The Impact of Divorce on Executive Compensation Packages and Stock Options

When you’re navigating a high net worth divorce, you’ll face challenges and complex issues that rarely arise in other divorces. In these splits, the division of assets and the topic of spousal support often lead to the most bitter disputes between the divorcing spouses. If one spouse is a high-powered executive, navigating the division of assets and alimony requires even more experience and knowledge. The multiple types of compensation received by executives and the schedule on which they’re paid out can make this step of the process drawn-out and stressful.

It’s crucial to work with an attorney with experience in this type of divorce. Whether you are the executive in this equation or the lower-earning spouse, it’s important to fight for fair and equitable treatment. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-407-7852 to set up a consultation with our team now.

How Executive Compensation is Structured

Executive compensation may be structured in several different ways, depending on the company involved and what the executive in question negotiates for. Elements commonly found in an executive compensation package include:

  • Base salary: Executives do earn a base salary, but in comparison to the rest of what they bring in, it is a relatively small chunk of their income.
  • RSUs and stock options: Restricted stock units, known as RSUs, are shares of company stock given to executives with significant restrictions. Stock options allow an employee or executive to buy stocks at a predetermined price.
  • Bonuses: Bonuses, which are generally dependent on changes made by the executive and the company’s performance as a whole, can be a sizable part of an executive’s income each year.
  • Deferred compensation: Deferred compensation is generally paid out at retirement. It allows the executive to hold off on receiving part of their income until they retire, at which point they will have to pay taxes on it.

It’s clear that these types of income can lead to a drawn out division of assets. It’s easy to determine spousal support, child support, and an equitable division of assets when both parties earn a set annual salary or hourly wage. It’s much harder when their income may change by millions of dollars each year or hinge on the performance of the stock market.

Calculating Executive Compensation

One of the main challenges in this type of divorce is figuring out how much should be paid in child support and spousal support. Again, when there’s an annual salary or hourly wage being paid, it’s just a matter of plugging the numbers in and going from there. But how do you determine what’s fair when the high-earning spouse’s income is split across different assets, stock options that may not vest for years to come, and bonuses that are dependent on future performance?

Your attorney may look at what the executive has actually received in income throughout their time with their company. If they have held that position for a number of years, it’s easier to calculate the average income even with varying bonuses and stock options. The attorneys may also look at the standard of living that both spouses have come to expect, which gives them a guideline of how much the lower-earning or non-working spouse should receive.

For child support, it’s important also to think about the lifestyle that the child is accustomed to. It’s common for children of executives to be enrolled in private school, participate in costly extracurricular activities, and have other expensive needs. The court will likely want the child to maintain that standard of living even after a divorce.

Valuing and Dividing Stock Options

This is a huge hurdle to clear in a high asset divorce. Stock options are often a major part of an executive compensation package, but their terms and value may differ quite a bit. The vesting schedule may come into play, especially if the stocks cannot be purchased or accessed for several years. It’s also important to consider the tax implications of exercising stock options and determine how that may affect their division. When it comes to the valuation of stock options, the Black-Scholes model may be used or your attorney may recommend another option.

Choose Pence Law Firm for the Legal Support You Deserve

As you start to look ahead to life after divorce, make sure you have the financial support you need for a fresh start. Find out how Pence Law Firm can fight for the assets and support you deserve. Call us at 304-407-7852 or get in touch online now.

Understanding QDROs and the Division of High Value Retirement Accounts

In many divorces, the division of assets is the most complex and time-consuming part of the entire process. It’s especially hard in long marriages where both partners have built up assets and completely intermingled their financial futures. Retirement accounts can be particularly challenging to divide, due to their significant value and their propensity for growth. The use of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders can streamline the division process and ensure that the divorcing couple doesn’t incur any unexpected penalties or taxes.

If you’re preparing for divorce in Charleston, working with an experienced divorce attorney can save you time, money, and stress. Set up a consultation with Pence Law Firm now by calling us at 304-407-7852.

