There is no official manual if you’re going through a divorce. There are, however, some really good pieces of advice that professionals, such as your financial adviser or attorney, can give you.
Let’s start by bringing to your attention four mistakes in a divorce that could wind up costing you in the long run.
- As you’re pondering divorce, get together all the financial paperwork that you can. You’ll want the account numbers of your bank accounts, retirement and brokerage accounts, credit cards and such. Also get together Social Security statements that detail how much money your spouse has made, paperwork showing benefits expected to come upon retirement and documents that show what you paid for major assets, such as your home (including home improvements).
- Stay quiet on social media. You don’t want to speak badly of your spouse; that could be frowned upon in court, especially in a child custody case. You also don’t want to brag about your life during a pending divorce. If you’ve told your soon-to-be ex, for example, that you can’t afford this spousal support or that proposed financial deal, you don’t want to plaster your Facebook page with news of your promotion, your new sports car or the European vacation you’re about to take.
- Close joint accounts. Your spouse might say they’ll pay off the debt, but you’ll still be liable if your name is attached to the account. Creditors and lenders don’t have to abide by your divorce agreement.
- Consider the tax consequences on down the road of assets you have now as well as spousal support. The way your retirement accounts are set up, for example, will have bearing on the amount they are taxed down the road. A home sold by a couple can achieve a greater profit before taxes are owed than if a single person sells it. And because of tax changes, spousal support no longer is deductible for divorces finalized in 2019 and beyond.
Divorce is a confusing time, undoubtedly. You will have well-meaning advice coming at you from all directions, but not all of it might be wise to follow in your situation. Listen to the counsel of the professionals who work with divorce cases in New York on a daily basis.