Five things you must do to survive your high net worth divorce
If you’re in a high net worth divorce you know the finances are complicated; it goes with the territory. Yet there’s so much more at stake than money. High net worth divorces tend to take longer than lower net worth cases and can easily flare into acrimonious dispute. Which can take a significant toll on your health and wellbeing. So, whether you’re just about to embark on your high net worth divorce or are already in the midst of negotiations, here are five things you must do to survive the journey intact.
Five things you must do to survive your high net worth divorce:
Prepare for a long haul
No-one relishes divorce – except perhaps the more ruthless lawyers. It’s a life event you want done and dusted as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, in high net worth cases, proceedings are likely to take longer. Simply put, there’s more to consider – whether it’s commercial or family assets. They may be registered across the globe, so there will be international jurisdictions to take into account. And, because there’s more to consider, there’s more likelihood of disagreement.
While it can be tempting to check-out of the process, that is often be a huge mistake. And not just financially. You don’t want to look back on your divorce with bitterness and regret. You want to know you stood up for yourself and what’s important to you, even if it was difficult. So the very best thing you can do is prepare for the long haul. Just as a marathon runner knows they need to pace themselves to get through the 26.1 miles, you need to go steady and see your divorce through. There are practical ways to ensure you don’t burn out along the way, which we’ll come to. But before all that, it’s important to accept that this will be a long journey. And it’s worth it.
Connect with your values
When your divorce involves high figure sums and assets, it’s easy to get caught up in the money. But you are worth so much more than money. And, when you stop to think about it, what’s truly important to you is deeper than money too.
Make sure you set the agenda when it comes to your high net worth divorce. And that doesn’t mean walking away with more than your soon-to-be-ex. Tussling in those power plays is just playing someone else’s game – either your ex-spouse’s or your legal team’s. The only way to set the agenda is to connect with what’s truly important to you.
If you woke up tomorrow and money wasn’t an issue – you had exactly what you needed for the life you wanted to live – what would you do? Forget about whether your soon-to-be-ex, or business rivals, or whether associates have more (or less). You have exactly what you want and need in life. What does that look like to you?
Spend some time with this question. Paint a vivid picture of the values that guide you as you live. Values (such as security, creativity, harmony, excellence) aren’t things you can pay for. They are directions that help you make choices about what to do with your life. Once you know what really matters to you, all of the distractions slip away. You can focus on that and start to build the post-divorce life you want.
Know who to trust
One of the most perilous aspects of high net worth divorces is the damage to your relationships. The damage to your trust – and I mean in the emotional, not the financial sense. You are likely to be part of high status and influential networks, in both your business and social worlds. Your divorce may be a source of contention – it will certainly be a hot topic of conversation. So who do you trust as you navigate your way forward?
High net worth divorces often carry high reputational stakes as well as financial ones. With this in mind, pay attention to who you share details of your divorce with. Hopefully you will have an inner circle of people who you know have got your back. If so, make sure these are the only people you vent with. To the outer world, be a model of diplomacy and tact.
If you don’t have an inner circle, don’t worry. First of all, you’re not alone. Sadly, it’s common in high net worth divorces that women find themselves without a trusted ally. Sometimes people in your networks choose to side with your ex-spouse. Sometimes they just slip away. And sometimes you find out the hard way that you couldn’t trust your inner circle after all.
Secondly, there are people out there who can help – people who you can unreservedly trust throughout your divorce. I’m one of them.
Seek specialist support
You need to build a trusted team around you, and do it as soon as possible. That definitely goes for legal and financial matters. Make sure you instruct a team with experience in high-net-worth cases. Vet them to make sure they understand the particular financial, business and family landscape of your divorce. Equally as importantly, make sure they are people you connect with – who you can be totally honest with and trust to be honest back.
But it’s about more than the finances too. We’ve already discussed how divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. You need people who get it around you. People who understand the emotional isolation and disorientation that often comes with high net worth divorces. This is where building a specialist emotional support team is worth its weight in gold. It means you’ll have access to top class, private and confidential support from people like me, who can offer support and advice whenever you need it.
Divorce is not only about endings, it’s also about new starts. And this is a new start for you. One you can make on your own terms – which is why that values work is so important.
Start to cultivate a picture of what your future will look like. That might necessarily include letting go of some of the past – whether it’s aspects of your wealth, friendships or connections. But that letting go will free up space to imagine an independent life. Where you have the freedom to choose who you spend time with, what you spend money on and what contribution to make to the world.
Make your vision of the future so compelling it grounds you when your divorce becomes overwhelming. If you can encapsulate it into a picture, a vision board or an affirmation, put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. And, when the going gets tough, as it will, remind yourself what you’re doing this for. And, more importantly, who. You are doing this for yourself. For your precious future, which is worth fighting for.
Private support you can trust
I know how important trust is when you’re going through a high net worth divorce. I know how important it is for you to have a safe space to let rip, be vulnerable, ask difficult questions and face the future. I offer bespoke, private support for a small number of women navigating high net worth divorce.
This is support like no other. I become your trusted confidante and ally, sharing the benefit of my legal and coaching expertise so you can divorce in full confidence you’re making the decisions you are right for you. To find out more, simply book in a free initial chat here.
Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com