How Financially Prepare for AZ Divorce

How to Prepare Finances for a Divorce in AZ

A handful of important considerations beckon your attention throughout the divorce process. And, being prepared can help ensure your assets stay protected.

How to Make Financial Moves Before a Divorce

If you or your partner have recently filed for divorce in Arizona, there are a few things that you should try to do as quickly as possible.

Choose a Lawyer that’s Right for You

One of the most important steps you can take before beginning a divorce is hiring an attorney you can trust. Divorce can be an intimidating process that is already emotional and stressful, and feeling unsure how to proceed can create even more anxiety.

By hiring an experienced AZ attorney, you will receive advice and assistance throughout your divorce, including formidable representation in court. A divorce lawyer is experienced with all the issues that may occur during divorce, including financial considerations. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse differ regarding the division of assets, an attorney can help you handle financial concerns in a way that preserves your future.

Organize and Identify Your Assets

Organize Records

Identifying your assets also helps if you think your partner may try to sell or hide any community assets in an attempt to avoid dividing them with you. Bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any physical assets or properties should all be accounted for. It is critical to know what you have before you begin the property division process.

Estimate the Cost of Your Divorce

Unfortunately, divorce is rarely a cheap process. Many people go into divorce not expecting its high price tag and are therefore uncertain what to do with money before a divorce begins. Whether you choose mediation to settle various aspects of your divorce out of court or engage in lengthy litigation to make decisions, divorce expenses can add up quickly. Since every divorce is different, it isn’t easy to determine the potential cost of your case. However, estimating attorney fees, moving costs, court fees, and regular monthly expenses can help to give you a better idea of how to manage your money moving forward.

Avoid Making Major Financial Decisions

Of course, divorcing is itself a major financial decision that will impact your finances. However, other major decisions, like changing your beneficiaries, closing accounts, and transferring assets before a divorce can hurt you during the divorce process. These things will be handled legally once the divorce is underway and the division of assets has begun. If you make these moves too soon, you may risk contempt of court or lose your assets to your soon-to-be-ex.

How to Prepare Finances for an Arizona Divorce

During your divorce, division of assets will result in property ownership changes, in addition to your regular and divorce-related expenses. Here are some tips for handling your finances during the chaos of a divorce.

Close Joint Accounts

Close Joint Accounts

Once you have begun the divorce process, it’s time to start closing your joint accounts. Often, bank accounts have both partners’ names, and funds will have to be transferred individually to new accounts. Joint credit cards must be canceled through the creditor, and you’ll have to open your own new credit account.

Closing joint accounts can help prevent your ex-spouse from misusing funds before the divorce is finalized. It’s important that you open a new checking and savings account in your own name and arrange income for deposits and debits for expenses to be handled through the new account. You should also keep documentation regarding when you closed your joint accounts and began your own.

Get An Asset Evaluation

Your assets are important. Whether you’re dealing with expensive collectible items, a shared family home, or your retirement fund, evaluating your assets is critical for a fair property division process. By hiring a professional to evaluate your and your ex-partner’s assets, you can ensure that the correct value is placed on each asset and that they are fairly divided during the divorce. A professional asset evaluation should be done as soon as possible to avoid delays in your divorce and prevent your partner from hiding assets.

Gather Financial Documentation

To properly handle your finances and ensure that property division occurs fairly during your divorce, you will need to collect a great deal of financial documentation. If you have not already done so prior to beginning your divorce, gather bank statements and credit card statements to help to give your lawyers and the court a better idea of how finances were used throughout your marriage. Checking and savings statements, pay stubs, credit card statements, bills, loan agreements, and income tax returns are all critical documentation needed during a divorce. These documents can help the court understand how money was handled as well as its source, such as the individual incomes of each partner.

Maintain Your Individual Credit

Your credit score plays a crucial role in many areas of your life, including your financial health. Despite the difficulties of your divorce, it’s important to maintain your credit. Unfortunately, people often complete a divorce with weak credit due to mounting expenses, their partner’s spending issues, and many other factors. It’s essential to continue building your individual credit so that you can avoid issues like higher financing rates or difficulty renting or purchasing a new property.

