Divorce brings so many financial changes it is impossible to stay on top it all.

Divorcees have to prioritize and pay attention to those things which are most important. If you are a divorcee this means that certain areas of your financial life will remain unsettled for some time.

While divorcing couples instinctively make a grab for assets there are several areas that are often neglected that can have huge long-term implications. Here are a few things to consider.

Social Security allows people to collect a benefit based on their own earnings. In the case of a married couple, a spouse has a choice to collect their own benefit or an amount equal to one-half of their spouse’s benefit, whichever is more.

When a stay-at-home spouse has not made significant contributions to Social Security, that spouse will likely elect the spousal benefit. In order to qualify for the spousal benefit, the marriage needs to last 10 years.

I have met several divorcees who divorced just before the 10-year mark and by so doing missed out on future Social Security payments.

Sometimes the divorce just needs to happen, but if there is no urgency spouses may want to consider waiting a little longer.

The tax situation is also an aspect that isn’t given much thought.

Divorcing couples will lose the Married Filing Joint status and move to single or head of household.

This is not a good thing. Filing joint allows a more favorable tax rate. Be prepared for a change in tax situation.

When children are involved, tax deductions are involved. These tax deductions can add up to thousands of dollars over time.

These tax advantages may be bargaining chips while negotiating how to divide assets. Not all taxpayers with children qualify for credits, but some of them can also be very valuable.

Many of the tax-related issues come up at tax time and not during divorce negotiations.

This is a problem. Deciding beforehand who will claim children as dependents will save time, potential arguments and will lead to a more equitable division of assets.

Make copies of all important documents before the divorce. Moving usually precedes divorce and boxing things up usually, means something is getting lost.

Usually, one person unintentionally ends up with the important documents leaving the other with nothing. You may not be in a position to ask for favors after the divorce.

Credit and credit scores aren’t usually given much thought. Divorces don’t necessarily create bad credit, but we often see one spouse title all debt and assets in their name.

This may leave another spouse scrambling to establish or improve credit. It may be helpful to plan or obtain new loans before the divorce.

Lastly, remember to not beat yourself up.

It will take a time to get your finances in order. At first, you don’t even know how much you don’t know. Be patient with yourself and be happy with small steps.

In time, things will begin to fall in place.

Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, MillsWealth.com. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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