Believe it or not, there can be positives that come from a divorce. I’m not saying divorce is easy in any way; it is likely to be one of the most difficult things you will go through in your life. However, after years of helping clients navigate their divorce, I believe there can be a silver lining.
The Silver Lining for Children
First and foremost, the kids. Within most families, there is a default parent – the one that the kids turn to first and the one that carries the bulk of the day-to-day child rearing. That’s ok. We often divide and conquer in marriage, and each person contributes differently. But, when a couple separates, the parent that wasn’t as hands-on must become much more so. If Dad is the one that puts the kids to bed each night, then Mom will have to take that on during her parenting time. If Mom is the one that fixes all of the ouchies and boo-boos, Dad will have to step in and make everything all better during his parenting time. Being the only parent available during their scheduled parenting time means parents must do everything and play all the roles. Having to be both roles for children creates an opportunity for individuals to grow as parents and deepen their relationships with their children.
The Silver Lining for Financials
Divorce can be financially devastating, but there can also be financial benefits. During the divorce process, parties can examine their full financial picture. And similarly to parenting, the person who was not as hands-on with the finances can learn about the finances and manage their own independently. Divorce has a large financial impact, but sometimes it can be a good impact. One example is the liquidity event resulting from the sale of the marital home. Especially in today’s real estate market, many people have a large amount of equity in their homes. In many cases, this money can eliminate marital debt and give each person a clean slate.
Equal parenting time is becoming increasingly common, and sharing equal parenting time can also create some advantageous post-divorce tax situations. After divorce, filing as Head of Household is beneficial because you will have a larger standard deduction and wider tax brackets to allow more of your taxable income to be taxed at a lower rate. To file as Head of Household, you must be unmarried and provide more than fifty percent of the household expenses for one or more dependents. This means that if you have multiple children and one parent has a child 51% of the time, and the other parent has a different child 51% of the time, then both parents may file as Head of Household.
Think Outside the Box
There are many questions to ask and things to consider when going through a divorce, and it is easy to assume that it will all be awful. But, in the demise of a marriage, there can be opportunities for personal growth or beneficial financial arrangements. These arrangements are just one of the many advantages of mediation versus litigation. Mediation allows you to take the time to ask questions and think creatively to determine what is best for your family. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and look for the silver lining where you can.