Divorce can make the most successful and emotionally grounded people act completely irrationally. When it comes to issues of marriage and divorce, far too many individuals allow their emotions, which are fraught by the process, to dictate their decisions and don’t consider the financial ramifications of divorce before acting on their desire to divorce.
The decision of whether or not to marry or stay married is the single most important monetary decision an individual will ever make, so it is odd that so many people fail to consider the financial ramifications of divorce. These individuals, who are often calm and objective in other areas of life, often allow emotions such as anger, lust, and even greed to factor into the decision-making process.
What can happen when you don’t consider the financial ramifications of divorce?
Anyone considering walking away from their marriage should first take a step back and consider all the possible financial ramifications of divorce. The unfortunate reality is that divorce can lead to financial ruin when individuals choose to act on a whim.
Many couples set themselves up for a messy divorce before their marriage even begins by shunning the idea of signing a prenuptial agreement. Societal attitudes suggest prenups set a marriage up to fail by merely acknowledging the possibility of divorce. However, statistically around 50 percent of marriages do end in divorce, and those couples are left in a vulnerable position since marital assets are often split 50/50.
Conceding that life circumstances can change and planning to make sure each spouse is adequately safeguarded in the event of divorce is actually an indicator that two spouses genuinely care about each other’s best interests. Protecting yourself from a worst-case scenario by signing a prenup does not mean you expect your marriage to fail no more than building a storm shelter means you are planning for your home to be destroyed by a tornado.
A lot of guys also fail to consider how rapidly divorce costs can accumulate. There is no easy answer to the question, “How much will my divorce cost?” Estimates range anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 or more.
Divorce also can affect your credit rating and leave you with monthly child support and alimony payments, which can be challenging to stay on top of if your employment status ever changes.
Most significantly, if you are a father, is that divorce can change the relationship you have with your children depending on the child custody arrangement you end up with. Although shared parenting is becoming more of the norm, dads still face an uphill battle due to many antiquated gender stereotypes that still pervade the family court system.
Finally, there is a multitude of intangible costs of divorce that can take even more of a toll on you than the monetary expenses. Divorce alters your social life, can cause you to rethink your identity and can lead to a multitude of mental and physical health issues.
I believe that if more couples would take the time to objectively consider the financial ramifications of divorce, we would see far fewer divorces.
However, there are some marriages that are not salvageable. For those couples, divorce truly is the only option. In those circumstances, you should make sure you find an experienced divorce attorney who is committed to making sure your rights are protected throughout the process.
But before making that decision, it is critical to remove emotion from the equation and objectively analyze the effect divorce will have on your life. Failing to consider all of the ramifications of divorce can have catastrophic consequences.
Joseph E. Cordell is Principal Partner and Co-Founder of Cordell & Cordell and founder of DadsDivorce.com and MensDivorce.com.
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