Divorce is, unsurprisingly, one of the most stressful events one can go through in life. Even if the marriage has caused only suffering and unhappiness to one of two spouses, to have one’s old life taken away underneath them like a flimsy rug can feel extremely unsettling. In fact, high-conflict divorces have now been reclassified as one of the causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the US!
There are a couple of things you can do to make this transitional and sensitive phase easier on yourself. Having signed a prenup is certainly advisable, but even if you haven’t done so, there are many steps you can take to soften the financial blow from the divorce.
In this post, we’re going out outline steps you can take that pertain to current divorce law.
Have A Plan For Moving Out
When you are suffering from a broken heart and are caught in the middle of an emotional storm, dealing with practicalities and planning for the future can be the last thing you want to do. If you are moving out of the family home, start searching well ahead for your future home. Otherwise, your intention to crash on your mum’s couch for a couple of nights might stretch to several months, if not more.
Be Aware That Decisions Relating To Your Children Will Also Affect Finances
When considering the settlement between two parties, the court primarily takes into account the welfare of minor children. In practice, this means that, in cases in which the family home is the only asset, the other parent has to wait for their share of equity until the children become of age.
Consider The Contributions Before And After The Marriage
The wealth you possessed before you tied the knot is not matrimonial property, but there are possible exceptions: If the marriage has been a long one, the court can choose to disregard pre-owned wealth. If you have been paying the maintenance costs of the property (paying rent), you can use this contribution to seek an according adjustment from the court.
What You Consider Important May Not Be Seen As Such In Court
Unless it’s about domestic violence, your ex’s bad behaviour is not likely to have any impact on the division of assets. It may sound unfair, but it is what it is and this is the reality of divorce law in this instance.
You Will Have To Go Beyond Suspicion To Prove The Existence Of Hidden Assets
If you suspect your future ex hid their assets so to avoid sharing them with you, you will have to hire a lawyer and use a formal, legal process to get the necessary documents and find the funds. In the legal circles, this is known as the “discovery process”. Make note that purely disclosing a suspicion is not enough.
“If it is possible to find a hidden asset this is all very well and good but courts do not usually make assumptions about hidden funds in the absence of clear evidence. Unanswered questions or doubts over good faith are rarely enough.”, explains AbsoluteBarrister.
Break Down Your Monthly Expenses
You know how much you earn every month, but do you know exactly where does your money go? Surprisingly few people do. Be sure to carefully track down your expenses and figure out how much you will need to maintain the same quality of lifestyle after the divorce.
Tackle The Admin
In the midst of such emotional turmoil, it’s safe to say that administrative work is the very last thing you want to deal with. However, crossing things off the to-do list will make you feel better, while delaying the necessary tasks will only prolong your anguish. So roll up your sleeves and tackle the admin. This means closing the joint bank accounts; changing your newly changed status on your bills, licenses, records, health insurance; disinheriting your spouse from any wills, trusts, etc.
Pay Off All Unsecured Debts Before The Divorce Becomes Final
Attorney Lina Guillen explains why it’s best to pay off the unsecured debts (like credit card debt) incurred before the divorce gets finalised:
“When you settle your divorce, you’ll divide responsibility for those debts. But don’t assume that the credit card companies care what your settlement says – they can still come after both of you for payment. The best practice is to pay off all debts before the divorce becomes final.”
There Is Little Point In Chasing Foreign Assets
Trying to chase foreign assets belonging to your ex is not nearly as easy as you might think. This is due to the fact that an order in the English Courts (one ordering the sale or transfer of the foreign assets) may not be enforceable abroad, because the asset is beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
Keeping A Clear Head
Keeping one’s financial ducks in order is not simple, and requires good planning. Divorce complicates this task tenfold. The greatest thing you can do for yourself during divorce is keep a clear, calm, level-headed attitude and not get emotions get the best of you. Not only will it affect your mental and physical health, but your bank account too.
“It’s easy to let emotions take over and neglect personal finances during a divorce, but keeping a clear head and relying on the advice of professionals will help ensure your best possible financial future.”
For more advice on how to handle divorce from a general perspective, check out our post Steps to an Amicable Divorce.
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