Five Financial Mistakes You Can Make During Divorce
According to findings published on HuffPost, the average American divorce costs between $15,000 and $20,000. For most people, that amount is a sizeable down payment on a home or a year’s worth of college tuition. For most people, the cost of divorce is unaffordable.
If you are about to embark on a Florida divorce, and if those numbers scare you, that may be a good thing. While the numbers should not keep you from going through with your separation, they should serve to make you more mindful of the way in which you approach your divorce.
Divorce is only expensive because the parties make it expensive, but the truth is that you can get away with a low-end divorce of right around $6,000 if you know which pitfalls to avoid. At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyers can guide you through your divorce and advise on what you should and should not do to keep the cost of your divorce down.
Before You File, Make Sure You Have Access to Funds
One of the costliest divorce mistakes most people make is filing when they do not have access to marital funds. Once you file, it will not be so easy for you to use the marital credit card to fund your lawyer fees, or to pull $10,000 from your joint account to cover your living expenses. Before you file, make sure that you have at least some accounts or cards in your name. This way, if your spouse does decide to block access or to freeze an account, you have some money to your name.
Get Your Documents in Order
Part of the divorce process includes dividing property, which a judge cannot fairly do without all the proper information. If you want to guarantee a fair division of assets, gather everything from your tax returns to copies of your insurance policies and keep them in a safe place. You will need them when it comes time to show proof of income and proof of contribution to the marriage. Proving contribution is key, as Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts divide property based on a person’s contribution to the union.
Know What Your Assets Are Worth
Another costly mistake occurs during the property division process as well. Too many people enter the divorce process without an idea of what their assets are really worth. For instance, say your home is worth $1,000,000, so you fight to keep it and in exchange, your spouse can keep the three vintage sports cars. You think it is a fair trade until you realize that the value of your house has gone down, that the taxes on the property are exorbitant, and that upkeep is unaffordable. You are forced to sell, and in the end, you walk away with less cash than if you had sold your three vintage vehicles. Before fighting for an asset, it is important that you understand its true value and your own financial position.
Be Familiar With Your Obligations
Remember that half of dividing assets involves dividing debt. You may walk away with your fair share of assets in the end, but depending on the amount of marital debt, the value may seem insignificant in comparison. You may also walk away from the marriage with a couple of new obligations—alimony and child support—something to consider before you trade up your old sedan for a fast, new convertible.
Take Stock of Significant Assets
Finally, too many people rush into divorce without ever really considering what they are leaving behind. Even if you and your spouse lived a modest lifestyle, you may own assets of significant value. Do not be too hasty to say, “She can have it all!” without first inventorying what you actually have. You may be surprised by the worth of some of your marital property, especially property you acquired early on in your union.
Preparation is Key
To summarize this post, when it comes to divorce, preparation is key. Our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyers at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., can advise you throughout the entire process and ensure that you have everything in place for a successful, cost-effective divorce. Schedule a meeting with one of our skilled lawyers by calling our office today.