What is a QDRO?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a legal order that specifies the way in which pensions and retirement plans are divided during a divorce. This is due to the fact that you often cannot simply withdraw from your retirement account and give your ex-spouse the amount they’re entitled to under your divorce agreement. 

Early withdrawals from retirement accounts can result in heavy penalties and taxes. In this situation, you aren’t taking from your retirement account to use it prior to retirement—you are just giving your ex-spouse what they are entitled to. For that reason, you want to protect the value of your accounts and avoid mishaps by using a QDRO. Furthermore, both state and federal laws have specific rules about how retirement funds can and cannot be accessed. A QDRO ensures that your division of these accounts is compliant with all relevant laws.

When a QDRO Is and Isn’t Required

While a QDRO is a useful tool in a divorce, it isn’t always necessary. It’s crucial to work with a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can use the right tools and legal orders to streamline your division of assets. In general, accounts that are governed by the ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) do require a QDRO. Per ERISA, retirement interests can be split up only if there is a judgment, decree, or order that can be considered a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. If your retirement account is from an employer-provided retirement plan, there’s a good chance you’ll need a QDRO to split it up without legal or financial issues.

However, there are retirement accounts that do not require a QDRO. In these situations, you can split up your retirement account as long as it is specified in your divorce agreement. Retirement accounts not requiring a QDRO include IRAs, some government retirement plans, and some specific types of pensions and annuities. However, there are rarely hard and fast rules when it comes to money and divorce, so it’s best to discuss your specific accounts with an attorney.

Note that whether or not your accounts require a QDRO, the money transferred between spouses will likely need to be handled in a very specific way to avoid financial penalties. For example, an IRA must be divided up in the divorce decree. The funds that are transferred must then be transferred into the receiving spouse’s own IRA. If the receiving spouse simply takes their share in cash and holds onto it, they will likely owe federal income taxes on it and pay a 10% penalty.

Determining Each Party’s Share

A big part of this is determining what each spouse is entitled to during divorce. Much depends on when the account was created and when money was added to it. If one spouse came into the marriage with money in their retirement account, that amount may be considered a separate asset. However, the rest may then be subject to division. If the entirety of the account was earned while the couple was married, the whole account will likely be subject to division.

Plan for Your Divorce with Pence Law Firm

Divorce can be complicated, and you’re bound to have lots of questions. When you choose Pence Law Firm, you’ll have quick access to experienced attorneys who are ready to help you with your West Virginia divorce. Get started now by calling us at 304-407-7852 or reaching out to us on our website. We’ll get your free consultation scheduled and start planning.

Mitigating the Risks of Business Depreciation During High Asset Divorces

When a couple owns a business together, protecting that business during a divorce can be a top priority. It’s not uncommon for businesses to be negatively affected during a divorce. Stockholders worry about the future of the company, are uncertain about whether a massive stock transfer will affect the company’s value, and wonder if consumers will follow the company on its new path. A business’s value tanking during a divorce can make it incredibly hard to divide it fairly and leave both parties without the assets they need to move forward.

As you navigate divorce in Charleston, it’s important to work with a legal team you trust. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250 to set up a time to talk to our experienced team.

Valuation Strategies for Business Assets

It’s important to get a fair valuation of a business as part of your divorce. This ensures that the business is divided equitably and helps you verify that your efforts to protect the business’s value are successful. There are several different strategies you may consider.

Some couples opt to go for the market value of the business. This involves looking at what the business would sell for on the open market. This is in comparison to the book value method, which is what shareholders would get if the company’s assets were liquidated and debts paid off.

Another option that may make sense is income-based valuation. Income-based valuation can be fairly complex, as it looks at the company’s earnings and applies factors like amortization, depreciation, and taxes.

Regardless of which option seems to make the most sense for your needs, it’s important to work with a financial professional.

