I sometimes think that folks leap into divorce without really thinking about the changes that will take place. Divorce will result in significant changes that will impact the life of both parties. I often tell clients to take the long view by asking them to envision where they think they will be in one year and to plan accordingly. In particular, divorce will change the financial standing of the parties, and this is for a number of reasons.
First, if there are children both parents will be expected to provide support for them. In Colorado neither parent is presumed to be a better care-giver, so neither can expect the court to award parenting time on this basis unless there is a clear history of abuse. What this means is that, for the most part, both parents are going to have to work. This might be a significant change for one spouse because many people have often allowed their job marketability to lapse. If you are contemplating divorce I urge you to think about how your financial needs are going to be met. Ask yourself: will I need job training? How will I get that training? What programs might help me? Once you can answer these questions the steps you might be taking will be a great deal easier to take.
You might think that you will get the money from your ex, and to an extent this might be true. Colorado did enact a new maintenance law (alimony), but the law itself is largely advisory. It is uncertain how the courts are going to use the law, so be prepared for maintenance to be for a relatively short duration, and understand it will not make you rich. No court will leave one spouse destitute over another.
As you can see, taking the income a couple was earning and dividing it for child support and maintenance will lead to greater financial stress simply because there is less than before. If you think divorce is still the best option for you I think you should at least talk to an attorney. You owe it to yourself to get a realistic appraisal of what financial impact your divorce might have. Will it mean the sale of the family home? Who will pay what debt? How will divorce affect your retirement planning? What military benefits are available to you? Each of these are questions a good attorney can answer and explain.
I also urge folks to realize that divorce should not be a tool to hurt the other spouse with. There is already enough pain without trying to use a court to inflict more. What do I mean by this? Well a few things, such as realizing that if you are a military retiree and you were married during your career know that your retirement is likely to be divided. The same holds true for other retirement benefits earned during the marriage; it does not matter if one spouse earned them all if the parties were married while the benefits were earned as the benefits will be considered marital property.
Look, most of us know what fair looks like; we may not be able to describe it, but we know it when we see it. The same holds true for dividing up the family finances; you will know a good deal when you see it. With that said if you are not sure, talk to a lawyer; he or she can tell you the pros and cons of what you are thinking, and this can go a long way to making a hard time a bit easier. If we can help, call. -Bill Moller