10 Ways Long Term Separations Can Hurt Wives Financially

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10 Ways Long Term Separations Can Hurt Wives Financially

Long term separations can put you in a kind of limbo. For whatever reason either both parties are loath to say goodbye to the marriage but can’t seem to work out their differences or the financial and emotional burden of a divorce is too much for either party to handle right now. Whatever the reason if you find yourself in this kind of situation you aren’t alone. Long-term separations exist for many would-be couples right now. This phenomenon increased significantly during the Great Recession as parties who wanted to divorce were averse to doing so due to financial difficulty or even unemployment on the part of one or both parties. Some people take a weekend away after a heated argument or a few months away to get some distance and gain some perspective on a marriage. But these are considered short term separations. These can last a year, two years or more.  In the short term it can make a lot of sense in that you two are incompatible but by living your separate lives without officially divorcing you avoid the heart ache, the venom that might arise, and the draining emotional toll that a divorce can have on you, and your soon-to-be former spouse. Every decision however has a positive and negative side. The positive you have missed is called an opportunity cost in economics. In this situation waiting too long could have an adverse effect on your pocketbook.  How exactly you might ask? Here are 10 ways long term separations can hurt wives financially.

Number one, you can’t give any input as to how your assets are being allocated by your husband. How is your husband currently managing the finances? Certainly when a divorce settlement occurs you want to be able to receive that which you are entitled. But when living apart you don’t know how your husband is saving, or spending, racking up debt or taking good care of the bills, managing investments, making them, or selling them off. In a Community Property state if your husband is acquiring more debt you in turn are also acquiring it. Check into what kind of state you live in. if it is an Equitable Distribution state the only time you have to worry about this phenomenon is with joint credit cards or any other joint debt. Find out which type of state you are in. Second, your husband may use this time to hide financial assets so they don’t become a part of some future divorce settlement. Third, if your husband loses his job or his financial situation does a 180 your settlement may decrease significantly from what you may have originally acquired. Besides becoming unemployed he may be injured and go on disability. Perhaps he got into legal trouble and so there goes your savings. Fourth, your husband could move to another state, or even another country. Laws from one state to another and one country to another in regard to divorce vary radically, particularly when it comes to alimony. It usually only takes six months to a year to establish residency somewhere else. Moving to another country could make things far worse for your lawyer, complicating things further.

Fifth, the laws governing alimony could change in the state in which you live. Look into your own state law and any bills coming up mentioning alimony reform, for these have been changing the state of alimony and for the most part negatively impact the former wife in a financial sense. Sixth, your future former husband could meet someone. He may use those assets such as your joint savings to buy his new girlfriend lavish gifts, take her on vacations, to fancy restaurants and so on. He may even support her. Seventh, you may have to diminish your living standards during a long separation. Legally, you may have trouble acquiring alimony at the lifestyle which you were previously accustomed to. If you are receiving far less now to live on your soon-to-be ex could say that you don’t need that much since you’ve been living on such a prolonged period on a far more meager income. Eighth, if your husband runs into financial trouble of the legal kind, you could be on the hook for it too. Though you may feel completely different about him since the time you both said, “I do” in the eyes of the law you are still husband and wife. If your husband cheats on his taxes, is sued, or does some other kind of financial shenanigans those assets, though you feel entitled to your fair share, may go to pay legal bills, fines and more. Ninth, without a separation agreement if you depend on your husband to support you, there’s no legal protection against him cutting you off. Number ten, staying separated long term and floating in that limbo makes it hard to move on with the rest of your life. For more pick up a copy of, On Your Own Again: The Down-to-Earth Guide to Getting Through a Divorce or Separation and Getting on with Your Life by Keith Anderson and Roy Macskimming.

10 Steps to Divorcing your Wife

MONEY-DIVORCE

Divorce can be so painful emotionally. Who did what to who is often dragged out between husband and wife while the whole mess plays out. Besides custody the biggest issue of contention is splitting up the assets. Of course both parties’ assets should be included in the negotiations. Oftentimes however one or both parties is ignorant about the household finances. At other times one may be hiding assets from the other but where to look remains a mystery. If your wife is working but the squeeze was put on her salary, or you don’t know what the house is worth due to the Great Recession, don’t worry, you are not alone. There are ways to figure this out, too. A divorce may be protracted and even excruciating but the good news is it’s only a temporary bump on the road of life. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You will certainly be happy again. Though there is a lot of stress, anguish, and sometimes other emotions like guilt, sadness and regret, pretty soon you’ll have all of this behind you. You just have to find out how to manage the situation as well as you can, take breaks for your mental health, manage the situation wisely and keep your head on straight. If you can do that you’ll get through this thing smashingly. Here are 10 steps to divorcing your wife. Step 1: If you’ve been handing your paycheck over to your wife for years and don’t know where the money is going, it behooves you to do so now. Find out everything you can about the finances. Do you have a retirement plan, a mortgage, credit card bills, investments, tax returns and copies of the trust and wills? If not, you’d better get on that. Get as many financial papers together as you can and get to know intimately your financial situation. Ignorance is not bliss and what you don’t know can be used against you, or hidden from you.

Step 2: Take a look into all of your spouse’s affairs. You’ll want to know as much as you can to relate back to your lawyer. Step 3: Protect yourself. Are you the victim of “sudden divorce syndrome?” If so, your wife may have a plan on how she’s going to keep afloat. Make sure to put some money aside just in case. You don’t want to be left in the dark while she cleans out the joint bank account. Step 4: Now it’s time to open a separate credit card in your name only. Step 5: Freeze joint credit cards and any open a home equity line so your wife doesn’t run up the bills. While you two are still legally married your credit can be affected by whatever she is spending. Cancel the joint bank account, too. You don’t want to be left without any cash or credit to your name. If you two are on decent terms you can work this out together, cancelling the cards and splitting the joint account amicably. If not you can take your share out of the joint account and cancel the cards altogether. Step 6: Do you have any savings you brought with you to the marriage, an inheritance or any other personal savings? Make sure to take custody of these immediately. Depending upon what state you live in, if you don’t secure it, it could be split during the settlement.

Step 7: Do you each have retirement plans? If so, both can come up in the divorce settlement. If you are cordial, perhaps this is something to be worked out on your own. If not so cordial, secure your retirement plan. If you have an IRA with a written agreement, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO will be required before you can touch any of that money. For a traditional pension a financial professional will have to assess it. Step 8: Look at the alimony situation. Does your wife work? If she has a low salary or doesn’t acquire one at all you may be paying alimony. But you won’t have to supply her lifestyle with cash forever. Spouses are expected to go out and get jobs these days. Step 9: If your wife was working and you weren’t but you need the health insurance, remember that you have sixty days to sign up for it. Step 10: Have a financial adviser help you plan out your finances from the start. Select a good lawyer with a good reputation and lots of experience. Keep talking to your friends and family. Learn to get things off your chest. Don’t get stuck on the little things; look at the big picture. Heal your heart and when you’re ready look for someone to love again. For more, be sure to read Divorce – Get Your Life Back In 30 Days After A Divorce Or Break Up – For Men by Francisco Bujan.

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

Hidden-Assets

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.