How To Financially Survive Your Divorce
You were in love. You thought it would never end. Your marriage was going to last forever.
Now, you’re not so sure. Things aren’t good. You fear that a divorce is in your future.
You may wonder: How can I financially survive a divorce?
Through the years, I’ve helped many people just like you survive their divorces and build solid financial foundations for their lives after their divorces. I would like to do the same thing for you.
Here are 5 financial keys to surviving your South Carolina divorce:
(1) Face Reality
If you’re reading this, you know your marriage is in trouble. You may not want a divorce, but you know that a divorce could be in your near future. Realistically, you have two choices, if you are unable to save your marriage:
- Continue in denial and do nothing; or
- Face reality and develop a divorce financial survival plan.
If you choose denial and procrastination, it could ultimately cost you tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of dollars. If you face reality and develop a divorce financial survival plan now, you can avoid expensive mistakes.
Call now for immediate help or use the contact form to ask a question.
(2) Consult with an Experienced Mount Pleasant Divorce Lawyer
Divorce involves the entire financial side of your life. It is complex, sometimes tedious, and emotionally draining.
South Carolina’s divorce laws are not the same as the divorce laws of other states. There are significant differences. For example, South Carolina is not a community property state, where a judge would be obligated to split the marital estates 50-50. Your divorce judge could award your spouse much more of the marital property than you would get. This is particularly true if the judge finds that you were the cause of the marriage ending. Likewise, South Carolina divorce judges are more likely to order the payment of large amounts of alimony for longer periods of time. Further, South Carolina’s divorce laws change frequently, as do the tax consequences of divorce. You need professional help.
In a South Carolina divorce, you will be quickly thrust into an unfamiliar arena. A divorce judge could take away your house, your business, your investments, your cars, much of your income, your retirement plans, and your financial future.
You may be saddled with substantial, long-term financial obligations to pay alimony and child support in amounts that may surprise you. You may also be required to pay private school and college expenses, health insurance for your children, and attorney’s fees for your spouse. Your high value assets may disappear in forced sales in exchange for you keeping your business or retirement accounts. Your spouse’s expert witness may persuade your divorce judge that your assets should be valued much higher than their real market value. To make matters worse, your spouse may already be in the process of concealing income and assets. As a result, you could end up being “cleaned out” financially.
What should you do? Take control of your future. Protect yourself. Hire a divorce attorney who can advise you on the steps to take now in the event that you subsequently end up in a divorce.
Your financial situation is unique. There are certain steps that you can and should take to protect your income, business, and high value assets. Several of those steps are outlined in general terms below. However, you cannot and should not depend solely on this general outline to make the major financial decisions that will affect the rest of your life.
You should discuss your specific situation in detail with a Mount Pleasant divorce lawyer. Call me now or schedule an appointment.
Working together, we will develop a specific plan for you to financially survive your divorce and build a better life beyond.
(3) Enter Into an Antenuptial Agreement
You may wonder: What is an “antenuptial agreement?”
Here is a simple answer. An “antenuptial agreement” is the same thing as a “prenuptial agreement” with one very significant difference. An antenuptial agreement is made after a couple marries. A prenuptial agreement is made before a couple marries.
An antenuptial agreement is an enforceable contract between a husband and wife. In your antenuptial agreement, you can insert virtually any provisions that you may want. For example, you can agree in an antenuptial agreement – just as you could have done with a prenuptial agreement – on who will get the marital home, your business, your retirement accounts, other marital property, and marital debts, if there is ever a divorce. By entering into an antenuptial agreement now, you can greatly simplify the divorce process, reduce the time to get divorced, lessen the emotional anguish, and limit your legal fees from lengthy litigation of a high asset value divorce.
Entering into an antenuptial agreement may have one significant, unanticipated consequence – it may save your marriage. An antenuptial agreement can reduce marital financial stresses and resolve lingering financial issues that have come between your spouse and you.
If you are wondering how you will persuade your spouse to sign an antenuptial agreement, call me to discuss why an antenuptial agreement may appeal to both of you.
