Money is one of the most common causes of divorce. Some studies show it as the number one cause. When a couple has different values regarding money, or when one or both partners make poor choices with their money, serious marital stress results, and this stress can flow into the divorce process and continue to be a problem after divorce.

Before divorce

Not surprisingly, most couples who divorce over money issues do not keep a budget. When there is no clear understanding of how much money is coming in and where it is going, there will be more disagreements. Overspending and credit card debt are major issues in divorce, often because one spouse spends more than the other. This is because the partners have different views about money.

This often leads to “financial infidelity” – keeping secrets from the other partner about how money was spent or on what, which naturally causes arguments and resentment when the secrets are discovered.

Financial infidelity is much more common when couples keep separate finances. Couples who keep joint finances are less likely to divorce over money and are also less likely to experience financial cheating. Couples with separate finances often know little about each other’s financial choices, often not even knowing their partner’s salary.

Spouses might keep separate accounts so they can have control over their “own” money. If they have different views about the use of money, a spouse might keep a separate account just to keep the other partner from “wasting” his or her “own” money. The problem with this view is that in marriage and in divorce, money is communal. It affects the whole household and is meant to support the whole household. Thus, hiding financial information from a spouse can cause serious distrust and strain on the relationship.

During divorce

If you fought about money while you were married, this will certainly spill into the divorce. That is why it is so important to have a divorce lawyer act as an experienced third party who can help you navigate the difficult waters of divorce.

During a divorce, you will be dividing your property and assets as well as your debts. The first thing to do is to cancel all joint credit card accounts and open separate ones. The debt on those closed accounts will become part of the divorce process, but by canceling joint accounts you can avoid any future debt that your spouse incurs being applied to you.

If financial infidelity has happened during marriage, expect that it will continue. Sometimes a spouse tries to spend money in order to draw down the joint assets (this is called dissipation). An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to recognize this. You may also need to contract the services of a forensic accountant who is an expert in going through finances and finding fraud or hidden money. Your lawyer should be able to recommend someone.

Tax changes, pension and retirement plan issues, life insurance, and costs of ongoing child support will all be important issues to discuss with your lawyer.

After divorce

If you did not do it during the divorce, as soon as possible afterward change your beneficiary information. Also make sure you close other joint accounts, like iTunes, streaming services, frequent flyers, etc. This article lists some other common steps to take.

If your money habits and attitudes contributed to the divorce, you may need to examine them. Recognize any bad habits in the use of money that need to change, and create a budget. Refrain from major purchases for some time after divorce. This gives you time to judge the situation and make decisions that are not emotionally charged. This also includes avoiding spending sprees.

When money issues fuel a divorce, it is important to obtain expert guidance so you avoid making decisions that will negatively impact you and your children in the future. Talk to one of our experts to see what we can do to help you through your divorce.

In any parenting, the stakes are high. But after divorce, they’re even higher. Creating a healthy co-parenting arrangement is crucial for helping your children to grow into emotionally healthy, confident adults. Co-parenting well is difficult, but for the sake of the children, it needs to be done.

If you and your ex don’t have a comfortable personal relationship, you should both try to think of it as a business relationship instead. Treat your co-parent like a colleague, communicate respectfully and create agreements that you keep. And ask yourself: Would I trash talk my colleague to other people? Would I blow off a meeting or be purposely late? If you wouldn’t do it to a team member at work, don’t do it to your team member in parenting. The danger of bad behavior at work is poor job performance or job loss. The danger of bad behavior in parenting is emotionally damaged children or loss of parenting rights.

Here are some important steps to healthy co-parenting.

  • The right attitude will make all the other steps of co-parenting easier, and that is to have an attitude of empathy. Try to put yourself in your children’s shoes and in your ex’s shoes. How do they feel? How would you want to be treated if you were in their position? Try to act accordingly.
  • Maintain an open dialogue, sharing the children’s schedules and important information. There are websites designed for this. Be sure to keep your co-parent informed of important news, both positive and not-so-positive (like an A on a big test as well as being sent to the principal’s office). That way you can both congratulate your child or help guide him or her into healthier choices.
  • Be flexible. If a big event comes up and your ex wants to take your kids to it, let them go. It will build positive memories for them while also building positive relationships between their parents, which can only be good for them.
  • Have some agreed-upon rules that apply at both houses: bedtime, chores, homework, internet use, manners. Knowing they have the same expectations at both Mom’s and Dad’s place gives your children a sense of consistency, stability, and security. Kids will always try to test boundaries. But it’s important to stay firm on these agreed-upon rules. Allow each parent to have other rules about less crucial things. Recognize people have different parenting styles and respect them. If no serious harm is done, let it go.
  • One rule should be no trash-talking the other parent – that goes for both you and the kids. Focus on the positive traits your ex has, speak to your children about them and think about them yourself to improve your feelings when you have to communicate about parenting.
  • Resist fighting or speaking rudely to each other in front of the children. Conflict between parents creates a sense of helplessness and insecurity in children, increasing the incidence of drug abuse and other unhealthy comfort-seeking behaviors. This example of conflict can also cause future problems in their own personal relationships, and anxiety can suppress the immune system, increasing illness.
  • Avoid being the “Fun Dad” or the “Cool Mom.” Kids need calm, quiet downtime with their non-custodial parents, too. And having a marked imbalance between parents increases a child’s dissatisfaction and insecurity and creates problems for the not-so-fun parent.
  • Agree to roles played by extended family members. They love the children, too, and are also affected by the divorce.
  • Get together regularly for family meetings about parenting decisions. You can include the children, but also have regular meetings yourselves. Update your agreements every year or two to make sure they are current and appropriate as the children grow.
  • When exchanging children for time with the non-custodial parent, have a short, pleasant goodbye so the children get a positive feeling about their visit. Don’t call unnecessarily and take time away from their other parent.

Following these steps may be difficult at first, but remembering that the goal is to help your children thrive should help it become easier in time. And that will be a win for everyone.