Protecting Your Business and its Assets

There are different ways that individuals can protect their business assets in the event of a divorce. Unfortunately, most of these methods rely on premarital or at least pre-divorce planning. Once you’ve reached the point of divorce, your options have already decreased significantly.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are obviously useful in this situation. If one party owned the company prior to the marriage, a prenup or postnup may ensure that the business stays with them after a divorce.

Buy-sell agreements are another way to plan for divorce before a split actually happens. They lay the groundwork for how the business will be handled if the marriage ends. This takes a lot of guesswork out of the equation; should the couple decide to divorce, the terms of the buy-sell agreement simply go into effect.

If you did not make any sort of legal agreement before deciding on divorce, protecting your business assets may be more complicated. In these situations, it’s important to work with a high-net-worth in Charleston. They understand the factors at play and can provide different solutions that allow you to keep the business safe and growing.

Continuity Planning During Divorce

While navigating your divorce, you’ll also need to engage in continuity planning that secures the future of the business. Clear protocols regarding day-to-day operations ensure that important tasks do not fall by the wayside as the owners handle their personal issues. A contingency plan may name people to take on the owners’ daily tasks when personal issues arise.

You can also plan for the future success of the business by carefully handling how the divorce is announced and handled. A couple should decide when and how to announce their divorce, rather than letting the media get a hold of the news and control the narrative. This gives them the chance to present a united front, calm shareholders’ worries, and clarify the future direction of the company.

In the time between deciding to divorce and announcing the divorce, the couple can come up with their continuity plan. It can be difficult to work together under these circumstances, but remember that you both rely on the financial stability provided by the business—handling these matters together is best for everyone involved.

Facing Divorce? Choose the Pence Law Firm for Your Family Law Needs

As you prepare for your Charleston divorce, choose a legal team that you can rely on through the entire process. Call the Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250 or fill out our online contact form to connect with a team member.

Mistakes Happen: How the Law Treats Mistakes in Marital Settlement Agreements

You work hard to come up with a marital settlement agreement that you and your ex can agree on. You often reach this point after multiple rounds of negotiations, significant compromises, and stressful disputes. What happens, then, when there’s a mistake in your marital settlement agreement? Do you have to go back to square one or are there other options for divorced couples?

As you navigate your divorce, it’s crucial to have an attorney you can trust. That’s where we come in. The team at the Pence Law Firm is committed to helping individuals fight for their best interests during a split. Call our firm at 304-345-7250 to set up a time to talk now.

Enforceability of Marital Settlement Agreements in West Virginia

Per state law, when a couple reaches a settlement and writes a settlement agreement, that agreement is legally enforceable in the same that any other written contract is. However, there are circumstances under which the court will find the agreement to be unenforceable. If the agreement was agreed upon when one party was under duress, the court will not uphold it. They will also refuse to uphold it if either party engages in fraud or other egregious conduct to secure a settlement. For example, if one party fails to disclose assets or income for their own benefit, the court may step in.

Common Marital Settlement Agreement Mistakes

There are numerous ways that mistakes may arise in marital settlement agreements. Ideally, these mistakes would never happen—one of the benefits of working with an experienced attorney is that they are aware of these mistakes and do everything they can to avoid them. Common mistakes include:

  • Miscalculations: For example, if a couple agrees on $100,000 of alimony split over five years, that would be 60 monthly payments of about $1,666.66 each. If the calculation is done incorrectly and divided over six years or the total amount is entered incorrectly, the order may need to be amended.
  • Ambiguous language: When a court order can be interpreted in multiple ways, it is generally meaningless since it can be interpreted in favor of either party.
  • Omitted terms: When the attorneys involved in a divorce fail to address specific assets, custody needs, or other issues in a divorce, it can lead to disputes about parenting time, asset division, and more.
  • Fraud, coercion, and duress: Marital settlement agreements formed under duress, with coercion, or after fraud are unenforceable. This is egregious misconduct on the part of the party trying to benefit from coercing their spouse.
  • Obvious typos or errors: Consider a couple that agrees to $500 per month in child support. A typo leads to a court order for $5,000 per month in child support for someone making that much monthly. Obviously, this error would need to be corrected.