Don’t Forget About Insurance Policies

Insurance policies can become a complex financial task because they often affect other important aspects of your life, many of which were shared with your partner. For example, most life insurance policies will require beneficiary changes if you wish to remove your former spouse. Car insurance policies may also need to be changed if they were previously shared by both spouses or if vehicle ownership has changed.

How Can I Afford to Live on My Own After Divorce?

During a divorce, you may experience multiple different housing situations, all of which present different financial concerns. So, how does this work?

Home Sale

One Spouse Buys Out the Other

Since a home is a physical asset that cannot be split unless sold, the person remaining in the family home must often “buy out” the other spouse. This can be done via a cash out finance or forfeiture of an asset or assets of equal value. With these assets or funds from the cash out refinance in hand, the other spouse can afford a new living situation. The title will need to be transferred to the remaining spouse, and all ownership and mortgage documents should be solely under that spouse’s name.

Spouses Agree to Sell the Home

Another option is selling the family home. Sometimes, this is the best option for couples who do not have children, or cases where neither partner feels they have the finances to maintain the home on their own. With the help of a real estate agent and your lawyer, you and your partner can sell your shared home and then split the proceeds fairly. If you and your partner can’t afford to keep the home or are worried about selling it in the current market, you may also agree to rent the house to a third party. When this happens, proceeds can be split between both partners.

Other Circumstances

Unfortunately, the above options may not be available for all couples, especially if they owe more for the home than the home’s current market value. In some cases, if neither you or your partner wants to remain in the home, or neither of you feel you can afford to stay there, you may have to agree to sell the home at a loss. In more severe circumstances, foreclosure may be necessary. Moving forward, the assets retained after the divorce and your own efforts to maintain your credit should help you find a new residence you can afford.

Protect Yourself and Prepare Your Finances During a Divorce

We provide affordable legal services for any individual involved in or looking to initiate a family or divorce law case. We offer guidance as well as our professional expertise and knowledge of the law. We are located in the heart of Phoenix, but our services are digital, which allows us to help individuals throughout the state.


*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published March 21, 2018 and has been rewritten August 23, 2022.

Wrecking Your Finance

How To Keep A Divorce From Wrecking Your Finances

By Laurence Kotlikoff, Next Avenue Contributor 

(Kotlikoff also contributes to Forbes. His posts can be found here.) 

Divorce is always sad, but when it turns ugly, it’s terrible. You may remember The War of the Roses, the dark comedy where Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas start out as a perfect couple and end up destroying their possessions — including their luxurious house and cars — because they can’t agree on who gets what. That movie is unfortunately hitting home for plenty of boomers and Gen X’ers. According to a recent survey by Allianz Life Insurance, two thirds of divorced women feel their divorce created a financial crisis.

Many of my friends have gone to divorce war, but unlike Turner and Douglas, they destroyed their finances (by paying steep legal fees), not their possessions. Divorce doesn’t have to be as financially painful as it so often is, though.

Why Divorce Turns Into War

What drives divorce wars? My hunch is that many are driven by very different assessments by spouses of the impact of their proposed settlements. For example, a husband may think his settlement proposal is incredibly generous while his wife thinks it’s miserably cheap. Without a neutral measurement stick, their fight — with the lawyers’ meters running — can go on and on.

s an economist, I’d say that this is where economics can help couples. Its math and computer algorithms can figure out precisely how much each spouse will get to spend now and in the future under any given divorce settlement. And this analysis can take into account all relevant factors, including the division of assets, alimony and child support, child custody and the disposition of the marital home.

How do I know? My company just released a new software tooldesigned to limit divorce wars (full disclosure: I derive no income from it). It calculates each spouse’s living standard under any proposed divorce settlement.

John and Sally’s Equitable Divorce

Let me illustrate this new technology:

Take John and Sally Doe, both 50, who are untying the knot after 25 years. John earns $200,000; Sally earns $40,000. John and his employer both contribute $6,000 a year to his 401(k). Sally and her employer both contribute $3,000 to hers. John and Sally plan to retire at 65. The couple has one child, Sam, 10. Sam will spend 80% of his time with Sally and 20% with John. John will cover Sam’s college expenses. The couple own a $450,000 house with a $90,000 mortgage. John proposes that Sally live in their house for eight years, while he picks up three-quarters of the housing cost. Meanwhile, John will buy a condo for $200,000. Sally will buy the same-priced condo when they sell their house, sharing the proceeds 50/50. John also proposes dividing the couple’s $200,000 in regular assets and $1 million in retirement assets in proportion to their labor earnings.

