This webpage is: http://www.thelizlibrary.org/child-centered-divorce/mothers-mistakes-before-divorce-happens.html
Also see Mistakes
Mothers Make in Child Custody Litigation
MISTAKES MOTHERS MAKE
Before Divorce Happens
Mistake 1. Thinking that "equality" means that each of you should be an equal breadwinner and equally share the
Assuming this is possible (the former is more likely, but the latter is unlikely), will the two of you
also be alternating which of you gets pregnant? If only one of you is going
to get pregnant and
suffer the hits
to your career and the risks to your physical health
(and also have the consequent primary attachment to the children), dividing everything else in half
is not "equality". Reproduction is not equal and never will be.
(a) Falling into the "role reversal" trap.
If you are the primary breadwinner as well as the gestating mother in the couple, not only are you are setting yourself up to
lose custody in the event of a divorce, but even if a divorce never happens, you are putting your family at financial risk.
Pregnancy does involve physical and medical risks, and even a healthy pregnancy can result in permanent
repercussions to career and earning
In addition, if you were to
divorce and still somehow retain 50% or more child custody, as the primary wage earner,
you can pretty much forget about getting child support or
alimony. (See the Myths and Facts pages,
as well as the financial
articles in the Mothers' Rights Section.) In fact, if you've largely been doing it all,
upon a divorce, unless you are among the relatively small percentage of women with a very substantial career,
being the primary wage earner means that you could end up in a financial situation post-divorce that is far worse than
less-educated, less-employed women: upon a divorce, half of your accumulated assets could be distributed to
him, and then
you also could end up paying child or spousal support, and even his legal fees.
(And that's assuming that a court doesn't award him custody.)
Mistake 2. Using two incomes to pay for major fixed costs such as housing, insurance, automobiles, and related
recurring expenses that cannot be substantially reduced in the event of disability, job loss, or divorce.
If it takes two people to pay for basic expenses, then as a couple you have doubled your chances of
suffering an event that wipes out your family's financial security. Couples that manage to live on the income of
only one of them (the husband, see item #1), are at far less financial risk. While married, even if he loses his
income, yours is then available as a supplement. Even if you are a stay-home spouse, you remain available to pitch in
and get a job if need be. And, of course, upon a divorce, you are in a far better position to retain custody
and also obtain
financial assistance, while also still being able to get a job at that point. You may not be able on your own to
cover the same fixed expenses if his income was substantially more than yours -- but neither would you be if these
expenses depended upon a contribution from both of you.
If you do work while married, but your income generally
goes only to savings and extras, and other flexible costs, then it still will be
available to cover basic fixed expenses in the
event of an emergency.
Mistake 3. Having joint credit cards and other debts.
Just don't do it. Keep these separate. It may not be possible to not jointly sign on to home mortgage debt (do not
obtain a loan so large that it requires your income), but
generally it is possible to avoid other kinds of joint debt. Maintain your own good credit and minimize your risk of being jointly and severally
liable for the debts he is paying with his income. In times of financial trouble such as his illness or job loss or business losses,
or in the event of a divorce, you will be very
glad you did. No matter what any court says about who is responsible for paying debts, that doesn't bind third party
creditors. If you are a supported, dependent spouse, then be a permitted user on his credit card for
convenience, if you both want that, but make sure you are not liable as a co-signer or co-owner of that card. Have your own cards,
and don't use them for anything your own income wouldn't easily cover.
(a) Not having both joint and separate assets. The rule about debts doesn't apply to assets.
There are some advantages in tenancy-by-the-entireties ownership of assets in case creditors seek to
come after only one of you for your separate debts. However, you also do want to keep some separate assets
too. These include, among possible others: exempt assets (e.g.
savings in IRA accounts), financial accounts you inherited or accumulated and owned before you were married
(and don't add
to these with income earned after you are married -- keep them separate); and your own motor vehicle.
Do make sure, however, that if you have children you
are a joint owner on the house. The exception to this might be in those few states that protect homes from creditors,
in which case, it may be better for you to be the sole owner of the house, particularly
if it's a second marriage and he's not the father of
one or more of your children, or he's the one with the risky business issues,
or in the fairly common situation in which it's your savings or your parents who made a hefty
down payment. (Check with a lawyer before deciding how to hold title to larger assets, and don't do things just because that's how
most people just do it, or for the romantic notion that you're in looooove and have to share everything.)
(b) Not knowing and maintaining knowledge of what assets and liabilities each of you has, and
each of your incomes and expenses. Keeping debts and some assets separate doesn't mean you don't share information.
In the event
of death, disability, divorce or other emergencies, you will need to know this information. In the event of a
pending separation or divorce, you also will want copies of all important legal and financial documents.
Mistake 4. Working for free in his business. If his income is high, there
may be tax advantages to doing this, but if that's the case, then consult with a lawyer about whether you can and should
be a co-owner of the business, or in some other way document your hours worked and your
interest and efforts in the business. There may be other advantages, both tangible and intangible,
in this kind of joint effort, but there also
could be disadvantages to you if you are working under circumstances in which this does not further your own career while
still taking you away from the home, hearth and children. Too many women think that a business is "ours"
that turns out upon the death or divorce of the spouse to be only "his".
Mistake 5. Relocating to follow him to a foreign country, or a state in which you do not have friends and support
systems or job opportunities,
or to any other isolated or remote locale in which you are unsure you may want to stay.
Don't do it thinking it will be a try-and-see, especially if it's for his possibly temporary job relocation.
If your marriage breaks down in the new location, you and the children may be stuck there for a very long time.
(And if you have minor children, do not ever, ever, ever move -- or bring them even temporarily for a visit --
to any country such as Saudi Arabia with Muslim sharia laws in which, because you are a woman, your freedom to travel,
and your authority over your own children, including leaving with them, can be restricted.)
Don't have a baby in an iffy new location, a state
(or country) in which you may not want to live for the next 18 years. The state where you give
birth has initial jurisdiction over your child, and once you've lived in a new location for the jurisdictional period
of time (as short as six months), that state also has jurisdiction over you and your other children born elsewhere.
Let him get an apartment and go back and forth for a while, while you
maintain your and the children's home, your driver license and voting registration, and your life in the
original locale, until you are very, very sure.