Legal Remedies for Mistakes

There are situations in which the court will relieve a party or their legal representative from a final order. Under state law, clerical mistakes can be corrected by the court of its own volition or by either party. Mistakes, inadvertence, excusable neglect, fraud, and other issues may excuse the parties from the agreement. However, certain conditions must be met. For example, newly discovered evidence is only a reason for a new court order if the new evidence could not have been discovered by due diligence in time to request a new trial. If an attorney is simply inefficient, that may not be enough.

One of the parties involved must file a motion to request relief from the judgment. This may lead to an unwinding of the agreement in cases involving fraud or duress, or a modification or correction to fix more basic mistakes. The parties may also negotiate or bargain to agree on necessary modifications.

When these situations arise, time is of the essence. You must connect with your Charleston divorce attorney immediately to discuss your concerns and come up with a plan.

Considering Your Options During Divorce? Call The Pence Law Firm Today

Whether you’ve uncovered errors in your marital settlement agreement or you’re just starting to work through the beginning stages of your split, we’re here to help. Call our team of Charleston attorneys at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation immediately.

Divorce and Philanthropy: How to Handle Shared Charitable Endeavors

If you and your spouse have built a legacy of charity and philanthropy, divorce may be especially painful for you. You may worry that the end of your marriage means an end to your charitable efforts, which you likely find very meaningful and fulfilling. You may also wonder if you’re financially tied to causes and agreements that don’t make sense to you after divorce.

You can discuss these and other issues with your Charleston divorce attorney. The team at the Pence Law Firm can help you find solutions that pave the way for your future. Call us at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation now.

Understanding Your Current Obligations, Commitments, and Initiatives

You should start with a full analysis and inventory of your current charitable obligations and commitments. If you and your spouse have committed yourselves to financial donations, volunteer work, or official partnerships, there may be contractual requirements that will keep you locked in for a set period of time. Inventorying these gives you a foundation from which to start negotiating. 

If you foresee yourself having a lot of free time after divorce, you may agree to take on volunteer obligations while your ex takes on the financial commitments you’ve made. You may also want to find out if divorce is a valid reason to break or amend a contract. Keep in mind that you may damage your reputation within the charitable community if you do so—this is a decision to make after extensive research and contemplation.

Financial Contributions and Responsibilities

Your financial life after divorce will look very different from married life. Your charitable commitments must fit within the framework of your new life. This may mean adjusting your financial commitments or terminating them completely. You and your spouse may opt to split these commitments to ensure that one partner doesn’t bear the full load. 

In these cases, it often makes sense to have spouses take on the causes that matter most to them. If you and your spouse have substantial assets, you may choose to fulfill the financial terms of the contract in full immediately in order to sever the tie and start anew.

For some, it makes sense to tie ongoing financial contributions to the division of assets. For example, if one party takes on the financial obligations of a charitable agreement, it may make sense that they receive slightly more of the marital estate to make up for that. This is often a viable option if one spouse wants to wash their hands of philanthropy entirely and start completely anew after divorce.

Navigating Disputes

Disputes may arise as you and your spouse try to figure out your charitable goals and efforts after divorce. Try to maintain open communication during this time; even if you’re on opposite sides of your divorce, you both want to fulfill the terms of your charitable agreements and do good work in the community.

If disputes seem impossible to overcome, consider working with a mediator to develop decision-making protocols related to your philanthropic efforts. They can also help you negotiate an agreement that benefits both parties. Coming up with decision-making protocols before issues arise can make it much easier for everyone when problems inevitably come up.

Finding Your Own Independent Charitable Path

As your divorce winds down and you begin looking ahead to the future, think about what you want your presence in philanthropy to look like. Do you want to stick with the same causes you prioritized when you were married, or are there causes you weren’t able to explore because your spouse didn’t care for them? Are you interested in creating a charitable organization, donating money, or offering your time to the causes that matter most to you? There are lots of options to consider, and what you decide depends entirely on the obligations you’ll have after your divorce is finalized.

