to dwell on the past. Think of new possibilities. Are there activities that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time? Now’s the time to make it happen! Take an art class! Schedule a weekend trip out of town with a friend or a spa day all by yourself. Of course, I’m a financial advisor so make sure it’s within your budget.

Speaking of budgets, don’t let yourself fall into the “best parent” trap of trying to outspend your ex on presents. The kids see through it and, trust me, they don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll love all the gifts, but kids want your time, not your money. Pass on the iPad and buy a board game that will force you to interact with each other for an extended period. These are the memories your kids will treasure, and so will you!

Good luck this holiday season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be defined as the end unless you choose to look at it that way. So, choose to see the beauty of a new beginning. You can do it!

Survival During a Gray Divorce

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – As we settle into this new Millennium, one trend has become clears: Baby Boomers are divorcing at double the rate from the late 20th Century. As our life expectancies continue to increase, our attitudes about the divorce process continue to evolve. While it’s not still rapidly increasing, Boomer divorce is likely here to stay. So is the sad fact that divorce after age 50 can be financially devastating – especially if you are close to a planned retirement!

You set aside a comfortable nest egg for retirement that calculated golden years spent together, as one. Now, those same funds will have to support not one, but two households. You’ve suddenly gone from our financial plan to my financial plan. That’s huge difference in the planning world!

Following a divorce (and possibly during the process) your expenses can be significantly higher than if you stay together. That comfortable nest egg must now fund two of everything: Two homes, two cars, separate vacations, separate trips to see the grandkids, etc. This duplication can eat away at a retirement fund at an alarming rate.

More than likely, you will face some difficult choices. You can either reduce your standard of living (which no one likes to hear about) or retire later and increase your savings. You may both have to consider selling the marital home to split the proceeds so both parties can downsize. That equity can throw off income to live on, so selling may make a lot more sense than one party trying to keep it.

Illness and disability could also force some very difficult choices. As a couple, there is comfort in knowing that if one of you becomes ill or disabled, the other partner will be able to help with the care. After divorce, that burden could fall to your children or hit that nest egg again when you need to hire help.

If you find yourself considering divorce after age 50, the best thing you can to do to minimize the damage is to be as cooperative with your spouse as possible and get prepared with organized financial documents. Most importantly, to minimize the financial toll, be sure to hire a financial advisor along with that attorney or mediator.

With the children likely grown, the main devastation of a gray divorce will be the finances and your emotions. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) is specially trained in the finances of divorce and can help you make sure you are covering all the necessary issues. They can help you see with certainty if you can keep the house, if spousal maintenance is necessary, and how to split a pension. Some attorneys or accountants have the credential but, if not, it can be well worth the money to add a CDFA® to your team. Ultimately, your best bet for survival is to let the professionals handle the finances and legalities. That way you can take care of you during this difficult process.

How to Prepare for the Mediation Process

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – Most people facing their day in court would avoid it if they could. When facing a divorce, that urge is just as strong. The first step you may want to take is to go through mediation. The mediation process helps you and your partner reach a mutually beneficial divorce settlement.

So, Why Mediation?

Besides the whole court avoidance issue, if you have children, jointly owned real estate, and investments, mediation may be your wisest option. Once you have decided on a divorce, the next step is to decide how to split up your assets and set child custody, support and visitation rights. A mediator is an impartial third party that can guide a couple in the negotiations preceding the actual divorce decree.

In addition to trust issues, unraveling your marital ties is a very emotional thing. During this time, many of us find it hard to stay rational, and a mediator can help you both reach the point where you can compromise, and eventually, agree on important decisions. While a mediator can’t give legal advice, they can teach you to communicate more efficiently. In a situation where you both desire to reach an amicable agreement and are able to be in the same room, mediation may be the right choice for you. You can even conduct mediation over the phone or online in some instances, if needed.

Mediator, Take The Wheel?

If you do choose mediation as an alternative path, you still need to be prepared. Divorce court is not a place to fly by the seat of your pants! Neither is a divorce mediation. It still comes with much of the stressful procedures of a typical case. And if you go in unprepared, you may lose out on the settlement that you desire.

Mediators only work with you and your partner to settle the important decisions a divorce forces you to make. They will not tell you what you should do. Nor will they make decisions for you. So, think about what you want your life to look like when this process is done. And focus on what you need from the separation to get there.

Meeting With Your Divorce Mediator

When you go to your first meeting with your divorce mediator, bring a list of your jointly owned assets, a valuation of your home, a copy of any prenuptial agreement, copies of income tax returns and retirement account statements. Take a notebook and pen and ask any questions you may have! This is your divorce! Take control of how it gets handled!

Write down everything you need to remember and talk about fees. This is where having a financial expert like a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) becomes paramount to the mediation process. The first meeting with a divorce mediator will be to assess your situation, get a feel for the chemistry between the couple, and to get to know the mediator.

Although the mediation is held in an office or meeting room, it should still feel like an informal atmosphere. The mediator strives to create a relaxed situation so that both partners can remain calm. One of the main goals of the mediator is to help the couple find creative ways to communicate and reach an agreement – especially if strife does exist between the couple. There’s no set frequency for a session and every divorce is unique. Some couples find they only need a few sessions, while others may need more.

