Navigating the Divorce Process: First Steps to a Smart Divorce

Divorce can set you on a new course in your life!

When considering divorce or separation, do you immediately feel like you’re stuck in a leaky financial boat that’s sinking fast?  This can be a tricky and difficult time, but you can stop your ship from going under with smart financial decisions at the outset of the divorce process that can set you on a new course in life.

Remember, building a divorce support team can be critical in testing the waters of separation or divorce. A qualified family law attorney can guide you through each step of the process, fight for your rights if need be and help steer you to a family therapist, a financial planner and perhaps even a tax accountant.

Taking positive actions towards this daunting emotional and financial task can actually alleviate stress. It’s important to stay as relaxed and as rational as possible when sailing through the divorce process. Why? Any overlooked financial detail can escalate into the loss of thousands of dollars later, so it is prudent to make logical (and smart!) financial decisions now.

One of the first steps to financial success is to close any joint bank and investment accounts and cancel any joint credit cards.

Then, notify major credit bureaus to separate your credit history from your soon-to-be ex spouse. That way, all future reports will be based on your own credit. Scan your credit carefully to be certain all joint credit accounts are closed and/or notified of the financial separation.

Don’t forget to revise your will and, if appropriate, name another beneficiary(s). Legal revisions also apply to insurance, taxes and retirement plans (401(k)s, IRAs and Roth IRAs, for example).

Additional divorce advice would be to keep copies of all your important legal and financial information, especially this document: Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO, which often determines how any future pension and/or retirement plan benefits are to be divided up. The QDRO is required by an employer to distribute retirement benefits to a former spouse.  So, if you are to receive benefits from your ex’s plan, you’ll need this document.

Other financial choices include the assessment of your household needs and a budget to get you through this difficult time after your divorce or separation as your income changes from two to one.

Look at your taxes!  Check your tax liabilities that may leave you with fewer net assets than your ex, even if the property has been equally divided.

People often overlook social security entitlements.  If you are at least 62 years old and meet the law’s requirements, your ex-spouse’s work record may entitle you to receive benefits.

Feeling stressed out already? All divorcees have felt this way. Start by getting a qualified divorce lawyer so you can get the advice you need to move forward safely and securely. And one day soon, you will feel like you are navigating through smoother emotional waters.

Not sure how to start the divorce process? Here’s some advice and tips from a family law attorney on how to get started: California Divorces Process

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