Explore Your Divorce Options with Pence Law Firm

If you’re planning on a divorce in Charleston, having the right legal team working for you can make a big difference. Let us help you figure out your next steps. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250 or get in touch online to set up a consultation right away.

Divorce and Your Children’s College Funding

Figuring out your divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. Not only do you have to consider your and your children’s immediate needs, but you also have to plan for needs that are still years away. For example, college funding—the cost of college has risen far more quickly than pay levels in recent decades, forcing parents to save an ever-larger portion of their income to pay for their children’s education if they don’t want them to rely on student loans. Figuring out who’s responsible for what is especially hard during a divorce.

Wondering how to protect your children’s best interests as you negotiate your divorce? Choose the team at Pence Law Firm for your divorce case. Give us a call at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation with our team of Charleston divorce attorneys.

Negotiations During Divorce

A big part of your divorce is negotiating. You’ll negotiate everything from the family home and your retirement accounts to child custody and child support.

You may wonder how paying for college plays into that. Some states do require parents to fund their children’s post-secondary education as part of their divorce agreement. However, West Virginia is not one of those states. You cannot demand extra money in child support to cover college expenses, nor is either party required to contribute to their children’s college expenses.

However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any options. Almost anything can be negotiated in divorce, and if your children’s college plans are a top priority for you, you can advocate for them. Be aware that you may have to give up other assets or make other sacrifices if you want your ex-partner to contribute to your children’s college fund. For example, you may agree to a smaller share of the marital assets or take less money in alimony to ensure that your children’s educational needs are met.

Saving for College for Your Children

There are several different ways you can contribute to your children’s college accounts. One popular option is 529 plans. These types of college savings accounts have tax benefits, and they can only be accessed for approved educational expenses. This protects both parties from unauthorized withdrawals and ensures that the child can only access the money for their college needs. In many cases, both parents make contributions throughout their little one’s childhood to get the account to where it needs to be by graduation. But if one partner outlearns the other by a significant amount, it may make sense for one parent to pay for college in its entirety.

Legal Concerns

Divorce is rarely easy, but with a little bit of planning and patience from both parties, you can navigate these issues with minimal stress. First, do your best to keep the lines of communication open. You both want what is best for your children, it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement about what that means.

It’s best to protect yourself from every possible negative outcome in scenarios like this. For example, some divorcing couples opt to create a joint savings account to which they both contribute money for their children’s college. This may make sense to you if you believe you can trust your ex-spouse not to touch it. That doesn’t change the fact that legally, both parties can withdraw from the account at any time. Right now, you trust your ex-spouse not to misuse your child’s money—but you never want to find yourself in the position of checking on your child’s college account and finding it empty. Contributing to a fund that can only be accessed by the child for educational purposes is the best way to protect everyone involved.

You should also be aware that college savings agreements require additional communication with your ex-spouse. If you’re in a high-conflict divorce and you want to limit communication as much as possible, a college savings account may just be another way for your ex to contact you.

Protect Your and Your Children’s Future with Pence Law Firm

When you’re ready to move forward with your divorce, make sure you have an attorney you can trust. The team at Pence Law Firm is committed to helping you plan for the next chapter of your life. Call us at 304-345-7250 or reach out online to set up a consultation now.

Dealing With the Holidays After a Divorce

The aftermath of a divorce is incredibly painful, and it’s even harder during the holidays. If this is your first holiday season since getting divorced, you may be wondering how you can navigate this time with minimal stress and sadness. Although this will likely still be a hard time of year, with a little bit of preparation you can make the most of this year.

If you’re still in the midst of figuring out your divorce, don’t tackle it alone. Let the team at Pence Law Firm support you. Call us at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation with our Charleston divorce team right away.

