July 17, 2013

Five Mistakes to Avoid During Your Divorce

We compiled a small list to help you navigate through this tough time in your life. Researching finances, understanding marital and non-marital property, as well as choosing the right attorney can change the course of your divorce action.

1. Research your money

Don’t just skim over your checking account; delve into all the dark and stormy corners of your credit history. This isn’t information you want to pay an attorney to find out when it’s all at your disposal. You may also want to do this research in advance of any unwanted accusations of hidden assets or liabilities. Do not assume all debts have been paid.

2. Commingling separate and marital property

In Pennsylvania, section 3502(a) of the divorce code describes and categorizes what is or isn’t considered marital property and how it is divided. Depositing or withdrawing money from joint bank accounts could be risky during this time as you may be adding to the pool of assets to be distributed to your spouse when your divorce is finalized.

Paying for an asset with marital funds will create the presumption that the asset is now marital.

3. Settling too quickly

After a certain point, it may seem more cost effective to settle but you may be hurting yourself in the long run. Some find themselves overwhelmed by the process or their emotions and relent to bring everything to an end. Make sure to step back and evaluate all possibilities before hastily accepting the terms of a settlement. Once there is an agreement in place, the negotiations are final – there are no re-do’s.

4. Not knowing the value of retirement assets, i.e. pension plans, 401K, etc.

Eventually, this issue will be addressed. You will want to start procuring any documentation such as prospectus or summaries from any current or previous employers.
Knowing what your spouse has saved up during the marriage is important when preparing for equitable distribution.

5. Choosing the wrong attorney

Many individuals tend to consult with their friends and family as to which attorney they should hire. Unfortunately, this can lead to some disappointment. Verifying credentials is important but a strong and comfortable rapport is key to building a cohesive approach. Maintaining open communication helps save money spent on billable time; it also ensures your wishes are being acknowledged.