Money is arguably the biggest source of stress in any marriage, but it's even more so in the case of divorce. The Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 certainly didn't help; most families are still feeling the repercussions of losing their homes, jobs and good credit. Even if your finances are better than average, it can be a struggle to live on one income, especially if you have children. You may also have doubts over whether you can afford a lawyer, court fees, and other costs associated with a divorce filing.
Believe it or not, the most reliable guidance on these issue comes from an experienced family law attorney. Most people seek out lawyers only as a last resort, but obtaining legal advice should be your first step in a process as serious as divorce. If you're worried about the costs, most family law attorneys offer free initial consultations. It's extremely important that you're honest about your situation, and that you bring along documentation to support your claims. These documents should include financial records such as tax returns, W-2s and bank statements. Credit card and loan statements are important as well, since marital debts are liabilities are eligible for equitable distribution. Depending on the reason for divorce, you may also need to disclose information of a personal or embarrassing nature. If you are divorcing because you were cheated on, for example, you should be honest about how you discovered the affair. You don't need to afraid to do this with an attorney, since your meeting is completely confidential.
After a thorough review, your attorney can advise you of the available divorce options, including non-litigation methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce. These methods are typically cheaper and less time-consuming than going to court. However, it's highly recommended that you still retain an attorney, since a mediator cannot offer you legal advice. If your properties include complicated assets like retirement accounts and jointly owned businesses, your attorney may recommend a qualified financial analyst. Finally, your attorney will address what your finances might look like during and after divorce, and make suggestions on ways to ease your financial burdens. These methods include credit counseling, cutting down on personal spending, and speaking with your spouse about selling certain properties that may be difficult for either of you to maintain on your own. If applicable, you will be advised about alimony and/or child support, including pendente lite — a form of temporary support paid to a spouse during the divorce proceedings. If, after your consultation, you decide that it's better to legally separate as opposed to divorce, you should ask your lawyer about the legal and financial liabilities of living as two separate households.
These are just some of the legal avenues that may be available to you, based on your personal circumstances. For a detailed explanation of your rights and options, please schedule a free consultation with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.