Preparing Yourself Emotionally

First, it’s important to prepare yourself emotionally for the roller coaster you’re likely to experience this holiday season. It’s completely normal to feel nostalgic about holiday memories with your ex-spouse, the traditions you shared as a family, and the decorations you purchased together. It’s also normal for that to swing to grief and depression as you realize that holidays won’t look like that anymore. 

What’s important is that you give yourself space to feel all of these emotions and let them pass through you naturally. Trying to force the negative emotions down or only allowing the positive emotions to come to light is a sure way to make the holidays even more painful.

Basically, the goal is to have realistic expectations for what this holiday season will look like. Recognize that it will probably not be your favorite year, but that happier years do lie ahead. All you have to do is get through this one, make it as memorable as you can for your children, and give yourself grace.

Reviewing Your Court Documents

Before you get too deep into your holiday plans, make sure you know exactly what your legal rights and obligations are this year. It’s common for ex-spouses to rotate holidays with their children, so ensure that you know whether you have odd-numbered or even-numbered years. If you have a different arrangement, go over it carefully. It can be challenging when the holidays fall on a weekend because weekend visitation can be a sore subject for newly divorced parents. However, holiday schedules generally override the standard weekend schedule. Looking this over now will prevent misunderstandings later.

Appropriate Communication with Your Ex-Partner

Try to limit communication with your ex-spouse. Even if you have an amicable relationship, you don’t want to get bogged down talking about old holiday memories that will leave you sad long after the conversation has ended. Set a standard of friendly, open communication that relates to your children. You should communicate about which gifts the children want and who will get them, as this avoids repeats. 

You can also talk about your holiday plans and ensure that the children get to participate in the events that mean the most to them. If your relationship allows for flexibility, be open to schedule changes that don’t limit your time with your children but do give them the opportunity to attend important events with their other parents.

Establishing New Traditions for Your New Life

This may not feel like a fresh start, but it truly is. This is likely the hardest holiday you’ll have for a very long time, so just do what you must to get through it. Spend some time dreaming about the holiday seasons to come, the memories you hope to make with your children, and the new opportunities that will come your way. This is an excellent time to start thinking about new family traditions you’d like to make part of your holidays moving forward. 

Perhaps a new special meal, community event, or shopping day will become the highlight of your holiday season. There’s room for your children to enjoy their previous holiday traditions, turn them into new ones, and explore fun new things to do with their parents.

Preparing for Divorce? Contact Pence Law Firm

When you choose the team at Pence Law Firm for your divorce, you can feel confident that we’ll advocate for you every step of the way. Explore your legal options now—call our team at 304-345-7250 or reach out online to set up a consultation at our Charleston office.

Can an IRA Be Cashed Out During a Divorce?

You’ll have to make a long list of difficult decisions as you navigate your divorce. A big part of this discussion centers on the division of assets. Retirement assets are often among the most challenging to split, thanks to the immense value they have. Retirement funds have years or even decades left to grow, so you should anticipate some negotiations when it comes to these assets. 

If you have an IRA to split or you’re considering using your IRA to pay for your divorce, here are some things to keep in mind. When you’re ready for more personalized advice regarding your divorce, call Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation.

Using Your IRA to Pay for Divorce

Some people ask this question because they’re looking for a way to pay for their divorce attorney and other fees. It can be tough when you don’t have much in the way of liquid assets—going from one household to two at the same time you’re going from two incomes to one is a huge financial change. However, you may want to explore other options before tapping into your retirement accounts. 

If you are not at least 59 1/2 years old at the time you withdraw from your IRA, it will be considered an early withdrawal. That means you’ll need to pay taxes on the withdrawn amount and a 10% penalty.

That’s a huge loss for your IRA, especially if your IRA isn’t large to begin with—those fees and taxes could wipe out years of gains. On top of that, withdrawing from your IRA to pay for your divorce could complicate the division of assets. There’s a good chance that your IRA will be considered a marital asset and need to be divided accordingly. You may then need to give your ex a greater share of what remains of your IRA to make up for the amount you already withdrew.

