As CNBC reports, divorce can take an emotional toll, but property division mistakes during the divorce can leave you in far worse shape than you intended. And the more intertwined you and your spouse’s finances are, the more closely you’ll need to pay attention while untangling them.
Ideally, you’ll have an attorney and a financial consultant who are advocating for the best property division, and who know what they are doing.
Nevertheless, experts say that even if you’d rather spend as little time as possible thinking about the divorce, it’s worth making sure you understand the implications of all property division decisions being made.
Most people don’t file during the summer, partly because the kids are out of school, they’re vacationing and they’re not focused on their relationship.
Then there’s a rise after Labor Day because people want to get things going before the holidays hit.
Florida Property Division
I’ve written about property division before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.
Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their nonmarital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties.
In dividing the marital assets and debts though, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal.
However, if there is a justification for an unequal distribution, as in the Work divorce, the court must base the unequal distribution on certain factors, including: the contribution to the marriage by each spouse; the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage, or any interrupting of personal careers or education.
Additionally, courts can consider the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
However, courts generally can’t base unequal distribution on one spouse’s disproportionate financial contributions to the marriage unless there is a showing of some “extraordinary services over and above the normal marital duties.”
CNBC’s Divorce Mistakes List
According to CNBC, if you are among those pursuing divorce, here are some property division mistakes to avoid:
1. Keeping a home you can no longer afford.
While staying put means one less change in the midst of an already life-altering event, it often makes little financial sense.
2. Taking the house in lieu of liquid assets.
If you are offered the house in exchange for your ex getting comparably valued investments — i.e., a retirement, bank or brokerage account worth the same amount — think twice before agreeing.
On paper the two may be equal, but practically speaking the house may be far more costly to maintain.
3. Ignoring the Tax implications.
Not all financial accounts are taxed the same way.
For instance, if you get the 401(k) plan account worth $100,000 and your spouse gets the checking account worth the same, you just got the raw end of the deal. Taking cash from the checking account incurs no tax, while any withdrawals from the 401(k) would be taxed as regular income to you.
Most people forget to look at the complete cost of each asset, particularly the tax nature of each.
4. Not getting a court order to get your piece of the 401(k).
If your soon-to-be ex has a 401(k) plan, you must have what’s called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to access your share. (Individual retirement accounts do not require a QDRO).
This court order, which must get final approval from your retirement plan, marks one of the few times you can take money from a 401(k) without paying a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. You will, however, pay income tax on the amount if you don’t roll it over to an individual retirement account within 60 days.
5. Not Getting life insurance
Depending on how heavily you rely on child support or alimony (aka spousal support), the death of your ex could leave you in a financial jam.
Life insurance on the person, with you as the owner and beneficiary of the policy, can serve as protection against that potential loss of income.
The CNBC article is here.