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Being firm in a divorce is better than being too nice

When married couples in St. Charles decide that it may be time for divorce, the dynamic between the divorcing individuals can vary greatly from one couple to the next.

Sometimes couples have the desire to proceed through their divorce amicably. When these couples come to the division of property and splitting up their assets and debts, they try their best to be kind to the other person out of principle or simply to avoid retaliation. Although it is convenient when divorce proceedings go smoothly, it is also important not to let an emphasis on kindliness unduly hinder one's post-divorce position.

When it comes to property division and the splitting of assets, Missouri divorce law calls for an equitable division of the property that was obtained during the marriage. However, there is a difference between "equitable" and "amicable." This does not mean that divorcing couples should be mean to each other; rather, they should deeply consider the choices they are making and even try to plan for the unexpected.

For example, one couple that decided to get divorced five years ago made some concessions to help each other out. The man agreed to wait to divorce until he had better employment so the woman would get more alimony and child support, and the woman agreed to take only three years of child support instead of the normal five years. However, after all of these agreements, the woman became ill with colon cancer. In this couple's situation, the man kindly continued to pay the woman past his required timeframe, which was a very decent thing to do. However, that is certainly not how it would turn out with all couples, and provisions should be made to protect against unexpected situations.

There are many mistakes that couples can make in divorce proceedings that leave them in a poor financial position. Some of these mistakes include:

  • Keeping the house before determining if you can afford to stay there
  • Making decisions without getting the full financial picture and impact
  • Trying to complete the process without seeking professional help
  • Not setting very clear expectations for the attorney working on the case

The moral of the story is that it can be helpful to be cordial in order to make the divorce process flow more smoothly, but it is also important to keep your eyes open to the necessary decisions and the impact they may have in the long run.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce mistakes you can make by being too nice," Geoff Williams, June 26, 2012

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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