Protecting Yourself and Your Finances During a Divorce
– by Angela R Rehkop, ChFCTM, CFP®
The nicest person can turn vicious during a divorce. Be smart and minimize your risk during a divorce.
BEFORE A DIVORCE
- Make any necessary large purchases before filing for divorce.
Is your car on it’s last legs? Does your house need a new roof? Most states issue an automatic financial
restraining order prohibiting people from making large purchases after a divorce is filed. Get yourself and your
property in good order before you file.
- Do NOT Hide Assets
Hiding your assets is not only deceitful, it’s ILLEGAL. You can suffer stiff penalties, and loose all of your
credibility in court. It’s best to declare all your assets honestly.
- Be mindful of the date if you are anticipating a significant increase in the value of a major property.
Typically the court uses the formal date of separation (DOS) to determine property values.
- Change all passwords for online account access.
I can’t stress this enough, and I mean EVERY password.
Do not use a password that is remotely related to your life, no birthdates, no pet names, no, no, no…
DURING A DIVORCE
- Explore all options to dividing assets and liabilities.
Review various ways to divide a 401k or Pension Plan, before making a choice. Ask about taxation of alimony vs.
child support, pros and cons of lump-sum settlements. Make certain Life Insurance Policies are cross-owned and
cover the full-life of the obligation.
- Define tax implications for all transactions and get SPECIFIC on how assets transfers will occur and at what
Going through account statements line-by-line and defining the capital gains or loss that will be incurred by
liquidation is not fun for anyone, but not considering tax implications can make a huge impact. If there are
significant difference in tax brackets, you’ve just opened a door for worthwhile negotiations.
Keep in mind the value of a stock/bond may change during the time you are negotiating. Be mindful of the
consequences of stock appreciation or decline.
- Close negotiations on all items you can. Leave the door open to negotiate only if necessary…
You don’t want ongoing conflict and legal fees, but do not shut the door in your own face. If your indigent ex
gets a high paying job, he/she may be able to contribute to college education, et
AFTER A DIVORCE
- Pay all Court-Ordered Attorney Fees.
Do not pass GO, do not collect $200… the court is not joking and will not take pity on you. Do not create
additional problems for yourself by disobeying the court.
- Make a copy of the divorce settlement. List what needs to happen by date and record as each item is
completed. Have a paper trail. Keep copies of all transaction records, checks, etc. to verify completion.
Do not assume your ex-spouse refinanced the house, etc. Your credit could be destroyed years later.
Be kind, be firm, and be finished. You have one opportunity to reach a fair settlement, do it right and move forward
To learn more and connect with Angie Rehkop, please view her profile on our website. She is an Amicable Divorce Network Member in Georgia.