Money “Triggers” during Divorce: The Most Emotional and Financial Problems in Family Law


Money “Triggers” during Divorce: The Most Emotional and Financial Problems in Family Law

Divorce is more likely to be a conflict between the more human affairs, like parenting schedules, decisions for children and relocation of children.

The financial problems aren’t going away.

The financial position or claims of a spouse can cause them to divorce.

Although couples may be trying to reach an amicable and non-stressful divorce, it is possible for them to show the same kind of good intentions as they would with a business deal. The legal decisions made regarding financial matters can sometimes be disruptive and even offensive, despite all of their best intentions.

These are some of these more contentious financial issues that may arise during a divorcement.



The law permits exemptions for property not the result of joint efforts. However, both spouses are presumptively expected that they will equally share the fruits of their marriage. It could be that one spouse brought the asset into the marriage or that its receipt was so personal that it couldn’t reasonably be expected to be shared among the spouses. These exemptions could include pre-relationship property and inheritances as well as gifts from third parties.

Inadequate expectations management and tedious tracking of exceptions can lead to increased conflict.


One spouse could claim that the other has intentionally or inappropriately squandered some of their net worth and should, accordingly, be less eligible for gains and/or more responsible to losses. Invariably, the “bad faith” aspect of this allegation will lead to what can be seen as a personal attack on a spouse’s character or their wisdom.

Preservation Orders

A Preservation Order can be issued against a spouse for dissipating funds or disposing of assets following separation and before resolution. These injunctions can prevent spouses from recklessly or maliciously spending money. These court orders may quickly escalate hostilities.


Imputation of Income

Both child support and spousal maintenance are income-driven. An ex-spouse might claim that their spouse is either unemployed or underemployed. In such cases, they should have a higher income.

Also, spouses who are self-employed might be very careful about how they describe their income for the purposes of support.

To cultivate goodwill, it is not worth challenging a spouse who is either dishonestly or inexplicably idle.


Child above the Age of Majority

One spouse might argue that a child does not belong to the marital relationship for child support. They might claim that a child older than the age of majority can withdraw from the parents’ care because they are unable to do so due to illness, disability or other reasons.

Sometimes, this position can be seen as an attack against the child, even if it is the legitimacy of their unemployment, alleged disability or the seriousness and importance of their academic pursuits.



It is often a volatile topic, but the first question in a spousal support analysis will be whether the spouse seeking support is entitled to it. This opens the door to a discussion on the roles of spouses in the marriage and sometimes their differing recollections. There will be a lot of polarization from accusations of “revisionist histories”.


After determining entitlement and the amount of spousal support that should be paid, the next question to ask is how long. It’s not surprising that this length will always be too long to pay and not long enough to support the recipient. This can lead directly into accusations of slothfulness and greed.


Like in all high-conflict disputes, the madness doesn’t have to determine the method.

Alternative Dispute Resolution models within Family Law have evolved over decades to offer spouses cost-effective options for resolving even the most contentious issues.

A joint retention of financial specialists could help to make the subjective more objective and transform opinions into facts.

The parties will generally benefit from any approach that encourages the parties to place more importance on their interests than on their positions. Acceptable outcomes are more important than right or wrong ones.

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