Signs you May be Entering or are in a Bad Marriage

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Signs you May be Entering or are in a Bad Marriage

When you see a disaster is eminent, the best plan is to get out before it’s too late. After that, it’s all triage. Nowhere else is this truer than when entering into a bad marriage—the consequences of which can follow you for years. Sometimes we’re blinded by love. At other times, something arises that cannot be reconciled. Either way, when the divorce is final, we often look for easy things to blame. We feel confused, overwhelmed, hurt and angry. But usually there are many things that lead to the decline and dissolution of such a relationship. Enjoy love but keep on the lookout for important warning signs. You may be able to duck a bad situation or likely recognize when your relationship is heading south. Do you remember your first fight? Few couples do. Well, maybe some women do. In any case, lots of couples fight about the same things, money being the topmost issue, confirmed in several studies. But if you start fighting about money early on, say as you’re boarding the plane on the way to your honeymoon, the marriage could be in trouble. That’s according to research out of Kansas State University. That’s because arguments about money early on affected the marriage even years later. Fighting about money was the “top predictor for divorce” regardless of socio-economic status or income level.

If you got married by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas at the spur of the moment, surprise–you might not make it. But if you dated for three years before deciding to get married, you have a 39% less likelihood of seeing the inside of a divorce court, according to researchers out of Emory University. Couples who dated for three years had far better odds than those who dated for less than a year. Are you both teetotalers? Or perhaps you both like to party until the wee hours. If you’re drinking habits diverge sharply, your relationship might soon too, so say University of Buffalo researchers. If one spouse drank heavily, the couple was more likely to get divorced. But the same results weren’t true when both partners tipped the glass often. Apparently, it’s the mismatch rather than the habit that causes strife.

Did you two talk about a prenup before marriage? If so, you are more than likely to keep your money when you two go your separate ways. That’s because the longevity of the marriage isn’t the utmost concern to both parties. Couples that don’t share a bank account are 145% more likely to divorce, says the National Center for Family and Marriage Research. The reason is financial generosity and sharing is conducive to marriage. It makes you a unit. Keeping things for yourself and separate is not, though of course we all need some individuality. Still, complete separateness denotes something. How much did you blow on the wedding? Some events seem to cost more than a mortgage nowadays. But one Emory University study found that the more you spend on the wedding, the less likely you will have staying power. That’s because spending more gave each elevated expectations for the marriage. When you aren’t ready for problems when they inevitably strike, there are no coping strategies set aside to deal with them. Those who coughed up $20,000 or more were 3.5 times more likely to divorce than those who spent $5,000-$10,000. Social networking sites have us all interconnected. They influence us more than we think. In fact, one study published in “Social Forces” Journal found that if a friend or neighbor got divorced, that person was 75% more likely to get divorced themselves. For ways to make you marriage strong whether entering into or already in the thick of it read, The Marriage Guide Book: How to Make Your Marriage Thrive by Vanessa Pagan.

What you should do Before Getting a Divorce

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If you are pointing toward divorce and don’t think you can be happy otherwise, be confident in your decision, but take the necessary precautions to protect yourself before filing those papers. Lots of people fly into a rage in the middle of an argument and ask for a divorce. Others have had enough neglect, loneliness or awkward emotions and flee the family home one day when they’ve decided they’ve had enough. But carrying through with these emotions is not advised. In fact, it would be better if you took some time and really thought it through. A divorce is a long, painful and precarious situation. How things play out in the next six months could determine what situation you are living under for years to come, and if you have children perhaps decades, even the rest of your life. So it’s important to stop, calm down and start to develop a plan on what is best and how to move ahead. First, consider seeing a marriage counselor. Perhaps your problems can be fixed. But if not, even if it is hopeless and it’s best to move on you can get divorce counseling. It will show you where you two took a wrong turn, how to get along and get the best resolution for all parties, and how to move on. Make sure you find a counselor who is well qualified and has experience in these types of situations.

Before talking to your spouse about divorce speak with an attorney. Make sure they are reputable and have handled similar divorce cases. When you are stressed, angry and anxiety ridden you can’t think straight. In this situation the advice of an attorney is so worthwhile. You’ll need to find out about the allocation of assets, custody issues should you have children, child support and more. Be sure to take steps to safeguard assets and belongings before filing for divorce. Protect things such as your vehicle, furniture, money in joint bank accounts, jewelry, precious art or artifacts, collectibles and other assets. You don’t want a jealous spouse cleaning out the bank account or running off with your grandmother’s priceless diamond ring. If your spouse has any property, you may be able to file with the town or county deeds office your interest in that property. You will need to speak to an attorney about the actual laws in your state pertaining to this. You may want to protect your credit rating by freezing joint accounts or credit cards and opening your own separate account in your name only. You may also want to put the utility bills in your own name.

