Divorce Wish List

Divorce Wish List

Now that you have hired a divorce lawyer, what next? Tell your attorney exactly what it is you want to get out of the divorce. Give us a specific “wish list,” detailing in writing everything you would like to have when your case is concluded: maintenance, parenting, property, etc. Below are some tips on making your divorce wish list.

Detail, Detail, Detail

The wish list should be as detailed and explicit as you can possibly make it. For example, don’t say “household furniture,” say “the bedroom suite in the master bedroom.” Don’t say “I’d like to get some alimony”; say “I’d like to receive at least $1,500 per month alimony for at least five years.” The wish list should be built around specifics, not abstractions.

A Divorce Wish List Helps You and Your Lawyer

The wish list will help you identify your objectives. Rather than plunging forward haphazardly with only a vague idea as to what is important to you in the divorce case, the preparation of the wish list forces you to carefully identify the things that really matter to you.

The wish list will help us focus on “the prize”—the things that are important to you in your case. It is much easier to hit a target when you know what you are shooting at. The wish list also makes sure that we are on the same page. This is critical, since we may otherwise have a very different set of goals and priorities. Left to our own devices, our natural tendency might be to think strictly in terms of dollars in a given case. Accordingly, unless you pinpoint exactly what you are hoping to accomplish in your case, we may mistakenly assume that all you care about is maximizing your financial outcome.

Prioritize Your Wish List

Once you have identified your specific goals, the final step is to prioritize the wish list so that you rank your goals in order from most important to least important. This process is uniquely personal, and it may have little or nothing to do with money.

For example, say you want both the master bedroom suite which you and your spouse recently purchased for $3,000 from Restoration Hardware, and the old dresser in the den worth $30. The old dresser is not going to be a priority item, or is it? What if that old dresser is a family heirloom, hand-made by your great-grandfather? That dresser may be a prized possession, one that you cannot replace. Although its dollar value is minimal, its sentimental value [to you] is priceless. Make sure you tell us this in writing.

Perhaps getting time with your children is so vital to you that you are willing to sacrifice all other aspects of your divorce case. Tell us. We need to know that, from your perspective, parenting is the Nobel Peace Prize, the “brass ring,” and the Holy Grail all rolled into one.

Remember, we have no way of knowing the particular goals or possessions that you value. The wish list will keep us from guessing. It will also save you money, since we won’t be spinning our wheels (and running up attorney fees) chasing after things that don’t matter to you.

When you are preparing a first draft of your wish list, don’t become consumed with doubts about what is possible or probable. Just decide what it is that you want. There will be plenty of time later for us to analyze the likelihood of achieving your desired goals.

Do It Again

After you have completed your wish list, do yourself (and us) a favor. Prepare a second wish list. This is a list of what you think are your spouse’s goals and priorities. Why are your spouse’s goals and priorities important to you? Once you have com- pared your wish list with your spouse’s list, you will have identified the issues that are likely to be disputed in the divorce.

Let’s take an example. The most important thing to you is time with your children, and this is also the number one priority for your spouse. You can expect fireworks over parenting issues. On the other hand, if time with the children is vital to you, but your spouse couldn’t care less about spending time with the children, then we can focus our time and energy on other issues that will be contested.

Is this truly what you want?

A final word on the subject of wish lists: Make sure your list reflects what you really want, not what you think you should want, or what you think sounds noble, or what your divorced friends tell you that you should “go for.” This is not the time to examine your motives or question your desires. If your expectations are too high, or too low, we will discuss why, and what, if anything, you want to change.


Kalamaya | Goscha is a Colorado law firm founded by Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha. The boutique mountain law practice specializes in divorce, child custody, and family law. Kalamaya | Goscha has law offices in Edwards, Aspen, and Glenwood Springs. To speak to an attorney call (970) 315-2365.

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