(4) Assume the Worst and Protect Yourself.
Your spouse may have already consulted a Mount Pleasant divorce lawyer. They may be preparing to serve you with divorce papers. Under South Carolina divorce law, you could find yourself in divorce court temporary orders hearing within five days from now.
Why could a possible temporary orders hearing cause your concern now? Good question.
At a South Carolina temporary orders hearing, the divorce judge will make major financial decisions that will control your life until your divorce becomes final. Here are a few of the actions that the divorce judge could take at your temporary orders divorce hearing:
- Order you out of your house and require you to continue paying the mortgage.
- Order you to pay a large amount of monthly alimony to your spouse.
- Give your spouse control of your better vehicles, boat, and RV and give you the bills.
- Freeze your assets and limit your ability to pay a retainer to a top-ranked divorce lawyer to represent you.
- Require you to pay the family credit cards and other bills.
- Order you to pay a large amount of child support.
- And more . . .
What could be worse? You will not be allowed to testify at your temporary orders hearing. No one will testify at this hearing, which may last as short as 15 minutes. Instead, the divorce judge will make financial decisions for you based solely on financial papers filed with the divorce court and brief arguments from the divorce attorneys.
You should anticipate that this stark proceeding will occur – and plan for it. Experienced Mt. Pleasant divorce lawyers call it “financial ambush.” But, it doesn’t have to end badly for you.
You should protect yourself now. Collect, organize, and copy all of your financial documents now. Include your business and personal tax returns, bills, statements for investment, bank, retirement, credit card, mortgage, and other accounts, insurance policies, appraisals and other indicators of the value of your home, business, and other high value assets, current pay statements and income histories (for your spouse and you), and every other financial record that may be relevant.
Next, download and complete your South Carolina divorce financial declaration form. [You can download the financial declaration form here.]
Your divorce financial declaration form will become the most important financial document in your divorce. You should devote a lot of time working on your financial declaration form. You will need the help of your divorce lawyer and, possibly, a forensic C.P.A. to present your financial story in the light most favorable to you.
Remember: You may have to present this financial information to a judge just five days from now. Don’t delay. Schedule an appointment with me today.
(5) Act Now for a Better Tomorrow.
Even if you are confident that a divorce is not in your immediate future, you should take certain steps now to prepare for the possibility of a divorce happening unexpectedly at some future date. Here are some relatively simple but crucial steps that you should take now:
- Prepare your South Carolina financial declaration form (download here). You never know when you may need it.
- Create paper and computerized files of all of your critical financial documents. Store copies of all of your receipts for the purchase of major financial assets, tax returns, bills, appraisals, deeds, financing documents and mortgages, and account statements of every kind. At a minimum, these financial records will be immediately available to your divorce attorney and you if your spouse unexpectedly files for a divorce and you are faced by the prospect of a temporary orders hearing in five days.
- Establish a separate bank account in your name only. Although you will have to disclose these funds as part of your divorce, they will be immediately available to you when you need them to hire an attorney and to make it through the tough times until your divorce becomes final.
- Apply for credit in your name only. You need to start building an individual credit history if you do not have one already.
- Decide which of your high value assets you would like to keep and which you are willing to give up.
- Educate yourself on South Carolina divorce law. Read my South Carolina Divorce Guide and blog for helpful information on other important divorce topics. Learn how a divorce judge may divide marital property in your divorce, when alimony may be awarded, and what you may have to pay for child support.
- Establish a relationship today with a Mt. Pleasant divorce lawyer. You never know for sure when you may need help.
Call now or use the contact form to schedule an appointment with me.
You have devoted many years to acquiring assets, buying a home, building a business, and establishing yourself financially. You could lose much or all of that in a contentious divorce.
Fortunately, it does not have to be that way. Start today by putting these general principles into practice. Call me to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can financially survive your South Carolina divorce.
Recommendations for Additional Reading
How Is Property Divided in a Charleston Divorce?
Protecting Your Assets In Your Charleston Divorce
SC Divorce Guide: How To Avoid Common Mistakes In a Charleston Divorce