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Beyond the Money: What Else to Think About During Divorce

by Miranda Marquit

In the last few months, several of my acquaintances announced that they are breaking up. In many cases, this break up is taking the form of divorce.

When it comes to divorce, there are a lot of money issues to deal with, from who is responsible for what debt and how the assets should be divided. Divorce can even affect your Social Security benefits.

As I was thinking about my friends’ divorces (and feeling relieved that I don’t think divorce is on my horizon), I realized that breaking up isn’t just about the finances. If you’ve been “one entity” for quite some time, there are other considerations that come with divorce, including:

Stuff

Divorce Dividing Assets

How do you divide belongings when you divorce?

What happens to your stuff when you divorce? Who gets to keep the TV, and who gets the dining set? You’ve probably acquired a number of things together, from the movie collection to bedsheets. All of these things need to be divided up.

In the case of one couple I know, they just decided that everything that they didn’t bring to the marriage with them would be sold and the proceeds would be divided between them. Other couples I know negotiate, creating a give-and-take situation.

And there are some cases that require the intervention of a judge to settle the dispute over stuff. When you think about how much you have bought together, or given to each other as gifts, you can see how dividing it all up can be a difficult task.

Digital Accounts

My husband and I share a number of accounts. If we ever split up, we’d have to figure out what to do about the iTunes account, the Amazon account, the Etsy account, and any number of accounts that we both have access to. Who gets to keep the login? Hopefully, we’d settle it in a civilized manner, rather than instigating a race to see who can change the password the fastest.

On the other hand, it might also make sense for both of us to open new accounts and then delete the old shared account. The real issue, though, would be answering this question: What happens with all the digital goods? Music, movies, TV shows, and apps are all bought with the authorization of our shared account. What happens to all of that if we move on?

Friends

It can be awkward for friends of a formerly-married couple. Who do they support? Can they really be supportive of you both? How do the relationships work? These are questions that are hard to answer — especially if you have a lot of couple friends that you used to do things.

Another issue is what do you do about your ex-spouse’s family? I’m not going to get into the thorny issue of child custody, but if you have the kids most of the time, you do need to figure out how they can see their other grandparents. How do you make it happen without being overly awkward?

Dividing Your Lives

One answer is to have somewhat divided lives. You and your spouse can keep things separate throughout — just in case. You might also put together a pre-nup to make things a little easier.

But for some couples, that doesn’t seem quite right, either. Few people like to feel as though they are planning to break up at some point, especially if you get to the point where you decide to marry.

What do you think? Have you had to handle a tricky breakup? How would you approach a relationship in the future?


Published or updated January 31, 2014.
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