spusal-benefits-400-04352086dIf you are divorced, nearing retirement age and have not yet remarried, you may be entitled to receive spousal Social Security benefits based on your ex’s work record, provided you meet certain qualifying criteria.

Your eligibility for spousal benefits is not dependent on your ex’s current marital status, the number of divorces he or she has had, or even if your ex is alive or deceased. But the rules for determining your eligibility can be complex. For starters, you must be at least 62 years of age (60 if your ex is deceased), have been married to your ex for at least 10 years, and not currently be married. For other conditions that would apply to your situation, visit the Social Security Administration’s website and read “Retirement Planner: If You Are Divorced.”

file-first-400-07726406dSometimes a spouse can be blind-sided by his or her partner’s request for a divorce. More often, however, both spouses share a sense that the relationship is broken and can’t be fixed. When it comes to that, does it matter who files first? According to some financial and legal divorce consultants, it does.

The better prepared you are for divorce, the better your chances for negotiating terms to your best advantage. Usually the spouse who initiates the divorce first takes the time to obtain a lawyer and other divorce consultants. He or she gathers all the paperwork and documentation that may be needed during the divorce proceedings, while the spouse who gets served with divorce papers scrambles to do the same. These are just two of the benefits of being the first to file. For additional advantages, read “What Are The Financial And Legal Advantages Of being First To File For Divorce?

naem-change-400-04417572dChanging your name in New Jersey requires court approval following a process designed to ensure the name change isn’t being requested for unlawful or deceptive purposes. The exception to this is a name change due to marriage and/or divorce.

Adopting your spouse’s name after marriage or resuming your maiden name after divorce can be effected socially simply by using your new name. Officially, however, there are certain agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and the Motor Vehicle Commission, you must notify in order to change your name. Your certified marriage license serves as proof of your right to use your spouse’s name if you so choose. In relation to divorce, your desire to resume use of your maiden name should be stated in the divorce decree. This document can then be used when applying to the appropriate agencies for your name change.

Planning a wedding or negotiating a divorce are complex, emotional events, so it would be easy to overlook an agency or institution you should notify about your pending name change. This name change checklist can help.

co-parenting-400-06522675dIn a co-parenting custody arrangement, parents work together to maintain equal roles in raising their children. Proponents of this arrangement believe it provides a healthy environment particularly for the children by minimizing the disruption to their lives. There are other benefits, too. For one thing, children are exposed to positive interactions between their parents rather than negative ones. This type of arrangement may also put less of a strain on relationships with extended family members if no one feels pressured to “take sides.”

Co-parenting requires a level of cooperation not all couples can achieve, so it may not be the solution for everyone. However, because of its potential benefits, it is worth considering provided the circumstances of your divorce permit. To learn more about how co-parenting arrangements can work, check out “Mayim Bialik gets real about co-parenting: ‘Divorce isn’t the end of family’.” The actress, currently appearing in the television hit, The Big Bang Theory, explains how she and her ex-husband have made co-parenting work for their family.

property-distribution-400-05370431dYou’re getting a divorce. You want the house, the car, the vacation timeshare and anything else you can get simply because you believe your soon-to-be ex is a louse and you deserve to be compensated for your anguish. Before you hand your list of demands to your divorce attorney, however, there are a number of issues you should consider.

Property distribution in relation to a divorce is more complicated than simply deciding who deserves what. You need to understand the difference between separate property and marital property and what affect comingling the two can have. Also, in addition to the current value of the property, you need to consider the short- and long-term effects of ownership. For a closer look at how property is distributed in a divorce, read Jeff Landers’ article, “Understanding How Assets Get Divided in Divorce.”

divorce-mistakes-400-04023471dDivorce, no matter how inevitable it might be, is an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. Sadness, hurt, anger, relief, fear, anxiety are all feelings spouses and children alike may experience throughout the divorce process. And these feelings can get the better of you if you let them.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your divorce is reacting to these feelings and not giving enough consideration to the big picture. Do you really want possession of that antique lamp enough to fight over or are you just seeking revenge? Identifying the important issues and letting go of the small stuff can help you and your loved ones survive the divorce with your emotions – and sanity – intact. For a look at some of the more common mistakes to avoid when going through a divorce, read “11 Things Divorce Lawyers Say You Should Never Do.”

Photo of child holding cutouts of family separated by divorceDivorcing couples may severe ties with each other but not with their children — once a parent, always a parent. Children depend on mothers and fathers to fill certain roles in their lives and they see their parents’ relationships with each other as a partnership. When children watch that partnership dissolve through divorce, the impact on their emotional and psychological well-being can be great.

How parents decide to approach their divorce can help lessen the negative affect the divorce can have on their children. Whether the divorce is cooperative or contentious can influence the type of parenting plan the couple can hope to have. To learn more, read Dr. Jamie Williamson’s blog, “Marriages Dissolve, But Parenting Partnerships Are ‘to Death Do Us Part’…

financial-mistakes-400-08377485dWhen negotiating a divorce settlement, it isn’t uncommon for people to fight for everything they believe they are entitled to – property, financial assets, support payments. Too often, however, people let their emotions cloud their judgement; they fail to consider the ramifications of their settlement and overlook issues that could negatively impact their future financial well-being.

It might be nice to keep the family home after your divorce, but can you afford the mortgage payments, the tax bill, the upkeep? What about those joint loans or credit lines you and your spouse have? Unless you have assurance that your ex will live up to his or her obligations after the divorce, you could find creditors coming after you for the full payment of those obligations.

Some financial issues that require attention during the course of your divorce negotiations are obvious; others can easily be overlooked. Read “Financial Mistakes to Avoid when Getting Divorced” to identify common issues that should be addressed before your divorce is final in order to avoid financial consequences later.

prenuptials-400-08291531dThere was a time when prenuptial agreements were associated mostly with celebrities and the very wealthy. Today, however, couples frequently wait longer to marry. They enter these unions after first building careers and accumulating financial assets independently. Conversely, they also bring individual financial liabilities to the relationship as well. As a result, prenuptial agreements have become more commonplace now than they were with previous generations.

Discussions about money can be uncomfortable for even the most compatible couples, yet financial issues are often cited as at least a contributing factor in relationship break-ups. The time to discuss who owns what and how money should be handled during the marriage is before the couple says, “I do.”

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement depends not only on the terms the couple has agreed upon, but also on the laws governing marital property, divorce and alimony in the state where the couple resides. Jamie Schoen’s article, “5 Things to Think About When Considering a Prenup,” poses questions couples should ask themselves before drawing up this legal agreement.

coping-400-06888385dFor some people, divorce is the only solution to the problems in their relationship. Still, it is difficult for everyone involved as they adjust to changes in family finances and lifestyles. Children can be most affected since they very often don’t understand the circumstances that led to this change in their family life.

Children react differently to their parents’ divorce – some act out behaviorally at home or in school; others keep their feelings pent up, only for these feelings to surface at a later time in their development. Most parents go to great lengths to protect their children from being traumatized by their divorce. One of the best things they can do is consider their children’s needs first, according to Dr. Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of child psychiatry. To learn more about how you can help your child adjust to your divorce, read Dr. Pruett’s article, “Helping Children Cope With Divorce.”