If you plan to divorce, you will face numerous concerns. One of the greatest will likely involve how to manage your money. Whether you initiated the divorce or not, chances are your finances will take a huge hit: data show that income drops by more than 40 percent for women and by about 25 percent for men during divorce. Couples who divorce in their 40s or 50s also face the problem of fewer years to prepare for retirement, and with life expectancy lasting into the 80s for women, people need to stretch their dollars further than ever. The following budgeting dos and don’ts for newly separated couples can help you prepare.
Tip #1 — Do Plan Ahead – Don’t Overspend
Sit down with a financial planner, and take a hard look at your finances, including your retirement plans. Consider the timing of your retirement and what it will take to set up a comfortable future. Don’t assume that your ex will plan for your future or keep your best interests at heart.
Tip #2 — Review All Debts and Assets – Don’t Take Your Partner’s Word
Minnesota is not a community property state; instead, the courts divide property based on a legal idea called equitable distribution. In other words, the judge will determine what’s fair when splitting up assets and debts. Nevertheless, you could still be responsible for some of your ex’s debt, even if the debt was incurred under his or her name. Keep track of all records, and make copies of all relevant documents, including taxes, banking information, credit card statements, deeds, car registrations and anything else that your attorney suggests. If you have separate property, track the paperwork to verify that it is solely your property.
Tip #3 — Do Assess the Value of the Home – Don’t Refuse to Sell the House
A house can be a money pit, and it might make better sense to sell it, instead placing the money into something like a retirement account.
Tip #4 — Do Consider Social Benefits – Don’t Forget Your Spouse’s Earnings
Even if you worked for much of your life, you might be entitled to your spouse’s Social Security benefits under the following conditions:
• You are at least 62;
• You were married at least 10 years;
• You did not remarry; and
• Your spouse’s earnings qualify you for a higher benefit than your own earnings.
Even if your spouse remarries, you are still eligible for these benefits.
Tip #5 — Do Review Tax Consequences – Don’t Necessarily Take a Lump Payoff for Alimony or Retirement
With the help of a tax consultant, consider which option makes more sense for you. Tax considerations can affect the sale of the home, the division of assets and the establishment of alimony and child support payments.