Sometimes, when divorcing spouses start talking about how they’re going to divide assets, the relationship sours even more, and what were once “just” un-pleasantries can cross the line into outright ugliness. Now and then, it’s as though people take leave of their senses, and they let spite drive every decision.
As part of your divorce settlement, you may stand to receive some form of spousal support, and traditional alimony—regular payments made according to a mutually agreed upon schedule—is the most familiar type. However, now that alimony “reform” measures are being passed across the nation, divorcing women who are seeking alimony have legitimate reasons for concern. Why? Because the legal trend is toward severely limiting the duration of alimony, or even eliminating it altogether.
Most couples don’t consider a state’s divorce laws when they’re deciding where to live or buy a house. Statistically speaking, though, about half of those couples will be profoundly affected by the very regulations they’re choosing to ignore.
Almost every part of the divorce process is regulated, and every state has its own laws, making for many potential variations. If you are divorcing in New York, for example, your experience might be vastly different from those of your friends in Connecticut and New Jersey – even though you all live close enough to one another to meet weekly for lunch!
Many married women now have substantial incomes and assets of their own, possibly even much more than their husbands. Of course, that wasn’t always the case. In 1970, wives earned just 52% of what their husbands did, on average. Today, that number has risen to 78%. Granted, it’s still a long way from equality but clearly, there has been progress.
Do you have a greater income or higher net worth than your husband? If so, and you’re considering divorce, please make sure that you:
Take a moment to imagine how an “ideal” marriage—setting aside for a moment that there is likely no such thing—would function in terms of finances. What do you see? I’m envisioning a true partnership, built on mutual respect and maintained with frequent, open communication. Each spouse would be fully aware of and equally able to manage all aspects of the marital finances. Neither would feel anxious, uninformed, or left out. In this marriage, money would not be a source of anger, mistrust, or resentment. Husband and wife would function as a team with common goals, including a financially healthy retirement.
“The checking account is empty, the savings account is empty. His closet is empty!”
“For years, he had me believing he just has a low libido. Turns out, he’s been having affairs all along—and buying his girlfriends lots of jewelry, too.”
“I thought we owned homes in Palm Beach and Nantucket together. Now I know he never put my name on those deeds—then he sold the properties for millions. Where is that money?”
“He wants a divorce? I knew things weren’t perfect but I never thought he wanted out!”
What would you like to have in common with Gwen Stefani, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Garner, or Uma Thurman? Fame, fortune, talent, beauty, and professional success, sure! But these women are also in a kind of club you probably don’t want to join: Their marriages made headlines when their husbands reportedly cheated on them with the nannies who cared for their children.
Women are often shocked to realize how much it can cost to get divorced. Suffering through the decline of your marriage and finally deciding to call it quits is enough of an emotional wringer. Once you start interviewing attorneys and figuring out how much you need to fund your divorce, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can seem further away than ever.
Yes, today’s financially complex divorces can be staggeringly expensive. Attorneys can cost hundreds of dollars per hour and require substantial up-front retainers. Plus, you’ll need to pay your divorce financial advisor, and any forensic accountants, vocational and valuation experts, or other professionals whose expertise you may require in pursuit of a fair settlement. And on top of all that, you’ll still need to manage your household expenses.