Make sure to organize all the bills, deeds, car loans, mortgage payments, bank accounts, utilities, insurance policies and other paperwork and assets. Paperwork is your friend now. You don’t want to get sideswiped by anything, nor do you want your soon-to-be ex getting away with any hidden assets you have a right to. In fact, if you can prove they are hiding assets that will give you a leg up in court. These financial records give you insight and perhaps ammunition. Know where everything is and where everything is going. If you have the time organize all your financials into software such as Power Wallet or Mint. Or you can put everything into a spreadsheet using Excel. Know the balances, interest rate and terms on all of the bills. Know the balance of each bank account. Make sure you are intimately aware of whose name is on what account. You need to have a good idea of whose is what and who owes what debts so that assets and debt can be allocated as fairly as possible. The joint assets such as a joint bank account or a mortgage must be divvied up. You have to be ready for that conversation with lawyers or without. If you leave their name on this or these assets you are basically letting them do what they wish with them. Look at when it’s best to look at your credit report. You may want to discuss the matter with your accountant or a financial advisor. See how the divorce is going to affect your credit and safeguard yourself. Always keep a paper trail of everything. Divorce can happen suddenly. So if things are going south you should be ready for it. Otherwise, if you are the one who will be filing for divorce, the more careful preparation you do now the better your chances at a positive outcome in the future. To learn more, pick up a copy of Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally: What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, and After Divorce by Jeffrey A. Landers.

What to do if you think your Spouse has Hidden Assets

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There was a woman in California who won $1.8 million in the lottery. She filed for divorce from her husband of 25 years and failed to disclose her windfall. But the husband found out about it and the judge granted him all of her lottery winnings.   Failing to disclose all of your assets during the divorce proceedings in a no-no and you may end up with a far worse judgment than you would have if you were honest. That said, what do you do if you think your spouse has hidden assets that weren’t brought up during the divorce proceedings? One thing you can do is hire a forensic accountant to investigate. You can find them online via a Google search, or even in the phone book. Your divorce attorney or accountant may also be able to recommend one as well. These are special accountants who know how to search for hidden assets. But what if you don’t have the financial wherewithal to hire someone like that? During the discovery process, your divorce attorney can do a lot of things to have these assets discovered. If you can’t count on your ex you certainly can’t rely on their financial affidavit. Your attorney should review the following documents carefully: pay stubs, bank statements,   tax returns, cancelled checks, credit card statements, brokerage statements and any other financial statements.  Each document should be scrutinized carefully to extract the proper information.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you have the best chance of bringing all of your ex-spouse’s assets to light. First, take a good look at the tax return, the 1099 and the brokerage accounts. Has all interest and dividends been disclosed? Next, run a public records search on your ex’s name. Do they own any property that perhaps wasn’t brought up? Now it’s time to look at your former spouse’s pay stubs and other documents. Take a good look at the bank statements. Is all the income accounted for? Does all income have a record of deposit? For example, if your ex makes $10,000 per month but there is only a record of $3,000 being deposited per month, where has the other $7,000 gone? Now it’s time to look at any cancelled checks. Check out the bills which they pay. Look at mortgage or rent payments, credit card payments, auto loans, utilities and others. Are there any bills being paid from a different account than that which you have knowledge of? If you believe the funds for these bills are coming out of a separate bank account of which you have no knowledge, your previous spouse may be hiding assets. Next, have your attorney subpoena your spouse’s employer to request to find out what kinds of benefits your ex has such as stock options, a 401K or some other retirement plan or a deferred compensation plan. These should also be included during the disclosure of finances phase. If they haven’t, let your attorney know and he or she should make sure that it is included.

Check out the monthly income disclosed. Now take a look at the family expenses and add them up. If the income is lower than the expenses, consider whether you and your ex-spouse were dipping into savings or some other area in order to make ends meet. If not, there is likely financial assets that aren’t being disclosed. Look carefully at the account statements. Look for transfers or withdrawals that don’t seem to end up anywhere else. Your attorney may need to subpoena back documentation to see where and in whose account the money ended up. Look over canceled checks, wire transfers, credit card statements, purchases of significant items such as works of art, jewelry, antiques and so on which may not have been disclosed. Look for cancelled checks, wire transfers, or payments on credit card statements that go to insurance or property taxes on a property other than your own home. This can indicate undisclosed real estate. If you discover any of these inconsistencies it may now be time to depose your ex-spouse. They can’t lie under oath or they will face sanctions. Now you can ask about bills being paid out of secret accounts, property taxes being paid on real estate you didn’t know about or whatever you had discovered. Divorce can be a very painful, high anxiety affair. But it pays to keep your head about you and protect yourself. The outcome of the divorce proceedings can affect your life for years to come. So it’s important that you and your attorney have access to all the information you need in order to safeguard the best outcome possible. For more on this topic, read Forensic Accounting for Divorce Engagements: A Practical Guide, Third Edition by Donald A. Glenn and Ezra Huber.

Enroll In Online Banking For All Bank Accounts

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It’s important to have easy access to all of your bank accounts, especially any joint accounts you may have with your ex, so you can keep track of what’s being spent on what days, and for what services or items.

Having access online is crucial for documentation purposes.  This way you can look back several months prior to your separation and print out bank statements from those months.  You’ll need these to use as evidence of your marital lifestyle when or if discussion of alimony arises in your divorce case.

Your ex could inflate the marital lifestyle to gain more alimony or, conversely, your ex could deflate the marital lifestyle so that he or she doesn’t have to pay you as much alimony.  Be sure to print and file the bank statements from any joint bank accounts as soon as possible following your separation (or even before the separation) to ensure that you have this evidence in case something were to happen to the account(s), leaving you without access to them.