Marriage is one of the oldest and most universal institutions in the entire world, designed by tradition to unite a man and woman into a household that will raise children. Some nations today have also legalized same-sex marriage, and same-sex households are known to adopt children. But today, divorce is also common, and it is believed that between 42% and 45% of all American marriages end in divorce. This is the legal end of a marriage, as opposed to a separation, and there are many reasons why Americans choose to get divorced. Why do Americans seek to end their marriages like this, and what legal knowledge and counsel should either of the divorcing spouses bear in mind? There will be a lot to do both during and after the divorce, and such legal knowledge can help a person keep their life cohesive and make the most of an unpleasant situation. No one enjoys divorce, but it may be possible to land on one’s feet, rather than just fall apart.
Why Divorce Happens
What prompts Americans to seek a divorce? Many studies have been done on this topic, and a number of common causes have been named. Chief among them is infidelity when one spouse is unfaithful to the other and is caught. If marriage counseling cannot save the marriage, then divorce lawyers and divorce papers may very well follow suit. In other cases, a spouse filed for divorce because the other spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol, which can lead to abusive behavior, job loss, alienation, and a major financial strain on the household. With or without drugs and alcohol involved, abusive behavior of any type may prompt a divorce. Some divorces are somewhat less dramatic, though no less valid, such as if the two spouses realize that they have very different lifestyles or spending habits. Or, their reason is as simple as a loss of interest in one another. Note that these low-intensity marriages tend to involve divorce mediators rather than lawyers, while divorce attorneys and child custody lawyers may be called in for a more messy divorce.
Divorce Lawyers and Law Firms
A divorce lawyer can offer all sorts of legal advice for their client, allowing them to use the full extent of the law to try and advocate their side during a divorce. A spouse can look to local law firms for help, and consult various attorneys who work at them (this may or may not incur a fee). Once a lawyer is chosen and hired, the divorce papers are filed, and the other spouse may seek a lawyer and legal knowledge and advice of their own. Both spouses will fight over the divorce’s terms through their lawyers, and if one spouse has been abusive, then the other may relocate to a private and secret residence during this time, and bring any of their under-18 children with them.
During this time, each spouse will try and claim different assets from the divorce and try to negotiate the divorce’s terms in their favor, such as who will live where, and who claims what property. Practically anything may be on the line, from money and bank accounts to jewelry, a house, RV, cars, and even a privately owned business. And what about child custody? If the household has children under the age of 18, the spouses will probably hire child custody lawyers to battle over that, too. And while nothing can be guaranteed here, a parent might have better odds of winning custody if they have a stable income and have not demonstrated any abusive behavior. During child custody court, a child aged 12 or over may speak with the judge privately about his or her preferences in their living conditions.
Legal knowledge may also come from a child custody advisor or counselor, who can review a parent’s case and determine if that parent is fit to win custody of that child. The parent can also get legal knowledge on this topic from their lawyers, and find out how to create a household that is fit for child custody. The parent can present all sorts of paperwork to the court and similar authorities, from the child’s medical records and school records all the way to proof of a stable income and creating a good home life for the child. A counselor may visit the household at least once to see how the parent and child interact, and determine if a healthy and proper child-raising environment has been created.
What about a personal injury lawyer or a domestic violence attorney? This might be relevant for unfortunate cases of physical violence when one spouse has harmed the other, and that might greatly alter the course of the court case. Bear in mind, however, that a spouse charged with domestic violence may seek legal knowledge and counseling from a criminal defense attorney.
Living Spaces After Divorce
Suppose the divorce is now over, and a spouse is looking to keep their life in good shape when all is said and done. Where to start? There are many factors to consider, but perhaps the most prominent one may be the divorced person’s living space. Where should they live? Some divorced spouses will keep their current residence, but others will relocate for various reasons. Perhaps they lost the house, or they can no longer afford their current residence after paying for their lawyers and other court expenses or because of child support payments they must now make. A divorced person has some options to consider, such as finding local apartments for rent.
Moving to an affordable apartment after a divorce may be a temporary solution until they get their financial life back on track, or perhaps they are going to start renting for the foreseeable future. There is nothing wrong with either route, so long as this person can afford what they are doing and are comfortable with it. Finding apartments close to work is a good idea, and a real estate agent and various websites can help them find apartments in a good area that are within their budget. That person may then save up money while living in an apartment to buy a house later, and seek a new job or find other ways to rearrange their financial life.
