Over the years I have met with many clients in what they refer to as “divorce planning”. Generally, these clients have calculated when would be best to file for divorce. Others do not have any idea and come asking for advice as to when is the best time to file.
First, it is never easy to make the decision to divorce. Divorce lawyers cannot help you decide whether to get divorced and that is something that each individual must work through. Many times it is “easier” if there is little debt, no children or no children left in the house or a very short-term marriage. In any event, it is always a difficult decision and once that decision is made you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to decide when is it best for you to file.
As indicated, the decision to file is always difficult and there may never be a “good time” to file. However, whether one puts off filing for divorce often times comes with its own risk. Many people indicate that they do not want to file until the children have graduated from high school. That is admirable but in most situations the children are well aware of the stress in your marriage and are usually the ones who are least surprised when they graduate from high school and their parents get divorced. However, if you decide to wait until the children are out of high school you must be prepared for the consequences. If there are no children in the house it means neither parent will have a child support obligation. On the other hand, if you are the person making more money it also means your marriage is longer and the longer the marriage the more possibility that you will have a maintenance obligation to your spouse. Although maintenance is tax deductible to the person paying and income to the person receiving,which is different than child support, the court can set it for a short, long or indefinite period depending upon the length of the marriage and other circumstances. This can have a devastating financial impact on the person paying.
Sometimes people decide to wait until their mortgage is paid in full thinking that less debt is a benefit in a divorce. Property division takes into account both assets and debts and, depending upon whether you are the higher income earner and/or want to keep the house it may be better to file while there is still a debt on the house. One thing is certain and that is if you are the one who wants to keep the house it may be to your benefit to file for divorce at a time when the housing market is down so that the fair market value of the house is lower which means it will take less of your money to equalize the value of the house at the time of dividing the property. Again, this could be to your benefit.
On the other hand, if the idea is to sell all of the real estate and divide the proceeds then divorcing at a time when the real estate market is high could be to both of your benefits.
The same is true for retirement and investment accounts. If you have accounts that are linked to the stock market and you are divorcing at a time when the stock market is high then more will have to be paid to the other spouse. If the accounts are low then it could be your benefit especially if the market improves after the divorce.
These are just a few examples of what it could mean to you or your spouse as to when you file for divorce. Is there a good time to file? I believe most people who have gone through divorce would say, no. However, there may be a better time than another and that decision should only be addressed after you have made the emotional decision that your marriage is over. Until that decision is made, your commitment should be to your family and divorce should not be an option. However, as we know marriages end in divorce and we are here to help you with those issues so that when the divorce is over you and your family can have a happy and prosperous future. Often times, divorce can be a financial “fresh start” and with the right assistance can give you a bright post-divorce future.
Should you, a loved one, friend or family member have any questions about divorce whether before, during or with post-divorce issues please contact Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC for a free no obligation consultation.