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Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:34

5 Common Financial Mistakes in Divorce

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I recently came across this article from the USA Today which set out Five Common Financial Mistakes Made in Divorce.

Here is a summary of their points:

1. Trying to keep the house no matter the costs. Many couples scrambling to obtain a divorce settlement wish to keep the house at any cost. However, financial experts say that more attention should be given to who can afford to maintain the property, pay the mortgage, and manage the taxes. While it is possible to ask for spousal support to help make the mortgage payments, unexpected maintenance costs may pop up, and make home ownership more of a liability than a luxury.

2. Failing to get a clean financial break from your former spouse. Clean separation of assets and debts is another difficult task, but one that Howard Dvorkin, the founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services says is absolutely necessary, or the consequences can be devastating. Although the task may seem insurmountable, “the alternative is much worse,” says Dvorkin. “Having a spouse drive up your debt when you’re not married anymore” can seriously affect one’s credit score.

3. Depending on your former spouse to comply with financial arrangements. This is also a huge mistake, according to the USA Today article. Although both parties in a divorce are beholden to a court-ordered divorce agreement, creditors do not fall under that arrangement. If your ex spouse is supposed to pay the mortgage, but doesn’t, “the lender is going to sue both of you,” remarks Melissa Avery, an Indianapolis family law attorney. This holds true in Alabama divorces as well; if your ex fails to pay the mortgage, you may be hurt when applying for future loans.

4. Not reviewing your estate plan after a divorce. Wills and trusts can also be seriously impacted by divorce proceedings. If divorced spouses wait unnecessarily long to change a beneficiary on a will, for example, the money may go to the wrong person-your new spouse may get nothing, while your ex spouse inherits the amount provided for in your will.

5. Not understanding the different tax treatment of alimony vs. child support. Finally, never forget which amount of money in your divorce settlement is alimony, and which amount is child support. Whereas child support payments are not taxable to the recipient, alimony payments are. Furthermore, there are limits to how long a person can receive such payments-child support payments can no longer be received once the child turns 18 or is done with college, while spousal support generally ends once the recipient remarries.