financially stable after divorce

How To Become Financially Stable After Divorce

financially stable after divorce

 

Understandably, many people fear the potential financial repercussions of getting a divorce. After ending a marriage, it’s not uncommon for a person to experience a significant loss of income and property. Fortunately, there are some ways to recover financially.

Becoming Financially Stable After Divorce

Live Within Your Means

A divorce may ultimately force you to temporarily adjust your budget. It’s definitely in your best interest to hold off on making any big purchases. Simple lifestyle changes, such as dining out less often, will help save a lot of extra money. Although the idea of cutting back might be an adjustment, but you will be able to get back on your feet soon.

Consider Getting a Roommate

Living alone has its benefits, but depending on where you are living, it might not be feasible. Try to find a roommate to help out with the bills. You’ll be surprised how much extra cash will be saved every month. If you don’t already own a home, consider renting an apartment with a responsible friend or family member. A one-year lease agreement should give you enough time to improve your financial status, though you should tailor any agreement to your unique situation.

Raise Spousal Support Payments You Receive

You can talk to an alimony lawyer to make a case if you feel you are not getting your fair share of spousal support. Doing so might help you receive more money from your ex. It just depends on the specific circumstances of your divorce.

Earn Extra Money

There are plenty of methods to earn extra money. For instance, you can start donating plasma every week. It’s an easy way to bring in an extra $400 per month. The process of giving plasma typically only takes around 45 minutes. In addition to the peace of mind that can come from cleaning out your stuff, you can earn a little bit of extra cash by selling items. Hosting a yard sale, selling items on Craigslist or eBay, or even just posting old clothes, books, or anything else on Instagram or Facebook Marketplace can be a good way of cleaning up and making some money while doing so.

Rebuild Your Confidence

In order to accomplish anything worthwhile in life, you must have a certain level of confidence. Doing some of the small things above can help you feel more in control. Thinking through everything you have to do is overwhelming; it can be helpful to write out each individual step and take things as they come. It can feel difficult to work through what life will be like alone. However, never stop believing in yourself. This is the perfect time for you to set new goals.

A large setback like a divorce can cause more than a few problems financially, but getting the support you need from family and friends, as well as working every day to cultivate confidence in yourself can push you through. Remember that you are a whole person, worth supporting and loving.

Overcoming a divorce is not a simple task. Nevertheless, continuing to push through the turmoil will help you to succeed. Financial loss is something you can survive. If you made it through a messy divorce, you can make it through the aftermath. Just take things one step at a time, believe in yourself, and take practical steps to ensure your financial stability.

The post How To Become Financially Stable After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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credit during divorce

10 Tips For Protecting Your Credit During Divorce

credit during divorce

 

Divorce isn’t pleasant for either party. While dealing with the emotions surrounding the divorce, the idea of entering the dating scene again, or starting a new life as a single person, financial issues can seem like an even larger problem to manage.

Don’t let finances be overlooked as you handle the relationship aspects of the divorce. When you separate or divorce your spouse, you need to protect your money and financial future as soon as possible. Here are actionable ways that you can keep your finances and credit intact during the divorce process.

Protecting Your Credit During Divorce

1. Close all joint accounts

If you and your spouse hold joint bank accounts, you’re equally responsible for them, especially any debts. Don’t risk your spouse accumulating more debt or making late payments. Because both of you are named on an account, both of your credit scores will be impacted by actions on the account itself.

2. Call your Creditors

Once your joint accounts have been closed, you should contact any remaining banks, lenders, or credit card companies about the divorce. Many institutions will require a certified letter. When you speak with the creditors, request a current account statement and let them know that you will not be liable for any debts after the date on the certified letter. You should also request the account be set as inactive. This will prevent any new charges from being made. Let them know that once any balances are paid in full that you would like the account to be closed entirely.

3. Request Monthly Statements

For any accounts that are currently outstanding, request that monthly statements be sent directly to you. You should also request this for accounts that are not able to be closed or accounts that will be remaining open. Keep an eye on the accounts and track that payments are being made on time.

4. Make a Decision about Owned Properties

Often after a divorce, women want to stay in the home especially if there are children in the picture. Depending on the housing market where you live, it may or may not be a great decision to keep the marital home. If the market where you live has consistently appreciating value, you may want to continue to build equity in the home. If you can afford to stay in the home and the market it good, you should consider doing so. However, if there is a large amount of debt in the home and you cannot afford it, it is more of a liability than an asset to you.

5. Keep Your Contact Information Up To Date

If you do move following the divorce, be sure that you submit a change of address request with the post office. You’ll want to ensure that your bills, financial statements, and any other important documents are being sent to your new residence. Missing payments on bills because you didn’t change your address is an overlooked way to damage your credit quickly.

