How to Avoid the Financial Burden After Divorce
When that moment comes where reconciliation is out of the question, the very last thing you want to do is to drag the process out or fight another day with your spouse. According to several scholars, the divorce risk number is 40-50%, often due to a struggle over finances. Everyone deserves to have his or her life savings and earnings protected. During and after the dissolution of a marriage, both spouses can have trouble coping with feelings of loss and struggle financially as well. Furthermore, legal fees, asset-division, child support and alimony can ruin otherwise healthy finances.
- Don’t Seek Revenge
In the midst of a divorce, it is common to feel sadness, pain, and betrayal. However, holding onto regrets and bitterness will only keep your life from moving forward. Forgiveness is critical in every relationship and it is YOUR choice to let go of the experience of hurt and pain. Instead of holding on to hurt in order to protect yourself from the fear of future pain, you can choose to gift yourself with forgiveness and let go of the resentment. We often see our clients seeking revenge and it only takes away from you, causing unnecessary street and a burden on your mind and heart. Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” No one wins when pain is left unresolved.
- Before Getting Married, Execute a Prenuptial Agreement
Preparing for the case of divorce is an easy step to ensure that you don’t face financial ruin. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that the painful, elongated process of divorce can be as smooth and speedy as possible, for both you and your ex-spouse. Often times, our law office spends months in a court room with quarreling spouses, making the process stressful and very painful for both parties. To ease that burden, a prenup can simplify the whole process by delineating the exact terms of separation. A prenup will allow you to move on and start repairing your life much quicker. Without disputes and differentiating who deserves what, there is much less frustration to go around. Many couples don’t realize that the problem with divorces is that your property becomes so co-mingled during the time of your marriage that it is almost impossible to ascertain what is yours in the case of a divorce. Furthermore, sorting out the co-mingled property is tedious, expensive, and difficult to prove in court in the case of a divorce. To make matters worse, feelings are hurt during a divorce, and without a prenup, a vengeful ex-spouse can try and seize everything. A prenup can protect you during what can be one of the most heart-breaking and stressful occurrences in your life.
- Secure your Credit Score
If you and your spouse share joint credit accounts (e.g. mortgage or credit cards) and your ex-spouse begins to make late payments or stops paying altogether, you are still responsible to pay those bills. Failure to do so can hurt your credit, but if you’re on amicable, cooperative terms with your ex-spouse, you may be able to work out mutually beneficial payment arrangements. You can also open a new bank account and request a copy of your credit report.
- Create a Post-Divorce Budget
A complex custody litigation can cost you a lot of money, causing you to miss bills or loan payments, racking up credit card debt, or be subject to a lien on your house. Many people don’t have thousands of dollars on hand and fall behind on other bills. It is crucial to develop a comprehensive financial plan in which you have a very clear understanding of what funds came into the marriage and what funds went out. Make sure to keep tabs on all financial matters including: day-to-day expenses, cost of monthly utilities, mortgage, car payments, etc.
- Establish a Long-Term Plan
If you have kids, who will pay for the college tuition? If you have a mortgage, how will you split the payments? If your divorce settlement agreement included any lump sum payments such as alimony, pension, or the sale of a home, it is crucial to develop a strategy to manage these assets.
- Disinherit your Ex-Spouse
People often leave the vast majority, if not all, of their assets to their spouse in their will. It is important to hire an attorney to write and execute a new will, trusts, and power of attorney. If you don’t have a Separation Agreement signed by you and your spouse, your ex-spouse might still be able to inherit all of your property if you pass away before the judgment of your divorce is granted.
- Change the Beneficiaries on your Life Insurance, 401k Pension and IRA Accounts
Do you want your soon to be ex-spouse making possible life and death decisions on your behalf? It is crucial to change the beneficiary designations as soon as your divorce is final to ensure that your ex-Spouse is no longer your beneficiary on any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, pensions, wills, trusts and annuities.
- Collaborative Divorce
An option gaining popularity is collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, each party has its own lawyer, just as with a traditional divorce. The difference is, the lawyers and their clients will work and meet together to reach a harmonious result, which can save you money. Each spouse hires a specially trained collaborative attorney who will assist in negotiating a settlement agreement. However, this may not work for everyone. If you have a spouse who intimidates you and who you feel uncomfortable around, having one lawyer handling your divorce simply may not work. It especially isn’t a good idea if there have been domestic abuse issues and you are not comfortable seeing your spouse often to negotiate the terms of your divorce.
- Spousal Social Security Benefits
Not all spouses are aware of how Social Security works with respect to marriage, divorce, death and remarriage. But you should be! Unlike spousal benefits, both ex-spouses can collect this benefit off the other’s record at the same time. Divorcing just shy of the 10 years can deny a person — man or woman — many thousands of dollars in divorced-spouse benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, even if you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record (even if your ex-spouse has remarried) if:
- Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
- You are not married;
- Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older;
- The benefit that you are entitled to receive as an ex-spouse, is greater than the benefit you would receive based on your own work record; and
- You are entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
- Develop your Career
If you put your career aside to concentrate on your family, now is the perfect time to fulfill your ambitions. After your divorce is final, you will need to figure out a way to support yourself and your children, should you have any. You also have to think ahead and plan for the expenses of tuition, rent, mortgages, and other bills that will now be paid without the supplemental income of your spouse. Looking at this time as a period of self-exploration is one way to overcome feelings of isolation and fear. You can also explore untapped interests as an outlet to positively let go of the grief brought on by divorce and redefine yourself. Take up new hobbies, activities, and interests — expand yourself. Stay busy in a constructive way.
Disclaimer: This post might be considered Attorney Advertisement by some bar associations. Prior results do not imply similar outcomes. This communication does not imply an Attorney-Client relationship.