Sam Hubbard's Four Game-Changing Tips to Gain the Upper Hand in a Divorce
1. Keep on top of your financials. The best way to gain the advantage in a divorce is to be financially prepared. That means:
- Monitor your mail. Keep a list of what financial institutions are sending statements to your home. This information will make it easier for your attorney to know which banks should be subpoenaed for documents, especially if you think your spouse may be hiding assets.
- Accumulate assets. If you haven’t already, open a checking account in your own name and fund it regularly. You’ll need to be able to cover a lawyer’s retainer and other divorce-related expenses.
- Build credit. Open a credit card in your name, and make every effort to build up your credit. Getting a card after a divorce can be more difficult, and a strong credit rating is a must to help you rebuild your new post-divorce life.
2. Build a team of experts. When people think divorce, they think about hiring a lawyer. While lawyers are masters of law, they are not masters of finance. And since 80 to 85 percent of a divorce is about the financials, it makes sense to bring on a financial expert to advise you on the biggest financial transaction of your life. More and more people are turning to a divorce financial planner to round out their team. A divorce financial planner focuses only on financials, giving you and your attorney the data and analysis needed to design a winning case.
3. Get the difference between an equal and a fair division of property. It’s only natural to think that all assets should be split down the middle. But thinking this way may short-change you in the long run. It’s common practice that divorcing spouses divide property by what they see as equal in value. For example, if one spouse gets the house, the other spouse may get the retirement accounts, both valued around the same. But tread carefully. Remember: no two assets are created equal. Some assets may have huge tax implications due to a low-cost basis. Other assets may be completely illiquid, like a rental property or vacation home. And other assets may have large transaction fees, like those from the sale of a house. So what you may think is equal may not be fair, and what you think is fair may not be equal.
4. Stay strong. Frequently, divorce can take well over a year to finalize. And all too often, people are so exhausted by the end that they give in and sign on the dotted line to be done with it. But, remember, the final negotiations could make or break your future. To keep you focused, rely on the support of your divorce team. You hired them to get the best agreement possible, so make sure you follow their advice so you will make the right decisions throughout the entire process.
This article was published in South Magazine. To see this article click here.