6. Don’t Spend Money to Get Revenge

It’s common for people going through a divorce to try and “get revenge” on their ex-spouse by spending huge amounts of money on shopping sprees. This tactic will usually come back to haunt you financially or even in the divorce proceedings. Try to maintain your normal spending habits and get control of any debts that you have. A shopping spree during a divorce will likely be marked by a judge as marital debt and order the individual who did the shopping to be responsible for it.

7. Think before you use your credit cards

If you’re still using credit cards during your divorce, be wise about how you use them. Try to pay all of your credit cards on time, or at least make the minimum payments towards the balance. Don’t max out credit cards if you have large legal bills or other expenses that are divorce-related. A large portion of your credit score is based upon the credit card debt that you have. An individual with a high credit score will have low credit card debt. You’ll want to avoid any of your accounts from going to collections. For more information on removing collections from your credit report, read this blog post from Crediful.

8. Monitor Your Credit Reports

Once your divorce is completely finalized, you should continue to monitor your credit report. Check for any errors that might arise from the time you were married. There are many online options to request a free annual copy of your credit report.

If you believe you may be at risk for identity theft or your ex attempting to open joint accounts after the divorce is finalized, you should also consider utilizing a credit monitoring service, especially if your ex knows your social security number and other personal data.

9. Put a hold on any of your credit files

If you’re concerned about your ex going on his own revenge streak, you should put a hold on your credit accounts or a fraud alert. By doing so, any action that is made on your credit accounts will freeze your credit files and prevent your ex from opening new credit card accounts in your name or using your social security number.

10. Utilize civil court actions if necessary

Even if your ex was ordered to pay specific debts when your divorce was finalized, if they don’t pay you’ll want to pay off those debts or risk damaging your credit. While this doesn’t really seem like a fair situation, you can try and recoup the money by taking your ex to civil court for not following the court order.

After a divorce, both parties typically just want to move on personally and financially. If you can take action as soon as possible, you can mitigate potential credit and debt problems from adding more stress to an already stressful situation.

The post 10 Tips For Protecting Your Credit During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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financial house in order

How I Got My Financial House In Order After An Unwanted Divorce

financial house in order

 

Tax time. As I dropped by the post office to get the right postage for the thick packet of homework to send to my accountant, I smiled to myself, confident that I had my financial house in order. It brought back memories of all the effort it took to dig a new foundation years ago, after my divorce.

I no longer get weak-kneed and shaky thinking about those months leading to the divorce. The request for a divorce came as a surprise to me. So busy with family and career that I hadn’t been attending to the finer points of our family finances—that was something my trusted husband did.

Evidently, I wasn’t attending to the marriage either.

Rather, I was full throttle busy but confident that it wouldn’t be long before we would have an opportunity to do a reset as a couple once our last child left for college.  My husband was on another page. When the last child was launched, he would also start his new chapter. And, it didn’t include me.

The shock of divorce rattled me, and I don’t rattle easily. In fact, calm is my middle name. My career track steady and upward for the entirety of our marriage, I was now close to the top of my field, responsible for business lines that were valued at tens of millions of dollars. “On the rise” is what people would tell my husband about me at the rare work event of mine that we attended together.

I wonder now if that message didn’t send alarm bells to him—a signal that we were out of sync. After all, he had married a younger woman still in grad school with no prospects, and as he was older, his career was already launched. Perhaps neither of us took stock of what that would mean later.

Silly me, I thought we were happy and about to enter that golden time in a couple’s marriage when the burden of children is lifted, careers are set, and a second honeymoon is around the corner as empty nesters take the time to find one another again.

Some must find divorce a relief after years of strife, or abuse.

I found it confusing, embarrassing and disorienting. It took me months to feel myself again and to assure myself that the kids were ok—or as ok as they could be with their world shaken. But they had new worlds to explore, going off to college was a happy and understood rite of passage.

Divorce at middle-age is not. Although more “gray” adults are divorcing now, it still hurts me when I see a couple that is celebrating their 40 plus wedding anniversary. Surrounded by children and grand-children, toasting one another with loving looks, sometimes sharing a truth about having weathered a storm or two, but toughing it out. Good for them.

Life is hard. So, when you find someone to hang onto, it is a blessing. When you lose that person, it is difficult, regardless of the circumstances. After the initial shock wore off, and I adjusted to the fact that my husband of twenty years plus didn’t want to be married to me anymore, I wanted to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible. During that period of deep hurt, I realized how little I knew about our finances.

Pulling papers together, going through correspondence, talking to bankers, and finally, my own attorney, I was overwhelmed. I needed help. Someone to take charge of my funds—once I settled out— invest them, and work with me on managing them wisely. I also needed a CPA to help me with tax planning, short and long term.

I was startled by what I didn’t know. 