John wants to be fair. He figures that paying for most of Sally’s and Sam’s housing for the next eight years, covering Sam’s college expenses and housing and feeding Sam one-fifth of the time is highly generous. He also believes his and Sally’s living standards will be pretty similar once his much higher tax payments are factored in. So John proposes no alimony or child support.

Is John right? Will he and Sally be able to spend roughly the same amount over the rest of their days?

No, he’s wrong. But by playing around with the numbers and the software they can arrive at an agreement that works for both of them.

John’s proposed settlement lets him spend $83,215 annually and Sally spend $23,353 annually (measured in today’s dollars) after covering all housing costs and taxes. There are lots of reasons for this big differential, including John’s higher salary, his large asset share and his receipt of higher Social Security benefits.

When Sally points out the large spending (living standard) difference, John offers to split all assets 50/50. Now John’s and Sally’s annual spending amounts become $73,891 and $35,757, respectively.

Sally, who sacrificed her career to put John through law school and raise Sam, digs in her heels. “John, you need to pay alimony and child support,” she says. John agrees to $25,000-a-year in child support until Sam goes to college. Sally runs the computer program again and finds that John’s annual spending would now be $68,783 and hers would be $41,158.

Sally says, “John, sorry, but you wouldn’t be making five times my salary if it weren’t for me. There is no reason I should have a lower living standard going forward. If you pay me $20,555 each year in alimony and agree to the other things you offered, we’ll both get to spend the same amount each year: $54,836.”

John thinks this over and then counters with a $10,000 annual alimony payment, pointing out that his job is far more demanding than Sally’s. Sally, upon reflection, decides this is reasonable and the two hire a single attorney for one hour to draw up the agreement. Sally and John used economics to save their divorce.

How to Divorce Fairly

Couples don’t have to use this software to come up with equitable divorce agreements. You can also get a rough handle on your relative spending levels by comparing each spouse’s disposable lifetime resources.

To arrive at this number, you’d start by calculating your lifetime resources (the present value (how much a future sum of money is worth today) of your future labor, Social Security and other income including alimony and child support plus your current net worth. Next, you’d subtract the present value of your projected taxes, housing costs, expenditures on children and other expenses including alimony and child support payments. The difference is your spendable resources.

Do this for your spouse, too, and then divide by each spouse’s maximum remaining lifespan (use a calculator like this one) to find what each spouse will be able to spend annually. This is a rough calculation primarily because you’ll need to guesstimate your taxes and may mis-estimate your Social Security benefits, since they may be different in the future than what you expect today.

Source: “”, Laurence Kotlikoff, 5/31/2017.

Tax Invoices

Effects of Taxes on Divorce Negotiations in 2018

With the passing of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it is even more important than ever to make sure you’re taking taxes into account when you’re negotiating your settlement. There are several changes to the law, but the main ones that you should be paying particularly close attention to as you negotiate a divorce agreement are as follows:

1.     Alimony payments made by a former spouse will no longer be tax deductible for the payor. This is going to have the biggest effect on divorce negotiations.

a.     Until the end of 2018

i.     The payor of alimony is able to deduct that amount against his/her taxes. What  that means, is that whatever the alimony amount is, in effect it’s less for the payor once you take into account the tax deduction.

ii.     The recipient will have to pay taxes on the alimony which is treated as income. Typically, tax rates for the recipient are lower than the payor thus making it a win/win for both parties.

b.     Beginning in 2019

i.     Alimony payments will no longer be tax deductible to the payor.

ii.     The recipient not be taxed on the alimony received as income.

2.     The loan amount on which mortgage interest can be deducted has been reduced to $750k from $1m (not for existing home mortgages only new ones).

a.     If you’re renegotiating your mortgage because the home is being transferred into your spouse’s name, that will affect your taxes.

b.     If you’re looking to move and take out a new mortgage greater than $750k, again, you will feel the effects.

