If you’re contemplating divorce, it’s understandable to have a long list of questions. While you are coping with your own emotions of untangling your life from that of your ex, you are likely also dealing with questions and unsolicited advice from friends, coworkers, and family members. They probably have your best interests at heart, but it helps to familiarize yourself with some time-tested strategies that can ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible. Let’s take a look at three major mistakes that people tend to make when going through a divorce and how you can protect yourself and your finances from unpleasant consequences.
Mistake #1: Not Being Thorough
When it comes to negotiating the terms of your divorce, such as the division of assets and establishing alimony payments, you and your ex will need several key documents that can paint an accurate picture of your finances. It’s easy to forget about a certain bank account or a loan that you haven’t paid off, but every one of these items is critical to ensuring that all of your financial matters are known and accounted for. As soon as you think divorce is inevitable, it’s wise to start collecting all important documents that pertain to your finances, including bank statements, Social Security statements (if you’re taking benefits), receipts that document any significant home improvements, the amount you paid for your home or other important assets, and any other relevant records. If you are not thorough, it’s harder for you to accurately negotiate spousal support payments, child support payments, and other terms of your divorce.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to Close Joint Credit Accounts
While most people understand that financial assets are divided between the spouses during the divorce, it’s easy to forget that debts are also dealt with during this process. It’s essential that you take a look at any outstanding debts that you or your ex owe and act accordingly. For instance, even if your spouse verbally agrees to take responsibility for the shared debt you owe, you can still be held liable by creditors. In fact, creditors are not legally affected by a divorce agreement, so they can come after you for a debt that your spouse already agreed to handle. In order to avoid this scenario, make sure to close any joint accounts you share with your spouse and remove your names from joint credit cards, authorizing only one user to have access to each account. (It’s also worth considering tax implications.)
Mistake #3: Assuming You Are Heading Into a Contentious Battle
Many portrayals of divorce in popular culture are of heated battles in the courtroom. However, for many couples, appearing in court is a last resort. Courtroom showdowns tend to be very costly and time-consuming, so it’s worth considering whether an alternative form of negotiation could work for you and your ex-spouse, like mediation. While both of these options do require that both of you can be civil with one another while you negotiate your divorce, most couples who use mediation report feeling more empowered by the process—not to mention that these options are usually much less expensive than litigation.
If you are looking for trusted and compassionate legal guidance during your divorce in West Chester, Mason, or Hamilton, reach out to the knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC by calling (513) 863-6600 today.