The “Business” of Getting Divorced
Divorce is most certainly one of the most emotionally draining processes that anyone could go through. The severing of what was supposed to be a lifelong relationship can throw your life into turmoil, wondering what comes next and how you will adjust to single life. But while getting divorced is extremely emotional, there is a “business” aspect to it as well.
There are a number of issues that need to be resolved during a divorce, and a lot of them center around money and finances. In fact, in many cases, money could be one of the primary reasons the couple is getting divorced in the first place. During the transition from being married to becoming single, there are many financial issues to deal with, and these issues require a more business-like approach in which it is best to try not to be clouded too much by emotions.
Dealing with the Financial Impact of a Divorce
When it comes to divorce and finances, there are some areas that you will need to deal with directly as part of the proceeding, and others that result from the process. First of all, various financial obligations will need to be considered. These would either fall under child support or spousal support/alimony.
South Carolina has specific child support guidelines, but the courts do have some discretion to deviate from these guidelines when they believe that doing so would be in the child’s best interests. For this reason, it is essential to have an experienced family law attorney to advocate for your position and make sure that your interests, and the interests of your child(ren) are fully protected.
Unlike child support, there is no guaranteed right to spousal support. Generally, spousal support is awarded in cases when one spouse earns significantly less money than the other. Other factors play into the amount and duration of the support as well; such as the length of the marriage, age of the spouses, establish standard of living during the marriage, and many others. Again, you will need strong legal counsel by your side to effectively argue your position on spousal support.
The other area of the divorce which will require a business-like approach is the division of the marital estate. South Carolina is an equitable distribution state, not a community property state. This means that marital assets are to be divided “fairly and equitably”, and not necessarily 50/50. Fair and equitable distribution will look differently in each individual case, and various specific factors will need to be taken into account.
There may also be some question as to what property qualifies as “marital”. Generally, this is property acquired during the marriage, with various exceptions such as property received as a gift or inheritance. It is best to work out the division of property by having your lawyer negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer whenever possible. This way is less expensive and more predictable than leaving it in the hands of the court.
Having your lawyer negotiate this for you (based on what is most important to you) is usually the best approach as it takes all the emotion out of it and allows your legal counsel to do what they do best.
As we touched on earlier, there are many indirect financial consequences of a divorce that spouses will need to tackle as they work through the process:
- Debts and Credit Score: Part of the division of the marital estate will be determining which spouse is responsible for which debts that were accumulated during the marriage. It is very important to make clear who is responsible for what, and if at all possible, get your name removed from any debts you are not responsible for. You should also take steps to close or remove your name from any joint credit accounts that do not have any balance on them, so your spouse cannot run up any new debt in your name while the divorce proceeding is ongoing. There is a very good chance you may need some available credit to help you during the upcoming transition, so it is important to do everything possible to protect your good credit.
- Tighter Income: When a couple separates, they are faced with essentially having to support two households on the same income as they had previously. This means two housing payments, two utility payments, etc. Because of this, each spouse will be faced with living on less income than they had before. This is an unfortunate reality of divorce that is impossible to get around. All that said, it is possible to get by on less, but it will take some strong financial discipline.
- Budgeting: Picking up on the last point, if you are not currently familiar with how to create a household budget, now is the time to learn. Maybe your spouse was the one who always took care of this, in which case it can be a little scary going out on your own. But budgeting is a learnable skill like anything else, and there are plenty of resources available to help you with this, including divorce financial planners who can help you strategize how to create a suitable budget based on your new financial circumstances.
- Tax Implications: A divorce nearly always comes with tax consequences. For starters, your filing status will change once you go from married to single, and you could very well end up in a different income tax bracket. There could also be more complicated issues under certain circumstances; such as when there are valuable assets like real estate, stocks, or a family-owned business that need to be sold. Speak with your tax professional about how the divorce will affect your taxes.
Work with a Skilled and Knowledgeable South Carolina Divorce Lawyer
The “business” of getting divorced is made much easier with a strong legal advocate by your side who is looking out for your best interests. At the Cate Law Firm, we are here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (864) 585-4226 to schedule an initial consultation. You may also stop by our Spartanburg, SC office in person at your convenience.