It’s not like I was a princess who had waited for her prince charming to come along and rescue her. I was a smart woman who had navigated to a high-profile career with a great future ahead of me. But I had not paid attention to the essentials of investing for my own future. Why would I? My future was intertwined with my husband’s, and he was looking out for both of us, right?

I felt powerless and knew I had to take control to conquer that fear. And, I did. But it took years, and a small village, to get me to a place that feels comfortable.

How I Got My Financial House In Order

Fortunately, through the referral from a trusted friend, I found a broker who was indispensable when it came time to receiving my settlement monies and guiding me through the decision making on where to make investments. Another friend referred me to her tax accountant who turned out to be heaven-sent. To this day, she has my back and has recently helped me through the intricacies of college savings for my grandchildren.

As I leave the post office, I realize that my comfort now is due to the fact that I educated myself, took advice from trusted friends, and brick by brick learned to build my financial house on solid ground.

My lesson was learned the hard way. Married couples are partners for financial planning and the tasks should not be delegated to one partner only.  Quarterly meetings to review your financials and make adjustments as needed, with both partners conversant and supportive of the financial plan is the best practice. Things happen, and when they do, the last thing you want is to be distracted about is your financial security.

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spouse voluntarily quits his job during divorce

How To Fight Back When Your Spouse Quits His Job During Divorce

spouse voluntarily quits his job during divorce

 

It is a scenario that plays out over and over again in divorce courts everywhere.

You took care of the home during your marriage while your spouse made the money.  When it became clear you were heading for divorce, you discussed your case with a lawyer, who told you that you had a “classic” alimony case.

Then out of the blue, your spouse lost his job.  Now, your spouse’s position is that alimony is not appropriate because the money is not there.

If this has happened to you then take action immediately.  While most State laws will put a burden on you to prove that your spouse is voluntarily unemployed, the divorce courts provide you with all the tools you need to succeed.

Below are the four steps you must take when your spouse quits his job during divorce.

Pull Your Spouse’s Tax Returns to See Total Income Earned When Working

If you and your spouse filed jointly, then you can pull your tax returns yourself in less than 15 minutes.

Simply go online to the IRS here: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. . or simply google “Pull Tax Transcript”, and click on the IRS website.

You will be prompted to create a username and password on the IRS website, and you will be asked private questions to confirm your identity.

Once complete, you can simply download a PDF of your Record of Account transcript, which will provide all of the information you will need.

If your spouse filed separately, then your attorney will have two options to get the tax returns from your spouse.  Preferably, your spouse will simply comply and turn over a copy of the requested returns.  If your spouse is being difficult however then it will be easier to have the Court force the Husband to execute an IRS Form 4056-T and go directly to the IRS to pull the statement.

Gather Your Spouse’s Previous Employment Records with a Subpoena

Now that you know exactly what your spouses reported income, you want to dig further into the employment file.

You will be looking for additional income and benefits as well as nature and reasons that your spouse is currently unemployed.

Your attorney can get this information by sending a simple subpoena to your spouses’ former employer requesting his file.

Because unemployment compensation is a real issue for businesses big and small, employers usually thoroughly document the details surrounding an employee’s’ exit.

You are looking for records that show your spouse either left his or her job voluntarily or that the poor performance by your spouse that led to termination coincided with the divorce.

Frequently, the employment file provides slam dunk evidence when a spouse leaves a job to tactically help his or her divorce case.

Gather Your Spouse’s Medical Records

Is your spouse claiming an inability to work for health reasons?

While this is a common tactic in alimony and child support cases, you can swiftly and quickly debunk this claim by requesting authorization for release of medical records.

Simply, you will ask your spouse to sign a document allowing your attorney to pull any and all medical records related to his or her ability to work.

And if your spouse refuses to sign this document, your attorney can ask the Judge to force the signing of the release.

A common tactic to increase leverage is for a spouse to feign ill health and the inability to work.  By pulling health records immediately, you can disarm this tactic before you enter settlement negotiations.

Find Job Opportunities and Your Spouses Potential Income

Now that you have gathered your spouse’s’ employment and health records, you need to show the Court the jobs in the community and earning potential available to your spouse.

And while you can certainly gather this evidence yourself, when possible you should hire a vocational expert in your community to prepare an occupation report.

These reports typically do three things:

  • First, the expert takes the employment and health records that you and your attorney have gathered and delivers an opinion on your spouse’s ability to work and whether unemployment is voluntary. The best experts are qualified to discuss medical records when giving their opinion.  Judges tend to lean heavily on expert opinions in family law.
  • Second, the expert finds job openings for your spouse. The expert searches your town and neighboring towns for actual job leads, and then calls the job leads and verifies that your spouse is a fit.
  • Finally, the expert draws a conclusion as to the amount of money your spouse is capable of earning in a given year.

