Divorce Lawyers Tips:
Five Mistakes to Avoid When Getting a Divorce (Part 1)
Making the decision to file for divorce is extremely stressful and complicated. Generally speaking, the factors that lead to the divorce are emotionally charged, and it is easy to succumb to your feelings when making decisions that have long lasting ramifications. This article highlights five common mistakes people make in the process of divorcing a spouse.
#1. Compromising Your Divorce Case by Oversharing on Social Media
When you are dealing with the emotional roller coaster of a divorce, social media may seem like a safe place to vent your feelings. However, to do so may actually complicate matters, and even jeopardize your settlement negotiations. Imagine this scenario:
Bob has represented to his ex that he is no longer working steadily, and cannot afford alimony (spousal support) and/or the child support payments that were based on his previous income level. Mary, his soon-to-be-ex-wife, however, is told by a mutual friend that Bob has posted pictures of his new Mercedes on his social media account, where he also bragged about an upcoming trip to Barbados. Mary gives this information to her attorney, who is able to negotiate a better settlement based on the evidence found on Bob’s social media page.
If you’re considering a divorce or are in the middle of one, it pays to keep silent about it on social media. You don’t want to hand your ex the leverage he or she may need to get a better deal.
#2. Failing to Gather Proper Paperwork Before Divorce
The time to begin gathering necessary paperwork is when you first begin to consider a divorce. Once the subject of a divorce is broached, your soon-to-be-ex may be unwilling to cooperate by providing the documents you need. Some advanced preparation may save you a lot in terms of time, money, and emotional energy.
Here are some of the documents and information that you should pull together:
- Account numbers and balances for any and all banking, investment, retirement, and other financial accounts.
- Account numbers and balances for any outstanding debt, such as credit card statements, auto loans, mortgage, etc.
- Social Security statements showing your spouse’s earnings record and expected future benefits.
- Amounts paid for your house, cars, and/or any other significant assets.
- Receipts documenting home improvements.
In addition to being necessary for the divorce, these documents may also help with future retirement and tax planning. For example, if you were married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to claim spousal or survivor benefits from Social Security based on your ex’s earnings.
#3. Leaving Joint Credit Accounts Open after Divorce
A common thread in many divorce agreements is that one spouse agrees to assume responsibility for a debt rather than dividing it. However, it is important for the other spouse to realize that he or she can still be held liable for that debt, despite what the settlement agreement may say, if his or her name is on the account.
While this may seem unfair, the reality is that creditors are not bound by your divorce settlement. Their contract is with whomever signed the original agreement, which predated your divorce, and likely includes both you and your ex.
The best way to deal with joint accounts is to close them, and transfer the debt to new accounts or loans that name only the person now responsible for the account.
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