I was married once, and while it didn’t kill me, it did require stitches. When I got married many years ago, my former spouse got half my assets. When we got divorced, she got the other half. A divorce is like an amputation: You survive it, but there’s less of you.
The sad truth is that more than one in two marriages will end in divorce. Almost three out of four second (or third) marriages will not survive in today’s world. And when the time comes for the dissolution of a holy union, divorce is a game played by lawyers where everything human is reduced to cash.
In Chinese culture, the number eight is considered a “lucky” number because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for building wealth. Divorce should be considered the exact opposite of wealth building. Following are the eight things a divorce attorney won’t likely tell when you are going into the dissolution battle:
1. The cost will be higher than the original advertised rate or your initial retainer. The recession has caused the divorce rate to skyrocket. Your client can expect to pay between $15,000 and $30,000 before they’re finally paroled from their civil sentence. There is no such thing as a “discount divorce” or a cheap divorce attorney.
2. Lack of financial savvy will cost you. You, the advisor, can assist with understanding the client’s investments and assets. Forensic analysis of bank statements, retirement plans and investment accounts will be likely.
3. Lawyers will want you to settle. Divorce attorneys really do not want to “fight” their peers or argue with judges. Most financial settlement boundaries are pretty much cut and dried. If your client persists in arguing with the soon-to-be ex-spouse, he or she will pony up legal fees with little to show for the added expense.
4. Income will plummet during and after the process. Money (or the lack of it) is the leading cause of divorce. The added distraction of the divorce reduces productivity and income. Your client can count on potentially having to tap into IRAs or retirement accounts to stay afloat while the divorce is pending. Living expenses will skyrocket during this time, too; paying for two households will bring this reality into focus quickly.
5. Poverty post-divorce is not unlikely. Households with children who remain unmarried for at least six years will realize a 40–45 percent average decline in family income (according to the National Bureau of Economic Research), and divorced mothers are three times more likely than married mothers to end up literally in poverty (according to 2011 study by the Family Research Council).