3.     Interest on Home equity loans is no longer tax deductible.

4.     The deduction of your State and Local taxes against Federal Income taxes has been reduced to $10k.

This is a very simplified version of the changes. Make sure you should check with your CPA or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to help you accurately plan for the tax consequences.

Source: “”, Karen Bigman, January, 24, 2018.


Why a Good Divorce Is Better Than a Bad Marriage for Kids

Anyone who is considering divorce knows that there is a lot of research demonstrating that divorce is difficult for children. If you’re considering divorce or in the process of getting one it can seem as though researchers are shaking their fingers at you, predicting the worst for your child. As a former divorce attorney, mediator, and Law Guardian, I worked with families going through divorce as well as those who returned to court for updates and changes to their parenting plans. I’ve also seen acquaintances, friends, and family members who have stayed together for the sake of the children. It’s time someone stood up and spoke the truth. While there is no question that divorce is hard for kids, it is a far cry better than raising your children in a violent, abusive, angry, or deeply resentful marriage.

If you stay married for the sake of your children, you expose them to daily arguments, negative undercurrents, shouting, possible violence, and an atmosphere that is in no way calm and peaceful. This has a huge impact on your child. When parents stay in a bad marriage, kids have to cope with the fall out from a never ending cycle of disputes, resentment, sadness, and even hate. A bad marriage is an open wound that can never heal as the scab is picked off again and again no matter how hard the parents try to keep things together for the sake of the kids. Children live in a volatile environment, which even if it is not violent, it is not nurturing and loving.

While the research is clear that divorce does have an impact on children, it fails to take into account the permanent emotional damage children suffer when they stay in one home with parents who can’t get along. A divorce frees everyone from this environment and offers many benefits to children:back to back

– Two homes where there is no constant arguing. This allows kids to just be kids without having to work around the complex negative emotions present in a conflict-filled home. Yes, having two homes is a change. It’s not always perfect but two homes without fighting is almost always better than one filled with arguments and marital tension.

– A calmer emotional baseline. Things are complicated in the months following divorce, but most families get through this transition and find a new normal. Children are no longer riding the waves of their parents’ relationship on a daily basis. Things settle down and everyone is calmer and less combative.

– Happy parents. The benefits of this are enormous. Happy people are better parents. Happy people create happy environments. Happiness rubs off on children. While it takes time to find your equilibrium after divorcing, it does happen for most people and is certainly a better outcome than living unhappily for years in a difficult marriage.

– Children learn that compromise matters. When they see their parents co-parenting and working through the issues in a divorce, children learn that compromise is an important and effective skill. While no divorce is without challenges, getting through it shows your child how to work through hard times to achieve a brighter future. Parents who choose to mediate their divorce show their children that working together to find a solution is preferable to fighting against each other.

– Parents who choose personal happiness teach their kids to do the same. While putting your kids first is often held up as the gold standard of parenting, deciding that your personal happiness is more important than having a nuclear family under one roof sends a powerful message to your children. It shows them that everyone deserves to be happy and that happiness is an important consideration in your life plan.

– Divorced parents can find their parenting mojo after divorce. This isn’t guaranteed, but if you have a reasonable parenting plan and are able to cooperate, each parent develops a unique parenting style from the ongoing one-on-one time with the children.

Source: “” Brette Sember, March 24, 2015.

Price of Divorce

The Price of Divorce has just Increased

Divorce might have just become more expensive for US taxpayers. In the US, alimony payments (otherwise known as maintenance or periodical payments in the United Kingdom), but not child maintenance, are deductible by the paying spouse and are taxable to the recipient spouse as income. In the small print of the widely heralded tax reforms approved by the Trump administration in January 2018, the tax break will end for all divorce financial settlements finalised after December 31, 2018.

This has led some to predict a divorce rush before the new rules take effect.

I asked Ed Rieu of US tax advisory firm Sopher & Co to explain the history and the impact of this change:

“The US originally allowed a deduction for alimony by the paying spouse equal to the amount included in taxable income by the recipient spouse. The rules evolved to the current rules that allow a deduction even where the recipient did not include any amount in income.

To be deductible, the alimony needs to be paid in cash, under a court order between legally separated persons and must end on the death of the payee spouse (or on a fixed date). Further, the order must not designate the payment as not being deductible by the payor or includible in income by the recipient. A lump sum prepayment can also qualify as deductible alimony. Fixed payments for child support, however, do not qualify as deductible alimony nor do lump sum payments in splitting marital assets.

