Here are top five financial issues to consider when planning for divorce:
1. Level of trust: when served with papers, will one party panic and clean out the bank accounts, leaving the other with nothing for basic expenses? If this is a concern, don't overreact and certainly don't transfer any funds to a third person, but rather, open an account in one name and transfer enough funds into that account to cover at least 2 months bills. Be careful not to leave the other person destitute.
2. Total available budget: look at the income and expenses while the parties are in one household and then what will be necessary for two households. Will one need to pay monthly support to the other? Will this be necessary during separation and/or after divorce? Can either afford the house alone or should it be sold?
3. If a long marriage and one spouse has been out of the workforce for a while, is long-term spousal support appropriate? If so, how much? And for how long?
4. Child support: support is usually based on the payor's income and the children's needs, but you also need to consider the other parent's ability to support the child, the amount of time the child will spend with each parent, travel expenses for the child to travel between the parents, and other resources that may be available to the child (SSDI, trust funds, scholarships, etc.)
5. How much will the process itself cost? Depending on the issues involved (length of marriage, assets and debts of the parties, minor children, support, retirement assets, etc.) and the level of conflict between the parties, the cost can vary and can be very difficult for anyone to predict with any degree of accuracy. Even spouses who start out amicably working together to come up with a workable co-parenting plan and a fair division of their estate, can quickly see their attorneys fees rising by the hour when any one issue becomes a sticking point, or when any third party (a new boyfriend or girlfriend, a spouse's mother, sister, best friend) sticks their nose in and stirs the pot. As emotions run higher, fees and costs tend to rise with them. Family law attorneys generally bill by the hour and every time one attorney calls the other attorney, the family budget takes a double hit. The average cost for divorce is $20,000.00, but the cost can be much, much higher. One solution to consider to manage the cost of the process is the flat fee mediation/arbitration process of Divorce Resort, where the parties can set a firm budget and not worry about how high the cost could grow.