The Path to Divorce
Anyone who is considering divorcing their spouse has a big task ahead of them. Divorces are not quick and easy fixes, quite the opposite in fact. Divorce is more often a traumatic event affecting every facet of a person’s life than it is likely to be a walk in the park. Divorces can be costly too, and not just financially. The process of going through a divorce can also cost a lot of time, emotion and effort, and there is no guarantee you’re going to be happy at the end of the experience either. Getting divorced can be a risky proposition, especially if you are unrealistic or unprepared. The effects of a complex contested divorce can be financially devastating and long-lasting too.
The gamble starts looking even worse when you add in the facts that married people have been shown to make more money, live longer and are generally happier overall than people who get divorced. When you consider all the facts and weigh the risks, divorce starts looking less like a solution and more like a problem. If you are unsure about how your own divorce might turn out, perhaps it is time to take a closer look at your options.
Save the marriage? If you are unsure about getting divorced maybe you shouldn’t. Counseling might be appropriate before you bail out of your marriage. A little marriage therapy in form of professional counseling or even just a last-chance romantic vacation without the counselor, could rekindle the spark in your relationship. Any steps you take to save the marriage will definitely be less costly than a divorce.
Get an attorney? Even if you do not plan to use an attorney to handle your divorce you should consider at least an initial consultation with one to help you plan your strategy. If you don’t have any children, are on speaking terms with your spouse and the divorce is a mutual agreement, you may not need the services of a divorce lawyer.
Whose property is it? The division of your property and assets are dictated by the laws of the state you live in. If you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) the assets you acquired during the marriage will be divided equally. All of the remaining states in the U.S. are equitable property states, and assets in a divorce are divided according to what is equitable, not equal. The court will take each spouse’s situation and responsibilities into consideration when awarding property.
Can you live alone? Living by yourself after a divorce means you will likely have to pay for all of your living costs by yourself, unlike when you had a partner to help out with the bills. Do some research in your area to see if you will be able to afford to pay for rent, utilities, gas, food and insurance on your own. If you end up with the option to stay in your existing home, can you afford to live there by yourself? If you own the home, you may have to buy out your spouse’s share of interest in the property too.
What’s your position? Prior to your initial consultation with a divorce attorney or family planner, you should gather all of your financial documents and records. You’ll need to examine all assets and debts including your mortgage, taxes, life insurance, stocks, retirement accounts and any other investments in order to truly evaluate your financial position.
Do you have support? The support of your family, friends and community can go a long way to smoothing out bumps in the road during a divorce. Schools and churches often host divorce support group classes. New activities can help take your mind off of the past and allow you to make new friends too. Hobbies, classes and groups are all good activities for people going through a divorce