Deciding to divorce is a big ordeal; for most it’s overwhelming at first. So, if you have decided to file for divorce or if your spouse has decided to end the marriage, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get this process over with as painlessly as possible. You’re in a tough spot, and we understand that.
Here, we go over five questions that you need to ask yourself. Once you answer these questions you’ll be in a better position to make informed decisions about your divorce. Ultimately, our goal is to help make this process as peaceful as possible.
Divorce is About Negotiation
Most people view divorce as a legal matter. While technically that’s true; the divorce is filed in court and a judge does have to make it official; divorce is really about money and negotiation. Thus, you and your spouse will have to negotiate a divorce settlement that is fair; a settlement that both of you can live with.
Since everyone’s situation is unique, not every question on this list will apply to every reader. However, these are basic questions that apply to most people who are getting a divorce. We suggest that you read over these them and think about how they may apply to you. This way, you’ll be in a good position to start planning for your divorce.
Question 1. What is your current financial situation?
This is an important question. Are you living very comfortably or are you living check-to-check? Do you have thousands in credit card debt, and are you basically living off credit cards every month? If you and your spouse are in debt, this will factor into your negotiations, especially if one spouse has been out of the workforce and is asking for support. One of the best ways to drive down the costs of divorce in a debt situation is to opt for divorce mediation.
It costs more to pay for two homes, two sets of utilities, and to sets of health insurance. Not only that, but when you’re single, you lose a lot of the discounts that you enjoyed as a married couple. So, it’s important to keep that in mind.
Sometimes, lower-earning spouses see divorce as an income opportunity; they look forward to child support and spousal support, but this can lead to a false sense of security. If the couple was struggling before the divorce, things will often be harder after the divorce.
Question 2. Can you afford to keep the house?
Many spouses are emotionally attached to the house, especially when they have raised children in the home or when they’ve invested a small fortune into remodeling. If you’re eager to keep the house, you have to ask yourself, “Can I afford it?” Just basic maintenance like hiring a gardener, a pool company, and annual tree trimming can add up.
You also have to think about the current condition of the home. If it needs a new roof, new shingles, a new driveway, a new HVAC system, or if the plumbing needs to be completely redone in the near future, major repairs can easily run between $10,000 and $30,000. Then, if you need to replace your hot water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer, it could cost you $500 to $3,000, if not more.
Question 3. Do you both have job stability?
Do you and your spouse have to work just to make ends meet? If so, are both of your jobs stable? It used to be that people would work for one company their entire lives until they retired with a nice pension. These days, people tend to bounce from job-to-job every 3 to 5 years. Is your spouse afraid of being laid off? Are you worried about your job?
During a divorce, you have to be realistic about job stability. If you’re the lower earner and you’re banking on spousal support or child support, it’s hard to get very much money from an unemployed former spouse. With that in mind, you want to have the mindset that you’re going to become self-supporting as soon as possible. You don’t want to have to rely on your former spouse to cover your basic living expenses.
Question 4. What will it cost to be single?
It’s important that you sit down and look at all of your bills as a married couple. Write them all down, including your spouse’s credit card debt. Then, create a separate budget for you as a single person and calculate all of your living expenses, including housing, utilities, health insurance, an auto loan, car insurance, food, credit card debt, and child-related expenses, such as clothing and extracurricular activities.
If you don’t have enough income rolling in to support yourself post-divorce, it’s time to find ways to reducing living expenses while increasing income. If there’s a large discrepancy, it’s important to act fast when it comes to the increasing income part.
Question 5. How much will your divorce cost?
In reality, you can do this the hard way or you can do it the easy way. Basically, you have three options: 1) a litigated divorce, 2) a collaborative divorce, or 3) divorce mediation. Of the three, divorce mediation is the most cost-effective, but it’s not for everybody.
We must keep in mind that the goal should be to keep the divorce as peaceful and affordable as possible. When you do that, you preserve more of the marital estate. When you litigate a divorce, it costs significantly more, which means there is less money to divide. If you’re a parent, you’d probably prefer that extra money go towards your children’s college education than a contentious divorce.
By asking yourself the above five questions, you’ll be better prepared to focus on the financial considerations in a divorce. By preparing yourself to the fullest, you’ll position yourself to make better decisions throughout the process.
Need a Los Angeles divorce lawyer? Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today!