Every couple has a unique set of circumstances going into a divorce, and if you have kids, their age will likely affect your divorce process. In the past, we’ve discussed what you need to know if you are divorcing without minor children, but what are the specific things you need to consider if your children are adults? From planning financially for their college experience to planning for your retirement, we’ll dive into some topics that will prepare you for divorce with adult children.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, there are certain things that you can expect about how your divorce might proceed if you do not have minor children (whether you did not have children with your spouse, or your children are grown). Divorce can be an emotional process for anyone, but it may feel more like a business transaction when you do not have to consider things like custody arrangements. If you are divorcing without minor children, you may have more freedom to find creative solutions or settle out of court. In general, the process may be faster than it would be if children were involved. Even though divorce without minor children can be less complicated, there are still a number of factors to consider when you go through a divorce with adult children.
Kids in College
Unfortunately, college can be a major expense, especially if you have multiple children who plan to go attend four-year institutions and beyond. Tuition varies whether your children attend public or private school, if they stay in-state or go out-of-state, and if they are able to receive scholarships or financial aid. Have you set clear expectations with your children about what you will be willing to pay for and what they are responsible for? You and your ex spouse may want to agree on how to handle school going forward or you may only have an agreement with your children about what you can provide. However, you need to have clear expectations so you can plan for your financial future.
In addition to planning for tuition, there are a number of other expenses to consider and decide who will be responsible for them.
If you have been on a family insurance plan, you will need to decide who will carry your child’s health insurance going forward (or decide if it would be better for your child to opt into their school’s insurance plan). Similarly, if you have been on the same cell phone plan, you will need to decide about that as well. In the event that your child incurs medical expenses, you will need to decide who is responsible for paying for those expenses. If your child has a vehicle with them at school, who will pay for their car insurance and who will be responsible for any fees related to maintenance?
It is fair for college age children to start paying some of their own bills but if you had previously set different expectations, you will want to discuss this with your spouse during the process. Ultimately these decisions may be outside of your formal legal settlement with your spouse but the more you are able to agree on during this process, the more you can avoid potential problems down the road.
Managing Emotional Assets
When you go through a divorce, while you may have to make business-like decisions about how to divide assets and funds, you will also likely have to make emotional decisions about who will keep things that you have an attachment to. One of those big decisions is whether or not you will keep your marital home. People often have an emotional attachment to their family home because it is where their children grew up. If your children are grown and living on their own, it might be time to consider whether or not it makes sense to keep such a big expense. Now might be the time to downsize to reduce your mortgage, utilities, and upkeep expenses, especially as you plan for your own financial future and a healthy retirement.
Planning for Retirement
Aside from any ongoing support for kids in school, retirement is most likely your biggest financial goal. It is important to consider how your decisions now will affect your retirement so that you can set yourself up for success. These decisions about financially recovering from a divorce such as evaluating your cash flow, understanding your savings, and having an investment strategy will be essential to know during the divorce process to ensure you are negotiating your settlement from a place of knowledge and confidence.
There are certain advantages to divorcing once your children are no longer minors, but there are still several things to consider as you make decisions for your own financial future. If you would like to discuss your options with a professional so you can feel more confident in your decisions, reach out to us today to schedule your free initial consultation.