You should find that mediation saves money on attorney fees and is one of the best ways to prepare for your divorce. Ultimately, being able to avoid court will make for a better day for the whole family!

When a Fair Divorce Settlement Can Be Costly

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – As soon as you decide that divorce is a potential reality, your thoughts will immediately turn to your future along with fears of your new reality.

“I don’t make enough money to live on my own.”

“How much of my income will I have to give up to support my spouse and the kids?”

“I’ll be living in poverty!”

A world of unknowns reveals itself in an avalanche of financial and emotional realities that must be dealt with. Despite the stereotypes around vindictive, nasty divorces, my experience is that the vast majority of couples sincerely want what’s fair for all involved.


The problem here is that every person’s idea of fair is different. Depending on how much emotional wounding may have happened during the marriage, perceived wrongs that demand to be righted, apologies that remained unspoken, “fair” may be on the peaks of two separate mountains cut deeply by a river of conflict and resentments. This simple truth has created a multi-billion-dollar divorce industry.

I believe there is a different answer.

What if you let go of the need for fairness? I know, sounds crazy, but think about it. What if each party didn’t worry about what the other person was getting and sat down with a divorce financial planner and simply figured out what they need for themselves to be able to be ok? And then they sit down with a mediator and start from there?

Maybe it’s not exactly equal. Maybe it’s not “fair”. Maybe it just works for everyone involved!

Now that is a win/win solution!

So, don’t focus so much on fair! Let it go! It doesn’t matter! Focus on the next phase of your life and how you can move on in a healthy happy way that will preserve your family unit for the future. As I always tell my clients, my goal is to help you be the best divorced family you can be, because, after all … you’re still a family.

To Leave or Not to Leave. That is a Very Tough Question!

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – It probably comes as no surprise that people who ultimately decide to get divorced, had their first thought about that possibility more than a year before it happens – and sometimes it has been many years!

I have a divorced friend that was married for more than 10 years, even though she left him for the first time in their first year of marriage! Talk about red flags!

Even with early signs, the decision to dissolve a marriage is a very tough and complicated one. Many choose to just stay and still only find the resolution when the spouse you’ve been thinking of leaving for so long, up and leaves you.

Why does that happen? Why do people wait so long? Why do they sacrifice so much while clinging on to something that isn’t healthy? Well, I’m not a psychologist but I’ve spent my fair share of time studying the ins and outs of divorce.

What I know for sure:

  • When people say “for better or worse” most actually mean it! They go in committed to work through anything. But sacrificing self sometimes is not healthy.
  • If your marriage is really hard work, you’re married to the wrong person.
  • If you don’t like the person you are most days, you’re with the wrong person.
  • If you feel bullied, controlled, ignored, or completely misunderstood, you’re with the wrong person.
  • If you’re staying together for the kids, you’re hurting your kids, not helping them.
  • Kids need to see a model of a healthy love relationship or they will not know how to have one.
  • The right relationship should be effortless.
  • The right partner inspires you and you want to become a better person for them because you feel so lucky.

Something to think about.

Three Ways to Plan for Your Divorce

Duncan E. White, Owner
Inkpointe Divorce Solutions, LLC

IRMO, SC – Divorce does screwy things to a person’s head. Believe me, I’ve seen it.
The intelligent, put-together person that you were, turns into an emotional, brain-fogged, unorganized basket case. You try hard to keep it together, but you know this will not go down as “the best of times.” You want to sit down and get a handle on your future plans, but feel paralyzed and surrounded by a fog of indecision.

What’s a person to do?

Well, first, get real.

Admit What You Don’t Know

When it comes to the family finances, what has been your role? Do you handle the bill paying? Are you “in the loop” on all your investment accounts, retirement plans, bank accounts, etc., or are you in the dark? If you are in the dark, you need someone to help you turn the lights on – and quickly! If you and your spouse are cooperative, ask for statements on all your asset accounts and your most recent tax returns so you can find a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® to bring you up to speed. A CDFA® is specially trained in the financial aspects of divorce and will be your best friend during this process! They will help to clear out that brain-fog like a cool ocean breeze!

Think About Your Future

This is hard at first but start thinking about what the next phase of your life looks like. Unfortunately, this must happen at the same time you are grieving over what you thought the next phase was going to look like. However, if you allow yourself some space, it could actually be fun. You have the chance to start from scratch. What did you dream of doing that got lost during your marriage? Is it time to go back to school? Maybe a downtown loft condo should replace that huge family home. Whatever you dream of you must have your budget and financial picture clearly defined. So, the step above has to come first so your dreams don’t outsize your wallet!

Build a Single Identity

Often through marriage all the credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc., are in the names of both spouses. All those accounts have to be closed or converted. After the marriage is over, your credit picture may not be nearly as strong, so you’ll want to put some things in place while you are still married. Immediately open a checking and savings account in your own name to begin the process of establishing your own financial identity. Next, find a good rewards credit card to apply for in your name alone so that you will be assured of having access to credit post-divorce (and maybe even during the process if legal fees are necessary).

These steps seem small but are valuable first steps to get you thinking financially and looking out for your future. Take control! You can get through this! A little help from a CDFA® friend is a great place to start.