These expert reports can be very difficult for your spouse to defend.

Conclusion

A voluntarily unemployed spouse can seriously damage the value of your case unless you take action. While it will require work, you have the tools needed to cut through the gamesmanship and get a fair resolution in your case.

The post How To Fight Back When Your Spouse Quits His Job During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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529

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

529

 

Are a you a single mom who puts the education of your children above your own retirement?

If so, you’re not alone. In a study referenced by Forbes, it was found that half of all single moms put their child’s education as their long-term financial priority, even above saving for their own retirement.

So, a lot of questions arise from the findings of single moms and their financial priorities. Why are divorced moms putting their kids’ college savings first when they are arguably a child’s priority?

Are there options for single moms that allow them to save for retirement and secure their children’s educational future?

What do most financial advisors recommend?

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

Let’s dive in.

Divorced Moms Who Pay for Their Child’s Education Often Do So Out of Guilt

The above referenced study found that single parents are more likely to feel an obligation to help their adult children financially than traditional parents.

Often, single mom’s feel guilty about the divorce, not being able to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like (due to balancing careers), and because they want to give their child one less thing to think about in their future as they feel they have scarred them through the divorce.

So, what are the options for single moms to explore for a solid retirement and college savings balance?

Balancing Retirement and Your Kid’s College Fund

Most financial advisors would recommend that your retirement planning should come before that of your child. A couple of key reasons for this include the fact that retirement does not benefit from any federal loans whereas there are several ways to finance college. Further, tax breaks for investments are more generous than those for college savings, but there are ways to impactfully save for both.

What are the Best Options for College Savings?

Many single moms begin to consider their IRAs when thinking of ways to strategically pay for the education of their children. Turns out there is a much better way to save for both, and the college route generally involves what is called a 529 plan.

529 plans are qualified tuition plans and are tax-advantaged savings plans specifically designed for education-based saving. You have the option of two plans, depending on your ideal situation.

The first is prepaid tuition plans. These allow account holders to buy credits at participating educational institutions for the child’s future tuition.

The second college savings plan allows account holders to open an investment account that operates more like a traditional interest-bearing account, except directly aimed at educational savings.

Some of the benefits of a 529 plan include:

  • No dollar limit on contributions
  • You can use 529 plans to pay for elementary, middle, high school, or college
  • The ability to withdrawal the amount of any earned scholarships penalty-free
  • Protection from creditors in the event of a civil lawsuit, bankruptcy, etc.

Are there any negatives of a 529 for college savings?

There are some negatives to 529 plans. For starters, you can’t take income tax deductions for contributions, meaning you must pay federal taxes on the funds before adding them to the account. Another negative that is similar to many federal retirement plans is that you will be penalized if you withdrawal from the 529 account and don’t use the money for qualified education-based expenses.

What if My Child is Already College Age and I Don’t Have Savings?

While most financial planners would never recommend planning to use an IRA for college, there are some scenarios where it may be the only option. For example, if the divorced parent has not had time to contribute to a 529 plan, their sole option for helping their child may be to use their IRA.

The good news is that there are exceptions for IRA deductions specifically used for education expenses where no penalties will be incurred. This means you may be able to withdraw IRA earnings penalty-free, but not tax-free when you use the money for college.

This option, while not recommended, is ideal for single moms who have not planned on funding their retirement and saving for college.

In the perfect situation, a divorced mom will have multiple accounts set up to contribute to both their own retirement as well as the education of their children.

The post A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Who Will Pay Attorney’s Fees During Your Divorce?

who will pay attorney's fees during your divorce

 

The attorney’s fees in a divorce case can be paid in several different manners depending on all the circumstances in the case and trial. Learn the different manners of paying attorney fees for two spouses in a divorce.

Who Will Pay Attorney’s Fees During Your Divorce?

Can I Get My Ex to Pay My Legal Fees?

A contested divorce can escalate in costs rapidly to tens of thousands of dollars although a simple uncontested divorce may cost less than $1,000. Expenses can add up quickly when you have a contested divorce that requires many court appearances by your attorney and hours of preparation for the hearings.

Real estate appraisers and forensic accountants are additional costs in a divorce. A divorce judge will award your spouse with a portion or all of your attorney’s fees in some distinct cases. It is at the discretion of the court as to the amount and the court is considered to be an expert on all attorney’s fees.

A Level Playing Field

In most states, spouses are responsible for paying their own legal fees and costs incurred in a divorce proceeding. However, several exceptions can exist, especially when one spouse earns a considerably higher amount of wages than the other does.

It would be unfair for the higher paid spouse to pay a top-notch attorney and leave the other spouse without an attorney because they can’t afford one. At times, the state may order the wealthier spouse to pay all attorney fees and court costs of their spouse.

