MAKE 2010 YOUR YEAR OF FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT
In today’s society, our dismal national economy keeps financial issues at the forefront of our minds. The media inundates us with daily financial woes. Job losses, the gloomy housing market and reduced home values, stock market crashes, significantly reduced retirement funds, health care costs and other economic issues have hit most of us hard. Rather than being indifferent or distressed about this financial reality, now is a great time to take charge of your financial situation. Knowledge can empower you to understand not only today’s reality, but can help to guide you in making more informed decisions about your financial future as well as the financial future of your family.
These economic realities transcend into divorce matters as well. Surprisingly, in most cases, one spouse has little to no knowledge of the financial state of affairs of the family. This financial ignorance creates problems which vary from family to family. Certain assumptions are sometimes made by a spouse when he or she lacks knowledge about the family’s finances, and as a result, the realities of their true financial situation can be devastating. These unexpected issues oftentimes cause unnecessary heartache which could have been avoided or at least curtailed with more information.
This New Year brings an opportunity for a fresh start and a new plan of action. If you are a spouse that lacks the knowledge of your family’s financial situation, take the initiative to learn more and start participating in the decision making process. Start today by creating a worksheet of the family assets and liabilities. If you are unsure of certain information, embark on a journey to discover the missing pieces. Once you get a handle on these assets and liabilities, determine your family’s available monthly income and gage how effectively that income correlates with your standard of living. The reality may be a little shocking, but understanding your finances and getting a handle on your family’s income to debt ratio is critical to your future.
If you have already made the decision to seek legal counsel regarding a potential divorce, the divorce process itself provides tools which help one gain the necessary information to secure the answers to pressing financial questions. This process is aptly known as “Discovery”. The Discovery process in a divorce action essentially provides each litigant with the right to ask financial questions, seek documents from a spouse, banking institutions, mortgage lenders, or any other relevant financial source so that all parties may gain full knowledge of the family’s financial landscape. If you are a spouse that is not knowledgeable about your finances and struggling to obtain the information on your own or thru your spouse, our Family Law Group can and will use the Discovery process and any other legal tools necessary to ensure that a diligent search is performed for the data that will guarantee that you have a full understanding of your family’s financial reality.
We recognize that for some, financial ignorance is a type of denial that evolves over time due to a spouse’s indifference or lack of diligence relating to family finances, but for some, financial ignorance is the result of abuse. In some cases, a spouse may restrict the other’s ability to spend money and force a person to live on a nominal allowance. One spouse may find themselves answering to the other spouse for any monies that are spent. One spouse may have no access to the checkbook or credit cards. In many circumstances, the spouse controlling the family finances is purposefully keeping the other spouse in the dark about financial matters, especially in cases where a breakdown has occurred in the marriage and divorce or separation is a possibility. In other, more drastic cases of financial abuse, the spouse that controls the finances will threaten to “take everything” when there is a threat of separation or divorce. To the financially abused, these threats are frightening, but from a legal perspective, they are baseless.
If you are considering separation or divorce and can relate to this situation, we can help. You have many legal options, and those options go beyond choosing between staying with an abusive spouse to ensure that you are provided with money to live, or leaving your abusive spouse with empty pockets. We can help you gain the strength necessary to eventually break financial and emotional ties with an abusive spouse and move on with your life. Our team will help guide you to self-sufficiency so that you can channel your energies into achieving happiness, stability and empowerment in this new stage of your life.
This New Year we encourage you to take action and confront these financial issues head on. Contact us today to explore your options and develop a plan of action.
“Change starts when someone sees the next step.” William Drayton
This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.