As an aside, this non-taxation rule on lump sum pre-payments does not apply to transfer of assets to a non-US citizen spouse. Thus, where a US citizen or permanent resident transfers assets to such spouses, gain will be realised on the value of assets transferred in excess of base cost and income will be realised to the value of any pension or other deferred income rights transferred. This requires up-front strategic planning to identify what assets may be transferred with a minimum US tax exposure.

Because the spouse paying alimony is typically in a higher tax bracket than the recipient, the alimony payment usually results in an overall tax saving which is often split by the parties in the financial settlement. The US Congress recognised this and recently legislated that effective for court orders issued after 31 December 2018, no deduction will be allowed for alimony payments and the receipt of income will not be taxable. Alimony paid on court orders issued prior to 1 January 2018 will still be deductible (and receipt of alimony will still be taxable). While the overall savings gained by the couple may be lower given the reduction in US tax rates (from 39.6% to 37%), the net savings to be realised has nevertheless led to a current rush by couples to expedite resolution of financial issues by year end.”

Inevitably there will be pressure for US taxpayers to finalise divorce settlements over the next eleven months and for some, the loss of the tax break may even be a tipping point spurring them to divorce. Before taking any radical decisions, however, it might be valuable for US citizens seeking their divorce in England (perhaps because they are resident here) to consider how the changes will impact. Maintenance settlements here are awarded based on “need”. There is no principle of a “fair sharing” of income. The less well-off spouse (usually the wife) will present a schedule of her own and any children’s annual income needs. The schedule will be a comprehensive list, everything from bath salts to butlers, aiming to reflect the actual standard of living of the marriage. The needs, of course, must be affordable and reasonable, but the court will normally carry out a balancing exercise with the edge being given to the parent who has the primary care of children going forward.

Yet since the English court also looks at the net income available in prescribing maintenance payments, it is inevitable that some separated households will be impacted by the new tax hit and will find the future a good deal harder. One would like to think the new rules may create a short term financial disincentive to divorce but I suspect for wealthy US clients it simply means divorce has become more expensive.

Source: “”  Michael Rowlands Undated.


21 Mistakes NOT to Make When Getting a Divorce

Very few people are at their best when they are getting a divorce. That’s not surprising. It’s hard to operate at the top of your game when your entire life has just imploded and it feels like you’re walking around with an ice pick in your chest.

The irony, of course, is that, at the very time in your life when your emotions are raging out of control and you are the least equipped to make good decisions, you are expected to make one life-changing decision after another.

It doesn’t help that going through a divorce is like trying to find your way around a foreign country when you don’t speak the language. Even when you’re doing the best you can, it’s easy to make a wrong turn and get lost.

What is a Divorce Mistake?

Mistakes, like beauty, are often in the eye of the beholder. What you might think is a mistake (like giving up too much money in your divorce settlement), someone else might think is brilliant! (You might have lost money, but it helped to end your divorce months sooner than it would have otherwise taken.)

To me, a divorce mistake is anything that makes your divorce more painful or ugly. Anything that causes your divorce to take longer or cost more is also probably a mistake (unless you enjoy supporting your local divorce lawyer!)

A mistake is anything that hurts your children any more than is absolutely necessary. Finally, anything that violates your core values, or will make you cringe a few years from now when you think about how you acted is, in my opinion, a mistake.

While avoiding every divorce pitfall is next to impossible, if you can get through your divorce without making most of these mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

21 Mistakes to Avoid When Getting a Divorce 

1. Thinking your divorce lawyer will take care of everything for you.

Unless you have more money than Donald Trump, no divorce lawyer is going to do EVERYTHING for you in your divorce.  No lawyer is going to gather all of your financial documents, separate your personal property, find a new place for you to live, or talk to your spouse about the kids because you don’t feel like doing it yourself. Lawyers handle the legal parts of your case. Period. The rest is up to you.

2. Going through your divorce without a therapist.

Divorce is 80% emotional. While you might think you are perfectly capable of handling your emotions yourself, when you are locked in battle with someone who knows how to push every button you have, staying calm and thinking rationally is a challenge. The same thing is true if you’re so depressed that getting out of bed in the morning is now a crowning achievement. Having a therapist or a divorce coach on your team can help your divorce go more smoothly than you may imagine.

