Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

The past won't help in a divorce -- look to the future instead

When a marriage ends, emotions are often running high since the parties tend to focus on the past. If New Jersey residents are not careful, those emotions could end up controlling how the divorce proceedings go. The focus of any divorce should be structuring a future that allows for some financial security.

This means understanding the current state of the marital finances and looking at what it will take to live comfortably after the divorce. The assets and incomes that used to support only one household now have to support two, at least in the beginning. This means that a realistic post-divorce budget is needed prior to entering into settlement negotiations.

Many New Jersey residents want to keep the marital home after the divorce but often do not take a realistic look at what that means. Creating a budget usually makes it clear whether doing so is even feasible. The budget can also reveal whether alimony is needed in order to make ends meet.

The parties need to have an idea of what they want, what they are willing to give up and what they will not compromise on before sitting down at the negotiation table. Once each of them has completed this process, settlement negotiations can begin. Getting to this point often requires each party to put aside their emotions and feelings for the other party in order to gain perspective and focus on what he or she needs, not how to "punish" the other party. Working out a settlement without court intervention could save time and money that each party needs in order to move forward.

Representation is another crucial component in any divorce. Understanding how the process works, what a court might rule and what the legal options are influences how each party enters the process. An attorney can also help keep the proceedings on track toward creating a settlement agreement that will serve his or her client in the future instead of allowing the process to degrade into a contentious courtroom battle in which no one comes away satisfied with the results.

Source: CNBC, "Headed for divorce court? Here are your top 5 financial musts", Andrew Osterland, Dec. 22, 2016

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