One of the first things your attorney will discuss with you when you start the divorce process is your set of goals. It is important for your attorney to understand your needs and interests because they impact the direction that your attorney will take in advocating for you. It is your attorney’s goal and intention to meet as many of your reasonable goals and interests as possible.
When thinking about what you want and what you need as you navigate the divorce process, it is important to think long term. Divorcing people who spend their energy and resources meeting goals based in hurt or revenge generally end up having regrets when the hurt heals and the dust settles. Likewise, divorcing people who feel guilt or shame about the end of a marriage often have regrets later when they see the end of the marriage more objectively with time and realize that they gave away the farm based on emotions. When assessing your goals, picture your life in one year, five years, ten years and twenty year after the divorce. What needs do you have? Is it a new place to live? Retirement savings so you can stop working?
In addition to thinking long term, you also have to be reasonable. Attorneys often hear from clients that they need something specific at the end of divorce, like a certain amount of cash; however, the marital estate doesn’t contain cash. Your attorney can only advocate for and the court can only award you what exists on the day you file for divorce. If you tell your attorney that you need to leave the marriage with $10,000.00 cash, your attorney will want to discuss with you from where that cash will come. If you have a bank account with $10,000.00 in it, then the goal is potentially reachable. If you don’t have cash on hand or any assets that you could liquidate to achieve $10,000.00 cash, your goal is not reasonable and can’t be met. No attorney, regardless of skill, can manufacture assets in your marital estate that don’t exist.
Finally, remember that both spouses will leave the marriage with roughly equal amounts of the marital estate. Your goals need to factor in that the division of assets must be equitable. While it is common for one spouse to threaten to leave the other spouse “with nothing”, that is simply not the law in Indiana. There is no requirement that each individual debt and asset be equally divided, but the pot as a whole will be split largely in half. In certain circumstances one spouse might get more, but wide swings away from 50/50 are not common. Your goal should be to structure your half of the marital estate to meet as many of your reasonable needs and interests as possible.
If you’re considering divorce and are concerned about meeting your goals, contact the attorneys of Wanzer Edwards, PC.