A judge can order the spouses to liquidate some of their marital assets so that your legal fees can be paid. Generally, this works by the court deducting what you received to pay your attorney from your share of the liquidated asset at the finalization of the divorce. Your lawyer was hired by you and worked for you to protect your best interests and therefore should be your costs.

Some Fault Based Issues

Judges generally do not order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s legal fees due to marital misconduct, which led to the divorce. For example, if your spouse commits adultery and the grounds upon which you file for divorce, your judge most likely won’t order your spouse to pay your legal fees as a punishment for their misbehavior. Now if your spouse was inflicting spousal abuse on you several times during the marriage and there is evidence of this fact, the court may tell your spouse to pay all your legal fees and costs.

If your spouse is dragging out the litigation process by filing motions that are unnecessary or if they are refusing to cooperate, then some courts will order them to pay your legal fees as a form of compensation for their actions during the case. It’s not usually the entire amount you owe for your divorce, but he may have to pay for the court costs for additional appearances that were brought about because of his bad behavior.

A Few More Options

You need to clear some other options with your attorney before you act on them. You may be able to cash in a retirement account, but if you contributed to the account during your marriage, it is most probably considered marital property, making it a shared asset between you and your spouse.

Ask your attorney also before liquidating any assets. If the court finds that it’s okay to do so and generate money for your fees and costs in the divorce, your spouse will likely put up a big fuss, but the court has the option to do so and then deduct the money from your share of marital property upon finalization of the divorce decree. You may also consider borrowing money from a family member, taking out a loan in your name solely and paying the loans back after the divorce.

Professional Funding May Be a Choice

If there is no way possible that you can pay your attorney’s fees and legal costs associated with your divorce, you can ask your divorce attorney about any private investors who may be willing to fund your divorce in exchange for a portion of the assets you will receive when the decree is finalized.

Some attorneys may occasionally be willing to take their fees after the case is over and after you get your share of assets—but this is definitely not the norm. You can also ask your lawyer about a payment plan for his fees on a monthly basis, but you will still need to pay the experts’ fees that are necessary to prepare your case for you.

All awards for attorney fees are final judgments from the court and being such, all are appealable. If you believe the awarded fees are too high or unjust, either party may appeal the judgment.

The court system wants to award attorney fees in the proper manner without bias to any person. Their job is to make the right choice that is not too little, not too much or simply unjust to either party. That being said, the awards are highly discretionary and the case law gives no exact lines to follow.

You should be able to be armed with the knowledge you need when getting a divorce about attorney’s fees, legal fees and court costs and who should pay them. Do keep in mind that you have a few alternatives to consider.

The post Who Will Pay Attorney’s Fees During Your Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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reduce costs during divorce

Ways To Reduce Costs During Divorce

reduce costs during divorce

 

If you thought the wedding was costly just wait until the divorce! Though the cost of a divorce can widely range, the average cost is anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000. There is also a huge emotional cost to bear on yourself and your family.

Luckily there are some steps you can take to ease the process on yourself and on your wallet and reduce costs during divorce.

Do your own research, use a lawyer only when necessary

The first step is to do your own thorough research. There are many free resources out there that can give you an edge in your case. For instance, you can find your state’s laws on divorce and understand procedures that must be followed. Know what will be in store for you during the divorce process so you can prepare.

This new found knowledge will not only help you communicate better with your lawyer but also with your spouse when negotiating. It will also help you to better budget when you know what costs you are about to incur.

Though hiring a lawyer may be smart in most cases keep your use of them to a minimum. Lawyers can quickly become expensive especially if you have hired one who works on an hourly wage versus a retainer. Your lawyer may seem like the perfect to person to vent to about your marital issues and while they may offer you some real advice it will certainly not be for free. Additionally, if you have a simple question that can be found online do not waste your time or money seeking this answer from your lawyer.

Be open-minded and do not let your emotions steer you

Of course, going into the divorce process you will have some ideas of what you want and what you think you deserve. But you should not by any means refuse to budge on these concepts. Your spouse is going to go into the process with certain demands as well but you will not be able to achieve anything if you are not willing to compromise. This will also help you save money by shortening the amount of time it will take to sort your issues out.

Furthermore, divorces are a particularly personal subject which means it will be an emotional one. Whether it is only property that needs to be decided or there are children in the mix it will be hard to take an objective perspective on the process. However, the less you let your emotions influence you the easier the process will be in the long run.

Maintain an amicable or working relationship with your ex

This can help significantly with your divorce though it is not always possible in reality. Part of this falls under the same category of relying less on your lawyer. The more details you and your spouse can work out privately the less time you will have to spend going through the same issues with lawyers. Just be sure that you both agree on the issues so there is no misunderstanding later on.

