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Don't let these outcomes of divorce surprise you

Are you worried that you're going to feel a bit surprised by the real outcome of your divorce? It's not the end of the marriage itself that worries you. It's the fact that life may change in some unexpected ways that you can't control.

It's understandable that this makes you nervous. The key is to focus on all of the potential changes in advance so that you can plan for them. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from any outcome.

To help you get started, here are a few common surprises that people face:

1. They do not get as much alimony as they assumed they would

Never make assumptions about finances. Instead, take the time to find out what rights you have and how you can work toward a fair division of assets. If you budget around a far higher total than you really get, it adds a lot of stress to your life.

2. They have to go back to work

This could be related to the above; if you end up with half of the alimony you anticipated, you may have to go back to work if you want to keep the same lifestyle. Many people make the mistake of assuming they will not need to get a job. You also want to remember that alimony does not always last forever. Even if you get it for a time, you may need a job a few years in the future.

3. They find out that they can't keep the home

You may think that property division just means deciding who keeps the home, you or your spouse. The surprising reality, though, may be that you lose it completely. If you cannot afford to get the mortgage on your own, even if your spouse doesn't want the house, then you can't buy it. The only way to split the asset in half is to sell it and divide the money.

4. They find out that they have more debt than they knew about

People live with a lot of debt. If your spouse does the finances, you may not realize how much you have. It can include things like student loans, 401(k) loans, credit card debt, car loans, lines of credit on the equity you have in the home and your primary mortgage. Remember, you need to divide up debt when you divide up assets, so it's good to know what types of obligations you could face.

These are just four of the most common surprises, but they are enough to show you how important it is to look into all of your legal options and to really know where you stand as you move toward divorce.

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