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Author: ArtMajor Subject: Steps to a money-smart divorce
MacDonald
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posted on 12-09-2007 at 00:30 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
Steps to a money-smart divorce


When your marriage breaks up, the last thing you feel like doing is crunching numbers. You're hurt, perhaps angry, and possibly overwhelmed with anxiety, fear and despair. You're focused on the past and present, not the future.

But as many divorced couples learn the hard way, this is precisely the time you need to get a grip and pay close attention to your assets and your financial future, lest both slip away in the flood of emotion.

"First and foremost, it's a business deal," says Gayle Rosenwald Smith, a Philadelphia family lawyer and author of "Divorce and Money: Everything You Need to Know." "That means you've got to get rid of your emotion any way you need to, whether through therapy or going to a gym. Because your divorce should be based on one thing: your property settlement. It's a matter of numbers, that's all it is."

Financial educator Ruth Hayden, author of "For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples," agrees, but admits that's easier said than done.

"At least 80% of money is about self-management, about emotions, and 20% is about quantifying and computing," she says. "The counting part is easy; it's the emotional part that's hard."

Clear the decks and set sail

Since money is the No. 1 cause of divorce, it's safe to assume that splitting the financial sheets won't be easy. Here are 10 steps to help you cast off, steady your financial ship and set sail for the solo voyage ahead.

1. Pull your credit report.

2. Open individual bank, credit card and brokerage accounts.

3. Close all joint accounts.

4. Keep separate property separate.

5. Consider selling the house.

6. Change those beneficiaries.

7. Reclaim your name.

8. Check your retirement.

9. Guard your health coverage.

10. Dust yourself off and start living.

Pull your credit report. "Pull your credit report before the divorce so that anything in dispute can be resolved before the divorce is final," says Hayden. There are three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Be sure to get a copy of your report from each of them. (You can order the reports here.) The reports are the quickest and easiest way to get an overview of the outstanding loan balances, mortgages and credit card debt that you and your spouse will eventually divvy up.

Open individual bank, credit card and brokerage accounts. You also need to do this before the breakup is official. It will be easier to get a credit card and bank account in your own name while you are still married and share joint assets and debt on credit cards, mortgages and loans. Hayden says this is especially important for a woman who has never established credit in her own name. "It's easier for a 15-year-old to get a credit card than it is for a 50-year-old divorced woman. She just gets deleted," Hayden says. (For more, read "4 steps to building great credit.")

Close all joint accounts. A divorce can take time. To avoid acquiring additional joint debt (or suddenly losing shared bank assets) during the legal process, close your joint credit card and bank accounts. You will, however, still be jointly responsible for paying off the balance of the closed accounts. Cancel the accounts in writing and be sure to request that they report each account as "closed by customer" to the credit bureaus.


Closing shared accounts is a critical step and one that is too often overlooked, says Smith. The more you remain connected to your ex-spouse financially, the more you are at risk. If possible, pay off joint credit card balances by check from your individual bank accounts or through balance transfers to your individual credit card accounts.

"In a property-settlement agreement, couples often split their debt. One person takes the MasterCard and another, the American Express. Well, that's an agreement between the two of you, not between you and the credit card company," says Smith. "What will happen is, one person declares bankruptcy down the road and the credit card companies come after the other. You might be better off each borrowing in your own name and each paying off the credit cards so that you come out of the marriage without any joint debt."

Cover your assets

Keep separate property separate. Assets you brought to the marriage separately (real estate, vehicles, an inheritance, gifts, money you acquired before marriage, etc.) are yours to take away from the marriage. You drive in with an SUV, you drive out with an SUV. But if you put any separate assets into a joint account, they may be considered joint property.

"If you're going to take separate money and give it to the marriage, then either decide to kiss it goodbye or do some loan documentation, because if you don't, you're going to lose it," says Smith.

Separate debt also travels with you. For example, if you brought a student loan into the marriage, you carry it out with you, even if your spouse was helping to pay it off.

Consider selling the house. Traditionally, women try to keep the family home at all costs. Unfortunately, it's often an emotional decision that makes poor financial sense.

