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Hundreds, if not thousands, of California residents will get divorced before 2019 ends. If you’re among spouses who are thinking about filing, it’s a good idea to consider some important issues before you take formal action in court. If you’re a parent, then your children’s best interests are undoubtedly one of your highest priorities. However, you’ll also want to keep your own interests in mind as well, especially those pertaining to finances.

It’s true that many people encounter serious financial challenges as they adapt to post-divorce lifestyles, but if you know how to protect your rights, it’s often possible to walk away without breaking the bank. Devising a thorough plan in your mind before filing a petition can help you avoid obstacles as you navigate the family law system.

Income is a main factor of consideration

The court will either approve your plans or make decisions on your behalf when you request divorce. Regarding child custody, child support, property division, alimony and other topics, it is critical that you and your spouse are completely transparent regarding how much income each of you earns as well as the potential of how much you could earn in the future.

If you’ve sacrificed a career during marriage to stay home full time, you may need financial assistance from your ex to provide for yours and your children’s needs until you acquire gainful employment.

Begin establishing independence

If you’re like most California married couples, you and your spouse likely have jointly owned bank accounts, and you probably co-mingle finances in many other ways. Before you divorce, you may want to begin establishing your own lines of credit and open bank accounts in your name only. The sooner you build up a good credit score on your own, the easier it might be to purchase a vehicle or home down the line.

Create a budget

The time to start thinking about cash flow, income and purchase power in a post-divorce lifestyle is before you even file the papers in court. It can be quite helpful to estimate your future financial needs and list all expenses you project you’ll have. Then, you can execute a budget plan to see if your numbers work on paper. Doing this before the court finalizes your divorce can save time and money later.

Consider your pre-divorce living arrangements

Many people can’t wait to move out of their marital homes and start living on their own, even before their divorces become final. That’s not always such a great idea, however, for many reasons. Concerning your children, it may help them cope better if they are able to stay in the home they’re used to living in for as long as possible.

Also, it’s to your benefit in court to keep making mortgage payments, which you may not want to do if you move out. Your interest in your home as an asset is greater if you stay in it and keep making payments.

Divorce support

It’s also a good idea to think about where to turn for support as you and your kids come to terms with the situation. Family counselors are often tremendous sources of post-divorce support. Likewise, it may be helpful to stay closely connected to an experienced family law attorney both during and following your divorce.