USA Today reports the statistic that half of all marriages will end in divorce is not accurate. Divorce is declining, and a big reason is that marriage — with all of its advantages, from survivor benefits, healthier kids, and a lower risk of heart attack – is becoming more selective and the people getting married have more advantages. There are 5 essential tips if you are thinking about divorce.
I’ve written on many divorce issues. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is one of the many states that have abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage.
The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage.
You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The reason for the irretrievable breakdown, however, may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and the development of the parenting plan.
The divorce process can be very emotional and traumatic for couples as well as their kids. Spouses often do not know their legal rights and obligations. Court clerks and judges can answer some basic questions but cannot give legal advice.
Only an attorney can provide legal advice. Statutory requirements and court rules must be strictly followed, or you may lose certain rights permanently.
It’s important to only take legal and financial advice from a lawyer and a trusted financial professional. They will be able to objectively help you through your particular situation with the most effective and beneficial advice and strategies.
Below are USA Today’s 5 essential tips for divorcing from their recent report:
Focus on finances
A lawyer can help you through the legalities of things like separation agreements and child visitation, but when it comes to finances and managing joint debts, it’s best to work with someone who specializes in finances.
If you don’t know where to start, ask your divorce lawyer or mediator to recommend a financial planner they trust or have worked with in the past.
Close joint credit accounts
Once you have filed for divorce, it’s important to cease accruing debt in both of your names. By continuing to rack up joint debt you could end up doing more damage to your credit scores and credit reports and subsequently complicating the divorce process.
Keep track of income and expenses
This is always a smart idea, but particularly during the stress and chaos of a divorce, it can be helpful to track and document financial details including child support and alimony payments, and shared medical and other expenses.
There are many personal finance apps available that can help you keep track of these details.
Create a budget
Going from a two-income household to a single income is a major transition. If you haven’t adhered to a budget in the past, a divorce is a compelling reason to start doing so immediately.
Make sure to outline everything, including both daily and monthly expenses (groceries, utilities, mortgage and car payments, scheduled maintenance on appliances and vehicles), and long-term expenses including retirement and tuition funds. This will help you avoid overspending as you adjust to your new financial norm.
Update your records
Once your divorce is final you will need to change your marital status on things including tax records, utility bills, health insurance, and property titles (homes and cars, etc.).
How about a non-essential tip? The satirical website, The Onion, has its own take on divorce tips. Fans of Dennis Quaid in the movie “The Parent Trap” will appreciate this advice:
“Keep the lines of communication between you and your ex open in order to avoid your twin daughters reconnecting at sleepaway camp and hatching a plan to make you two fall in love all over again.”
The USA Today money article on divorce is here.