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10 Timely Tips For Divorcing Couples

Divorce filings are up in January, as people decide to change their lives in the new year. Don’t make a mistake you’ll regret later - follow these tips for divorcing couples offered by Sara A Stolberg, CFP™, CDFA™, one of the top Certified Divorce Financial Analysts in the Chicago area.

  1. Consider your options before responding to a spouse’s request for a divorce. You can go to marriage counseling, find a mediator, file a collaborative divorce petition, or choose the traditional, adversarial divorce. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and a lesser-known alternative may suit your situation better than the conventional divorce process.

  2. Gather your financial documents as if you were preparing to see your tax advisor or financial planner. Know what assets you have, debts you owe, how much income you have, and how much you spend.

  3. Choose your representatives carefully. Ask relatives, friends, trusted advisors for referrals to attorneys, divorce financial consultants, mediators, appraisers, etc. If you are not yet ready to let others know about your plans to divorce, you can contact national organizations, support groups, and bar associations for referrals. Research these professionals carefully, to ensure that they have the credentials you seek and that their views on divorce match yours.

  4. Gather a support network. Your attorney will charge you for every call you make to complain about your spouse. Your friends and family may get sick of hearing about your divorce. Instead, talk to a therapist or join a divorce support group. You will gain the strength you need to endure the divorce process, and be more prepared to start your new life.

  5. Think about where you want to be when you are divorced. Do you want to stay in your home? Will you need to go back to school to train for a new job? Is it time to start your own business? Spend some time contemplating your future. Discover what is truly important to you.

  6. Be honest with your spouse. Do not hide money, over-estimate the value of your house or underestimate your pension’s worth. It only delays the progress of the divorce and makes it more costly.

  7. Keep the kids out of it. Children of all ages, whether toddlers or college graduates, will find the break-up of their parents’ marriage to be painful and confusing. Do not put them in the middle, express your frustration to them, confide your problems in them, or otherwise make them a part of the divorce. They will come out of it better if they are unaware of the details.

  8. Look at the long-term consequences of the divorce. Make sure you can live on the support you will be receiving or what you have to live on after paying support. Do not just accept "She keeps the house, he keeps his pension", since that leaves her without a retirement account and him without a home. Consult with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who has special software to manipulate these scenarios.

  9. Consider the impact of taxes. Divorce usually involves a tax-free exchange of assets, but taxes affect child support, alimony, capital gains, and more. Consult with a tax advisor before accepting any settlement.

  10. Be patient. Divorce has its own timetable. There can be a lot of hurry-up and wait. Sometimes you are waiting for the other side to respond, and other times there may be a delay due to a court calendar. Ask your attorney about accelerating the progress of a case if it seems to have moved to the back burner.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.