Every situation leading to a divorce is unique; comparing one person’s experience to another is not recommended. However, there is definitely a right and a wrong way to proceed. There are a few common mistakes that can be avoided in an effort to make the process run as smoothly as possible.
1. Letting your emotions do the talking
Seek an outlet for your sadness, pain, and anger that is not your spouse or your attorney. It’s temping to let what you’re feeling fuel your decision process, but your separation and divorce agreement is not the place in which to attempt to settle any scores. You need clarity of purpose and of vision so you can make the decisions that will be most beneficial for you and your children (if you have them).
2. Hiding assets
This is not the time to engage in “creative accounting.” Produce honest and accurate information on your assets and your debt, as well as an accurate accounting of your family’s budget and any future expenses that may be incurred. If you are discovered hiding assets or failing to disclose them, you could be subject to a monetary fine or other sanctions. In short, this is NEVER a good idea.
3. Forgetting about taxes
Once you decide to divorce, every decision you make will eventually have tax implications. It’s important that you bear this in mind when making determinations about transfers of money, property or investments. Your divorce attorney should be familiar with the tax implications of child support, alimony or anything else in question during the process.
4. Forgetting the children
This seems like an obvious one, but because divorce is often fraught with high emotion, it’s important to keep the best interests of the children in the forefront, and not to put them in the middle of your disputes with your spouse. Obviously, their emotional well-being is critical, as is providing for their livelihood. Keep the overall picture in mind as you and your spouse embark on negotiations.
5. Under (or Over) valuing your assets
When you divorce, the idea is to properly divide assets equitably, and that can be tricky if you haven’t properly valued them. Getting to keep your house may seem like a “win,” but unless you’re still able to pay for the mortgage after your divorce, this is may not be the win it seems. You could be driven further into debt that would add significant financial worry to an already difficult recovery.
6. Forgetting to update your beneficiary information
Your ex could be entitled to your insurance or retirement account if you forget to update your beneficiary information on wills, retirement account or insurance. Consult an attorney before changing any beneficiary designations, as you may be required to keep your spouse as a beneficiary in some cases until the divorce.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to explore ALL of your options before beginning the divorce process in earnest. There are several different ways in which to achieve the dissolution of your marriage. Take your time and evaluate which best suits you and the personality of your spouse, that is in line with your needs and the needs of your children. The end goal is to reach a fair and equitable settlement for both parties, while keeping the best interests of the children in mind so the new version of your family can move forward peacefully.