Budgeting and Finance in Divorce Mediation

Finances is one of the most difficult areas of dispute in divorce mediation. Many problems in marriage and divorce can come down to power and control issues. The most common place for power and control issues to play out is money: who gets to spend, how much, and when. It is not uncommon to have one partner careful with money while the other one spends freely. It is even more common for partners to try and restrict the other’s usual spending habits while justifying their own. Making a $3000-$10000 major purchase infrequently (a boat or a trip) may be more damaging to a couple’s finances than someone who spends $500 month on luxuries.

What can be done? Agreements can be made about what is “off limits” spending, and how spending decisions are made. Usually one partner spending a lot of money without consulting the other is a problem. It could indicate a fear that if one consults before a purchase, the other will not agree to a purchase and conflict results. It may be easier to ask for forgiveness after rather than permission before, but this causes problems, and often, ultimately, divorce if the pattern is repeated.

Such struggles can indicate a problem in communication. The problem is solved by agreeing to a protocol for spending, or a budget for spending that both can agree to. Not easy work in marriage or divorce, but well worth the effort.