With today’s turbulent economy, the challenges associated with a divorce litigation are growing to be more complicated than ever. I have prepared the following practical tips in an effort to aid litigants through this difficult period:
Update Your Finances
Being that the average divorce litigation spans the course of close to a full calendar year, it is important that you work with your attorney and periodically update your financial data. Various investment accounts that had high values when the litigation commenced, may have decreased significantly due to recent market conditions.
While I know that it remains painful to open up your investment account statements these days, it is imperative that you stay informed of your investment position. It is impractical and expensive for your attorney to piece together a comprehensive settlement proposal without a true and accurate accounting of your assets and liabilities. Staying informed will save both time and most importantly, litigation costs.
One Household vs. Two Households
While it may not be the ideal situation, it is becoming more common for parties that are getting divorced to live under the same roof. It is a financial reality that most couples are barely making ends meet while they are married. For one party to move out of the former marital residence during an expensive divorce litigation creates an additional stain on the budget that may not be economically feasible during these recession-laden times.
If you are forced to reside in the same household as your soon to be ex-spouse, I recommend that you formalize an agreement regarding payment of the necessary carrying expenses of the residence. This will save you the headache of fighting at the end of each month regarding who is responsible for the cable bill or payment for the groceries.
For accounting purposes, it might be a good idea to open up a new joint checking account that is used to solely pay your household expenses during this period. This will ensure that both parties have a receipt of what bills were paid and the source of the deposited funds to pay such expenses can be easily recorded.
If you have children, I strongly suggest that you and your spouse work out a provisional parenting plan. While it may seem unnecessary and burdensome to have set parenting time while residing under the same roof, it has been my experience that these type of agreements are worth their weight in gold. Make sure to properly assign the time that each parent will spend with the children. Therefore, if it is your designated weekend, there will be no dispute when you take the children with you for a day full of activities. During the holiday season, having an assigned schedule for parenting and vacation is even more worthwhile. Most importantly, having set parenting time while living together will aid your children with the difficult transition when one parent vacates the residence.
Acceptance Of The Situation
I find that many soon-to-be divorced individuals find it particularly difficult to accept the grim financial reality that is sweeping across our nation. Many projections of alimony awards and child support obligations may have to be significantly modified due to the economic crisis. Salaries are getting slashed, jobs are being cut and bonuses are becoming a rare commodity. It is important to realize that your spouse’s reduction in pay may not be his/her fault and is more than likely tied directly to the widespread financial downturn. Remember that if you and your spouse were still married, there would be a need for implemented household and lifestyle budget cuts. In order to save large litigation costs, it reasonable to accept the notion that your needs during your divorce litigation might have to be modified accordingly.