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Unlocking two myths about divorce that might help reduce stress

Unlocking two myths about divorce that might help reduce stress

| September 16, 2020
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Divorce Rates Spike During COVID Pandemic

Divorce lawyers, marriage counselors and the U.S.
court systems are bracing for a surge in divorce filings
once quarantine restrictions are lifted. And while it
might be months or years until we begin to fully
understand the true impact that quarantining will have
on America’s divorce rate, sadly the data that is
beginning to emerge is not hopeful.

Late this summer, Legal Templates – a company that
provides legal documents – announced a 34%
increase in sales of their divorce agreement
documents compared to the same time period in
2019. In addition, the jump in the number of Legal
Template-users has provided shocking information
about why so many couples are ending their
marriages. And it is information that Legal Templates
suggests “won’t be available from government
sources or scientific studies for years to come.”

The data reveals that:

• Newlyweds were hit hardest by a significant
margin;

• Couples in southern states were far more
likely to seek a divorce;

• The rate of divorcing couples with children
increased compared to 2019; and

• The number of life insurance policies and
payouts required in divorce settlements
soared.

At a time when nearly 50% of first marriages end in
divorce already, learning the truth about this painful
life transition is vital to both saving money and
reducing stress. Unfortunately, despite living in an
age of instant information access, myths about
divorce are rife. This lack of understanding can
damage your financial future short- and long-term.
Let’s explore two of the more common myths

 

The Lifestyle Myth

Strangely, many people believe their manner of living
isn’t affected after the marriage is over. But the
lifestyle they’re accustomed to is over. Taking one
household and making it two guarantees that both
parties make sacrifices. In many cases, those
sacrifices are severe.

Outcomes in divorces vary wildly from state to state,
and there is a fundamental lack of common sense in
settlements. Settlements too often freeze a former
couple’s financial situation in place. One ex-spouse
has a lifetime financial obligation, the other is barred
from improving his or her financial standing on their
own.

Worse, many state systems trap one spouse – more
often the woman – in a spousal support situation that
discourages re-marriage and penalizes their search
for decently paying employment.

Those going through a divorce should ask themselves
whether the former spouse will always be able to pay.
Because often, that long-term, often punitive spousal
support keeps both spouses at risk. If the ex-spouse
becomes disabled and cannot work, the former
spouse can lose that court-ordered income, for
example. 

Case in point: it was not that long ago that the state of
Massachusetts recently changed its alimony statutes,
following several egregious cases in which the paying
spouse was forced into bankruptcy in some perverted
attempt to help the receiving party. The new law in
Massachusetts now has alimony ending at retirement
in most cases. There are other limits as well, including
one based on how long the couple was married.

Establishing a marital financial plan that allows for a
simple division of assets could be one way to help
reduce the financial and emotional stress of a divorce.

The Total Separation Myth

Many divorcees believe that once their settlement is
final, the financial troubles with their ex are over.
Unfortunately, even when an equitable financial
settlement is reached, issues like reimbursements for
expenses related to raising children can force the
divorcing couple to interact with each other directly
every month. And in many cases, such interaction is a
bad idea.

Before signing the papers, make sure settlements can
be modified as circumstances change. A child’s
needs may shift over the years in ways no one can
predict.

Review all aspects of a settlement and ensure it
makes sense to both spouses – both the paying party
and the receiving party – who must live with the
outcome. Usually, child support is the only modifiable
part of a settlement agreement.

Divorces Happen
While they are never pleasant, planning in advance
can help mitigate their negative impact. The simplest
piece of divorce advice is that there are no do-overs,
so it pays to get the settlement done right the first
time.

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