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HOW GETTING DIVORCED WILL (and won’t) CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER (and for the worse)

By November 11, 2013Family Law

When I talk with people about getting a divorce, some people expect that getting a divorce will solve all their problems. Others think they are stuck in a hopeless marriage, and getting a divorce won’t make any difference.The truth is, divorce will change your life for the better and for the worse. So after handling many, many divorce cases, here is my perspective on the basic changes you can realistically expect—good and bad—when you decide to get divorced.

 

If you have children

Perhaps most importantly, divorce will change the lives of your children. A decree of divorce will contain specific orders governing the custody, care and support of your children, including a detailed schedule of when the children should reside with each parent. So when a marriage involves frequent conflict or physical or emotional abuse, the divorce will likely result in the children being happier, healthier and safer. In such cases, a parent-time schedule should be designed to ensure that the children spend the majority of their time in a safe, healthy and stable home environment.

Alternatively, when the children are equally bonded with both parents, parent-time schedules should be designed to allow the children to maintain an ongoing, meaningful relationship with both parents. However, no matter how well the parties work together, the children will experience significant change. They will be required to travel between parents and may be required to move to new neighborhoods, change schools, and adjust to new schedules and expectations.

Financial support

Your financial condition and stability will also be significantly impacted by divorce. The resources previously available to your household will be divided between two households. Before petitioning the court for a decree of divorce, you should prepare for the economic impact of divorce.

Regardless of how much time you are allowed with your children, you will be required to financially support your children. In Utah, both parents are required to provide support until each child turns 18 years of age and graduates from high school. In addition to child support, both parents are required to pay half the cost of their children’s child care and medical expenses, including medical insurance premiums.

You may also be required to pay spousal support (alimony) to assist the other party in paying his/her monthly expenses. Alimony is a significant issue in long term marriages, where one party historically provided income for the family and the other party worked within the home. In such cases, the court may attempt to equalize resources to ensure that both parties are able to maintain a similar standard of living. In short term marriages, alimony may be awarded on a temporary basis to return a spouse to the standard of living he/she enjoyed prior to the marriage.

Marital property

Utah law requires an equitable division of property. While the term “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal,” it is common for the court to determine the value of all assets accrued during a marriage and divide that value equally between the two parties.

If you purchased a home during your marriage, one or both parties will lose their home and be forced to seek alternative housing. The court may order you to sell the home and divide the money from the sale equally. The court may also decide that one party should keep the home and pay to the other party his/her share of the value of the home.

If you have carefully contributed money to a retirement account, you will lose a portion of your future security to your spouse. As a general rule, anything paid into a retirement, pension or investment account by either party during the marriage relationship is divisible in divorce. Retirement plan administrators require a special order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, to transfer retirement assets from one spouse to the other. After obtaining a decree of divorce, you or your spouse will incur additional attorney fees to draft the order releasing the retirement funds.

Personal property, including vehicles, jewelry, furniture and kitchenware, will also be divided. Once property is divided, you will be solely responsible for any loans or credit accounts associated with the property in your possession. You may incur significant expenses purchasing new furniture and appliances or taking sole responsibility for your vehicle loan or the credit card you used to purchase your new entertainment center.

Divorce cannot solve everything

As a divorce attorney, I work to obtain a decree of divorce that will minimize the financial impact to my clients and will allow them as much time as possible with their children. My goal is to ensure that my clients are in a position to move on from their divorce to the next phase of their life.

However, I am limited in how much I can do to help people recover after thier separation. A decree of divorce does little to help clients or their children heal from the pain and loss of separation. Dealing with change can be difficult and can result in depression, anxiety and stress. After divorce, people may feel like they simply traded one set of problems for a painful new set of challenges.

Divorce does not end your relationship with your former spouse; it simply changes the nature of that relationship. In cases involving children or ongoing support payments, you will have to communicate and work with the other party for years after your divorce is final. A decree of divorce may limit your communication with your former spouse, but no court order can make your interactions with that person any easier or less painful. There is little a divorce attorney can do to ensure that your former spouse will treat you with kindness or respect, return your calls and emails or keep you apprised of your children’s daily activities. There is also no guarantee that the other party will abide by the decree of divorce. Often post-divorce litigation is necessary to force compliance with court orders.

