Deliberate Ignorance

Recently, we were asked by a family lawyer to speak with one of their clients.

It was early in the divorce process, and this lawyer thought their client would benefit from clearly defining the life they wanted to have after everything was settled.

I find these engagements quite rewarding, because we’re helping someone move from the general (“I want to feel secure and not worry about money”) to the specific (“I want to move back to within 20 minutes of Melbourne, with as little debt as possible, and I need $60,000 a year to maintain my lifestyle”).

Helping draw out their goals, intentions, hopes and fears means we can then quantify what it means, calculate the dollar amount of capital needed to achieve it all and present some alternatives for consideration.

It’s interesting work.

Deliberate Ignorance

But one thing I’ve found especially useful is ‘deliberate ignorance’.

By which I mean, ignorance about the property pool. At this early stage, such ignorance lets us define these amounts without worrying about how they fit – or not – into their financial reality.

Then it’s back to their lawyer to work out if what they’re looking at is possible, feasible or impossible.

I doubt ‘deliberate ignorance’ is a something many professionals aspire – or admit – to.

But by remaining in the dark about what’s ‘possible’ via the asset pool, we can instead have a more expansive discussion about what they want their future to look like. We’re not constrained by the potentially thorny realities of their position (of course we bring it all back to reality eventually!).

And, in some small way, this helps them look beyond the immediate and into the future.

But such ‘deliberate ignorance’ does lead down some interesting avenues. Say, for instance, that it turns out the amount of capital we calculated they need to achieve ALL of our clients goals only comes to 40% of the asset pool.

What does that mean for them as they work through the divorce? Especially if their lawyer thinks they have a strong case for a greater share – 60% perhaps.

And what of the emotional toll involved in chasing that higher share of the pool – how can that be accounted for in the process?

It’s questions and considerations like this that makes working in divorce so professionally fascinating, rewarding and complex.

Share this Post: