Attorney’s Corner: Dealing with Financial Stresses

woman stressed over bills, with a hand on her head
Nov 5, 2017 | Sara Khaki
Interviewer: You talk a lot about kids in your blogs, but I don’t have kids. However, my ex and I are still in communication because we are trying to sell our marital home. What advice do you have for me about how to handle interactions with my ex?
Attorney Soltys: Your ex must be a high conflict person since you are asking this question. In high conflict divorces where communication is unavoidable, I recommend that clients avoid all in person contact and use what is called a BIFF Response with written communication. Clinical social worker and Certified Family Law Specialist Bill Eddy wrote a book titled BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns. Eddy recommends that communication with hostile people be Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. An overview of how to write a BIFF Response can be found here.
Interviewer: Trying to sell the house is taking much longer than I anticipated. I was counting on that money to get me on my feet, so now I don’t know what to do?
Attorney Soltys: Review your settlement agreement or final order to determine your rights in making decisions that can speed up the sale. Do you have the authority under the decree to lower the price? What about making repairs or improvements to the property to make it more attractive to buyers? Perhaps consider a staging company to make sure the house shows well. If your ex has the authority to make these decisions, or they must be mutual, then communicate with them (using the BIFF method!) and see if you can come to some agreements to speed up the sale. Hopefully your real estate agent is doing everything they can to market your home, but if they are not and you are stuck in a contract, do everything you can to market the home yourself. Sharing on Facebook and in local Facebook groups can be an effective and free way to advertise.
Interviewer: My other concern is that I was a stay at home mom. Now I have to get a job, and I have a huge gap in my resume. I don’t feel like it looks good to employers. Are there people that can help me find a job or at least help me develop my resume?
Attorney Soltys: I see clients obtain jobs every day after being out of the workforce for some time. It is important to be realistic and know that you may need to take an entry level job if it has been years since you have worked. For immediate employment, most of my clients in your situation are able to find office administrative positions or in childcare centers. However, to increase income it’s likely that you will need to obtain some additional training or education. A career coach can be very helpful in identifying your skills and interests and formulating a plan to transition into your chosen career. Our office has several excellent local coaches to whom we refer our clients. Large churches often provide free resume writing and job search assistance. A church in Marietta with excellent free career services is Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and a link to their resources is here.

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