Even some of the best relationships are sometimes ensnared in arguments over money.
It's one of the most common marital arguments.
Now, a Kansas State University assistant professor of family studies, who is also the program director of personal financial planning at the school, asserts that money arguments are the No. 1 predictor of divorce.
Our Birmingham divorce lawyers know that in these situations perhaps more than most, advance divorce planning is key. This is why we regularly advise clients and potential clients to meet with a divorce attorney before you even tell your spouse you're filing. You want to get a good understanding of your joint financial standing, as well as what property divisions might be expected and how much you'll need to save in order to make the separation a smooth transition.
While impulsiveness is tempting, being methodical in your approach can often pay off in the long run.
The Kansas State professor, in analyzing the effect of financial disputes on a marriage, found that arguments about children, sex, in-laws and everything else appears to come secondary to complaints about money.
Her study, "Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce," has been published in the most recent issue of the journal Family Relations.
Researchers looked at data from more than 4,500 couples, which was collected as part of the National Survey of Families and Households.
Study authors took pains to control for net worth, debt and income. What they discovered was that it rarely mattered how much a couple was worth or how much they earned annually. Arguments regarding money were the top predictor of divorce at all socioeconomic levels.
Interestingly, couples found it more difficult to recover from arguments about the topic of money than anything else. These arguments tended to be more intense, with both parties using harsher language with one another and arguments lasting longer.
The earlier in the marriage couples begin arguing about money, the study showed, the more likely they were to get divorced at some point down the road.
This reveals why early on, couples might do well to seek financial planning assistance, to become aligned in their short and long-term monetary goals. Making this part of the premarital counseling can sometimes head off some of these problems before they fester into wounds that will dissolve a relationship.
This could be especially important for those couples whose income levels are disparate, as this can often be at the root of many financial disagreements. Both parties have to feel as if they are being treated equally with regard to finances.
Additionally, if one party has a lot of debt – or racks up a lot of debt – this can quickly result in irreparable harm to the union.
If that's where you are at in your relationship, we can help.
It's true that it does take some money to divorce. This is true not so much because of the cost of the actual divorce – i.e., court costs, attorneys fees, etc. – but more because of what you will face afterward. If you are the lesser-earning spouse, you may be entitled to support payments, particularly if you share children together. But often, this will not be enough to maintain the lifestyle you had while together. That doesn't mean you can't leave. It just means you have to be strategic about it.
Consider doing the following right away:
- Gather all of your financial records. These will include bank statements, credit reports, bills, mortgage statements, other property records, health care information and more. Contact your attorney for specifics. Take these records to your attorney so that he or she can make copies. You don't want to leave them at home, where your spouse might see and become suspicious.
- Open a post office box so that you are able to receive mail securely.
- Begin saving money for your legal and other professional fees. Bear in mind that divorce procedures sometimes take longer than you might anticipate, and this can drive up costs. It's important to plan accordingly.
- Open a new checking or savings account. Consider withdrawing all of the money that is yours from any joint accounts and putting it in a separate fund. This will obviously be noticed by your spouse, so you may need to save this step for when you are ready to break the news.
- Make sure you have a credit card in your name. This is especially important if you have little to no credit history of your own. This will make it easier to get your own apartment, vehicle loan, and other loans. It will also help you cover unexpected expenses on a moment's notice.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Study reveals early financial arguments are a predictor of divorce, July 12, 2012, By Sonya Britt, Kansas State University