Learning Center

04 JAN

Going Through a Divorce Avoid These Common Financial Mistakes

It may not be a favorite topic of conversation, but divorce is a fact of modern day life Even if you never go through a divorce first hand, a friend or loved one probably will. And let’s be honest: Divorce leaves a lot of people feeling like they’ve gotten the short end of the stick, or been taken advantage of financially.

Divorce lawyers are extremely good at fighting for the interests of one party or the other—and even if lawyers aren’t involved, people often make glaring mistakes during the process of divorce. These mistakes can end up costing thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for one or both parties involved.

Obviously, divorce is a highly personal matter, and no two cases are exactly alike. Our purpose here is not to discuss the many psychological and interpersonal aspects of divorce, but rather to focus on purely financial mistakes that people often make when the decision is made to legally dissolve a marriage. One of the most important aspects of the divorce process is achieving a fair financial result when there is so much at stake. By avoiding the following common mistakes, more Americans will be able to do just that.

1. Being unrealistic about living expenses

It’s surprising how little most us of know about our spending habits and monthly expenses. Anybody can tell you how much money they make in a month, but very few can give an accurate account of how that money is spent. This is important when it comes to the financial side of divorce, since payments are often set up and enforced based on living expenses. People regularly underestimate (or overestimate, if they’re the ones being paid) their daily living expenses, also failing to calculate for inflation. They money being paid and received is therefore incongruent with actual needs, which is unfair to one or both parties.

2. Believing that market value is everything

People often assume that properties and other assets should more or less be divided according to their market value, but this isn’t always fair or accurate. Real estate is a great example. A house or a condo can be worth more than just its market value on account of its ability to generate income. These subtleties must be taken into account if a truly accurate settlement is to come about.

3. Underestimating liability

Just because a credit card balance or other debt was taken in one person’s name does not mean the other person in the marriage has no liability for that debt. In fact, both parties are liable for debts incurred during the marriage. Many divorce accountants advise people to clear debts before the proceedings are finalized.

Navigating uncertainty

Going through a divorce is never anybody’s first choice, but it has been—and will continue to be—a reality of life for many people. Being able to navigate the financial side of things effectively and fairly can make the whole process easier. When both parties understand the common financial mistakes that are made, the chances of achieving the fairest possible result are much higher for everyone involved.