Ask anyone who’s been through a divorce: it’s not an easy process, even under the most amicable of conditions. When it’s a contentious parting of ways, things get even worse: tempers flare and bad decisions are made. To avoid making mistakes with serious financial and emotional consequences, here are five tips you should remember when filing for divorce.
- Don’t rack up more debt. Divorce is costly. You’ll be responsible for attorney’s fees, court costs, and setting up a new household. If at all possible, do not run up more debt by signing up for a new credit card or line of credit. Get used to living on less, even if it’s difficult for a short period of time. The freedom you’ll enjoy when it’s all over will make the temporary deprivation worth it.
- Resist the urge to settle early. No matter how badly you want to be out of the marriage, don’t put your financial security at risk by blindly agreeing to “settle.” Copy documents such as credit card statements, tax forms, and pension details to confirm which assets and debts are yours, and make sure that you and the children will be covered by health insurance during and after the divorce. If you and your spouse cannot reach an amicable agreement, hire an attorney and provide them with financial particulars such as your tax return and detailed lists of income, expenses, assets, and debts.
- Don’t overlook collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce involves the use of a professional team (attorneys, therapists, and divorce coaches) to guide you through the divorce process. There are no court appearances and these divorces tend to be less adversarial than traditional ones. You and your spouse don’t have to be in agreement about your issues or even on good terms. You merely have to be willing to show good faith throughout the divorce process.
- Don’t involve the children unnecessarily. Children are naturally upset by the divorce process, and don’t need to be subject to added stress. Refrain from disparaging your spouse in front of them. Focus instead on spending quality time with them: take them to see a movie, enjoy a relaxing road trip, and generally reassure them that both you and your spouse love them.
- Don’t forget to change your will. Divorce does not automatically revoke your existing will. To keep your (soon to be) ex from receiving any cash or assets originally bequeathed to them, change your will as soon as the divorce is issued. It’s important to remember that if you pass away before the divorce goes through and you’ve left nothing to your spouse, they can legally sue for part of your estate.
Difficult as it may be, it’s imperative that you keep your feelings in check and cooperate with your spouse as much as possible. You will make better decisions if you can keep your emotions under control. Give us a call at (503) 227-0200 to learn more!