Why do many marriages end in divorce? The answer may not be what you think.
In family law, it’s one of the questions we hear all the time: “What’s the most common reason people get divorced?”
People assume an affair is often to blame for breaking up a marriage. However, many divorce lawyers who have handled all types of family law cases say infidelity typically is a symptom of fundamental problems in a relationship.
Adultery certainly can trigger a divorce, but in some of the cases we see at Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle, individuals may seek comfort outside the marriage when a spouse’s needs are not being met within the marriage and stress widens cracks in the foundation of a relationship.
Those needs and stresses often involve money. When two people have diverging views on money or are not on the same page with their financial plans, conflicts can arise and the differences may be insurmountable. A study of the National Survey of Families and Households found that arguments about money are by far the top predictor of divorce, and they happen at all income levels, no matter a couple’s net worth.
Here are three common situations where money can cause a rift in a marriage:
Spending versus Saving: One spouse may be focused on the present and living life to the fullest, while the other spouse is concerned with putting money away for retirement or providing for the next generation. Life is unpredictable and can get expensive. A couple may not be prepared for the unexpected because they are living beyond their means. When financial matters are irreconcilable, an experienced lawyer will help a party understand their income and expenses, determine an appropriate amount of support, if applicable, and advise on an equitable division of the marital estate.
Dealing with Dishonesty: Secrets in a marriage are often destructive. When couples are not honest about their finances, they may be unaware that they are in financial trouble. A national survey found that 40 percent of Americans ages 25 to 55 in committed relationships agree that honesty about finances is more important than honesty about fidelity, but 29 percent admit that they have withheld information from their spouse or partner regarding their spending. Our team helps a party discover and identify marital assets, and if necessary, engages a forensic accountant to sort out a complicated financial picture.
Changing Roles and Raising Children. Children are a blessing. They also can be a financial burden. One spouse may have planned to be a stay-at-home parent while the other is the primary earner, but family finances may make that impossible. A person may marry someone anticipating that he or she is going to be able to earn a certain amount that doesn’t materialize. People may lose their job or embark on different career paths. When life happens and situations change, stress weighs on the marriage.
In divorce cases where we represent the primary earner, we advise on how much child or spousal support should be paid, while also ensuring that our client’s assets and income going forward are protected. For a stay-at-home parent who may not fully understand the family finances, we make sure he or she receives sufficient support to cover the client’s and children’s needs.
At Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle, we handle a wide range of cases, with a focus on complex custody and high-asset litigation. We are very familiar with financial issues in marriages, and provide counsel before, during, and after the divorce process to meet all our clients’ needs. Following the divorce, we direct clients to the right financial professionals for advice. For example, when a party in a divorce suddenly gets control of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, investment and retirement accounts, as well as monthly child support and alimony, we work with financial advisers and wealth managers to help that client plan for retirement, create a budget, and receive guidance on major purchases.
It is our goal to reach an amicable resolution with every case, but in the event the other side takes an unreasonable position, we’re always fully prepared to take a case to court.
If these difficult financial situations sound familiar to you, remember that you are not alone. You want an attorney who can understand your situation. Although the divorce and custody process is likely unfamiliar and scary, we are well equipped to guide you through the process.