There are a lot of different approaches to divorce — probably as many as there are divorcing couples. In the past 10 years or so, though, the trend has been toward more “civilized” splits. Celebrities may not go the collaborative route very often, but more couples are negotiating instead of litigating, especially if there are questions about custody and visitation or if they have a basic idea of how the division of assets should be handled.
More than a few couples in Orange County know that out-and-out hostility can stall the proceedings, but some exes are now admitting that being too generous can lead to just as many headaches, just later in the game. The “Chip and Dale” divorce — you first; no you; really, I insist — can end up costing more financially and emotionally.
For example, when one woman’s husband came out of the closet, the couple decided to divorce. The hitch came when her husband lost his job. Soon, bankruptcy and foreclosure were added to his plate. He asked if the divorce could be postponed until after he’d found a new job. She would benefit in the end, because his higher income would translate into more money for alimony and child support.
The divorce eventually went through, but the woman gave a little more. She agreed to only three years of alimony, instead of the five years allowed in her state (California has no such time limit). She figured it would take her three years to finish her degree and get started in a teaching job. Those two years she gave up represented $30,000 in alimony.
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment took about a year, a year during which she did not attend school and did not work. Had her ex not been willing to help, she and her three kids would have ended up living off the $2,000 per month child support payments.
The lesson? Work with a divorce attorney who can help you make the tough financial decisions. The process can still be collaborative and amicable. Being nice doesn’t have to mean giving away the store.
In future posts, we’ll review a few other pitfalls that an attorney can help you avoid.
Source: Reuters, “Divorce mistakes you can make by being too nice,” Sam Mircovich, June 26, 2012