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Avoid Financial Pitfalls In An Amicable Divorce

In Texas as in the rest of the nation, one of the most common topics of discord in marriage is money. That said, it is no wonder that finances can be problematic for couples going through a divorce, even when both partners are committed to parting amicably.

Trying to keep a divorce low-conflict may be a means to a better relationship in the future, especially when a couple has children and can anticipate seeing each other often over the years to come. But, when a couple tries to split without making too many waves, the future finances of the divorcing individuals can be in big trouble. Avoiding conflict by avoiding honest conversations about money may lead to poor decisions made without enough information and foresight.

For example, one big mistake can be having one spouse keep the family home, without full knowledge of the monthly mortgage payments and current equity in the house. After divorce, the spouse with the home may face the reality that he or she does not have enough income to maintain the mortgage payments, repairs, taxes and other expenses of home ownership.

The home is just one part of a post-divorce financial picture, and divorcing spouses really need to know all the facts in order to receive a fair share. Retirement accounts are another concern. By taking the other’s word about retirement accounts and other assets instead of insisting on hard facts on paper, a spouse could ultimately lose out on her or his rightful share.

It is also important to plan for unexpected events like a serious illness or the loss of a job. In one couple’s case featured in a Reuters article on the divorce and property division, the wife, being nice, declined to take spousal support for the full time period she could have under the law. When she was sidelined by illness, she could have faced financial ruin when the support ended. Fortunately, her ex-husband continued to pay support even after he was no longer obliged to, and she was able to weather the crisis. Not everyone is so lucky.

To handle the tricky topic of finances in divorce, a couple who truly wants to end their marriage amicably needs competent help. Having a capable family law attorney to explore and explain all the financial facts of divorce will make for a fairer resolution. A spouse who wants to minimize conflict in divorce should communicate that fact to the attorney, who will respect that goal while protecting the client’s financial and personal interests.