Marriages that begin before the age of 23 are most likely to end up in divorce. Of marriages beginning when the spouses were under twenty, 48% will end in divorce. For those beginning in the ages 20-23, 31% will end in divorce. Statistics also indicate that the average length of a person’s first divorce is roughly eight years. The average age for men at the time of their first divorce is 32 and women at 30. So what does all this mean? A large number of those late teen/early 20s marriages end in the mid to late twenties.
In Texas, many people considering in their 20s look at uncontested divorces as a cheap and simple option. They often believe they do not need a more involved divorce process because they have not accumulated much assets. An uncontested divorce can provide an effective solution for a divorce in your 20s. Particularly when there are no children and the spouses have little in the way of both assets and debts.
However, many people tend to have more assets and debts to deal with in a divorce than they think. Regardless, today’s post will discuss seven things you need to know about getting a divorce in your 20s.
1. Your debt load may be a more significant issue than you think
Studies report the average debt load for 20-somethings is between $23,000 and $46,000. Although 20-somethings tend to have less debt than older Americans, the debt to income ratio may be significantly worse. This debt may include credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car loans and payday loans. There is an excellent chance that both spouses signed on to all or most of the debt. That means both spouses may owe the full amount regardless of the purpose of the debt.
Debts are often mishandled in divorces, particularly when spouses try to handle their divorces themselves. As a result, people end up taking on too much of the marital debt. That can result in a lifetime of financial problems. Instead, debt should receive treatment similar to assets in the divorce although their division is more complex. In your 20s you may have more debt than assets. That can mean both spouses walk away in the divorce with negative assets.
A strategic approach to your finances can be vital to putting you on a solid financial footing after your divorce.
2. Dealing with child issues upfront can save money and heartache in the long term
A common issue for divorces among young adults in their 20s is mishandling child support and conservatorship issues. In an attempt to save costs, many 20-something parents will follow the standard possession order which may not effectively deal with the needs of your children or your needs as a parent.
In your 20s, your child is most likely very young and that can add complications in how you arrange visitation. It can also be a concern that young parents are not adequately prepared to perceive future problems that may arise as the children grow up under a possession order in a divided parental relationship.
It’s cheap and (mostly) simple to add the standard possession order to your divorce decree; but down the road when you have problems and need to modify the possession order you can spend thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars fighting a modification. The probability of a complicated modification is more likely because you are likely to remarry. The new spouses often become issues among the parents.
3. Dealing with real estate can be complex
It is becoming more common for people in their 20s to buy homes. Along with that purchase comes a mortgage and long term maintenance costs. Dealing with who keeps the house, how the mortgage is handled and how to deal with the equity can involve additional legal maneuvering and creates a lot of opportunity for the equity and debt in the property to be unfairly divided between the spouses. Trying to deal with the home easily by selling the house and paying off the mortgage can be a different set of problems, especially in a weak real estate market and if you are upside down on the mortgage.
4. Social media creates a world of problems
Social media has the potential to get everybody in trouble because it’s so easy to blast your thoughts out without thinking about the consequences but those of us in our 20s and early 30s, we are particularly at risk for creating problems in a divorce with social media because we’ve spent so much time hooked into it.
Over years of use we’ve put so much content into various social media networks and have become so used to communicating with people through it that we have created an enormous, permanent record of our thoughts and feelings. And guess what? It can all be uncovered during a divorce. Even if you shut down your account and try to delete everything, the website keeps records. Be careful about what you put on social media, especially after filing for divorce.
5. Create a support system
If you married in your early 20s then you have spent all or almost all of your adult life in your marriage. You don’t have much experience dealing with running household on your own and most of your friends are probably couple friends. When you get a divorce you will be cast into a very new environment with a different financial situation and you may find yourself losing friends and people you once considered family. A key step to surviving the divorce process and moving on is to create a support system outside of your married life. Plan a budget and find people in your life that you can lean on that have no conflict of loyalty between you and your spouse.
If you are looking at a divorce in your 20s
Contacting a lawyer should be at the top of your to-do list if you are considering filing for divorce or your spouse has told you he or she wants a divorce. Starting early in collecting financial records and other key documents can be a significant advantage. Waiting until things become unpleasant to even talk to an attorney can put you at a significant and potentially irreversible disadvantage.