When the glow of the holidays begins to fade, so too does the illusion that this season of togetherness will heal a broken union that's turned as frosty as the air outside.
Our Birmingham divorce lawyers know that inevitably, each January, the number of divorce workshops, financial planning sessions and filings increase.
Gone is pressure to create the illusion of having a "perfect" family. Making matters worse, if you have a strong feeling that things aren't going to work out into the next year, you may end up making some poor financial choices out of guilt. You may overcompensate on your children's presents. You may splurge on a family vacation, hoping to give things one last shot.
In reality, you should be carefully counting your pennies and meeting with a divorce attorney in order to prepare for the possibility. Even if you don't end up filing, there is no harm in putting yourself in a stable financial situation should you decide to walk. This may be especially important if you historically have not been the one involved in finances.
Plus, establishing budget guidelines now may also help you to curb spending after the divorce – which tends to be a big problem for people. There is an intense desire to want to look and feel better in the wake of such a life-shaking event.
However, most people are in shock when they suddenly go from two incomes to one. When you pile up on other debts during the holidays, when it comes time to separate, you may find yourself struggling to pay the electric bill.
If during this holiday season you are taking stock of your marriage and weighing whether you are going to leave, consider taking these steps first:
- Start paying attention to the money. That is, know how many bank accounts you have individually and jointly and get an accurate picture of what the assets are. You are also going to want to take a look at tax returns, monthly bills, and pay stubs. In order to best prepare, you have to know what you're dealing with. Make a detailed list of all assets, debts and monthly income prior to meeting with your lawyer.
- Begin setting aside some emergency cash. A good amount is generally about $2,000. You can use this to help pay for initial attorney fees and whatever unexpected expenses may arise as a result of the separation.
- Start establishing your own credit history. This is especially important if almost every bill and asset you have is in your spouse's name. When you find yourself on your own, you're going to need to be able to have some form of credit to be able to get a credit card, a car and at some point a mortgage. You can start by either opening up a new credit card or by adding your name to all the household investments and accounts. (But consult with your attorney before you do this, because if your spouse's credit is bad, you may not want your name tied to these accounts.)
- In addition to contacting an attorney, visit with a financial adviser too. This will help you get a better handle on your priorities and any special requests you wish to make during the divorce settlement.
Call us today to see how we can help you initiate the process.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Divorce Picks Up After the Holidays, Dec. 11, 2012, By Bob Hansen, NBC Bay Area