Legal process of divorce. Part 4
Alimony or spousal support is beginning to become less and less of an “assumed” part of divorce in most states. While the parent who has the children the least amount of time may be obligated to make child support payments, it is not always assumed that alimony payments will also be made. This issue may quickly become a source of tension and fighting during the divorce process, as it seems to be payments made to an ex-spouse for nothing more than being divorced. You’ll most likely find this area to one that may required legal advice or intervention during the process, unless you and your ex-spouse are in agreement about spousal support payments.
Splitting up the personal property is another area that often generates ill will and hard feelings during the divorce. Be prepared to sit down and negotiate with your ex-spouse and be prepared to give and take here. Some personal property items will be easy to identify as yours, perhaps the item was a gift to you from a family member, or the item was something you both agreed to purchase but that you primarily used, but in many cases, you’ll simply have to sit down and negotiate. The biggest personal property items you’ll have to deal with will be the home, any significant investments and retirement accounts. Don’t be surprised to find that your ex-spouse may be entitled to a share of your retirement account, even though, he/she may never have contributed to it over the length of your marriage. In many cases, the home is the major asset and it will be sold and the equity shared by both parties. Stocks and other investments may also be liquidated and split. Be particularly careful in this area, as there may be significant tax implications associated with this splitting of major investments. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing here, it’s a good idea to consult a qualified CPA or tax advisor for guidance.
Splitting the debt will typically be done in much the same manner as splitting the assets. If you’re taking the car, you’ll most likely be taking sole responsibility for the debt associated with the car. Be careful and thorough here, address every credit card account, department store account or other forms of credit and debt that you may have. If you’re not detailed and explicit about who has the responsibility for each debt, you may find yourself on the hook for debts that you didn’t think were going to be your responsibility. In most cases, all joint accounts should either be closed or formally split as soon as possible. In many cases, you’ll have to provide the lender with a copy of the divorce decree to get your name legally removed from a joint account that will no longer be your responsibility. Go through this process as if your good credit depended on it, because it just might. If you’re not thorough, you may find that sometime after things are final, your spouse ran up a bunch of charges on a joint account, affecting your debt to assets ratio and perhaps even your credit rating.
One side note here, it may not be a bad idea to find out what your current credit rating looks like.