Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cutting the Cost of Divorce?

About a month ago, in Kathy M. Kristof's personal finance column in the Los Angeles Times had the title, "Cutting the Cost of Divorce". Essentialy, it boils down to using an attorney as little as possible.

And nothing could be worse for your finances than a contentious marital split, said Mark Baer, a family law attorney in Pasadena. Baer has compiled data to prove it. Married couples have significantly more assets than similarly situated singles until they divorce, he says. Then the economic advantage is more than wiped out.
Exactly. Men, you’re told that married men make more money than unmarried men. But a married man's income is not his own. If his wife brings in no income, then half of his income is hers, according to law. And that doesn't count child support. In reality, wives make most of the spending decisions, by far. That is why so much of advertising and ad-supported media is targeted towards female sensititivies, and why offending or trashing men isn't a problem.

You may be outraged by whatever conduct led to your divorce, and your friends might tell you to take your ex for all he or she is worth. But reality is another story. The judge doesn't care that you, and everyone you know, thinks your ex should spend the rest of his or her life in the poorhouse because of whatever was done to you.

"Half. You get half of the assets accumulated during marriage," said Diana Mercer, coauthor of "Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life." "I just saved you $400 in attorney's fees."
One spouse can behave very, very badly and not be penalized by the court. Aside from child custody/support, the court only cares about money. So, if one spouse sat around watching TV, getting fat, and having sex with a revolving door of lovers while the other spouse worked like a dog, the court and laws essentially reward the couch potato.

The advice in the column boils down to using your attorney as little as possible. However, when your soon-to-be-ex has to pay for your attorney, why cut that back?

Some would say the way to save the most on a divorce is... not to divorce in the first place. Well, that's all well and good. But in most places, you can't legally stop someone from divorcing you, and if they're going to get all sort of parting gifts for doing so, socially, there may not be much you can do either.

This is where I note that staying unmarried reduces a person's chance of getting divorced to zero, and that the law and society no longer discourage an unmarried person from having sex, attending events or vacationing with a lover, enjoying domestic services, etc.

"Mini True" at 7:41 AM February 6, 2011:

To the author of this article: you were remiss in your duty.

You titled your piece "Cutting the cost of divorce." How about including "prenuptial agreements" as a method of cutting the costs? At least a sentence or two???
Very good point.

"JerryLazar" at 10:05 PM February 6, 2011:

You missed the single biggest cost-saver -- MEDIATION!
Another good point.

I'll take this opportunity to remind readers:

Do NOT get married, unless...
-You understand what you're getting yourself into. (Read through some of the blogs!)
-You really want to be a spouse for life.
-You are prepared to be a spouse.
-You have found someone who is prepared to be a spouse.
-That person is fundamentally compatible with you – your needs, your goals, your personality, your priorities, your values, your faith, etc.
-You are attracted to each other physically and emotionally.

I highly recommend going through a premarital process, before a date is set for the wedding, of drawing up a customized prenuptial agreement that involves full disclosure of the history and present state of your health, finances, driving record, police record, court record, etc. This will help with many of the above points. Hopefully, you'll never need to use the prenup.

Once married, strive to be the kind of person to whom you'd like to come home. Make your spouse's life better.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Married couples have significantly more assets than similarly situated singles until they divorce, he says

    Yeah, right... Maybe on your planet.

    ReplyDelete

I have to approve your comment before it appears. I won't reject your comment for disagreement - I actually welcome disagreement. But I will not allow libelous comments (which is my main reason for requiring approval) and please try to avoid profanities. Thanks!