How to Get Divorced and Survive Financially

Divorce is unquestionably one of the most disturbing experiences any human being can ever have. The ending of a marriage is tragic enough. Even more devastating is the manner in which most divorces are handled once lawyers get involved.

Divorce tends to bring out the worst in people, and the legal process of ending a marriage more often than not fuels animosity. The fallout from a poorly managed divorce can have a crushing impact on both parties and their children, which can last a lifetime.

Divorcing intelligently is about coming out intact legally, financially and emotionally. It's possible to do, by avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes that commonly occur when most people get divorced. Sadly, some of these difficulties are the result of legal advice that escalates conflict, and complicates what could otherwise be a smoother transition to settlement and a new life.

To get divorced in New York State, certain requirements must be met. If you were married in New York and lived here as husband and wife, or if the cause occurred in this State, you can get divorced as long as either party has been a resident for one year. Alternatively, these conditions are satisfied if the cause of divorce occurred in New York, and both parties are residents at the time of filing, or either has lived here for two years continuously prior to court action. Once your divorce is finalized it is valid throughout the United States.

With new legislation passed on Oct. 12, 2010, New York now has a no-fault divorce law, like most other jurisdictions in the United States. This means that a divorce can be granted when either or both parties claim that the marriage has "broken down irretrievably," and when differences are irresolvable for a minimum of six months.

You can also divorce in New York by suing your spouse on "grounds." Grounds are the reasons for divorce. In addition to the new no-fault provision, the original six grounds still stand. Of the six, one of these also avoids a claim of fault against a spouse, and that is living under a voluntary separation agreement for one year. This may still be a preferable option for couples who aren't entirely sure they're ready to divorce, and would like time to see if the relationship can be saved.

The remaining five grounds are: adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, or a prison term for one of the parties spanning three or more consecutive years after a couple is married. Suing under these grounds can obtain a faster divorce than either the new no-fault statute or a voluntary separation agreement, since there is no six-month or one-year delay.

Issues of maintenance and property division apply in every divorce. Maintenance is income you will either pay to or receive from your spouse to support the pre-divorce standard of living, and ease the transition to separate households as much as possible. Property division involves "fairly" allocating the assets you both owned through the marriage.

The principles below cover strategies for helping you obtain the best possible outcome with these issues. The emphasis is on approaching your divorce in a way that is thoughtful, non-antagonistic and negotiable. This way of proceeding has helped many people take a painful and perplexing situation and achieve a result that's financially beneficial, protects children and retains personal dignity.

These ideas are not a substitute for solid legal advice and other professional help you need to navigate the divorce process well. They are methods to discuss with an experienced matrimonial practitioner, to determine the most favorable ways to resolve your particular legal and financial challenges.

If you apply these strategies consistently, you can make your journey through divorce faster, easier and have a higher probability of getting the settlement package you want. Here they are.

The golden key to your future...

Surprisingly, it's not money. It's staying calm, and not allowing anger to derail reason. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have your feelings, just don't bring them to the negotiating table. If you can do that, the money issues will be resolved a lot more easily. You will be in a better position to get the best possible financial outcome, because you'll avoid fights that end up in the courtroom, and huge legal fees that deplete your financial future.

With good planning, you'll know exactly what to expect. You won't be caught by surprise, and can negotiate with your spouse in a calm, rational and mutually beneficial manner. This will allow both of you to move on and build healthy new lives. It's the path that leads to the best monetary outcome. Isn't that what's really in your best interests, and healthiest for your children long-term?

Think carefully about these principles. They've saved others from unnecessary heartache and pain, and can do the same for you. Your lawyer only acts on your behalf and at your direction. Your future is now in your hands.

If you need help with a divorce, custody or family law matter, or want a second opinion on your case, please call McAdams Law at 212-257-9425.