Even if you are not quite ready to get divorced, you need to be informed and
Deciding to divorce is a complex process. Knowing how easy or difficult
the process will be depends on you and how your spouse responds.
The better prepared you are
financially, will in part dictate how smooth or turbulent the divorce obstacle course will be.
Depending on the make-up of your marriage, there are some legal, emotional
and financial divorce “Smarts” with which you should be equipped.
As a divorce attorney/mediator with over 35 years experience, I recommend
1. Consult with an attorney and a mediator, or an attorney who is also
It's a good idea to consult with an attorney, especially if you have
children or assets. Choose the right person for you – someone who
represents who you are and your divorce style. If you don’t have
easy access to the family funds, start putting some money aside so you
can afford to pay an upfront retainer, which is almost always required.
It is best not to navigate a divorce on your own.
Ask lots of questions. Choose the attorney or mediator who will listen
and pay attention to your wants and needs. Speak with someone before you
are ready to do anything so you don’t make some common mistakes.
Make Copies. Make Copies. Make Copies.
Photocopy every important, relevant financial document you can get your
hands on. I would say go back and make copies of documents for the last
three years of your marriage. This should include tax returns, bank checking
account statements, pension, stock, portfolio statements, credit card
statements and pay stubs to supply your lawyer or mediator.
Avoid Damaging Credit Problems.
If you are using a joint credit card, you are still responsible for any
charges made by your spouse. If charges are not paid, those defaults can
end up on
your credit report. Establish credit cards and accounts in your own name to build and protect
Make Sure You Have Medical Coverage.
Medical insurance coverage usually ends at divorce. If you are on your
spouse's insurance plan, you should be able to continue coverage for
up to 18 or 36 months under COBRA. Under this plan someone has to pay
the premiums. These premiums can be very expensive so you may want to
consider shopping around for different coverage. Today there are insurance
carriers with lower premiums than offered by COBRA.
Take Home and Asset Inventory.
Know what you have! Write down your assets, debts, and what is in your
home. It's helpful to compile lists. The more information you have,
the better. Your attorney or mediator will thank you. You may want to
consider taking photos or videos of your home contents. This may help
in the division of personal property. You may want to make copies of family
photos and CDs. You would be surprised how the division of these items
can sometimes cause arguments and stress.
Divorce Has Tax Consequences.
There are important tax ramifications with real estate, deferred compensation,
retirement plans and other assets. If a stock is valued at $3,000, it
may only be worth $2,600 in cash after capital gains taxes are paid. It
would not be the same as receiving $3,000.00 in cash in a divorce settlement.
In fairly dividing the assets, you must consider the tax consequences
before the division. Consult with your accountant to discuss the tax ramifications
of your possible asset allocation.
7. Fully Understand the Assets You Choose.
When you are choosing which assets you want,
choose carefully. If you want the house, educate yourself about the fair market value.
Keep in mind you have to make mortgage payments, pay taxes, interest,
insurance, utilities etc. Will you be able to afford this once the divorce
takes place? Pensions are usually taxable when you take out the funds.
Fully understand your financial picture! Choose your assets wisely!
Stay in Your Home.
Don’t move out of your home before or during your divorce! Unless
you fear physical or emotional harm,
don’t move out of your home. Talk to your lawyer or mediator before you make
your move. Leaving the marital residence can have major ramifications.
9. Consider Different Professionals to Help You.
In some cases you will need experts such as an accountant, financial advisor,
appraiser, or therapist. As a seasoned divorce attorney/mediator, I have
developed an extraordinary team of professionals who work with my clients
so they are informed and protected throughout their divorce journey.
Choose your Friends Carefully.
When you have developed relationships as a couple, you never know who may
end up on your spouse’s side and turning on you or even testifying
against you later.
If you need support, consult with a therapist who can keep you thinking
clearly in order to focus on your divorce plan.
Confide in your therapist and let the friends that were part of your life
before your marriage be part of your healing process, not necessarily
part of the divorce process.
Divorce can take its toll on you emotionally, financially and legally.
Being prepared will give you the tools and the strength to make better decisions.
With over 35 years of legal experience and my medical training, I can uniquely
guide you towards a happier and healthier life. Even if you are not quite
ready to divorce, call me. I will answer all your questions and help you
to take your first step!
FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conducted virtually to reduce risk.
I look forward to speaking with you!
Stay healthy and safe!
New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner is offering a FREE consultation. Call
now to schedule an appointment. 212.734.1551.