financial-documents-400-09093918d-300x225It isn’t unusual in a marriage for one spouse to assume responsibilities for managing the family finances and investments. Hopefully, that spouse has a good handle on the family’s overall financial health; the non-managing spouse, on the other hand, too often is unaware of details that could serve him or her well when catastrophic events like death or incapacity and even divorce disrupt a marriage. While the death or injury of a spouse can come without notice, divorce is usually preceded by signs. When you first notice those signs, it’s time to assess your financial situation so you can make decisions that will lead to your financial security now and in the future.

In her article, “3 Documents Women Investors Need Before a Divorce,” author Leslie Thompson discusses specific documents that can help you accomplish this. Although geared toward women, this advice is beneficial for anyone who’s headed for divorce without a clear understanding of their assets and liabilities.

spousal-support-400-04593246d-300x200Spousal support, or alimony, is intended to make sure one spouse – usually the non-working or lower-earning spouse – is not unfairly impacted financially as a result of divorce. Although it is an important part of the divorce terms, spousal support generally is not decided until late in the divorce proceedings after other matters, such as the distribution of property and assets, have been settled. How much support is awarded, if any, and the terms of payment are determined according to the specific divorce laws of each state.

Spousal support is one of the conditions of divorce that can be modified after the court ruling if circumstances warrant, and can even be terminated early under certain conditions. For a better understanding of the unique considerations that influence spousal support, read “Determining And Collecting Spousal Support in Divorce.”

credit-card-debt-400-04377239d-300x200Marriage is a partnership, therefore, it is not unusual for couples to share both assets and liabilities while they are together, but what happens in a divorce? Usually spouses, with the help of their lawyers, will work to reach agreements for the distribution of property and other assets. The court may intervene if amicable agreements can’t be reached. However, the distribution of debt, particularly credit card debt, is a different story.

Depending on the specific circumstances of a divorce, the court may make determinations on the repayment of debt. For instance, the court may rule one spouse is solely liable for the debt repayment, or it can rule on the percentage of liability each spouse holds for the satisfaction of their debt. That ruling, however, does not negate the original terms of the credit agreement. Because credit cards represent a contractual agreement between card issuer and cardholder (i.e., the person in whose name the card was issued), credit card companies hold the cardholder ultimately responsible for any and all payments due on the card. That holds true even if the charges were made by someone else, such as an authorized card user. If a court rules someone other than the cardholder is responsible for debt repayment, it is up to the cardholder to see that ruling is enforced.

To learn more about divorce and credit card obligations and the recourse you may have, read “This is how credit card debt gets split up in a divorce.”

divorce-rate-400-08345978d-300x200It is commonly stated that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, but is that true? Not exactly, although the media attention given to high-profile celebrity divorces can make it seem that way. The divorce rate, like many other things, runs in trends and can be influenced by societal changes at any given time.

For a look at the history of the ups and downs of the divorce rate read “How the divorce rate has changed over the last 150 years.” It’s interesting to note the cultural issues that may have influenced those changes through the years.

child-support-400-08812515d-300x200Divorce may end your relationship with your spouse, but it does not end your role as a parent, and with that role comes the obligation to support your children in all ways — physically, emotionally and financially.

Depending on the type of custodial agreement you and your ex agree on — or the court deems to be in best interest of your children — one of you may be ordered to make child support payments. Quite often it is the father who is responsible for child support, although in today’s age of two-income families, mothers can easily find themselves in this situation, too. That being said, both parents could benefit from reading “What Dads Need to Know About Child Support” to better understand the process.

atty-meeting-prep-400-04880101d-201x300For many people, the decision to divorce comes after months or even years of assessing their situation and giving careful consideration to all other options. But, no matter how long you have lived with the possibility of divorce, taking that first step to end your marriage is very emotional. Emotions can easily cloud your judgment and prevent you from thinking clearly so, before you meet with your divorce attorney for the very first time, it pays to be prepared.

In order for a divorce attorney to successfully defend your rights in a divorce, he or she must be aware of the facts relating to your situation and have a clear understanding of the marital assets and debts involved. Providing your attorney access to this information from the start can help you avoid delays in your divorce proceedings. For an idea of what kind of documentation would be helpful, read “What To Bring To Your First Appointment.”

 

holidays-post-divorce-400-06208347d-300x200Adjusting to the changes in your life after divorce can be challenging at any time of year, but during the holidays it’s even more difficult. Everything about the season screams family, friends and traditions, and serves as a reminder of just how much has changed in your life. The trouble is the emphasis at this time of year in particular is on what you are missing, rather than on what your life can be now that you’re moving on from a failed relationship.

There are coping mechanisms you can use to keep the holidays from getting you down and keep you focused on the positives  — like establishing new traditions — as you move ahead. Dr. Kristen Hick, a clinical psychologist, shares her advice in “10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After Divorce.”

divorce-health-insurance-400-04163321d-300x200It is common in a marriage for one spouse to opt for family coverage under their employer’s health insurance benefits. This way, the employee’s medical expenses as well as those of their partner and children are covered. But divorce changes that – health insurance policies don’t extend to ex-spouses. There’s no need to panic, just understand your options and plan accordingly.

Under most circumstances, family coverage remains in effect as long as a couple is married, even if they choose to live separately pending finalization of their divorce. Of course your spouse does have the option to switch to an individual or an individual with children plan, but usually such changes are allowed only during open enrollment periods. If you are covered under your spouse’s medical insurance, make it a point to be aware of the open enrollment dates for that plan and use the interim time to investigate all your options to find the coverage best suited to your health and your finances.

To get an idea of what alternative coverage is available to you read the Forbes.com article, “What You Need To Know About 3 Key Options For Health Insurance After Divorce.”

kids-of-divorce-400-04210196d-300x200As you go through a divorce, your attention understandably can be centered on your own problems and emotions. You’re hurt, angry, sad and uncertain of what the future holds. On top of that, you’re determined not to let your soon-to-be ex get the best of you in the divorce settlement. In the midst of all this, it is sometimes difficult to give sufficient attention to what your children really need from you at the moment.

Often, a parent’s first reaction while in the divorce process is to assure their children that the divorce is not about them and it is not their fault; it’s a situation between the adults. But divorce affects everyone in the family and placating your children just won’t work. In an article entitled “Divorce is never easy – but here’s what your kids need from you,” Dr. Kevin Leman explains what your children really need and how you can help them navigate this highly emotional time in their lives.

detox-divorce-400-04055398d-223x300For most couples, the decision to divorce comes only after all attempts to save their marriage have failed. Once it becomes clear that divorce is their only solution, they just want the relationship to end so they can begin the process of moving on with their new lives. Only the most narcissistic among us want the process to drag on.

A drawn-out divorce can be costly and emotionally draining. There are legal strategies you can employ to protect yourself – and your children – from additional pain. Read “Detox Your Divorce With These 5 Smart Legal Moves” to learn how you can keep your divorce process civil and as brief as possible.