Moreover, divorces are never exactly fair but having an amicable relationship with your ex can help ensure that it is as close as possible. Though your marriage may have not worked it does not mean that the end has to result in catastrophe. It can also help to ease the pressure on children and other family members when going through this difficult time.

Uncontested divorces will save you a large chunk of money in the long run. Additionally, if you and your spouse are open to it, you can explore the possibility of a collaborative divorce which will involve group meetings rather than having adversarial lawyers. This is a great option if it is only the bigger issues you and your spouse are having trouble deciding. All of these routes will save you precious time and money.

Know your finances

If your husband has largely handled most of the money during your marriage it is time to become educated about your finances including your assets and debts. Try to keep track of important records such as tax returns or insurance policies. Otherwise obtaining duplicates may cost you. It will also save you from having to pay your lawyer to spend his or her time finding these types of documents.

If the case proceeds to court it is very important to know your income and report it accurately otherwise you will cost yourself more in the end. If the truth is withheld in court the judge can impose large fines or penalties.

You should also keep track of your finances regarding your lawyer. You should know what each item on your invoice is for and why you are paying for it. Make sure that the bill matches what you have previously agreed upon and that you are not being cheated. While sometimes it can be a simple clerical error it can save you hundreds. Your attorney may charge less for an email versus a phone call so make sure you are clear on this before you choose which you will pursue.

Keep litigation as a last-ditch effort

Lastly, avoid litigating your divorce at all costs. Litigating can be very expensive especially compared to the other options outlined and it may not give you the verdict you desire. Taking your divorce to court will cause the process to be significantly lengthened thus costing you more money in the end.

Other than being lengthy, court can be a very public option exposing you and your family to unwanted attention. It is important to note that litigation should only be used when all else fails because when the case is decided in court it is final. What the judge says goes and you no longer have a say in your personal affairs.

Overall, you should be well educated about the divorce process before you choose a lawyer or your method to resolve your marital issues. Having prior knowledge is the best way to save your time, money and emotional state. Best of luck.

 

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prioritize, simplify and organize your divorce

How To Prioritize, Organize and Simply Your Divorce

prioritize, simplify and organize your divorce

 

Taking the approach to Prioritize, Organize and Simplify your divorce from the beginning will make the divorce process easier, reduce the potential stress levels, and help with securing the outcomes you would like to achieve.

This approach applies before, during, and after the divorce process.  In fact, it really applies to all aspects of your life. Some key matters to focus on (and this approach covers all of them) are your mental, your financial, your children’s wellbeing.  In the end, there is a high-level checklist.

Let’s see how Prioritize, Organize and Simplify your divorce works.

Prioritize: Take the time to think about what you would realistically like once this is all over.  When starting the divorce process this could include the custody of your children and their wellbeing, your wellbeing, financial security and more.  Reach out to me for more in-depth Priorities Worksheet to work from.

One may need to learn new skills, for example managing your finances and creating a budget because your partner always handled these important matters. Take a little time to think about what you need down the road and do not let less important matters cloud attaining this outcome. You and your children will be better off if you understand ahead of time what you are working towards.

Organize: Create a game plan!  Remember the divorce is only the first step you will take toward your future. This may take the support of a variety of professionals and today you have more skilled professionals than ever – attorneys, financial counselors, divorce coaches, therapists and more. You may be able to group some priorities together.

For instance, as you are struggling, you can bet your children are too. Find help for both you and your children (and having the same person may not always be the best idea).

Simplify: Your life is about to become a whirlwind and very complicated. Making a game plan, sharing it with a trusted professional, and being held accountable to it will reap many rewards. Often you may want to work with a professional to make sure you simplify.

One example is to work with a financial counselor. A financial counselor can help you set up a realistic budget and help you learn to manage your daily finances. This will let you know what your quality of life will look like which, in turn, will reduce much of the fear you would otherwise experience without that knowledge.

Creating the budget is one major step to making sure your finances are simplified (not just when going through the divorce process, but after also. In fact, tweaking that initial budget is essential).  It can also simplify your negotiations and positioning as you know what you need moving forward – especially if you have prioritized what assets and alimony you would like. This can empower you and build your confidence.

You will be stronger as you knock off items on your priority list mentioned above.  Having a good attorney can simplify the mediation and/or court process significantly (working with an attorney in some capacity is critical – I would not recommend “you go it alone”).  Working with a divorce coach and/or therapist can simplify your daily activities and angst.

Below is a high-level checklist for you to think through.

Please contact me for a more comprehensive list:

  1. Meet with an attorney
  2. Meet with a financial counselor
  3. Meet with a mental health professional (make sure your children do too)
  4. Make sure you communicate (appropriately) with your children
  5. Complete a financial inventory (take pictures for proof whenever possible) and have copies of all financial records in your financial inventory
  6. Understand the household bills and expenditures currently incurred
  7. Change all your passwords and ensure your privacy
  8. Create a support network
  9. Change your will and beneficiaries (check with your attorney as to when is legally permitted and appropriate)
  10. Be careful not to do anything illegal or inappropriate (in some states moving money may be deemed illegal). Check with your attorney.

