As the uncertainties of pandemic life continue, the associated stressors lead to more splits and more divorces.
One of the most significant stressors both before and during the divorce negotiations is finances. It’s often one of the most prolonged discussions as both parties seek to protect what’s theirs while working to prevent their former spouse from taking too much. However contentious the divorce may get, spouses should consider a few things before those discussions begin to prepare for what’s to come.
1. Credit monitoring
If both spouses have excellent credit and are fiscally responsible, credit is a quick step. With solid credit on both sides, joint accounts can be separated faster, and hidden credit surprises won’t appear later on. Most big banks offer a “soft” credit check, which doesn’t ding a person’s score, but will give each holder an idea of where they stand.
2. Track spending and keep detailed documentation
Before a divorce, both spouses should prepare a budget to understand how much money they’ll need to maintain a desired standard of life (or simply for essentials) as their ex-spouse likely won’t be in a giving mood when it comes time to negotiate. It’s important to account for things like home costs (if one spouse is moving out), healthcare (if leaving a spouse’s plan), and all child-related expenses as a starting point. Beyond that, think about monthly expenses that could arise (car payments, retirement contributions, etc.) and other expenses that one person could be on the hook for that he or she previously wasn’t. Keeping organized and detailed records during this time of transition is crucial as there may be additional tax benefits for certain incurred expenses. Whenever possible the spouses should separate their accounts so there is no ability to clean out a joint account.
3. Digital organization
Having all passwords, account numbers, usernames, etc. in one place or on one physical piece of paper could offer peace of mind during the divorce proceeding. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to block accounts for another or change passwords on a whim with no prior notice. Although couples may not be at the point of completely splitting accounts, having this information documented will help identify if any changes have been made without consent before the divorce is finalized.
4. Update financial and estate documents
There may be wills, trusts, life insurance, and other high-value considerations in more established marriages. Each spouse will want to protect their high-value assets and may even have their eye on the property of their exes. Couples (or spouses who have majority ownership of said document) should add provisions for divorces if they haven’t already been established or consider removing spouses as beneficiaries before proceedings end. In some states like Mississippi, a spouse can revoke a will so the will and estate documents should be revised after the divorce is final.
5. Considering finances for children
If children are involved, having open discussions (no matter how fiery things get) is crucial to protect their best interests. This can look like anything from setting aside funds from both spouses or adjusting their names as beneficiaries on investments or estate documents that they could continue to benefit from following a divorce. (In the case of children with long-term care needs, setting up a special needs trust before the divorce is final could be a good idea.) Considering a child’s financial future is also a great way to divert funds from a spouse should an ex not want them to enjoy those financial benefits.
As you can tell, financial planning for a divorce can be complicated, but you don’t have to go it alone. In Mississippi, hundreds of spouses heading for divorce have trusted the Law Offices of Rusty Williard to advise and guide them through this difficult time. Call us today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule your free consultation.