Of course, there are cases where you truly have no other option. Even if it means losing some of the value of your IRA, it may be worth cashing out part of it if you have an emergency or have no other funds available.

Dividing Your IRA as Part of Divorce

Like many other states, West Virginia is an equitable distribution state. The assets accrued during the marriage are to be divided in a way that is fair and equitable, which doesn’t necessarily mean splitting things up 50/50. If the division of assets involves transferring part or all of your IRA to your ex-spouse, there are ways to do it that save you from the penalties described above. You don’t want to cash out what you owe and just hand it over. You’ll incur the same taxes and fees we talked about earlier.

The right way to handle the transfer of assets is with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This allows you to transfer retirement funds and certain other assets without taxes or penalties. The person receiving the funds must either transfer them into their own IRA or another qualified retirement fund or risk paying taxes and penalties on what they withdrew. To transfer assets using a QDRO, the details of your division of assets must be outlined in your divorce decree. These aren’t agreements or arrangements you want to make under the table—everything must be done legally and via legally binding agreements.

Factors to Consider

If you will be transferring part or all of your IRA as part of your divorce agreement, there are some factors to consider. First, think about meeting with a financial professional to account for the amount you’re losing. You may need to change your saving or investing strategy to get back on track with your retirement goals. Second, consider alternatives—you may be able to give your spouse another asset of equal value in exchange for keeping your IRA. It all depends on how flexible you are with your retirement accounts.

Discuss Your Legal Options with Pence Law Firm

When you’re facing divorce in Charleston, it’s important to have a strong legal team on your side. Pence Law Firm is here to support you every step of the way. Schedule your free consultation now by calling us at 304-345-7250 or reaching out online.

Adopted Children Might Need Extra Support During Divorce

If you’re facing divorce and trying to figure out what’s best for your children, it’s important to think about the specific needs of each child. When you and your spouse share an adopted child, it’s likely that your child will struggle quite a bit throughout this process. The loss that comes with adoption can often be awakened through the loss of the divorce, and both you and your ex should be prepared to support your child through this time.

There are many factors that may influence how your child responds to your divorce. As you navigate this difficult time, make sure you have the legal support and guidance you need. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250.

Unique Challenges for Adopted Children

There are several challenges that divorce often brings up for adopted children:

  • Loss and abandonment: Adopted children often have a fear of abandonment and loss, due to the loss of their biological family early in life. Unfortunately, the upheaval of divorce can bring these feelings back to the surface.
  • Instability: Children, and adopted children, in particular, thrive in a stable environment. Divorce is the epitome of an unstable environment. You know that it’s temporary, but to a child, it can feel like their entire world is over. You may see your child act out, regress, or even withdraw from you as they try to process what’s happening.
  • Difficulty with attachment and trust: If the adoption is relatively recent and your child is still figuring out their place in your family, they may experience serious issues with attachment and trust during a divorce. A child who was previously securely attached may suddenly show an anxious attachment style or an avoidant attachment style, making it harder for both parents to bond with them. The child may also stop trusting their parents, making it harder for them to provide support during the divorce.
  • Confusion over loyalty: Children may feel like they have to declare loyalty to one parent during a divorce. This is often seen among adopted children, who may naturally be closer to one parent than the other. It’s crucial to avoid any hint of parental alienation, as the child must be encouraged to maintain a strong relationship with both parents.

Emotionally Supporting Your Adopted Child

Understanding the issues your child may face during this time can put you in a better position to support them as they grieve and heal. Emphasize the need for open communication and allow your child to open up to you—even if what they have to say may be painful or hurtful to hear. Remember that they have no say over what is happening, and it’s natural to feel angry or betrayed.

Protect your child’s routine as much as you can. Even if you’re in a different home, you can allow them to keep their same extracurricular activities, take them to spend time with friends and uphold the traditions you have always shared. Any consistency you can give them during this time can give them a sense of security.

