Financial tips for San Francisco and Bay Area couples going through divorce

California has a reputation for being an expensive place to obtain a divorce. The true cost of a divorce does not come from filing fees or even attorney's fees. Rather, a divorce involves long-term financial planning and mistakes made during the divorce process can lead to significant financial consequences in the future. Saving money and protecting financial assets in a divorce depends on the circumstances of the couple in each case and the goals and security issues of the parties involved.

Working early with an experienced attorney early to establish financial goals is extremely important. For example, clients who want to lower the overall cost of divorce can attempt a pre-divorce settlement in lieu of an aggressive contested divorce. On the other hand, if one party to the divorce is hiding assets, does not wish to divide assets fairly, or refuses to agree to proper spousal or child support, then a contested divorce may be financially wise in the long-term. There are certainly ways to reduce the costs of divorce, but trying to lower the initial cost of divorce proceedings should not come at the expense of future financial wellbeing.

Financial planning is essential

A marriage is, among other things, a financial partnership. When terminating a marriage, it makes sense to view it from a business perspective. While it is understandably difficult to separate emotions from practical financial considerations, this is an integral part of the divorce process.

A key part of the financial planning involved in a divorce is understanding both immediate and long-term financial needs of spouses. In the short term, assets like stocks, bonds, and savings can provide liquid assets to get through the initial divorce period. For the long-term, retirement accounts and long-term investments must be addressed. It is also important to take debts into account. Depending on the type of debt, the parties to a divorce may be jointly or individually responsible for mortgages, credit cards, and other debts. Deciding who will be responsible for paying debts and obligations is as important as dividing assets.

Finally, it is important to consider the need for spousal support. Each party to the divorce has the right, if possible, to be in a reasonably similar financial position post-divorce as they enjoyed during the marriage. Spousal support is often the best way to accomplish this goal.

Contact an experienced family law attorney

A divorce can be overwhelming. The overall cost and stress of divorce can make it tempting to agree to anything to reduce initial costs and get the divorce over with. A divorce is an important financial event, however, that must be approached with preparation and thoughtfulness.

Attorney Barry Schneider is an experienced family law attorney and divorce negotiator who can help clients in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area understand their rights and options in reducing the cost of divorce without harming their future financial security.

Keywords: Divorce, spousal support, property division, financial planning.