"Studies say that women will keep the house and give up the retirement money," says Hayden. "It is one of the biggest mistakes women make. The problem with that is, many times she's not going to be able to afford to stay in this house anyway, and if they've been in the house for a long time, she could stand to lose a good share of her capital gains exclusion, which is $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for couples."

"I recommend that they look seriously at selling that house, even though it's hard. It's an emotional tie that ends up strangling the woman. She ends up losing it anyway, and she has given up her retirement money. I ask women to just think a little bigger."

Smith agrees: "Sell the house and take what you make and put it into something where you know that you're able to pay your expenses and have a cushion, especially in an economy where we have no clue what's going to happen." (For more perspectives, read "Should you keep the house in a divorce?")

Change those beneficiaries. Despite what your divorce decrees, if you don't change the beneficiaries on your will, trusts, IRAs, pension plan and life insurance, your ex could wind up with an unexpected windfall in the event of your untimely demise. As long as you're at it, this is a good time to review your various policies to make sure they fit with your new circumstances. And don't forget to delete your ex-spouse from these documents and policies and change your marital status where applicable.

Reclaim your name. For some women, divorce adds another task: reclaiming your name. If you are reverting to your maiden name, you may be required to produce the divorce decree or document signed by your ex-husband that acknowledges your new name in order to obtain a new driver's license, passport or other identification. Use your new name to announce your new marital status to your circle of contacts: your doctors, employer, human resources department, children's teachers, landlord, pharmacist, mail person, health insurer and clergy.

Don't forget to register your name change (and adjust your withholding if needed) on your W-4 and other tax forms and with the Social Security Administration. A mix-up could cause you to lose valuable Social Security credits for your work, and you may have to show proof of both names when applying for benefits.

Look ahead, move ahead

Check your retirement. Speaking of Social Security, if divorce finds you within chipping distance of retirement, you will want to contact the Social Security Administration. If you are 62, were married for at least 10 years, have been divorced more than two years and have not remarried, you may receive benefits based on your ex-spouse's Social Security record, even if he or she has not applied for benefits. If you are raising a child younger than 16 years old from the marriage, you may receive benefits on your ex-spouse's record even if you were married for less than 10 years. In most cases, you can expect the same amount you would have gotten if you had remained married, and possibly all of it if your ex-spouse dies. The benefits you draw do not affect amounts due to your ex's current spouse.

Guard your health coverage. Sadly, divorce often forces one party to sacrifice health care coverage. Don't let this happen to you. One uncovered medical emergency can cripple your finances. Under the COBRA program, you are guaranteed 18 months of health coverage, albeit at rates that might induce cardiac irregularities. If you have no other avenue for affordable coverage, keep the COBRA plan in place until you find one. "You can't afford not to think about things you need such as health insurance, disability and life insurance," says Hayden. "If you can't afford all these things, you really should consider getting rid of the house and downsizing." (For articles and advice on health insurance, see the "Save on health insurance" section of MSN Money.)

Dust yourself off and start living. Yes, you've survived a train wreck. If you accomplished most of these steps, you are more aware than you've ever been of your true financial picture and what you need to do about it.

If you receive a lump-sum payout, don't splurge for revenge or because you feel you deserve it. There is a wealth of financial planning help online. When you're ready, consider hiring a financial planner to help you sort out your newly single money situation.

Financial experts recommend that you pull your credit report three months after the divorce and clean up any loose ends.

By Jay MacDonald, Bankrate.com
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curlygurly017
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posted on 10-01-2009 at 11:54 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
Very Good

Great advice. Its all about keeping your head on your shoulders and thinking about like "The Godfather" when it comes to the finances. Its business not personal. Even though this isn't true this mentality will definitely help.

Kudos to you Macdonald!

