If you are a man, you’ve probably heard plenty of divorce war stories. You may have heard about wives who took their husbands to the cleaners, husbands who were driven to bankruptcy, and perhaps the worst, fathers who were victims of parental alienation. Have these things really happened? Sure, they have, but that doesn’t mean that any of these things have to happen to you.
We know, sometimes the thought of a “divorce” makes men scared straight. Suddenly, they imagine living in a tiny apartment in a bad neighborhood eating Ramen noodles, paying a fortune in child support, and barely getting to see their kids. Meanwhile, their ex-wives make out like bandits. We’re telling you, the fear is REAL, but it doesn’t have to turn into reality. Instead, let’s envision a much brighter post-divorce future for you.
As divorce attorneys, we represent men and women every day and no, we do not lean towards one gender over the other. Our goal is to educate our clients, fully inform them of their rights and responsibilities, help them have a collaborative divorce, and protect their best interests throughout the process.
In the end, we hope that our clients can have a positive experience that lasts after the divorce is final. If they can have respectful and pleasant conversations with their ex during and after the divorce, even better.
In January, we wrote, “Essential Divorce Considerations for Women” and now it’s men’s turn. Below, we discuss the pressing issues that must be considered by all men during the divorce process. We encourage you to read to the end and if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our firm for legal assistance.
Divorce Consideration #1. Should You Move Out?
This question is for all of you fathers with minor children living at home. If you foresee a child custody battle, we do NOT recommend moving out until after you get a temporary child custody order from the court. If you can’t stand it at home and you move in with your buddy, your folks, or get your own apartment and leave the children with your wife, it can be very difficult to change this arrangement down the road.
By leaving your kids with your wife, you’re telling the court that she’s perfectly fit to care for the children full-time. If you plan on disputing her “fitness” because she has a mental illness, a substance abuse problem, or because she’s abusive to the children or neglectful, you will be contradicting yourself and losing credibility by leaving them in her care. So, you may want to think twice about moving out until you’ve secured a temporary child custody order from the court, one where your future intentions are clear.
Divorce Consideration #2. Can You See Other Women?
Some states frown heavily upon adultery while a couple is legally married, but California is a no-fault divorce state, so the judge will not be interested in you dating other women prior to or during your divorce. However, if you spend marital assets on your new girlfriend; for example, if you take her to Hawaii, put her up in an apartment, or buy her plastic surgery, the judge is likely to consider that you wasted marital assets and this could mean your wife receives a larger settlement.
If you do decide to date, we suggest that you exercise caution out of respect for your marriage and your divorce. This means avoid posting pictures on social media of your dates. Try to be discreet and don’t take your date to places that you may run into your wife. Also, do not introduce your dates to your children until after the divorce is final. While some people are eager to make introductions, remember, divorce is hard on children too. It’s usually best to wait six months, if not a whole year to introduce girlfriends to your kids.
Divorce Consideration #3. Can You Cut Your Wife Off?
In a word, “no” you should not do this. Until you are divorced, you are both financially responsible for each other. If you earn more than her or if she’s unemployed, she can ask the court for temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending, and for support afterward. If you close the bank accounts, and cut her off from all sources of cash, she could end up penniless and this will NOT be viewed favorably by the judge.
Divorce Consideration #4. Will You Pay Spousal Support?
Contrary to popular belief, spousal support is not automatic in a California divorce. Will you pay? It depends on a number of factors, namely your wife’s need for support and your ability to pay it. If she’s working and you both earn roughly the same each year, you may not be ordered to pay it.
On the other hand, if she’s a stay-at-home mom or if you earn a lot more than her, the chances of you paying child support are higher. Also, women without college degrees are more likely to receive spousal support than their college-educated counterparts with more employment opportunities.
Divorce Consideration #5. Can You Buy a Sports Car?
Refrain from making any big purchases until after the divorce is final, especially if you intend to argue paying spousal support. If you buy a sports car, it’s sending a powerful message to your spouse’s attorney and the judge that obviously, you can afford to pay your wife spousal support.
Divorce Consideration #6. Can You Avoid Child Support?
You love your kids and are terrified of parental alienation. Your mom can watch the kids for you, or you can afford to pay for a full-time nanny. So, if you get 50/50 joint custody, does that mean you can avoid child support altogether? Not so fast. If you earn more than your wife, you could be awarded joint custody andstill have to pay your ex some child support.
We hope this article cleared up a few things for you, but we’re just scratching the surface. If you’re considering divorce, contact our Los Angeles divorce firm to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced member of our legal team.
Suggested Reading: Changes to Spousal Support Laws