My dad taught me that accidents happen; things break; and life does not always turn out the way we anticipate.  If we expect the best and plan for the unexpected we could have a better outcome when life throws us an inevitable curve-ball.  No-one wants to think that their spouse could die or that their marriage could end in divorce while they are planning their happily ever after.  Perhaps playing ‘what would you do’ in planning your life together could serve a dual purpose.   You can reduce conflict by clarifying how you will deal with things when married and protect each other if something goes wrong.

Couples that have been widowed or divorced have shared the following things that they wish they had done differently both during their marriages and their divorces.

  • We should have had a prenuptial agreement.  As un-romantic as this may seem, going through this process forces couples to have difficult discussions about money.  Perhaps if more couples did this in advance of the wedding they would have a clear understanding of how they will handle money during the marriage in addition to what would happen if the marriage fails or a spouse dies.
  • Have your own credit during the marriage.  It is important to have a bank account and credit in your own name.  If your spouse dies or you go through a divorce, it is helpful to have pre-established credit.
  • If possible work outside of the home.  Keep your resume current.  Keep your professional certifications current.  If working full time is not conducive to your family life, work part-time, or volunteer for a non-profit organization.  Keep your skills current and your options open.
  • If you do go through a divorce, make sure that your settlement agreement is specific.  Legal jargon can be confusing.  Make sure that the language in your settlement agreement is crystal clear so that both you and your spouse know what you are each responsible for.  Getting a settlement agreement changed is difficult and expensive.  It is best to get it right the first time.
  • Eliminate post-divorce money drama.  Just because the court orders someone to do something does not mean that your Ex will comply.  You can take them back to court if they do not, but again, that is difficult and expensive.  A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™) can help you ensure that both assets and debts are divided in the most expedient way.  If you are to receive child support or spousal support it is strongly advised that the support payments are made to the court.  It is not personal, it is business.
  • A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ can also help you to be realistic about the marital home.  Staying in the marital home at the risk of your financial security may highlight other options for you to consider.  Rely on your CDFA™ to advise you as they develop settlement scenarios and a budget for your future.
  • Children’s expenses change over time.  Plan for the future expenses.  Couples that cannot agree to extracurricular expenses often provide a budget with a not to exceed amount.  Some clients also utilize software such as My Family Wizard to track expenses and reduce conflict.
  • Retirement assets are very tricky.  In many cases, it is important to have a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to ensure that you receive what your settlement agreement awards you.  There are countless stories of retirement asset nightmares.  Your CDFA™ can ensure that your story ends well.
  • Post-divorce it is extremely important to make sure that things are titled correctly.  This can include bank accounts, investment accounts, credit accounts, mortgages, lines of credit, insurance, real estate, vehicles, and retirement accounts to name a few.  Creditors are not obligated to enforce your divorce agreement.  They may come after you for re-payment.  If so, you are obligated to pay them and then seek re-payment from your Ex through the court system.

These are just a few of the many things to consider when going through a divorce.  As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, I am here to help and ensure that you have a better outcome.  Please call Mitchell Hayes at 404-870-9040 to schedule a consultation.

© 2016 Mitchell Hayes