There is no question that going through a divorce can be a stressful and emotional time. Many times using rational judgment and thinking can give way to the emotional imbalance created by the breakdown of a marriage, or a long-term relationship.
But, you can make the divorce process easier, simply by taking a few simple steps recommended by our Brooklyn divorce attorney.
How Do You Prepare Financially For A Divorce in New York?
A divorce is an emotional matter, but it is also a financial matter. The Courts and New York divorce law treat marriage as a business relationship, so, it's important to think about it as a financial partnership that is coming to an end.
Five things you can do right now to get prepared.
1. Get organized.
We are often asked, "How do I get divorced quickly, without spending too much money?". The simplest answer is being organized. Get together your account statements (typically at least the last three years of statements), make a list of your assets, get pension statements together, and get a copy of your credit report. A divorce in New York requires disclosure, and, frankly, a good lawyer will insist on it, in order to work towards a settlement. One of the things you will need to fill out is a Net Worth Statement, so having as much of this information as possible will go a long way to saving you money, but, it will also go a long way to getting the financial information needed to negotiate a good settlement.
2. Think about pensions.
This applies to all types of retirement assets, but pensions are a big component of settlement negotiations. When are you eligible to start collecting your pension? What is it worth? How much will you collect? How much does your spouse have? In terms of coming up with a marital settlement, the impact that pension payments can have on any claims for spousal maintenance or equitable distribution (the division of property in a marriage) must not be ignored. Be prepared to contact your pension providers for a current value (or understand that a pension appraisal will be required.)
3. Collect your paperwork.
As we mentioned above, a divorce case is filled with paperwork - lots and lots of it. Get together your bank statements, investment accounts, tax returns, W-2s and 1099s, closing statements, whatever you have. If you don't have it, start ordering it from your bank or financial institution. You will need to get it eventually, and, the sooner you have it, the sooner you can get your divorce case over with. Getting a file folder, put the papers in there. The more you can do that, the less you will need to pay your lawyer to get it.
4. Make a marital budget.
I can't overemphasize how often clients don't consider that the financial budget is harder when there are two households to pay for instead of one. Budgeting is important. Understand how much you spend monthly on the life you have and then understand how much it will cost when your divorce is finalized. We understand, that budgeting is tough, but it's important.
5. Understand the cost of a divorce.
Let's face it, getting a divorce can be expensive - not only because you are now going to take the same amount of money and make it stretch over two households, but because you are going to pay lawyers, appraisers, or other fees (when the case is contested). Lawyers' fees, when there is a house or other property, easily can run $5,000 to $15,000, and, if there are challenges to custody and visitation, those costs can skyrocket. Looking for the "cheapest" attorneys isn't the answer, (and almost always end up costing more) so find the attorney that can best represent your interests, efficiently, responsibly, and has the required experience to help you get through it.
Learn more about preparing for a divorce, by downloading our free guide.