3. Getting a divorce without getting any legal advice.

DIY divorce may be all the rage these days, but it has some serious downsides. What’s worse is that you may not be able to repair the mistakes you are making now. Yes, divorce lawyers are expensive. No, not everyone needs full on legal representation throughout their divorce. But, unless you have nothing to lose, going through your divorce without getting any legal advice at all is risky, foolish, and usually a huge mistake.

4. Taking your spouse off of your health insurance plan as soon as you file for divorce.

Please don’t do this – especially if your spouse has any kind of serious medical condition that requires medication or regular care! Not only is cancelling your spouse’s health insurance wrong but it can also prove to be an expensive mistake. You may be held liable to pay your spouse’s uncovered medical expenses. Plus, if you can’t get your spouse back on your policy because it’s not an open enrollment period, you may be paying for this mistake for a long time.

5. Fighting over cheap personal property.

Almost every divorce lawyer has stories about couples who spent thousands of dollars fighting over some item of personal property (a vacuum cleaner, an ashtray, landscaping rocks, etc.) that was worth a few hundred dollars – or less! If you find yourself fighting with your spouse over the Tupperware, stop! Ask yourself: “What am I really fighting about? What matters here?” If you are being honest, I promise you that your answer will NOT be “the Tupperware.” (THIS is why you need a therapist or a divorce coach!) 

6. Not taking charge of (and responsibility for) your own divorce.

Whether getting a divorce was your idea, or whether your spouse wanted a divorce but you didn’t, once your divorce has started, you HAVE to engage with it. Burying your head in the sand will only make your divorce harder and more painful. It will also dramatically increase the chances that you will not get what is important to you in your divorce. No matter how upset or depressed you are, get up, man up, make some goals, and start taking action to achieve them.

7. Moving out of the house with the kids, without telling your spouse.

Unless you and the kids have been the victims of documented domestic violence, taking your kids and running is almost always going to come back and bite you. Even if you tell your spouse your address after you move, that still doesn’t mean that some judge won’t order you to return the kids to your home – quite possibly without you. That is not a position you want to be in. 

8. Not following court orders.

Court orders are ORDERS. They are not suggestions. Not doing what your divorce judge told you to do can get you held in contempt of court, thrown in jail, ordered to pay fines, ordered to pay your spouse’s attorney’s fees, or subjected to whatever other punishment the court believes is warranted under the circumstances. Plus, it does not endear you to the judge. Later on, when you need the judge to decide some other issue in your case, don’t think that the judge won’t remember that you blew him or her off before. 

9. Refusing to compromise about anything.

Divorce requires compromise. Period.  Full stop.  Unless your spouse totally caves in (which is not particularly likely) you are not going to get everything you want. You are going to have to give in on some things. The more you dig in your heels, the longer your divorce will take and the more it will cost. Plus, in the end, even if you go all the way through trial, some judge will still probably order you to give up things you didn’t want to lose.

10. Not verifying the numbers on your budget and balance sheet.

Even if you were the spouse who managed the money in your marriage, making a budget based upon what you “think” or “remember” your income and expenses to be, without taking the time to double-check your numbers, can cause your budget to be complete garbage. No matter how much of a pain it may be, verifying that your divorce budget and balance sheet are accurate can save you from making enormous financial mistakes in your divorce. 

11. Withdrawing large sums of money out of the joint account without your spouse’s knowledge or agreement.

Do you really think your spouse won’t notice? Really?! Unilaterally removing large sums of money from your bank account is the quickest way I know to get yourself slapped with an injunction that freezes all of your financial accounts. Plus, a judge will probably order you to return the money, and maybe pay your spouse’s attorney’s fees too. It doesn’t matter that the only reason you did this was to prevent your spouse from doing it first. Do things the right way. Talk to your spouse. Talk to your lawyer. Do what the court says. 

12. Telling your kids all sorts of horrible things about your spouse (even if they are true!).

Your children are products of both you AND your spouse. When you start bad-mouthing your spouse to your kids, you hurt your kids. It doesn’t matter whether you are telling your kids “the truth.” There are some things that children just don’t need to know about their parents. So, take the high road. Resist the temptation to over-share. 