Hopefully, this has helped you in prioritizing your thoughts. We would love your thoughts and comments on what we have shared or if you would like for us to expand on any of the ideas shared here.

Hirsch Serman, MBA, CPA is the founder of Lifecycle Financial, a company that helps those going through Divorce and other life cycle changes to navigate the financial pitfalls of a new life dynamic.  The company was founded through personal experiences in divorce and watching the changes in an aging parent.

The post How To Prioritize, Organize and Simply Your Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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save money as a single mom

12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom

save money as a single mom

 

Raise your hand if you’re a single mom and you want to know how to save money. Budgeting can be expensive for two or more if you’re the only breadwinner.

It can be overwhelming to manage your funds, especially if you have no idea where to start. But the good news is that we have heard your prayers and we’ve got 12 tested ways to help you as a single parent save money.

How to Save Money as a Single Mom:

1. Sort your Bills

An enormous number of bills can be overwhelming to sort through if you let them pile up. It’s wise to organize your bills according to criteria so that you know the exact amount that you owe and to whom. Try and pay off each bill as they come so that you don’t get tied down with paying a bunch of them at once.

2. Recognize the Bad Egg

Remember that gym subscription that you really wanted and never used? Or that arts and crafts class that your child despises? Let’s face it, they’re a waste of money.

It’s very important to know the difference between something that adds value to your life and something that is just siphoning your money away for no good reason.

Sorting out the bad from the good, and closing accounts or ending subscriptions that you don’t lose can save you plenty of money in the long run.

3. Budgeting 101

Budgets? They’re boring but necessary. Keeping your monthly spending in check can be tough but its a great way to keep an eye on what you’re spending, as well as what you can cut down on.

You can start small with budgeting. It’s wise, to begin with, a weekly budget, and once you get a hold of it, monthly ones will be easy-peasy.

4. A Savings Account Saves the Day

Savings accounts don’t sound appealing because you only live once right? Wrong. With a child, you need to be able to prepare for a rainy day. You never know when you may have to splurge on a new uniform or an unexpected doctor’s visit.

Set aside an amount each month that you can afford to save and set up a direct deposit or standing order to transfer it into your savings. Within a few months, you’ll already have a sizeable amount you can rely on in times of crisis.

5. Paid Bills and Overdue Smiles

Have you been missing out on time with your kids because you’re too busy paying bills?

Mothers, don’t sleep on your bills. Rather pay them off immediately if you have the option as this will maintain a good credit record. It will also give you a sense of freedom and more quality time with your kids.

6. Don’t Borrow Liabilities

Loans become a necessity when you have growing expenses. As a single mother, there are responsibilities that you have to carry out and borrowing can be inevitable.

However, only borrow what you need and not what you want. If you can’t afford a new dress or a new coffee machine, don’t buy one until you can. Loans should only be for absolute necessities.

Make sure that you have read the small print and know all the terms and conditions about interest rates, deadlines and the source you are borrowing from.

7. Solo is your New Yolo

Joint ventures may have been a good idea but so is cutting ties when it no longer serves your purpose. Opting out from all joint ventures, such as joint bank accounts, with your ex should really boost your savings and leave you plenty of breathing room.

We know its hard to manage everything on your own, but it’s not impossible.

8. Low Prices Exist

As a buyer, you are obliged to pay whatever the price tag says. But you don’t have to pay the first price you see.

You can hack your growing spending in the craftiest of ways. Online platforms are amazing if you just take some time to see what’s on offer.

Using price comparison websites and doing research online can bring up all sorts of deals on the same or very similar products. See what’s out there before you commit to the first price.

9. Thrifts are Canny

Second-hand shops aren’t really for everyone – especially with the raving fascination for Gucci and Prada. However, stylish doesn’t have to mean expensive.

You would be amazed at the awesome clothes and other accessories you can find in thrift stores for you and your kids at hugely discounted prices. Once you go thrift, you never go back.

10. Meal Prep and Weekends In

Eating out is convenient and tempting, but cutting down on these little dinners out can save you loads of money. While cooking in and preparing meals can take a hefty amount of your time, it’s rewarding and you can be sure of what you and your kids are putting into your bodies.

Both your health and your purse will benefit.

11. Discounts and Coupons are Class

Discounts and coupons are a lifesaver when it comes to saving money as a single parent. Collecting them and being on the lookout for promo codes can be economical.

Keep an eye out for coupons in store, in magazines and online coupons to get discounted prices on groceries, clothing and even haircuts.

