Sunday, August 09, 2015

Evening out the inequalities, Separating the assets

This is the third post in a series of posts about divorce, covering a variety of topics and including a series of advice which in hindsight seems obvious, but before going through the process, seems very essential.

In deciding what the best way to even the equalities out, I found that I needed to decide first where my feelings were about the other person. In my case, the soon-to-be ex still held a place in my heart, something which has undoubtedly diminished over time. But at the moment in time when the decisions of divorce are taking place it is impossible to know the future. So, I would strongly recommend that you consider your feelings toward this other person and other people affected.

Separately, you should examine any morals or principles that you have to honor when you are going through the process. For me, I shared everything, I literally wanted to give my whole life to someone else. And that was something that I cannot even begin to explain in words, so this moral idea seemed no big shock to me; because it was an additional layer of treating others the way I want to be treated. I always knew that I needed to treat others better than I was being treated; this was how I thought about the world.

Once you have a grasp of your morals, principles, and feelings, you can really begin to go through the process of evaluating assets. For me this was quite simple: all assets are either owned already OR are some future income stream (like income expected from working). In court, frequently people talk about spousal support/alimony/etc and I find that this is something that is painful and difficult. I didn't want to be involved in anything that left a tether between me and my ex. For you to move on emotionally, separation and space are important catalysts along with time for emotions and issues to be ironed out.

In my case, I divided the assets we had by value and understood what was the most valuable for each of us. Considering the likely lifestyle going forward, it became easy to manage the process around dividing the existing assets. Some people have large amounts of equity in real estate. These kinds of situations are very difficult because they often require the sale of the real estate to free up the capital. In my case I was able to offset retirement account balances against real estate to be able to proceed forward with minimal effort.

In terms of ongoing payments against future income, like Alimony or Spousal support, I would strongly recommend that the money be paid in full up front rather than over time. The biggest factor in this kind of decision is ability to pay, but in the case of up front payments, this avoids creating a debt into the future which is an additional burden to carry from the divorce which is unadvisable in my opinion.

The biggest aspect of the divorce from the legal standpoint is the division of property, but for survival, it can often be emotional health and well-being. To maintain emotional health, it is important to make the asset separtion efficient. Going back and reviewing this multiple times is not usually helpful; a simple spreadsheet will do. And avoiding ongoing payments of any kind is a good option in my experience.

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