Life Is Short. Have an Affair. By Vickie AdamsLast week’s New York Times Technology headline, “The Ashley Madison Data Dump, Explained,” further delighted all who believe in the karma bus.

The initial reports about the hack did not cover the moral aspect of cheating as much as the perils of being caught. Websites abound making the results easily available including names, as well as highly personal data.

Cheating not only jeopardizes your financial security, it also exposes the risk that your HR department might frown upon your fetish object and dismiss you with cause. Perfunctory apologies and contrite confessions poured forth this entire weekend.

For the betrayed, it’s a different reality: It’s the gut-churning, slow-motion recognition that a double life has taken place on your watch. Sometimes it’s a one-time indiscretion, but more commonly, it’s a flagrant, well-established pattern of serial dishonesty.

Long-term emotional abuse or chronic infidelity can create uncertainty, self-doubt, and self-esteem issues. So it’s not hard to understand that those who are repeatedly gas-lighted or betrayed have a difficult time visualizing a different, stable life after a divorce of their own design. At times, they are almost apologetic about wanting to protect themselves and ensure their financial future.

I struggle to convince my clients that the very trauma which renders them depressed and paralyzed can begin to be diminished by tackling the unknowns. They can take action and start to make a (financial) plan for themselves and begin to move on with their lives.

Three key concerns surface when infidelity is a factor:

1. Lack of Full Disclosure

Those who have been betrayed ask me, “Is it realistic to expect honesty about financial issues in a divorce proceeding from someone who has a long-standing pattern of dishonesty in other areas?

Ask yourself: Are you willing to take the steps necessary to protect yourself financially? Are you willing to do what’s required to take control of your financial future and, by extension, your life?

2. Manipulation

The notion of a “good divorce” or “closing the chapter gently” makes the betrayed question whether they are acting in the best interests of their family when they seek legal and financial guidance.

The guilt card often reads, “Why do you want to spend our child’s college fund to pay lawyers when we could work this out in something like mediation?”

Ask yourself: What stops you from exploring which divorce process serves you best – litigation, collaborative, or mediation? Why settle for an option where you may not feel represented or informed enough to negotiate the best settlement for your future? In divorce settlements, there are no do-overs.

3. Coercion

Some bring in draft settlement agreements written by their spouses that aren’t in line with the Family Code of CA. They’ve heard “This is exactly how it would be decided if I dragged you into court” so often, they overlook that it’s solely the opinion of their spouse and not actually the law. (For example, read my previous article on child support.)

Ask yourself: Are you willing to investigate your own solutions rather that accept someone else’s idea of what is “fair for both of you”? Are you ready to create a financial plan based on what you decide is in your best interest?

I want to help you discover the answer to these questions: What do you want your life to look like after divorce? What’s most important to you, to your family? What’s your idea of financial security?

A CDFA(™) will present you with options, solutions, and, most importantly, a plan to move forward towards a financially secure future.

Vickie Adams Divorce Financial PlannerVickie Adams, CFP®, CDFA