Perhaps the most difficult period of divorce is the “separation period.” That is the time between when you decide to get a divorce, and the date when you are actually divorced. During this period there can be so many uncertainties about visitation with children, child support and temporary spousal support that it is easy to feel overwhelmed, not to mention the very normal emotional ups and downs that you may experience during this phase. Here are some questions you may face during this period:
Should I get a check each month for support or let my spouse just pay the bills?
If it is financially feasible we suggest getting an amount of money every month and having each party pay their own respective bills. There may be times when this is not advantageous, as in, when the bills being paid far exceed any amount of money you are likely to receive monthly. But, if that is not the case, then getting the money in cash rather than “bills paid” puts you in control of your own financial future.
A. It allows you to see the bills that are coming in case you have not had access to them previously.
B. It allows you to cut expenses wherever possible and to keep the money for spending elsewhere or saving.
C. It keeps your spouse from controlling you and your spending or keeping you on an unreasonable budget.
D. It will give you a feel of what the future holds. We are amazed at how many cases we have where one party cannot even give us financial information because they don’t even know what the bills are each month. If you find yourself in this situation, know that you are not alone.
E. It will help you determine how much you will need to live on each month, an important thing to know before going into a mediation session.
Often times, one of the blessings of divorce, if you can say there might be one, would be that after divorce you will have a better sense of your financial future. It is a wonderful feeling to see our clients leave here empowered to handle any challenges that they may face in the future.
One of the things we look at when we begin to work with a divorcing couple is, how do we set up the finances for both the short term and the long term? The divorce evolves as your situation changes. By going over spending items with both parties we can look at ways to set up the finances that give each party control over an amount of funds, and then discuss who is to pay what from the funds available. This is done to ensure that neither party is overly burdened in the early, fuzzier phases of divorce.
During this phase it is important to track spending as well. Some people, out of spite or depression will spend money they know they should not, in order to get back at the other spouse or to make themselves feel better. We strongly urge parties to refrain from this type of behavior as it is destructive financially and usually ends up costing the party who spent the money in the long run.
In our private mediation process, we establish clear spending rules about what money is to be spent on, so that everyone has a clear understanding of what is to come. Here are the basic rules of our private mediation process:
- Neither party may hide assets, and we are to receive copies of all documentation on the first request.
- Neither party is to liquidate assets without the agreement of the other party.
- Neither party will involve the children in divorce issues.
- Temporary financial and custody arrangements are put into place so that all parties can negotiate in a calm environment.
If this process sounds like one that appeals to you, and you are contemplating a divorce, please contact me. The requirement for this to work between couples is that both parties must see the light and be willing to abide by the rules.