It always depends on the individual case (and every case is different) but if you’re gearing up for a divorce, be prepared for the biggest sticking points in divorce: kids, property and debts, and support.
If you don’t have kids, chances are that your divorce will go a lot more smoothly. And, if you don’t have kids and you have a prenuptial agreement in place, you’re definitely in for an easier experience than most.
However, if you’re not in that boat, let’s look at how these top three points of contention can play out.
Divorce with Kids
Kids are a major issue in divorce because they’re the one area where it’s difficult to compromise. If you’re figuring out maintenance, you can easily negotiate (“I want to pay you $50, but you want $150, so we’ll compromise and say $100”).
There are so many issues around kids that can come up. Where will they live? Which parent will they live with, and for how long? What does the custody arrangement look like? What about child support? Do any of the kids have special needs that should factor in? Who makes the decisions for the kids?
The list goes on and on, and it’s a rare couple that agrees completely on all points.
Unfortunately, issues around kids can also get really ugly. I think it’s because people are so emotionally invested in their children (understandably) that when their ability to care for their kids and spend time with them is threatened, they start to act more irrationally.
I had one case where the teenage son didn’t want to visit his father. The father instantly accused the mother of parental alienation. We had to get a custody evaluation to see if he was right, and the expert came back saying that the mother had nothing to do with it — the son didn’t want to spend time with his dad because the dad was really harsh with him. However, the dad couldn’t accept this and continued to accuse mother of alienation and ask for more parenting time to separate him from the alienation.
See how things can get really sticky?
Division of Property and Debts in Divorce
After kids and all aspects of kids, the next point of contention is generally division of property and debts.
On the surface, it might seem like this should be more straightforward, but over the course of decades of marriage, people get their property pretty entangled. For instance, say a couple gets married and the wife owns a condo prior to the marriage. Of course, that should be hers in the divorce (appreciation is marital) — only, a few years into the marriage, she adds her husband to the mortgage. This usually requires also adding him to the deed.
So even though she owned the condo with substantial equity before the marriage, in the divorce process, he argues that she had intended to gift him half of the condo. We’ll likely go to Court over something that.
Debts can similarly get complicated, to a lesser extent. Nobody really wants to get stuck with a massive credit card bill on top of the cost of the divorce.
Child Support and Maintenance
While there are formulas for both of these calculations, many issues arise. By way of example, husband use to earn $250,000/yr. but had to travel constantly. He quits his job and takes another job with far less travel but which pays far less so he can spend more time with the children. Which income is used for his financial obligations? Another problem is that people cannot maintain the same standard of living maintaining two (2) households that they did with only one (1) household. In order to maintain the same standard of living, people try to create ways to increase his/her support.
In the end, if you want a relatively painless divorce, the best course of action is to hire an attorney and do your very best to take your emotions out of the picture. If you’re preparing for a divorce, call our office today at 303-449-1873 for a complimentary consultation and we’ll discuss how the process will work for you.