Practical Questions to Ask Before Divorce

By Jonathan Leinheardt

It should be no surprise that one of the tensest areas of any law practice is divorce, also known as “family law.” Because it is so stressful, many divorce practitioners find that a prospective client may not even know the appropriate questions to ask when prospect of a divorce first appears.

As noted in this recent New York Times article, to save the marriage, or at least make the divorce more amicable, you should ask these eleven questions before contacting a lawyer:

This article address some of those questions below.

How can a divorce be handled to minimize the harm on the children?

We always advise clients to keep children out of the middle of the parental conflict. It is best for children to see their parents working together collaboratively in a civil manner, and not maligning the other parent. This is harder in cases where one spouse “goes low” and attempts to use the children as a pawn to hurt the other parent. No matter how low they go, you want to “go high” and take the road that minimizes placing children in the middle.

Are you prepared for the financial stresses divorce may bring?

The higher the conflict the higher the financial (and emotional) cost of divorce. Also consider there may be costs or fees of the children’s legal representative, a Child and Family Investigator, or other professionals. Thus, the more spouses can agree to before a divorce significantly reduces the costs involved.

For those divorcing spouses with children, in Colorado, child support continues until a child reaches age 19, or is emancipated (i.e., self-supporting). However, support may continue beyond age 19 under some circumstances, i.e., if the child is still in high school or has a disability.

Colorado does not require parents to contribute to their children’s college expenses. Thus, many people create custodial accounts designated for college expenses.

Regarding the marital home, it may be appropriate that one spouse will pay the regular or recurring expense related to the residence of the other party, during the divorce or even after the divorce is over.

Finally, there are often financial consequences associated with transfers of assets, and the timing of such transfers. You should discuss any tax consequences of divorce with an accountant.

Am I ready to handle the day-to-day details of living that my spouse took care of?

Preparing to handle finances, or managing time with the children, can be overwhelming for spouses not used to such roles. For example, ask yourself whether you are prepared to manage a rental property if your spouse acted as “landlord” during the marriage. If not, it may be better for you that the property be sold or kept by your spouse.

Choosing to proceed with a divorce should only come after thinking through a number of issues, on both an emotional and financial level. Once divorce appears conceivable, you should obtain appropriate legal and professional advice as early as possible. This will help reduce the inevitable financial stress of every divorce, no matter how amicable.


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