I often get emails from readers explaining their situation and asking what a fair divorce settlement would be for them. In the hope of helping those who are in the dark about what is and isn’t fair I’ve put together examples of different scenarios and what I believe to be fair divorce settlements.
I must caution you though that every case is different. The examples below are not absolute examples of what you should expect from a divorce settlement. It is however what I feel is fair when taking into consideration the short-term and long-term needs of those going through the divorce process.
Samples Cases of Fair Divorce Resolution:
- Example I: Ken and Jan
Marital Profile: Ken and Jan have been married for five years and have no children. They both entered into the marriage with established careers, earning similar salaries.
Divorce Settlement: The marital assets are split 50/50 between the spouses. There is no spousal support or child support.
Both Ken and Jan are basically in the same position financially at the end of their marriage that they were before the marriage. Neither has given up their career or lost any income potential during the marriage.
With the advent of no-fault divorce laws the courts will not take into consideration any bad behavior by either party unless one or the other has caused severe financial distress by spending liquid marital assets. That is not the case in this divorce scenario. It only makes sense that assets be split 50/50 and both spouses move on and rebuild their lives.
- Example II: Joseph and Karen
Marital Profile: Joseph and Karen have been married for 14 years and have no children. Their marriage is a medium-term marriage where spousal support and an unequal division of marital property may be considered.
Divorce Settlement: The marital assets are split 60/40 in Karen’s favor. There is no spousal support or child support.
Joseph and Karen both have high paying careers. Joseph makes more than Karen though and has greater earning potential in coming years. Due to the fact that Joseph’s standard of living will continue to increase and Karen’s will stagnate, the judge awards her a higher percentage of the marital assets to offset the loss of benefits Karen enjoyed during the marriage.
- Example III: Mark and Joan
Marital Profile: Mark and Joan have been married for 26 years and have no children. Both earn high salaries in well established careers. Joan earns 1/3 more than Mark which makes her the higher earning spouse.
Divorce Settlement: The marital assets are split 50/50 and Joan is ordered to pay Mark rehabilitative spousal support for a term of five years. The long-term marriage established a lifestyle that both Mark and Joan had become accustomed to.
Marks standard of living will decrease once there is a divorce due to the fact that he makes less than Joan. The two went to mediation and Joan chose to pay temporary spousal support that is deductible at tax time rather than splitting assets in John’s favor.
- Example IV: Jim and Claire
Marital Profile: Jim and Claire have been married for eight years and have two children under the age of six. Claire is a stay-at-home mom who has not worked for six years. Jim has a manufacturing job and earns $52,000 a year.
Divorce Settlement: Jim and Claire will share joint legal custody with residential custody awarded to Claire. Jim pays child support according to state guidelines which are based on the income shares method.
They agree to split 50/50 any expense of sending their children to college and all extracurricular activities while the children are still in primary school. There is a 60/40 division of marital assets in Claire’s favor and she is awarded short-term, rehabilitative spousal support for two years.
Claire will be attending a training program and agreed to be fully employed within a two year period. At that time child support will be recalculated and lowered due to the increase in Claire’s income and spousal support will end.
- Example V: Bill and Grace
Marital Profile: Bill and Grace have been married for 16 years with two teenage children. Grace has been a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years; Bill has an executive position and earns a six figure salary.
Divorce Settlement: Grace is awarded the marital home and all equity in the home. The equity in the home is deducted from other marital assets and there is a 50/50 deduction of the remainder between both spouses.
Grace is awarded spousal support for a length of ten years. She is awarded half of Bill’s retirement benefits and since she will retain custody of the children is awarded child support according to state guidelines.
Grace wanted the marital home because the equity in the home is more than she could have gotten if there has been a basic 50/50 split in marital assets. She also wanted to remain in the home her children had grown up in until they graduated from high school. Since the home will appreciate in value Grace has an asset that she can one day liquidate.
Bill had no interest in the marital home. He was more interested in the assets that could be liquidated immediately should the need arise. They both agreed that Bill would continue to pay into their children’s college savings funds.