12. Honesty is the Best Policy

As an adult, it’s your job to provide for as well as discipline your kids Be vocal and firm about saying no to your kids. Explain the importance of savings to your child. The best way to save some cash is through communication and teamwork.

Final Reflection

Getting your finances in check as a single mother can be really tough at first. Whether you are a newly single mom or have been for a while, budgets and healthy finances are the new normal.

The most important way to start is by setting small goals, motivating yourself and not surrendering to temptation.

It will be hard but with trial and error, you definitely can and will rock the life of a money-savvy single mother with a little perseverance.

The post 12 Ways to Save Money as a Single Mom appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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divorce can impact your credit score

How Divorce Can Impact Your Credit Score

divorce can impact your credit score

 

Divorce doesn’t directly affect your credit score, because your credit score doesn’t rely on your marital status. However, a divorce can impact your credit score.

Learning how the indirect effects of divorce can bring down your credit score allows you to navigate the waters in advance so you can retain your credit rating and continue to make purchases.

6 ways divorce can impact your credit score.

Your Ex-Spouse Doesn’t Pay Your Joint Bills

If you have any joint credit accounts with your ex-spouse, such as credit cards, car notes or a mortgage, someone has to pay these expenses. If the judge in your divorce case rules that your ex-spouse has to pay certain bills after the divorce, it’s important that you make sure that they do. If your ex-spouse isn’t so worried about his or her credit, then they may not have an incentive to pay unsecured bills or even bills that are secured with assets that belong to you.

Whoever has their name on the account will be responsible for payments of the bills. If they are in both names and don’t get paid, then both parties’ credit scores are at risk of being lowered. The solution is to be on decent speaking terms so you know if the other party is paying their portion of the bills.

If you are not on good terms, the option for you is to pay both parties’ portion of the bills no matter who is responsible for them according to your divorce agreement. You can try to recover the money by reporting your ex-spouse’s nonpayment to the court. You just don’t want it to have a negative effect on your credit score.

Non-Disclosure of Debt

During the divorce process, both parties are required to disclose all of their financial accounts. Some people are not forthcoming about their finances and assets. You can run a credit report for yourself to ensure you are aware of every account that has your name on it. Sometimes a spouse will put your name on an account you are unaware of and then you will also be responsible for payments.

You are Unable to Pay Your Bills

If you went through a messy divorce, you likely have spent a large amount of money on an attorney. If your spouse was the source of primary income in your marriage, you may now have trouble paying the bills by yourself. This can lead to late payments on your part or high credit usage to pay bills with your credit cards. The most important item that makes up your credit score is your payment history and even anything less than perfect on-time payments of even 99 percent may hurt your credit score. If you can’t pay your bills, your credit score will likely decrease.

On the other hand, if you are using your credit cards because of lack of income, then you can be using too much of your credit. Using any balance to limit ratio over 30 percent can decrease your score and limit your financial options for the future.

You can free up more cash to put toward your bills by increasing your income or decreasing your spending. The best scenario is to do both simultaneously. To earn more money, you can seek a higher paying job or work overtime, take a second part-time job or freelance in your spare time. You can cut spending by cutting back on cable fees or subscription costs and limit your personal care and restaurant spending. Do you really need a $5 cup of Starbucks each day? You get to decide which areas you are most willing to give up discretionary spending.

A Vindictive Ex-Spouse

Many marriages end on a sour note and a spouse can be vindictive. If there is a lot of drama and your ex-spouse is angry and has access to your credit accounts, they may decide to use your accounts and rack up phenomenal debt in your name. This is common when you get a credit account in your name only, based on your credit rating and allow your spouse to be an authorized user of the account. If this happens, you may not be able to pay the bills for your credit accounts or credit cards and it can severely hurt your credit score.

The best solution to this predicament is to remove each other from all individual credit cards or credit accounts as soon as possible–even better if you are able to do this before the divorce is finalized.

Decreased Credit Limits

Many creditors and lenders will check on their clients at regular intervals to see if they have a change in their income level. Most credit card agreements have a statement that your credit limits can be decreased at their discretion. If one spouse made a significantly more amount of money and the credit accounts are separated, a creditor can choose to low the credit limit for one or both parties. This can affect your credit score and your ability to get more credit.

Refinancing the Home

In order to get the marital home into one ex-spouse’s name, most lenders will require that your mortgage is refinanced using only the one spouse’s credit. This can put a great strain on the spouse that is awarded the home if they can’t make the payments easily and it can potentially add a lot of debt for them too.

The best idea is to try to be amicable with your ex-spouse. Let’s face it; sometimes a household bill will go unpaid as an oversight during the divorce proceedings. Each party should communicate with each other over the shared financial responsibilities in order to work together and ensure that everyone’s credit remains in good standing.

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