Divorce is rarely an easy or pleasant process. Even though you know that ending the relationship with your spouse is the most healthy decision for you both and your children, it still tends to be a turbulent emotional ride. Some elements can make it more complex and difficult. This could range significantly from when your spouse doesn’t want a divorce to disputes about relocation. Some of the most common challenges divorced dads tend to face revolve around finances.
Monetary issues can put additional stress on you and your children, which is why it is so important to approach them with care and consideration. We’re going to take a look at a few areas of focus here, and how you can overcome the more difficult elements.
Custody and Support
Unfortunately, one of the most costly aspects of a divorce can revolve around the most important people in your life — your children. In an ideal world, the elements that surround custody and child support would be simple and equal. However, this is often not the case with many fathers’ experiences of the matter. As such, there are sometimes issues that can represent a financial burden.
One of the more prominent of these is actually fighting for your rights to a relationship with your children. There is a distinct skew in the system in the favour of mothers in a lot of custody cases. This could be the result of explicit or implicit biases judges have — the latter being more unconscious discrimination that occurs regarding the role of parents in society, while the former is indicative of a direct prejudice. These forms of discrimination can harm your case as a father, and you may incur additional court expenses if you have drawn-out custody processes, perhaps involving appeals. You can minimize this by engaging a solicitor whose expertise is directly linked to fathers’ custody; they’ll know how discrimination presents, and the strategies to counter it efficiently.
When custody has been agreed upon, one of the next financial obstacles can be arranging fair child support payments. If you are not in the position of having an equal custody or birdnesting situation, you need to gain a full understanding of what the percentage of custody you have amounts to. It wouldn’t be fair for you to pay the full standard rate of child maintenance if your children are with you, say, 35% of the time. If your child stays overnight more than once each week, you can arrange to reduce your payments in a way that better reflects the split of custody.
Throughout your marriage, it is likely that you jointly gathered a significant amount of assets. Make a full and accurate appraisal of these. In some cases, it will be sufficient that you and your spouse agree on what constitutes shared and individual assets. However, if there is disagreement in any significant way, then it may be important to involve your solicitor in the process. Indeed, when it comes to items such as antiques and furniture, it may be important to have an independent official valuation undertaken. This avoids the potential for either you or your former spouse to inadvertently gain a lower percentage of valuable goods.
The most significant asset to be divided is usually the family home. It can be tempting to simply affect the fastest possible sale — particularly given the expense that you’re likely incurring during the divorce. Selling the house for what it’s genuinely worth can take a little more time and attention, but it will put you in a stronger financial position. If you’ve never sold a home before, it can be a daunting prospect, but there are some best practices that can ensure you get the best possible sale price. Take time to learn how to stage your property correctly; remove clutter and make it look like the kind of welcoming home potential buyers want to live in. If you have a yard, trim the bushes and add some flowers to give it some curb appeal. This can be a significant amount of work, so where possible, it is beneficial for you and your former spouse to work together here. Collaborate in a way that sees each of you improving the home in ways that utilizes your individual talents to add the most value to the property. Be cognizant of each others’ work and childcare responsibilities, too, and create a schedule for preparation and selling that is practical for you both. This can also set a positive precedent for the way you move forward as co-parents beyond your divorce.
Focusing on Recovery
In a situation as potentially turbulent as divorce, the financial implications and fine details can very easily become overwhelming. It’s a lot to deal with. Simply reacting to the financial fallout as it happens tends to be a more stressful and less effective way to navigate the process. As such, it is important to create a financial roadmap that can take you and your children through to the other side.
You’re not going to be able to predict every bump along the way, but you can address the major points. Gain a full understanding of your debts — those that you and your former spouse share and those you have independently. Talk to the creditors and ascertain what payments are practical and even if some can be consolidated. Build this info into an ongoing budget that includes your other new financial obligations; paying legal fees, division of assets, perhaps even alimony. This doesn’t make these payments disappear, but it can help you have greater control over them.
Importantly, involve your children in this. A divorce can have a serious impact on children, and if you are less able to buy them treats than you were, it can be easy for them to feel as though they are being punished. Talk to them in an age-appropriate manner. Reinforce that your divorce doesn’t diminish your love for them. However, be clear that — for the time being — a stricter budget is part of the changes that you all need to work through together. Make it something that you want their input and help with, rather than something being forced on them.
Divorce can be financially disruptive, and incredibly stressful. As such, it’s important to take steps to ensure that you are treated fairly through the custody process and that your financial assets are divided both fairly and effectively. Recovering is not always easy, but with good planning and effective communication, you can ensure that both you and your children come through it healthily.