If you feel like the worst part of your divorce is the money aspect, you have plenty of company. If it weren't for financial woes, we might have a higher divorce rate if spouses weren't so worried about the financial consequences of divorce.
There is definitely a "right way" and a "wrong way" to get a divorce. You don't want to believe everything your spouse says about the marital assets, nor do you want to assume that you'll end up penniless – getting educated about it is what makes the difference.
As a divorcing spouse in San Diego, you have rights under California's community property laws, however, the best way to ensure these rights are adequately protected is to become educated so you don't unintentionally forfeit your rights, or lose money due to a lack of understanding of the divorce process.
Save Money by Understanding the Process
Under California's community property laws, spouses are entitled to half of the marital property, but they can deviate from the 50/50 model of distribution by reaching their own arrangement and memorializing it in a marital settlement agreement – this is the first thing divorcing spouses need to know going into the process.
Second, spouses must understand that they need to view their divorce as a business transaction. They need to do their best to keep a "clear head" and not let emotions, such as anger, jealousy, bitterness, or guilt get in the way of their settlement decisions.
Lastly, by following these five basic divorce strategies, divorcing spouses can reduce the overall costs of their divorce and move on to the second chapter of their life in the best possible financial situation.
- Educate yourself on California's divorce laws. This way, you understand your rights in regards to property and debt division, child custody and support, and spousal support. What you don't know will cost you!
- Consult with your divorce attorney about how to behave on social media, about temporary orders, child custody, and finances before you make any decisions you may regret. For example, if you are trying to fight paying spousal support and you post pics of your Hawaiian vacation on Facebook and the judge finds out about it, you could have a very poor argument. Ignorance about these topics is not bliss.
- If you are not familiar with your family's finances, now is the time to get up close and personal. You want to learn everything about your assets, debts, monthly expenses, household budget, taxes, and insurance. Make copies of everything. If you don't know where you stand financially, you could miss hidden assets and ultimately get less than you deserve.
- Get organized! When you see your divorce attorney for the first or second time, it will be very helpful if you have copies of all of your financial documents on hand. The more organized you are, the less time your attorney needs to spend on your case, thus cutting down on additional legal fees.
- Be realistic about life after divorce: You may have to pay child and spousal support, so you will need to factor that in to your new budget. Or, if you're expecting spousal support, it may be awarded for a short while, or it may not be awarded at all. You want to create a post-divorce budget and figure out what needs to be done to become financially independent if you aren't already. The sooner you look at your finances realistically, the better position you'll be in to make the right financial decisions while your divorce is pending in the courts.
Remember, no matter why you're untying the knot, what really matters is protecting the marital estate so you can keep as much as possible. When you let your emotions get the best of you, your judgement can be clouded and you can make poor financial decisions that can have irreversible consequences. A methodical, collaborative divorce is always the most cost-effective approach.
Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to get started with a free consultation. We care about your finances and have every desire to help you protect your share of the marital estate, and to ensure that you are very satisfied with the end result.