13. Doing anything on purpose, just to hurt your spouse.

Yes, hurting your spouse (especially when s/he hurt you badly first) may feel good for a while. But it will almost always make you feel bad later. Who are you? What are your values? What kind of an example do you want to show your kids? As tempting as it may be to needle your spouse just because you can, resist the urge. Later on, you’ll be glad you did. 

14. Kicking the can on sensitive child-related issues.

If you and your spouse disagree on critical parenting issues, you need to discuss those issues, and find some way to resolve them, during your divorce. The same thing is true if you and your spouse have had fertility issues and have to decide what will happen to frozen embryos. Dealing with these issues now will be emotional and difficult. Putting off the discussion until after you are divorced, and expecting to deal with the issues then, will likely be worse. 

15. Not making a post-divorce budget before you settle your case.

You may think you’ll be fine after your divorce is over, but unless you actually run the numbers, you can’t know for sure whether the budget you have in your head will actually work in practice. What’s more, you need to base your proposed budget on facts, not feelings. For example, if you plan on moving out of the marital home after you are divorced, and you haven’t researched what a new apartment will cost – do it now! You don’t want to start your post-divorce life living on the streets or eating cat food because you miscalculated your living expenses when making your budget. 

16. Asking your kids to deliver messages or money to your spouse.

You are an adult. Be one. Keep your kids out of the middle of your divorce. If you and your spouse have issues, work them out yourselves. Don’t involve your kids. 

17. Not keeping a joint calendar for the kids’ during and after your divorce.

Keeping track of all of your kids’ activities, medical appointments, and schedules is daunting for intact families. When you are getting a divorce, or once you are divorced, it’s even harder. There are lots of digital parenting tools that can help you automate your kids’ schedule so that everyone knows what is going on with the kids all the time. The sooner you start to use that kind of a calendar, the more smoothly your kids will transition into their new situation, and the more you will lower everyone’s stress level. 

18. Not understanding the tax implications of your divorce settlement before it is final.

You don’t have to be a CPA. But, if you don’t understand some basic tax principles, you may find that the amount of money you actually get in your divorce settlement is dramatically different form the amount of money that you thought you would be getting. Before you agree to any divorce settlement, run the numbers by an accountant or your divorce financial planner. That will reduce the risk that you will be surprised later.

19. Hiding money.

Yes, this one is controversial. If you hide money and you don’t get caught, then hiding money (essentially stealing from your spouse) seems like a good idea. The problem is, if you do get caught (and most people do), you will usually end up paying way more money than what you would have paid if you had been honest in the first place. Plus, whether you believe it or not, karma happens. You may get away with stealing money now. But, some day, some way, what you do will come back to you. 

20. Not making sure your parenting schedule works BEFORE you enter it in court.

A lot of things that look good on paper turn out to be a nightmare in real life. Until you have lived with a parenting schedule for a while, it is hard to judge whether it works or not. You may find that your kids don’t function well with the schedule you and your spouse set up. Or, you may discover that exchanging the kids during the height of rush hour traffic makes everyone’s life miserable. The best way to make a parenting schedule is to set it up, start living with it, change it as necessary and THEN put it into your final divorce judgment. 

21. Assuming that you can change your divorce judgment later.

Many people include terms in their divorce judgment that they don’t really agree with because they assume that they can just change those terms later. That’s not always true! While the portions of your divorce judgment that pertain to your kids may be modifiable, other parts of your judgment may not be. Plus, changing your divorce judgment will require you to go back to court. It will cost you time and money. There is also no guarantee that the judge will allow you to make the change that you want. 

Avoiding Mistakes in Your Divorce 

Getting a divorce is fraught with potential pitfalls. These are just some of the most common mistakes that people make. There are more.

If you want to avoid making critical mistakes in your divorce, there are two things you must do: 1) educate yourself, and 2) put together the best divorce team that you can.

With the right knowledge and information, and the right professional guidance, you should be able to avoid making the most painful divorce mistakes. That, in turn, will put you in the best position to start a new life once your divorce is behind you.

Source: “” Karen Covy, February 10, 2017.

Get Free Consultation