Getting a divorce isn’t just an emotional roller coaster, it’s also an event likely to have unintended consequences that reverberate throughout you and your children’s lives.
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What’s more, it’s big business, according to Vikki Ziegler, a divorce attorney and host of Bravo’s new show, Untying the Knot. “It’s estimated to be a billion-dollar a year industry when you include experts, counseling, life insurance, real estate issues, lawyers and the like. It’s an expensive proposition that can financially ruin litigants.” If you take it all the way to divorce court, couples can spend $20,000 to $2 to $3 million. You can keep the costs low by using a mediator to help you negotiate a fair settlement. Ziegler recommends using a retired judge or attorney both of you can trust to help settle all the issues.
And, so much hangs in the balance: All of a couples assets, custody of their children. Who gets the house? Divorce attorneys say huge legal battles have been waged over who gets the dog. For that reason, you’ll want to try to take the emotion out of the proceedings and carefully tally what the two of you own and what you spend. Cases turn on who has the best documentation of these details.
Raoul Felder, a celebrity attorney known for his aggressive style in the courtroom, says cool-headed analysis is the key to getting what you want. “The thing that always seems so odd is that both the husband and the wife do not recognize that a divorce may be the biggest business deal either of them ever makes in their lives. If a successful businessman is buying or selling a subsidiary, he will go into long consultations, look at the charts, have meetings with his colleagues, employees and financial people. In a divorce, frequently, he will act out of anger or passion, and will make a life-altering decision in the blink of an eye.”
The economy’s recovery has many experts predicting the country is in for a rise in divorces as couples conclude they can afford to call it quits. But the reality is this: You thought the divorce was expensive? Wait till you see what it costs to live apart! Maintaining two households, one for the husband and the other for the wife and kids, may not be twice as expensive as maintaining a single household, but very nearly so. The high cost of living apart will impact your ability to save for your child’s college education, even your own retirement. (And, I’m not even talking about the emotional costs that result.) The consequences of divorce are enormous for families and continue for decades to come.