Regardless of how simple a divorce seems on the surface, there are usually underlying circumstances that complicate matters. Even spouses that are on the best of terms can quickly be at each other’s throats (figuratively) when the time comes to split their marital assets. Making matters worse, one or both parties might make a number of blunders that delay the divorce process and prevent them from getting on with their lives.
In the present article, we’ll list 5 common mistakes people make when ending their marriages. In some cases, the mistakes cause unnecessary frustration. In others, they needlessly increase the cost of the divorce. In still others, the blunders set the stage for serious problems in the future
#1 – Creating A Social Paper Trail
The moment you decide to get divorced, be wary of the things you communicate online or through text messages. That includes anything you might post on Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest. Divorce attorneys are adept at looking for signs of undisclosed assets or unsavory behavior on social media sites. They also use text messages – when possible – for the same purpose.
Before you post a picture of your brand new Mercedes on Facebook, think about how it might affect your divorce settlement. Before posting pictures that show you in a drunken stupor, consider how they might affect your custody of your children.
#2 – Making Large Purchases
One of the worst things you can do when going through a divorce is to buy large-ticket items with money that arguably belongs to your spouse. For example, you might write a check on a joint bank account to purchase jewelry. Or you might use a joint credit card to book an exotic vacation.
First, your spouse is likely to notice the purchases. Second, you’ll be asked to account for them during the settlement negotiations. There is a high likelihood that you’ll be forced to take responsibility for your purchases. That means they will only hurt you financially in the long run.
#3 – Neglect To Consider Taxes
Benjamin Franklin is believed to have once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
That’s not far from the truth, especially when it comes to divorce.
Consider: there may be tax consequences to selling the family home. There are tax-related issues to think about when negotiating alimony payments. Splitting tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, also carry tax implications. Even the issue of which spouse claims the couple’s children as dependents has tax consequences.
In short, familiarize yourself with how the terms of your settlement will affect your end-of-year tax bill. It may make sense to alter the terms if doing so lowers your taxes.
#4 – Trying To Hide Assets
Many people getting divorced go to great lengths to hide assets from their spouses. They hope to keep the assets to themselves rather than split them as part of their settlement agreement.
There are 3 major problems to using this tactic. First, a good divorce lawyer will eventually uncover evidence of the hidden goods. Second, once the assets have been revealed, the person who hid them is likely to lose ground in the settlement negotiations; he or she will have less leverage. Third, hiding assets while seeking a divorce is illegal. That poses additional consequences.
#5 – Failing To Close Joint Accounts
Money held in a joint checking or savings account can be drained by either party. The only way to protect yourself is to immediately close such accounts and make arrangements with your spouse to split the cash.
Similarly, joint credit cards can be used by either party to rack up huge debts for which both parties are responsible. Again, protect yourself. Call your credit card issuers, inform them of your pending divorce, and close the accounts.
Once you have locked down the joint accounts, open new ones in your name. Doing so ensures that you’ll be the only person who can withdraw funds or charge purchases.
Ending your marriage and starting a new life on your own is tough enough without needlessly complicating matters with avoidable problems. Review the list of mistakes above to ensure you don’t fall prey to the pitfalls that have ensnared countless other divorced couples.