FAQ: Divorce Finance

"Love is grand. Divorce is at least forty grand!"

Detailed information about Divorce Finance can also be found in the Articles section of this website.

Specifically, see what Graine Mediation has to say about Finance & Tax and Child & Spousal Support.

A:

  • What are the best ways to keep the costs of the divorce down?
  • Who gets our house? How do we determine the value of the marital home?
  • What about if there is equity? What if it is underwater?
  • How will our money and investments be divided and distributed?
  • Is mediation appropriate where assets are substantial?
  • If we are struggling now, how will we possibly afford to live in two separate homes?
  • Will Virginia's Child Support Guideline's be applied in our case? Will that be enough to support the children?
  • Who will pay for the child-related expenses that aren’t covered by basic child support? These expenses include, but are not limited to:
    • childcare
    • health insurance
    • out of pocket medical expenses
    • extracurricular activities
    • summer camps
    • school supplies and electronics
    • private school tuition
    • clothes
  • Will there be enough money to pay for the children's college?
  • How will retirement assets and other deferred compensation plans (e.g., pensions, stock options, certain restricted stock plans) be factored into our divorce settlement?
  • Will there be spousal support (aka "alimony")? How will the non-earning/lesser earning spouse survive financially? What about the payer’s needs?
  • In a case where spousal support is necessary/appropriate, what is the criteria for deciding the dollar amount and duration of those spousal support payments?
  • Will there be tax and capital gains issues that will come into play in our divorce settlement? What are they? How do we handle these types of issues?
  • What is the best way to value, divide and distribute our furniture? Our cars? Our collections and antiques?
  • How do we account for and value a small or family-owned business? Does that get divided in a divorce?
  • Who will pay the credit card bills?
  • Is there anything that can be done about future liability for debts?
  • What happens to child and spousal support if an ex-spouse dies?
  • How will our divorce affect our estates if either of us die? What will happen to the children's inheritance?

A: Attorney fees for a Fairfax or Northern Virginia divorce case range between $20,000 - $100,000 per party (double that per couple). In the Fairfax and Northern Virginia areas, divorce lawyers charge hourly fees of $350 - $550 and, even though 90-95% of cases are settled before trial, big money will have already been spent in the pre-trial litigation and discovery phases of your case.

A: Your mediator at Graine Mediation, Robin Graine, JD, is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA). This nationally recognized training focuses on the tax and financial planning issues which face divorcing couples. The role of a CDFA is to assist the parties in understanding how the financial decisions they make today may potentially impact their financial well being in the future.

The criteria to be a CDFA is stringent and CDFAs go through an intensive training program to become skilled at analyzing and providing a wealth of knowledge on key financial and tax issues found in divorce cases. This certificate, available only to attorneys, CPAs and certified financial planners, is particularly helpful in the Fairfax area where many cases tend to have sophisticated and complex financial components that require a higher level of analysis and issue-spotting than found in other jurisdictions.

A: In divorce, people face very expensive new challenges. They have lost their economic balance due to the fact that they now have essentially doubled their expenses. Divorce requires two mortgages or rents, two electric bills, two health insurance policies, two automobile insurance policies, two internet bills, two homes to maintain, two gallons of milk, two sets of clothes for the kids, new furniture for the second home, and on and on. Add to this the enormous costs of litigation, and you can end up with a financial disaster on your hands.

However, with proper financial analysis and planning -- which may include a certain amount of career and lifestyle planning -- many of these financial burdens can be alleviated. Divorce mediation is a surefire method of keeping divorce costs down by avoiding out-of-control attorney fees. This savings allows you to put that money to better use, such as your children’s education or the down payment on a new home. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving mediation a try. See our Cost & Fee Comparison Chart.