It’s extremely difficult to prepare for your divorce – particularly if your spouse “blindsided” you with divorce papers. Even if you initiated the divorce or were aware that your marriage is “dead,” it is easy to make financial mistakes during the Charleston divorce process.
Most people understand that the Charleston divorce process can be emotionally draining, but few people truly expect the financial difficulties that a divorce can bring.
The following “divorce traps” may ruin your financial future:
- Believing that your Charleston divorce mediator will look out for you. A mediator’s job is to get a divorce settlement—any settlement – regardless of whether the settlement terms are fair to you. Good mediators will do their best to help you and your spouse reach a settlement that is fair. However, your mediator will not guaranty that your mediation conference or proposed divorce settlement will be “fair.” Consequently, you should hire a Charleston, SC divorce attorney to represent you in all divorce settlement negotiations.
- Spending “an arm and a leg” for attorney fees. It’s a popular Charleston divorce myth that: “the more expensive a lawyer is, the better the lawyer must be.” However, this is not necessarily true. You should look for a Charleston, SC divorce lawyer who is qualified, listens to you, and fits within your budget. For more information, please read my article on “How to Choose the Right Charleston Divorce Lawyer.”
- Hanging onto joint credit cards and loans. Unfortunately, the most amicable of divorces can turn ugly with little or no advance warning. You could be held responsible for any debts that your spouse incurs before your divorce becomes final. To minimize your financial exposure for a “spouse gone wild” spending spree, you should close your joint credit cards and loans. By establishing a credit card and bank account in your name only, you will also start the process of building your individual credit identity.
- Refusing to give up the family home. Many divorcing spouses in Charleston incorrectly believe that staying in the family home is critical to providing stability for their children. However, it can be a mistake to keep your house. Not only can it make it difficult for you to move on, it can also jeopardize your financial stability. Kids are more resilient (https://thepeckfirm.com/will-divorce-hurt-child/) than you might think, and staying in the family home may not be necessary. You should be prepared to divorce your house before you file to divorce your spouse.
- Trying to maintain your pre-divorce lifestyle. The hard truth is that you and your family may not be able to do the same things that you did before your divorce. This is particularly true if you are going from a two-income to one-income household. Your financial planner or Charleston, SC divorce lawyer should be able to assist you in planning for life after your Charleston divorce
- Having a vague Charleston divorce settlement agreement. Your divorce settlement agreement will become final when your Charleston divorce judge approves it. However, if your divorce settlement agreement is vague or something is left out, you will have to go back to divorce court to fix it. For example, you may have omitted from your divorce settlement agreement necessary or desirable provisions regarding child custody, significant debts, taxes, or division of retirement plans. To avoid having to go back to court to fix your divorce settlement agreement, you should hire a Charleston, SC divorce attorney to represent you throughout your divorce, including the drafting of your divorce settlement documents.
- Forgetting to change your will and beneficiaries. Forgetting to update your estate plan and insurance beneficiaries can haunt you later. If you make this mistake and pass away, your former spouse may wind up inheriting your property. Your new spouse and children could be left out in the cold. To avoid leaving this unintended legacy, you should update your will to provide for the people still in your life.
For more information about financially surviving your divorce, visit my South Carolina Divorce Guide or give me a call at 843-631-7117. As a Charleston, SC divorce lawyer, I will be happy to discuss your options with you and let you know how best to prepare.