Recently this spot-on blog from Laura Lifschitz and PopSugar came to my attention about ten things the author wished she’d known before she sought a divorce. I think she is absolutely correct about every point, but as an attorney there are couple that I think are particularly important.
1. Make it Clear! Especially when there are kids involved a detailed Parenting Plan will make everyone’s life, including your kids’ lives, easier. In the beginning you will want to know the boundaries. As things get easier and more “normal” you and your co-parent may be able to ease up of the rules and feel more comfortable about the give and take of co-parenting, but in the beginning everyone will feel safer if you know what the ground rules are
2. It’s more common to do 50/50 these days. Do not expect that Dad will get every other weekend and a mid-week dinner, unless there are either some documented (usually by a neutral observer such as a therapist) reasons for less parenting time or Dad’s work schedule or distance from the kids’ school means that he cannot parent.
3. Imputed income. If you are not working, or only working part time, the court will impute to you at least an income of minimum wage for 40 hours a week, unless you or your child is disabled or you are currently in school.
There are couple more that I would add:
4. Make sure you know your own finances! Know what shape your finances are in as a couple and know what you need to live on your own. It is more expensive to live as a single person than as a couple, even with child support. Your living standard will most likely go down when you divorce, whether you were the higher income earner or the lower income earner.
5. Know your retirement benefits and those of your spouse! Do not assume that each partner will take his or her own retirement benefits. If for no other reason, please seek out the input of an attorney to determine what retirement benefits are and how to equitably divide them. In many cases you will need a specialized Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) to do this.
6. Seek out the help of a therapist or counselor. Finding someone who can help you deal with the emotional turmoil of divorce can help keep your legal case calmer and more collaborative.
Most important – set up a consultation with an attorney to make sure you understand these things.