Following divorce, you will need to understand that you cannot control the other person’s behavior. Rather, you can improve your own situation by treating your former spouse with civility, focusing on your children and embracing the opportunity to make positive changes.

Focusing on your children’s needs is of particular importance. Children often experience feelings of guilt and helplessness following the separation of their parents. Obtaining a decree of divorce can help create a set schedule and sense of stability. However, it may take several years for children to adapt to living in separate households. It is important for both parents to set aside their differences in communicating with the children. You should never ask your children to choose between parents, deliver messages to the other parent or discuss adult issues. It may be necessary to seek the advice and help of a mental health professional to help your children through the divorce process. Whatever the situation, before you decide to get divorced, you should be realistic about what a divorce will and will not accomplish. Don’t be fooled into thinking divorce is the solution to all your problems. But if your marriage is past the point of repair, it may be the only way to provide a better future for you and your children.

32 Comments

  • Mike T says:

    It\’s always good to have a legal professional you can trust!

  • Chandee says:

    What are the laws on parent visitation? Say there is a child that has no desire to see a parent, would they be forced to still have regular visits?

  • J Brown says:

    Good article on knowing the pros and cons before filing for divorce. Always have a good legal team.

    • Reynalda says:

      Oh yes. Amend that post!! Had Hailey not been such an angel I would never have gone on to have: Isaac, who has bought so much lagteuhr to our lives. Nick who was so cheeky (he kept me on my toes) and wears his heart on his lovely sleeve Georgia, who is so like me that I learned I am loveable (and who thinks she is the cream of the crop and maybe she is right, after all she is just like her mother) Bene, my blessing at the end.

  • Kristina says:

    So glad this is something I haven\’t had to struggle with in my life, what a mess! My heart goes out to everyone who has to go through that kind of trial.

    • Jhay says:

      i believe that both patners should take care of the cild not just the mother and have the law recognize the father. also its a good thing that they patners have t care for the child because they wont be left on thier own. however having child support, custody, and visitation is also a good way to care for the child.

  • John says:

    As a newly licensed attorney in the State of Texas I have always found y\’alls blog post to be quite useful, both from a learning perspective and by helping me to keep up with some popular trends in the actual practice of law. (Something that can at times be easily forgotten during the monotony of Law School) Thanks!

    • Dewa says:

      Thie is something that all pertnas should recognize & improve! If you\’re going to make the choice of having a child you both should be able to care for her phisically, emotionally, & financially. Don\’t wait for the law to know that you\’re the legal parent & step up to your priorities as a parent for your child!

  • Caitlin says:

    Too many people are getting divorced these days… so I will send any I know to you!

  • laney says:

    Glad to see you\’re do family law now too!

  • Jan says:

    Grateful to not need a divorce attorney but I can appreciate how a good attorney would be able to ease people through such a life trial. I know that the majority of psych counselors have to go through counseling themselves at some point in their careers because of internalizing their clients\’ problems and not being able to completely shed that burden. I hope for the sakes of you family law attorneys that it\’s not a similar situation!!

    • Andini says:

      Its really iapmrtont for both parents to financially take care of their baby .both parents should give them all the love the child needs even though parents aren\’t together. I don\’t really know what are all my rights but I really would like to know much more. Both parents are reasponsable for their child they shouldnt deny the reasponsability If they really didn\’t wanted to have a baby then why even have sex

  • Jay P. says:

    Definitely a bigger issue than it was in the past, and it seems like a lot of people aren\’t taking into account the detrimental effects it can have on other factors in their lives as well as the lives of others. Needless to say, it\’s important to have a great lawyer if they choose to move in this direction

    • Estelle says:

      the truth i really dont know all of them. i just know i have the right to see my kid. i would like to know more about my rigths. so if anything ever happens i know. but hopefully not. but it would be a good idea to know. about to be aware of whats going on in a sittuation involving your child

  • Jay M says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. Nobody plans for a divorce, but it\’s good to know the information beforehand in case it happens.

  • jay nelson says:

    My hope is that the legal system puts time limits on how long the process can take and that if possible children have their own lawyer. Lawyers are a great resource for those issues you cannot work out yourselves.

