Divorce Yourself from Financial Woes

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It’s hard to pick up a newspaper without being informed of one celebrity divorce or another these days.  Now just think about how many non-celebs are getting unhitched on a daily basis…

While some parties may be eagerly awaiting such permanent separations, others may be totally blindsided by the news that they are about to become single individuals.  If you are the one initiating the divorce or the one just getting wind of it, there are a few steadfast financial moves you should be ready to execute.

KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO (AND DON’T) HAVE

In many households, there is usually one person who has a true grip on the couple’s finances.  This person is well versed with the shared assets and/or debts.  The other is often completely ignorant of what it truly going on.  This can be very problematic for both parties.  If your soon to be ex-spouse is the personal money guru of your home, you may not be aware that you have bonus assets at your fingertips, or, in the obviously worse case, that you are collectively in heaps of debt.  If you are the financial planner of the couple, your other half may think that you have way more cash than you actually do.  It really behooves both of you to have an accurate picture of your finances, so if there is a battle over money, you know what you really will end up with.  Attorney Lina Guillen writes on divorce.net’s 15 Critical Mistakes in Divorce: “ If your spouse has always handled all of the financial decisions in your household and you don’t have any information about you and your spouse’s income and assets, your spouse will have an unfair advantage over you when it comes time to settle the financial issues in your divorce.”

BE PREPARED

Ever heard the expression “Save for a rainy day”?  Well, a divorce can be the financial equivalent of a monsoon.  Simply living on your own can be a huge burden monetarily – now add to that the inevitable and copious attorney fees you are about to incur.  While it may sound a trifle pessimistic, the truth is it’s just smart to be cautionary with funds.  Have a bank account that you have sole access to (not one that your spouse could simply drain and leave you hanging) and make sure you save as much as possible in there in case of the worst.  “If you suspect that your spouse is planning a divorce,” Lee Slater, MBA, states on divorceandfinance.org  “make copies of all important financial records such as account statements (savings, stockbroker, real estate partnership) and data that relates to your marital life style (checking accounts, charge card statements, tax returns).”

CHECK YOUR EMOTIONS AT THE DOOR

There are two primary ways that letting your emotions get the best of you during divorce can all but ruin you financially.  The first scenario is one where you are so drained from the overall hellishness that you will agree to basically anything your ex (or their lawyer) suggests during the settlement, just to be done with the whole cursed thing.  Here you can give up your rights and pecuniary assets – and it can be extremely hard, and sometimes impossible, to ever get them back.

The other way raw emotions can hurt you is if you are so irate at your ex-mate that you will concede  to NOTHING, mostly out of spite.  Here your unwavering stubbornness may actually backfire, as a judge may sympathize with your ex and award them more than they actually should be entitled to.

Whenever possible, think rationally and attempt to negotiate will a cool head.  Divorcesource.com’s “Rules to Divorce Negotiation” posit that “Settlement should be attempted in every case, no matter how remote the prospect might seem. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘It is better to jaw, jaw, jaw than to war, war, war.’”

Ultimately, the way to combat any of these potential nightmares is to always think with your head instead of your heart, at least in this divorce forum.  Even if this is not your usual style, consulting a therapist during these especially trying times is a great way to get some clarity and perspective on the big picture, financial or otherwise.

DON’T ‘SHOW OFF’ TO A NEW LOVE

Once free from the metaphorical shackles of your ex, you may find yourself rapidly attached to another (aka: the “rebound”).  Often (typically more so for males in this situation) you will find yourself spending oodles of cash on them.  Sometimes to show your new beau how much you care, sometimes just because you feel the freedom to do so and sometimes solely to exact revenge on your ex.  Whatever your motive is, you may soon find your self facing a massive credit card debt…which is anything but attractive to your new lover.  In addition, this can actually be used as evidence against you in a divorce hearing, where you appear to be spending more on this newly perceived strumpet/gigilo than on your children, the allotted alimony your are compelled to pay, etc.  Jim Halfens of the huffingtonpost.com suggests “These ‘post-divorce relationships’ are often not long-lived relationships but can be very harmful for the divorce procedure. A new lover often is fast involved and in most cases has a biased opinion about financial subjects or even custody.”

THINK OF THE CHILDREN

This may sound ridiculous, but some people have been known to use their kids as leverage in a divorce trial.  This is a very big no-no.  Seeking custody of a child for the sake of procuring child support is exactly as bad as it sounds.  Resist the temptation to even use the kids against your ex-spouse in less atrocious ways as well, such as asking them for information about your former love.  Just leave them out of the divorce as much as possible.

The nationally renown “Dr. Phil” says on drphil.com  “some of the biggest and most frequent mistakes those in your situation typically make:

Sabotaging your child’s relationship with the other parent; Using your child as a pawn to “get back at” or hurt your ex; Using your child to gain information or to manipulate and influence your ex.”

UP YOUR CREDIT

If you don’t have a credit card in your name already, it’s time get one.  It could obviously come in handy during the divorce period, and definitely will after – if just to improve your credit rating for your future financial independence.  Be cautious as well; as mentioned earlier in ‘knowing what you do/don’t have,’ your ex could have wrangled you into credit card debt without you even knowing, and you could still be responsible.  “The first thing to note is that credit card companies are not bound by the terms of your divorce decree or a family court order assigning the debt to you or your spouse,” states nolo.com, a legal encyclopedia, on the subject of credit card debt.

SELL YOUR RINGS

If you retain possession of a diamond wedding band and/or a diamond engagement ring, there is no time like the present to sell them.  Odds are you will not wear these rings again, and selling them will provide a nice cushion for any financial road bumps that pop up.  At Diamond Lighthouse we specialize in helping people sell their unused diamond jewelry for maximum profit, in as sensitive and efficient a manner a possible.

Find out more.

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-Joe Leone 

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