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Top 7 Questions to Determine How Divorce Will Affect Your Finances

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Before getting a divorce, most couples never really grasp the fact that marriage is a contractual arrangement that basically joins finances and legal responsibilities in a similar fashion to a business partnership. When a spouse starts exploring divorce, they're often left with questions about how it will affect their finances. For example, if you're about to get divorced, you may be wondering whether you will have to pay alimony or child support, whether you will have to move out, and whether the maxed-out credit card will be your responsibility.

Below are the top 7 questions people ask when considering how divorce is going to affect their finances, both in the short term and the long term.

1. How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?

This is the first question that most future divorcees will ask, as lawyers are known for their high price tags. While lawyers may be costly, they often will make up for the short-term cost in saving you time, money, and peace of mind. Also, if you are unable to afford an attorney, some states can require the spouse that was traditionally the wage earner to pay your legal fees.

2. How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

Generally, a divorce can be completed in a few months to never. It always depends on the complexity of the situation. How many assets are there? Are there children? Is custody contested? Is alimony claimed and/or contested? In addition to the issues related to actually divorcing, some states impose waiting times that require a few to several months to pass before a filed divorce can be finalized by the court.

3. Who Keeps the Family Car After a Divorce?

When divorcing, the family car is often a difficult issue to work through, especially if there are children. In non-community property states, this question is answered by the name or names on the title. If the title only has one spouse's name, the car will generally be considered their separate property. If the title has both names on it, then the car will be considered marital property that should be divided.

In community property states, generally, unless the car was owned separately before the marriage, it will be considered jointly owned by both spouses and subject to division. Rather than cutting it in half, the parties can negotiate over the car using other jointly owned items of equal value, or have the car sold and divide the proceeds.

4. Who Pays Expenses When You're Separated but Not Divorced Yet?

When you separate, but the divorce isn't final and property and debts have not been divided, who pays for what can be rather confusing. Basically, whoever is more worried about losing a debt secured asset, or having their credit ruined, will likely be the one prompting the discussion of who pays for what.

5. Spousal Support: How Is Alimony Calculated?

Alimony is calculated a little bit different from state to state, and can vary depending on each couple's finances, jointly and individually, both while married and after marriage. Generally, a court will look to the income and earning capacity, and evaluate each case's unique circumstances when arriving at an alimony award.

6. When Does Spousal Support Stop?

Unlike child support, a spousal support order can be made for an indefinite period of time. Generally, alimony will only last as long as the receiving spouse is in need. The courts usually consider spousal support as temporary support to give a spouse adequate time to become self sufficient.

7. What to Do If Ex-Spouse Won't Pay Support?

If your ex decides not to pay, you can either attempt to work it out directly with them, or seek enforcement through the courts. If you are concerned about this while drawing up your divorce papers, you may seek to add a provision for attorney fees to enforce the support order or agreement. While many states already require fees be paid to a party enforcing an order, it may serve as an extra incentive to motivate prompt and consistent payments.

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