Every couple who decides to marry runs some risk of divorce in the future. The only way to definitively avoid divorce is to remain single, but plenty of people are willing to take their chances.
Among the many unintended consequences of divorce is the toll it can take on a couple’s finances. Of divorced women, 46 percent reported in an online survey that divorce brought with it financial surprises. Those included having no idea how much the household carried in debt, such as mortgages, auto loans, 401(k) loans, student loans and credit cards. Many assumed their child support and/or alimony would be more substantial or last longer; that they would be able to keep the family home; or that they wouldn’t have to return to the workforce.
As for the cost of actually filing for divorce, here are some averages from a nationwide survey by legal site Nolo.com:
· $250 per hour for a divorce attorney
· $6,000 to $7,000 for divorce mediation
· $175 to $700 for legal document preparation (for an uncontested divorce)
· $200 to $500 for online divorce services (paperwork assistance without court filing)
· $12,800 average spent on divorce per couple
While it’s always advisable to have legal assistance during a divorce, that’s not the only advice you should seek. Both spouses should work with a financial professional to understand the combined household assets. It’s important to consider things like withdrawal accessibility, tax liabilities and early withdrawal penalties. Also, it’s best to view finances from a “big picture” point of view instead of a single asset at a time, including insurance resources. Let us know if we can help you with any questions you might have about your insurance policies.
Of course, the best way to avoid the expense and hassle of divorce is not to get one. Recent studies have revealed some interesting statistics related to marriages that end in divorce, which couples may wish to consider when planning their nuptials.
For example, statistician Nathan Yau tracked divorce rates by profession, using U.S. Census data, and found that people in certain professions have a greater likelihood of divorcing, while others are less likely to end up there. Actuaries are the least likely to get a divorce -- presumably because of their experience predicting risk and managing uncertainty -- according to Yau’s analysis. Other professions with lower divorce rates include scientists, clergy, software developers and physical therapists. Professions with the highest divorce rates include casino managers, bartenders and flight attendants.
Another study found that couples can reduce their chances of divorce in the wedding planning phase. For instance, a marriage has the best chance of lasting when the couple:
· Spends less money on the engagement ring (less than $2,000)
· Spends less money on the wedding – weddings costing less than $1,000 have a better chance than those costing more than $20,000
· Goes on a honeymoon
· Does not let their partner’s physical appearance factor into their decision to marry
Interestingly, more divorces are filed in March and August than any other months. Some theorize that couples don’t want to spoil the holiday season or summer vacation by announcing their intentions. Besides, some couples believe that spending more family time together during those holidays may help save the marriage.
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Raymond C. Lantz, Jr. is the president and founder of USA Wealth Group, Inc. Ray has many years of experience advising clients in retirement and sophisticated tax planning strategies, multi-family and commercial real estate projects, and legacy planning. Ray is a graduate of Clark University, holds a law degree from Boston College, and a master of laws in taxation from Boston University. You can hear him every Sunday on Money Wise with Ray Lantz on WBSM 1420AM or on the Radio Pup app.