Did Money Cause Us to Part:
Divorce and Money
By Dr. Bernice Wilson, Resource
of family relationships often depends upon how well families
think through money management strategies in the home. By talking
about money, family members should understand how financially
stable the family really is. Attitudes about money have a value
foundation base that helps to guide family thoughts and ideas
about money. Too often money discussions relating to family financial
stability seldom or never becomes an agenda item during family
discussions. Spending and saving decisions affect the entire
family, so talking about them would help each family member to
better understand the family's money concerns. Moreover, many
families do not hold family meetings, which could greatly impact
Approximately 50 percent of marriages
in the United States (US) end up in divorce. Statistics indicate
that "Alabama has the sixth highest divorce rate in the
United States," (Divorce in Alabama, p.1). Research also
supports that "that second marriages are less idealized,
more complex, and suffer more resistance to becoming 'we',"
(Stanley and Kurdex, 2005, p.3.) Such factors increase support
the well known fact that money is often the root of marital problems.
"The divorce rate is an alarming 51%, meaning one out of
every two marriages ends in divorce. Of those divorces, nearly
80% cited financial problems as the leading cause of the marital
demise," (Carr, 2003, p.10).
Divorce is an emotional time during a
marriage---a time when sound decisions must be made while under
stress and disruptions. Too often divorces cause bankruptcies
and bankruptcy filing has become more stringent than in the past.
Nevertheless, a divorce alone is reason to seek financial help
when a marriage ends. Here are some helpful hints for families
facing a divorce:
- Know how much money comes into the household,
and how much income is available to the family.
- Develop a spending plan that can help
relieve stress and serve as flexible guideline. However, once
the plan is in place stick to it.
- Families should practice the pay yourself
first rule. Save some money for emergencies.
"The high degree of stress associated
with being financially bound is the core reason why financial
problems are the leading cause of divorces," (Carr, 2003,
p.10). He recommends that families should develop a plan for
The Financial Planning Association (2007)
recommends the following to avoid money disasters during a divorce:
Establish a Budget
You want to start your new life out on the right foot. Seek the
advice of a financial advisor if necessary.
Seek the advice of a seasoned divorce
These professionals should be
able to assist with qualified domestic relations orders to make
sure that such financial assets as pensions are divided equally
Make sure you place proper values
on all assets
Consider home repairs and other
investments, including whether your spouse owned and operated
a business where you invested your time and talent.
Consider the rights of your children
Some states consider the rights
of children in college in regard to money for college expenses.
Be sure to research divorce laws as they apply to child support.
Be aware of how you file taxes
You may want to consult with
a tax attorney when filing jointly or separately during a the
final year prior to divorce.
Record child support payments
You may want to use the state's
child support system to carefully document when and how you pay
in child support.
Continue budgeting after divorce
Even after a divorce, creating
or maintaining a budget is wise.
Even when spouses divorce, it's still
wise to aware of your family spending habits to avoid potential
Carr, Damon. (November 24, 2003). Until
"debt" do us part: Don't let money destroy your marriage.
The Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Retrieved May 21, 2004.
Carr, Damon. (2007). Who am I and why should you listen to me. ACE Financial.
Retrieved June 6, 2007.
Financial Planning Association. (Ed.).
(2007, January). The
biggest financial mistakes people make in divorce and how
to help your clients avoid them. AFCPE the Standard Financial
Counseling Planning Education, 25 (1), 4-5.
Futris, T. G., Adler-Baeder, F., Dean,
K., and McFadyen, J. M. (2005, May, Vol. 10, No. 1). Best
practices for couples education: Summary of a dialogue between
researchers and educators. The Forum for Family and Consumer
Issues. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
Divorce Statistics Collection. New report
divorce in Alabama. (June 1, 2006). Retrieved June 6,
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