The Financial Nightmare Of Divorce

20/03/2016 12:00 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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A man and woman building a stack of bills

There's been a recent blitzkrieg of publicity around the Kapoor vs. Kapur case, which earlier had 'new' financial demands cropping up faster than you could say 'divorce granted'.

Matters of the heart aside, divorce can be a financial nightmare. Women tend to tighten their financial seatbelt to keep themselves afloat, while men run to hide their bank statements and holdings deep in a desert or high up in the snow-capped mountains where you'd need the 'Revenant' to unearth the truth.

The financial battle that almost invariably ensues in divorce turns very ugly, both for men and women. After all, you have decided on a future together and your lifestyle is reflective of your joint financial status. So when there is a crack or a partition in the relationship, the lifestyle -- which includes everything from where the children go to school to where you buy your groceries or where you go for holidays -- takes a beating. In the case of women the beating is slightly more severe because usually she is not the primary breadwinner in the family and her finances, if she earns at all, are just a little extra income for the family.

When there is a partition in the relationship, the lifestyle -which includes where the children go to school to where you buy your groceries- takes a beating.

If there are any career sacrifices to be made at the altar of marriage, it's usually the woman who does it, willingly or unwillingly. Worse still, if she has never worked, then the sudden burden of running a life without financial independence is a horrifying nightmare. I know that I would at times shake my head in disbelief that in this day and age women are not working and dismiss them as 'totally uncool and not with it', But then when I did scratch the surface I saw the hard, thankless work they were doing for 24 hours -- managing the house and children. The debate around setting a dollar amount to the work done by homemakers is one that refuses to die down.

The economic invisibility of women's income -- whether it is adding to the common pool, not getting a fair share if she gives up her career -- is what makes the splitting of finances in divorce a nightmare for them. This nightmare transcends all barriers of caste, age, culture and country.

But even the men don't exactly come away unscathed.

The economic invisibility of women's income is what makes the splitting of finances in divorce a nightmare for them.

The financial additions of running and providing for another house do take a toll on your balance sheet. Going by what I've observed, men end up spending about 30-40% more when they are maintaining two households. And in this case more money spent doesn't usually equal more happiness.

The laws regarding finances on divorce in India are a bit sketchy and aren't as clear cut as in the US, so the division of assets and finances is still murky territory.

The reality is that both parties suffer and, contrary to how some might lead you to believe, getting a settlement is not like winning a lottery.

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