By Robin Perrigo-Mermans, Esq. of ROAD to RESOLUTION
As a divorce mediation and collaborative family law attorney, I am committed to helping spouses navigate their divorce journey. To begin this process, I highly recommend that the couple discusses their options with an attorney. Separating has legal significance and parties shouldn’t separate without speaking to legal counsel. As part of the process, there are common concerns over shared costs and how to handle payments on jointly owned or billed assets.
I can relate to this as a divorcee who is now remarried. When my ex and I were separated, sharing costs seemed overwhelming. However, with proper guidance from a collaborative divorce attorney, it doesn’t have to be. During the out-of-court collaborative process, the collaborative attorney helps to untangle the spouses financially. They essentially help you take one economy and create two separate economies. Spouses can do this prior to separating or over the duration of their separation.
Here are some examples of costs that can be shared during separation:
House / Properties
Upon separation, housing costs can be shared. This includes all expenses associated with the house and property, including utilities, internet, and cable. As spouses work toward divorce, dividing these assets is part of their settlement. Sharing costs with a house or any other properties, including rental units, generally remains status quo.
In the instance of a car, whether owned or leased, the car should remain in the possession of the person who uses the car on a day-to-day basis, regardless of how it is titled. The final distribution of the car or other motorized vehicle will be addressed during the collaborative law process or mediation.
Cell phone plans are a common household expense where there are several users on one plan. These plans often remain as is during separation and costs can be shared or handled as they were during the marriage. Once the divorce is finalized, spouses typically dissolve their family account and create two separate accounts.
If spouses share a health insurance plan, this is typically addressed during the negotiation for settlement. It can be a complicated process and doesn’t need to be handled immediately upon separation. Attorneys and legal teams can provide guidance for this complex topic.
Retirement / Investments
Splitting up retirement accounts and investments is a common concern for divorcing couples. In collaborative law, it’s common to bring in additional neutral professionals, like financial planners and advisors, to provide expertise on dividing retirement and investment accounts if they are complex or have significant tax consequences.
Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and should not be construed as legal advice.
Robin Perrigo-Mermans is a collaborative attorney and certified mediator. She owns ROAD to RESOLUTION, a divorce mediation and collaborative family law firm, in Charlotte. Due to her unique perspective as an attorney, mother, and stepmother, she is an expert in shared parenting solutions and co-parenting guidance. She is committed to using her personal story and passion to help her clients save time and money, while avoiding unnecessary emotional turmoil during their divorce journey and on their road to resolution.