  • Bill Petrosino says:

    This is a very interesting article, and these are things to think about when considering divorce. Which, in reality, is something I hope to never have to do 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, the woman did not become prnanget on her own, and a child ideally needs both parents. It is best for parents to be mature enough to work things out without getting the court involved, but there are also court liaisons who can help mediate if parents have small issues they can reach agreement on. It\’s best for the child to see parents working together, even if they choose not to BE together.

  • Hailey Black says:

    Chandee,

    Assuming there is a court order awarding regular visits to the other parent, the presumption is that you must follow that order. At a minimum, the other parent typically will be entitled to visits every other weekend and on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The parent who has primary custody of a child has an obligation to facilitate the relationship between the child and the other parent. Unless there is a safety concern, the custodial parent should show up on time to parent-time exchanges and should encourage the child to visit with the other parent. If you fail to follow the parent-time schedule ordered by the court, you could be held in contempt of court and you could face sanctions, such as payment of attorney fees. Of course, as the child gets older, it becomes increasingly difficult to force parent time. Once a child reaches 14 years of age, the court may take their desires into account in modifying a parent time order.

    – Hailey Black

    • Maykl says:

      I think it\’s good that the law provides child sprpout for children who have dads who think they can just make a baby and not provide for them. Some dads are such dead beats that even when they are forced to pay it they don\’t simply because they think the mom is just gonna spend all of the money on herself. I get so frustrated when I see things like this

  • Jessica says:

    I have witnessed divorce many times and unfortunately have been separated myself. Hiring someone you trust and is well educated to provide sound advice and protect your best interests is a must.

  • Lis Abalos says:

    After a few years of trying to come to an agreement on a custody of my son with no success I felt frustrated that we had no progress no resolution. After two different attorneys I was referred to Hailey Black by a close friend of mine going through a something similar. The first day I met Hailey she reassured me she would work hard for me and my son and would help move things a long. She kept good to her word and work quickly to get my case brought in front of a judge who finally granted me custody of my son. Hailey was great during the hearings she definitely knew her stuff. I have since referred many of my close friends to her for representation. One of the best choices I made for me and my son was having Hailey represent us.

    • Jessica says:

      you know , child custody and setitng up child support is reallt stressful . is not easy juss goin over there and asking for what you want because they wont always give it to u because they want to be fair . and you know that other parent shuld be resposible because it takes 2 to make one and that other parent shuld be responsible for his/her actions

  • Cindy says:

    Great info… Amazing that some folks spend more time planning their summer vacations than they put into planning their \”marriages\”.

  • Natalie Pettitt says:

    I think this firm has some great principles they practice by. They have great attorneys who work very hard for you.

    • Rajesh says:

      Even if you can\’t support your child falcniialny doesn\’t mean you won\’t take great care of your child emotionally and physically. You can still be a good parent even if you don\’t have a job. There should be at least one parent with a job so you won\’t have to be relying on others to support your child. Taking care of a child is hard work but it can also be very rewarding.

  • Nick M says:

    Bottom line, I\’ve worked with these guys before and they are great. Lawyers have a terrible reputation, and let\’s be honest, some deserve it, but these guys are straight up and honest. There\’s power in integrity and I would say they have it on their side.

  • Jess M says:

    It\’s good to get the best legal or financial advice when it comes to divorces and settlements, even if it means spending more – don\’t try to save money when it comes to this, a good team will be worth it!

  • Rebecca Gager says:

    I would not trust anyone else. I knew my family was in the best hands.

    • Reky says:

      If the parents can\’t be tetogher, which is the best for the child if it\’s a healthy relationship, then the next best thing is for the parents to have a good working relationship in which the child sees the parents communicating in healthy and respectful ways. The worst thing you can do to your child is talk about or treat their other parent rudely and disrespectfully.

  • Scott says:

    What a great post! I am an attorney who has dabbled in family law (mostly pro bono) and I know enough to say that it is crucial to have an experienced attorney whose practice is focused on these issues. For that reason, I highly recommend Hailey and Intermountain Legal to anyone who is facing a divorce or other domestic law issue.

    • Ani says:

      It is frustrating and uuntronfate because it is more difficult for a dad to bond with a child than mom because they didn\’t go through the hormonal changes and carry that child for 9 months. Not to say they shouldn\’t take responsibility he definitely should because as you stated, it takes 2 to tango and make a baby

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