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Smith_77
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posted on 04-26-2010 at 14:15 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
help!

what advice do you have for a guy who cant focus on any of that money stuff for more than a coupl minutes without getting distracted by all the bullshit going on around him

im finding out the more and more i read that its important to get on your finances whe nthe divroce is going on but its just too much its just so hard

how do people deal with this when they find out that a huge part of their life was a lie and that nothing can be done to get it back ,its so hard to focus on anything especilly money since its directly involving her
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GolfingLife
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posted on 08-19-2010 at 11:30 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
helpful

All good advice, thank you guys
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mikeanderson6
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posted on 09-24-2010 at 23:10 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
advise

Hello,
Thanks for advise but divorce is a bad thing ,
Why couples are doing it?
If you have a problem so you solve it but divorce no, never, it may be a good idea to write script
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Kish
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posted on 10-14-2010 at 10:51 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
keep a routine

I really think one of the best ways to deal with a divorce is a solid routine that you cna maintain to help you organize your life.

divorce is like a bomb going off in your life and you need to re evaluate what your goals are in the short term and the long term as well, you would be surprised how much you can forget to do when something like a divorce occurs

Even if its just a daily plan, it helps to write down even the simplest things you need to do even if it is like going to the grocery store or going to the gym and don't forget to add some time for fun
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elisacamplin
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posted on 10-15-2010 at 02:31 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
good tips

Hello to all of you,
Great advice. It's all about keeping your head on your shoulders and thinking about like "The Godfather" when it comes to the finances. It's business not personal. Even though this isn't true this mentality will definitely help.


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Jayfro
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posted on 11-18-2010 at 11:11 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
good point

Yeah it seems like its hardest for people to deal with this money situation in divorce when they consider it a personal issue.

It is understandable though, since divorce is as personal as you can get and it's hard to detach those emotions from the other aspects of the divorce.

Godfather style. I like it.
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ShaneJimison
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posted on 12-27-2011 at 03:12 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
divorce has become a process to achieve money....

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devotchka
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posted on 02-29-2012 at 05:57 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
more financial questions..

Hi-thanks for all the great advice but i have some questions that someone I hope has answers to.First of all, I am a homemaker and haven't worked in quite awhile.About 3 y.ago I was diagnosed with M.S.-which it seems probably started 20 y.ago.,which explains a lot-my health has deteriorated badly over the years.I found out because of my lack of job credits(I usually worked for my folks under the table) I'm probably not going to get disability.I'm terrified not to have med.insurance.Does anyone know anything about this? Also, what is civil for alimony and child support payments? My husband makes decent money and I'm definitely not looking to suck him dry,I just want fairness. When i try to talk to him,one day he'll say all he needs is rent and I can have everything over,other days he says he's quitting his job and leaving the state.I'm having such a hard time communicating with him about these things and I'm really hoping not to have this dragged out in court. I can live a pretty humble life and always have,like i said I just want fairness to the highest extent possible.
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SteveBrad
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posted on 04-21-2012 at 02:14 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
Amazing Reply

I think When your marriage breaks up, the last thing you feel like doing is crunching numbers. You're hurt, perhaps angry, and possibly overwhelmed with anxiety, fear and despair. You're focused on the past and present, not the future.But as many divorced couples learn the hard way, this is precisely the time you need to get a grip and pay close attention to your assets and your financial future, lest both slip away in the flood of emotion.
________________
Generic Viagra
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Tommypong
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posted on 09-21-2012 at 13:07 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
money hurts

In my opinion the worst part of a divorce is the fact that money is often a top factor to deal with. In the middle of all this horrible upsetting emotion you have to worry about losing your stuff your money your livelihood, not just a relationship.
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beeby
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posted on 11-05-2012 at 11:29 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
thats the hard part

That is hardest part of divorce, you have to deal with all of the normal issues and problems and things you have in your life

but you worrie about the divorce too and losing your things and your home and your life. its makes all the other things youi have to do in your life just much much harder to deal with.

The money part is a huge part of that
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ArtMajor
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posted on 11-13-2012 at 03:33 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
Steps to a money-smart divorce

Thanks for the advice. But my opinion is divorce is a very bad thing between husband and wife. We are getting married to live happily each other. But when problem comes separating is not only best decision at all the time.
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