All About Finances
This is a major aspect of a divorcee’s life, as their financial life will probably look much different after divorce compared to before all this began. A divorcee can consult debt settlement lawyers in some cases, for repaying their attorneys or covering other debts so they can afford to rent a place to live in. Even if there are no critical debts to repay at this time, a divorcee is still urged to carefully assess every penny of their current financial life, and know exactly what they can and cannot afford, and plan accordingly. Some divorcees are actually better off, but many face issues such as paying off their lawyers, making child support payments, or if they had to give a lot of their money to the other spouse. Without some financial assessment and adjustment, an iffy situation like this could become even worse.
What to do? Some options include downsizing, and selling possessions, especially if the divorcee has to relocate, such as to an affordable apartment. For example, a divorcee may choose to sell their wedding band, and other sentimental items such as jewelry and heirlooms if they must for quick cash. They can even sell a spare car, or sell their current car and buy a much cheaper used one to save money in the long term. It is likely that this is a bad time for extravagance, so adopting a more modest and frugal lifestyle is essential. Still, there are some areas that require some funding.
Child day care programs are a strong option for a divorced parent who has custody of a child. Divorced parents must bear in mind that they are parents first and foremost, and should put their child’s needs ahead of their own. This may include downsizing their lifestyle so they can afford the child’s preschool and day care, not to mention save up for the child’s future college expenses (if desired). Some divorced parents lose sight of this and might actually neglect to support their children fully. But that should not be the case for any divorced parent who has solid legal knowledge to work with.
And whether or not that divorced spouse is a parent, they can and should run the numbers on their financial life and speak to financial advisors if they feel the need. Some spouses are already money-savvy and can carry over their good financial habits from their marriage to their divorced life, while others will learn as they go once as they enter divorced life. How might this work? It is essential for any divorcee, early on, to start logging all of their expenses of all kinds and sort them by category. They can create a spreadsheet to keep all this organized, such as car expenses, healthcare, and medication expenses, child support costs, rent or mortgage payments, and miscellaneous or discretionary spending. Doing this will allow a divorcee to realize in what categories they are spending too much money, such as dining out too often, or if they bought a fancy car that they can’t realistically keep. Major problems with a divorcee’s financial life will become clear and easy to diagnose this way.
Not only that but tracking and logging spending this way, on top of tracking earnings, makes it easier to create a budget and stick to it. In this way, a divorcee will know how much they can spend on such things as rent/mortgage, transportation, food, healthcare, and even discretionary spending. The divorcee can create a pie chart and decide what percentage of their money goes to what, and figure out how much they can save up during this time if any. This can create boundaries to keep things in check and make assessments, such as “with these car payments, I must find an apartment with monthly rent $1,000 or less” or “since I’m not paying child support, it turns out I can afford to keep this car after all.” Nothing about the finances should be estimated; running the hard numbers is a must.
Taking Care of Yourself
It is vital for a divorcee to track their spending, find an affordable place to live, and take good care of any child they have custody of. But not every aspect of a divorce involves self-sacrifice. A divorcee is a human being who has been through a lot, and self-care is essential. It is self-investment, and a divorcee may be suffering from anxiety or depression, or similar mental issues. There is no shame whatsoever in this; rather, the divorcee is encouraged to seek out any and all therapy and counseling that they can find, and talk out their problems and figure out some solutions. If necessary, their child can get therapy too, since divorce can be overwhelming, confusing, and stressful for a child. In fact, many children incorrectly blame themselves for the divorce, so they may need therapy to boost their self-esteem and assure them that they are not to blame for anything.
Someone who just went through a divorce is hardly having the time of their life, but then again, sadness and depression don’t have to win, and the divorcee can make the most of their situation any way they know how. In any case, no matter how bad the divorce terms, a divorcee shouldn’t just “let themselves go”, such as becoming lazy or worse, turning to drugs and alcohol. More than ever, the divorcee should maintain or form good healthy habits, such as eating properly, exercising, and making a gratitude journal, not to mention maintain a good social life. Even if the divorcee is no longer in contact with the other spouse, they can still meet with friends and family, who should support emotional support. A divorcee can feel better if their social, mental, and physical health is carefully maintained, and they can continue their current hobbies or take up new ones.
Best of all, some hobbies are very cheap or free to do, which is ideal for a divorcee in bad financial shape. Cheap hobbies include drawing and poetry writing, jogging and running, meditation (good for mental health), hiking, and more. A divorcee can also get a gym membership, join an amateur sports team, or take martial arts classes. Exercise is not only very healthy and a good way to pass the time, but it can help boost a person’s mood and help them sleep more easily, which is quite relevant to many divorcees.
No one likes going through a divorce or ending up on their own, but then again, a divorcee does not have to give in to despair or apathy. Rather, that divorcee can make every effort to maintain a healthy and productive life, often as a parent, and remember to love themselves and have hope for the future. A solid and well-maintained financial life and smart habits can make this even more feasible after the divorce is over.