Defining Your Long-Term Goals in a Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The period of separation and divorce is an incredibly emotional and tumultuous time. Your emotions are raw and it is hard to imagine a time when life will feel normal again. Unfortunately, while your mind is distracted and your heart is compromised at the time, there are important decisions that you have to make that will have long-term consequences for your future. At New Direction Family Law, we help provide firm, compassionate guidance to our clients to help them walk toward their better futures. Part of this guidance includes the essential step of defining long-term goals. Before your initial consultation with us, think about how you would answer the following questions.

What Do You Want for Your Children?

As difficult as divorce is for parents, it can have significant, long-term emotional consequences for your children. In this formative period of their lives, they rely on you to establish their senses of self, trust, safety, and stability. While you may be angry with your spouse and want him or her to suffer, keep the children’s well being in mind. One goal to keep in mind as you make decisions during your separation and divorce is to be a reliable parent to your children. This means that if you become angry, to first consider your children before waging a social media war or a campaign of harassment against the other parent. Impulsive and abusive behavior can be considered by the court and may result in a protective order or limit your access to the children.

The key to long-term decision-making for your children should be to allow them some semblance of normalcy in their day-to-day lives, as well as to allow them access to their other parent (unless that parent is somehow unfit). Where should they live? Can they stay in the same school and near their friends? Keep this in mind when working toward your parenting plan. In addition, if you ask any friend whose parents had a contentious divorce, they will tell you how their childhoods would have been better if their parents had been healthy co-parents.

Another consideration is child support. The law obligates parents to be financially responsible for their children. It is both reasonable and realistic for a court to order a non-custodial parent to pay child support. The point of child support is to sustain the children’s standard of living, so neither parent should come into the process with an all and nothing approach. By all and nothing, we mean that the custodial parent should not be seeking all of the other parent’s money, while the non-custodial parent should not enter with an expectation that they will pay no child support.

What Would You Like to Leave the Marriage With?

While some people have the urge to begin anew by letting their spouse have everything they want in a separation agreement, we would advise you to reconsider. While it may be easy to do this, in the long run, you will regret this as impulsive. In a divorce, each spouse is legally entitled to an equitable division of marital assets. This includes who will get the family home, or how it will be divided if sold. This also includes all property acquired and earned during the marriage, such as investments and the portions of each spouse’s pensions earned during the marriage. While it may hurt to make these decisions right now, relying on an attorney to advocate for you can help you attain some financial stability and security for the future.

Do you Want to Work Again, or Attend College?

During a marriage, it is not uncommon for one spouse to forgo their higher education or career goals to maintain the household or to be the primary caretaker for the children. These sacrifices are part of why marital assets are equitably divided between spouses. However, when looking past a divorce, it is often necessary for a parent to re-enter the workforce. This is just one of many factors that courts look into when rewarding alimony payments. If you decide that you want or need to pursue higher education or training in order to enter the workforce, the court may award you alimony toward that goal.

Let New Direction Family Law Guide You Through Your Divorce

New Direction Family Law has been serving clients in complex family law situations for more than twenty years. Planning for the future is seldom as important as during your separation and divorce. Let us help you identify your long term goals and set you on the path to realizing those goals. Our legal team has built a reputation as smart, compassionate professionals who fight for our clients’ legal interests. Call our office today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.