Divorce is an ugly, ugly situation in many instances. In my own life, I’ve been very fortunate to have only known one couple who has gone through a divorce and being that I’m turning 33 in a few weeks, that’s pretty impressive. The people in my life stay married. They marry young, they grow old together, and they live long, happy lives together. My husband’s parents, however, divorced around 12 years ago; right before we got married. It was ugly because my father-in-law lives 500 miles away and they’d lived apart for many years because he traveled so much for work. My mother-in-law was devastated. Still to this day, she has nothing nice to say about him if he comes up in conversation with my husband.
He, on the other hand, has nothing but lovely things to say about her. He asks about her, her health, how her career is going, how she’s doing, compliments her on being a wonderful grandmother and says he wishes that things had been different. Even being an adult, my husband still hates to hear his mom say anything negative about his father, and I’m inclined to agree. He wishes so much that she would remember that he is his father and that they do have a close relationship; and he would never allow his father to speak ill of his mother.
On that note, all I know about divorce is that it’s not cut and dried. Some people care about the others long after. Some are filled with bitterness and hatred, and it is never easy for anyone involved. Unfortunately, divorce plays a large role in the financial future of everyone in the family. It’s difficult; and it’s not something you should consider lightly. Here’s what you need to know about divorce and your finances.
It doesn’t have to be ugly
Divorce is often ugly because people choose to allow it to happen. I think that especially if you have children together, it’s mature and responsible to put aside your differences and your hatred for one another to keep things civil. No matter what he or she did to you (as long as it was not abusive or illegal) there is no good lesson that comes from bashing your ex and ruining them in court so that they have to give you everything. What kind of lesson do you think that teaches your kids? It’s only ugly when you allow it to be ugly.
Talk it out
You don’t have to like one another. In fact, if one or more spouses cheated, you probably don’t like one another. If you merely grew apart at some point, this might be easier. However, you need to sit down and talk things through. If you have children, you have to sit down and make sure that you are on the same page. Put their needs first – always. Make sure they are the center of your focus and your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s focus. This helps keep things fair.
For example, do you really want to prevent your kids from seeing their father just so you can get more child support from him? And do you really want to fight for full custody of your kids when you travel 90% of the week just so that you don’t have to pay child support? What is best for the kids? Both of you in their lives, of course.
Make a list
What do you want out of this divorce? Do you have the kids most of the time and feel that your home should be yours? Do you need help with family law? Do you want to keep things that you brought into the marriage from your single life and then divvy up everything you acquired together? Perhaps you should simply consider splitting everything directly down the middle so that you can call it even and fair, and everyone is happier.
Try to mediate
One of the worst decisions you can make is hiring a divorce attorney first and foremost. It’s far easier, nicer, and better for everyone involved to consider divorce mediation if it comes to that. A divorce mediation program can help produce a legal agreement that is fair for both parties. You will need to get your financial lives in order by making a list of your assets, your debts, your accounts, your retirement plans, your credit cards, and everything else that is financially related. This will help you both – or a mediator – consider what is what and who gets what, making the divorce mediation process smoother and more amicable.
Divorce attorneys charge a lot of money, and that is usually a problem for couples going through a divorce. Now you are down to one income each, and that’s not always enough to care for a family on your own, let alone pay for a divorce attorney. Just try to keep it clean, because that might be the most cost-effective way to handle your impending divorce.
Photo by Getty Images