Do your best to reassure your child of your love for them and your ex’s love for them. It may be difficult to talk about your ex in positive terms, but supporting their relationship with your child is truly putting your child’s best interests first. Don’t be surprised if your little one needs more reassurance, cuddles, or affection than usual.

Using Your Resources

You may want to have a therapist lined up before you even tell your child about the divorce. They will undoubtedly have things to work through in the months to come and providing them with support right away will benefit everyone. You may want to look for a therapist with specialized training in working with adopted children and navigating divorce trauma.

Keep learning throughout this time. Learn more about adoption-related trauma, the unique ways divorce can affect adopted children, and the best ways to support your adopted child’s growth and healing.

Facing Divorce? Contact Pence Law Firm Now

With the team at Pence Law Firm, you can work through divorce while giving your children the guidance and help they need. Let us handle the legal aspects of your divorce while you support your family. Set up a consultation with our team of Charleston divorce attorneys by calling us at 304-345-7250 or sending us a message online.

Taking Control of Your Finances After a Divorce

Divorce is a major life event that can derail every aspect of your life while you get it sorted out. Your finances will likely take a significant hit while you work through your split, but that’s temporary. By planning ahead and being honest about your finances, you can take control of your financial situation and plan for life after divorce.

If you’re still reeling from the decision to divorce and you’re not sure what your next step is, it’s time to talk to an attorney who can advocate for you along the way. Call Pence Law Firm at 304-345-7250 to set up a time to talk with one of our experienced attorneys.

Get a Full Picture of Your Financial Situation

This part may be painful, but it is unavoidable if you want to get your money under control. You need an unbiased view of what’s going out, what’s coming in, and what you have left over at the end of each month.

You can start by calculating your sources of income for each month. This obviously includes any income from employment, but may also include child support, alimony, or side gig work. This is where it’s important to be honest—if your ex-spouse is ordered to pay $1,000 in child support but has only made two payments in the last six months, it’s wise not to count on that money coming in each month.

You can also keep track of fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses include rent, mortgage, student loans, and other payments that are the same every month. Flexible expenses may include groceries, gas, utilities, and fun money.

In addition to looking at the monthly payments you have to make, create a list of your debts, how much is owed on each account, and your current estimated payoff date. This will be important if you want to pay off your debts more quickly.

Develop a Realistic Budget

You already have the framework for a budget with your list of income sources and expenses. Now you can tweak it to fit your life a little better. Perhaps you have three streaming services on your expenses list and you know for a fact you only watch one. You can cut the other two and trim them from your budget. 

Maybe looking at the numbers made you realize that you’ve been dipping into savings every month and you need to cut back on discretionary spending. Your budget should account for monthly expenses, as well as those that pop up occasionally or annually—for example, vehicle registration, vehicle repairs, home repairs, and vet visits. Ensure that you are making contributions to savings, so you have an emergency fund.

Leverage Assets and Account for Liabilities

If you were granted a share of marital assets in the divorce, you may have what you need to improve your financial situation. If you took ownership of an investment property, consider finding ways to make more money from it—perhaps your ex-spouse hadn’t increased rent in five years, and the current rent is far below market value. Maybe making a few small updates would drastically increase what you bring in each month.

This is also a good time to look into insurance policies. Your needs as a divorced person may not be quite the same as the needs of a married person. You might be able to trim back some of your policies and add the money you save to your monthly budget.

Take some time to plan for the debts you were left with after the divorce. While you can make minimum payments until everything is paid off, you may want to come up with a more aggressive repayment plan.

Think About Future Plans

Whether your goals are preparing for retirement, funding your children’s college accounts, or starting a new business, don’t put those plans off for “someday.” If you’re already in the middle of financial planning, make space for those goals in your current plans.

Navigate Your Divorce with the Help of Pence Law Firm

Divorce is never easy, but having a compassionate and experienced attorney by your side can help you minimize the stress you face. Schedule a consultation with our team now by contacting us online or calling us at 304-345-7250.