It’s no secret that one of the most difficult parts of divorce is the financial aspect. If the financial part were easier, we would probably see a rise in divorce filings. If you have put off a divorce because you were concerned about dividing assets, supporting two households, paying child and/or spousal support, or having to give up your standard of living, you are not alone.
While a lot of unhappy spouses delay their divorce because of financial worries, the good news is that you don’t have to. If you’re worried about losing your hard-earned assets or walking away with nothing, you can avoid these pitfalls by educating yourself and hiring an experienced divorce attorney as early as possible. In fact, the sooner you seek legal representation, the better.
If someone were to ask us, “When is the right time to speak to a divorce lawyer?” we would say it’s ideal to talk to an attorney before you tell your spouse that you’re filing for divorce. Why? Because, you are putting yourself in a proactive position, instead of a reactive one.
You’re also giving yourself the time you need to strategize your divorce. Much like a game of chess, you can plan each move in advance to further your goals. When you’re the spouse in the driver’s seat, you’re in more control of the final outcome, and that can make a huge difference in your life after divorce.
Our Top Financial Advice
If you’re contemplating divorce, money is probably at the top of your list as far as priorities are concerned. That said, here is some of our top financial advice that we give our clients, friends and family.
- Don’t hide assets. If you do, the judge will find out and it won’ sit favorably with him or her.
- If you’re in the dark about your finances, it’s time to get up close and personal with them.
- If possible, run both of your credit reports (you and your spouse). This way, you know exactly what debts you both have and whose name they are in.
- Make copies of all of your financial documents, including bank accounts, tax returns, insurance policies, investment accounts, estate planning documents, etc.
- If you have marital debt, consider paying it all off before the divorce is final if you can afford to.
- If you have joint credit cards, either close them or transfer them into one spouse’s name alone. Otherwise, you can be “on the hook” for any new charges made by your spouse.
- Consider getting a PO Box and routing all of your mail there. You don’t want your spouse opening your mail, especially from your divorce attorney.
- Please be aware that the court will require you to disclose all of your financial information, including your income, debts, and assets.
- Consider selling the marital home. Often, the best solution is for spouses to sell the family residence and split the proceeds so they can make a clean break.
- Remember, if your spouse fails to pay a certain marital debt, the creditor can, and probably will hold you liable for the debt. For this reason, you must stay on top of marital debts assigned to your ex-spouse, even if the divorce decree says your spouse is supposed to pay them.
- Develop a post-divorce budget. If you need more income, find a way to increase it, even if it means getting creative.
- Once the divorce is final, don’t forget to update all of your beneficiary designations, including on your bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Otherwise, your spouse remains the beneficiary if something happens to you.
- Aim for a collaborative divorce, it’s far less expensive than a litigated divorce.