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Knowledge . . . the best tool in preparing for divorce.

One important reason why divorces do not proceed smoothly is a lack of preparation and knowledge. Too often only one spouse fully understands the family finances, which may leave the other spouse vulnerable to manipulation. When one spouse handles nearly all of the household investments and finances, it is too easy for that financially literate spouse to take advantage of the financially less literate spouse, especially in times of stress and disagreement like a divorce. Thus, it is important that both spouses become financially literate. Each party’s income, the family income tax returns, investment and account statements, should all be reviewed and understood, if necessary, with the help of an accountant and divorce attorney. In addition to learning about the household finances, it is also important to know about the law in the state you live. Understanding the difference between separate and marital property, and the application and effect of

Don’t Forget These Types of Assets in a Divorce

According to a recent Forbes article divorce marks the end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of another, and odds are, you’ll look back at this time and see it as a positive turning point in your life. However, before you achieve that perspective, there’s plenty to go through – and much of that comes down to finances. Read More    

Courts make mistakes, and can correct them.

Although trial courts have discretion to determine amount and duration of spousal maintenance based upon the unique facts of each case, they do make errors.  In a recent case the husband had a net income of $5,213.92 each month.  After considering the factors required for spousal maintenance, the trial court ordered the husband to pay his wife $2,000 per month in spousal maintenance, even though he had $3,818 in living expenses.  Thus, from his $5,213.92 in net monthly income, he would have had only $1,395 left to pay the maintenance, plus a child support award of $235.34 per week.  On appeal, the Appellate Division remitted the case, instructing the trial court to recalculate the husband’s obligations.  Jaramillo v. Jaramillo, (Second Dept. 2013).

Preparing for Divorce

Although no two divorces are exactly the same, there are a number of things that can be done to make the process more efficient. First, even before meeting with your attorney, organize your paperwork so that your attorney will have a more accurate idea of the financial issues:  make copies of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, loan agreements, deeds, and other financial records.  If there will be a claim that some assets were premarital, assemble proof of when the asset was acquired or  account opened, the source of funds, and copies of old checks, deposit slips, etc. Next, make sure you have your own credit card and checking/savings account, separate and apart from your spouse. Finally, start considering realistic long terms goals, and obligations:  Do you want to stay in the house? Can you afford to stay in the house?  How will the children’s college be paid for? 

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