Divorcing in your 20s? These are the 4 questions you should ask yourself to make the process go smoother, according to a divorce lawyer.
- Amanda M. Cubit is a family law attorney with Sodoma Law Union in Monroe, NC.
- She is a member of the North Carolina Bar, Family Law Section, as well as the Cabarrus County and Union County Bar Associations.
- People in their 20s divorcing has become more common — and with those divorces come certain considerations.
- You should prioritize what you want to walk away with, be cautious about using social media, and be sure to take care of yourself.
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It was once uncommon to hear of a couple going through a divorce while still in their 20s. Today, as millennials — especially those between the ages of 25 and 35 — embrace the idea of "starter marriages," it has become far more common.
If you fall into that category, there are several unique considerations you should have on your radar if you are divorcing — or considering divorce.
1. Do you have a prenuptial agreement?
If so, you're far from alone; family law attorneys and researchers alike have noted the marked increase in recent years of the number of millennials entering into prenuptial agreements. If you do have one, review the agreement carefully with an attorney to determine how it will impact your situation. It will likely address many of the issues related to your separation and divorce and may even resolve some or all of the claims you or your spouse could raise, saving you a lot of time and money!
If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, it will be up to you and your spouse to resolve your respective claims for equitable distribution (property division), alimony, and — if you have children — custody and child support. Keep in mind that in North Carolina, for example, alimony is a budget-driven inquiry, so even if one spouse needs alimony, the other spouse may not have the means to pay alimony. You should consult with a family law attorney as early as possible. Not only can an attorney explain each aspect of your case, but he or she can educate you on the options for resolving those.
2. How are you going to pay for your divorce?
Divorce can be an expensive process. If you have children with your spouse and you are not on the same page about how custody should be handled post-split, you may have little choice but to fight for what you believe is best for your children and family. Even the division of a small marital estate can become expensive.
Take time to prioritize your objectives and, in doing so, decide what is truly important to you. What do you need to walk away with from the marriage, and what are you willing to leave behind? An attorney can tell you what is — and what is not — worth fighting over. In other words, it's probably not a good financial decision to pay your attorney hundreds of dollars an hour to fight over the kitchen table (even though you love it). Eventually, you will pay the attorney more than what you paid for the table.
3. Do you use social media?
I imagine the answer to this question is a resounding, "Yes!" If so, do not use your social media accounts as outlets to vent about your failed relationship or soon-to-be ex. This is especially true if you share children with your spouse and may end up in court to determine custody of your children. Remember the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all"? This applies to your posts on social media, too.
You should also be careful not to post photos or content, even if only in good fun, that could be used to portray you in a negative light. Anything you post online is fair game for your ex to use against you and, regardless of whether you are "friends" on social media, if it's on the internet, there are ways to find it.
4. How are you taking care of yourself during separation and post-divorce?
For 20-somethings facing divorce, it's possible they've spent most of their young adult years with their soon-to-be ex. The end of this relationship — and being forced to move forward without your former partner — can feel like the end of the world. Create and lean on your support system of family, friends, and coworkers. Talk to a counselor or therapist who can help you work through the emotional fallout associated with the end of your relationship. Take practical steps, such as sitting down with a financial planner, to get a handle on aspects of life and household management you may have previously delegated to your spouse. Make sure you take a holistic approach when working through your separation and divorce.
While I have little doubt that many of you hate to be in this position, going through a divorce in your 20s is not the end of the world. In fact, if you approach it with the right mindset, this could be the beginning of a new chapter of life. Educate yourself on the legal effects of your split, be smart about how you behave during separation, and take care of yourself. By following these steps, you can put yourself in the best position possible to land on your feet.