Divorce and Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions during Divorce

Overview

When you're going through divorce, you have to face — and make — an overwhelming number of financial decisions.
Should you sell the house? What happens to retirement benefits? How will you handle taxes? Who inherits the poodle?
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Overview

When you're going through divorce, you have to face — and make — an overwhelming number of financial decisions.
Should you sell the house? What happens to retirement benefits? How will you handle taxes? Who inherits the poodle?
Full of sensitive and practical advice, Divorce & Money guides you through the process of making these important decisions. It covers how to:

determine the real value of the house, investments and other property
divide debts
set alimony and child support
negotiate a settlement that's fair to both of you
Bursting with practical strategies for surviving a divorce without going broke, the brand new 5th edition provides worksheets, charts, formulas and tables. It also discusses how to handle the buyout of a family business, and provides tax law updates, revised assets forms and other new forms.
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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
This guide should be an essential purchase for anyone contemplating a split, because financial decisions made during divorce can have such huge repercussions for both parties.
Los Angeles Times
This guide should be an essential purchase for anyone contemplating a split, because financial decisions made during divorce can have such huge repercussions for both parties.
Steve Crowley
Divorce & Money is precisely the right book to read to keep your property, your rights, plus your sanity during the trying weeks and months that follow divorce.
Worth Magazine
Worth magazine named Violet Woodhouse among one of the nation's top 200 financial advisors in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Worth Magazine
Worth magazine named Violet Woodhouse among one of the nation's top 200 financial advisors in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Los Angeles Times
"...an exhaustive collection of practical information and advice on how to walk away from a marriage in good financial health."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873373425
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Edition description: 3RD
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 8.42 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Legal vs. Financial Realities of Divorce

Introduction

Sooner or later during a divorce, you will discover the one insight that is central to this book and to the successful outcome of your settlement:

Legal reality and financial reality are fundamentally different.

A seemingly simple idea -- but you'd be surprised at how long it takes to sink in. To help you understand why this concept is so important, take a few moments to consider the following real-life divorce stories. In each, read the Legal Reality first. Then, see the true outcome in the Financial Reality side.

Legal Reality
Jonathan and Penny were married for five years before they divorced. During that time, Penny frequently ran their credit cards to the limit buying clothing, and had trouble balancing their checkbook.

When they reached the final settlement hearing, Jonathan was greatly relieved when the court ordered Penny solely responsible for paying the $10,000 in credit card debts she had accumulated during their marriage. The settlement was included in the final divorce judgment, which made Jonathan feel safe.

Financial Reality
After the divorce, however, Penny didn't pay off the credit cards, and creditors began hounding Jonathan for the money. Jonathan ended up footing the bills, because a divorce settlement assigning debts-even one included in a divorce judgment-cannot change a couple's original joint obligation to their creditors.

Had Jonathan raised the issue before their settlement was finalized, he could have demanded more property in exchange for paying Penny's debts or insisted that they sell some jointly held property to pay off their creditors.

Moral of the story:
Getting something "in writing" from the court doesn't always mean you'll get it for real.

Legal Reality
During their 15-year marriage, Sharon and Bill were committed to building up a good portfolio of stocks and mutual funds for their retirement.

Because Sharon avidly followed the market, she wanted to keep a batch of stocks she had recently purchased and asked Bill to take stocks of equal value, which they had purchased early in their marriage. After negotiating over a few other assets, Bill and Sharon reached an agreement in which each of them would receive the exact same dollar amount in cash or assets at the end of the divorce. The court accepted the terms of their settlement, and the books on their marriage were quickly closed.

Financial Reality
Sharon paid attention to basic financial facts which Bill ignored: costs and taxes that decrease the value of an asset.

Sharon wisely picked the stocks most recently purchased. Because these stocks had not increased substantially in value, the taxable capital gains were low. Bill, however, blithely accepted the older stocks, which had gone up a lot in value since the time of purchase. Even at the capital gains rate of 20%, he owed substantial taxes when he sold the stocks. Had he taken the time to calculate his potential tax burden before agreeing to the settlement, he could have suggested splitting the stocks so that each spouse took half of the older stocks and half of the newer stocks.

Moral of the story: A 50-50 settlement isn't always equal.

A. Lessons in Legal Reality

Ending a marriage with no assets or huge debts is the hard way to learn about divorce. Your lessons do not have to be so costly. You would never try to play basketball with football rules or to cook Chinese food using classic French recipes, would you? Similarly, you must learn to follow the correct "rules" for playing in the legal league versus the financial field.

The following five guidelines explain the legal basics of divorce.

Most divorces are settled out of court. Generally, divorce law is local. Don't expect the legal system (or a lawyer) to take care of you. Your future is in your hands -- not the court's. It's easier to write laws than to enforce them.

1. Most Divorces Are Settled Out of Court
You may imagine that you'll have a divorce trial like those on an old Perry Mason or L.A. Law episode -- everything settled in an hour with the "good guys" winning. Perhaps you're waiting for your day in court when you can explain to a wise and kindly judge the exact wrongs your spouse has visited upon you.
Don't count on it.

An estimated 90% of divorce cases are settled without a court trial. Most of your settling will be done through meetings between you and your spouse, or between your lawyers, often on the courthouse steps. As the final settlement date nears, you will quite likely be rushed into conferences in the courtroom hall or coffee shop. In these frantic meetings, your spouse and/or the attorneys may confront you, demanding instant decisions on issues that will affect the rest of your life.

Realize, too, that most divorce courts today are primarily concerned with money, not morals. The main job of the legal system is to resolve property disputes and to ensure the welfare of any children. Spousal misconduct, of course, could affect custody; and economic mischief (such as hiding assets) can change the outcome of the final settlement. But, by and large, you will not get a chance to vent feelings about your mate in the courtroom.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1 Legal vs. Financial Realities of Divorce
Chapter 2 Financial Realities No One Talks About
Chapter 3 Emotional Divorce: Managing the ""Money Crazies""
Chapter 4 The Hardest Part: Is My Marriage Really Over?
Chapter 5 The Separation: Who Must Move Out, and by When?
Chapter 6 Closing the Books: What Do We Do With Joint Accounts?
Chapter 7 Getting Help: To Whom Can I Turn?
Chapter 8 Financial Fact-Finding: What Must I Know and When Must I Know It?
Chapter 9 Facing the Future: What Must I Plan For?
Chapter 10 Protecting Against Risks to Life, Health and Property
Chapter 11 Taxes: How Do I File and Pay?
Chapter 12 Property and Expenses: Who Owns and Who Owes What?
Chapter 13 What Will Happen to the House?
Chapter 14 Retirement Benefits: Who Gets What?
Chapter 15 Financial Investments: How Do We Divide the Portfolio Pie?
Chapter 16 Business Assets: What Are They Really Worth?
Chapter 17 How Will We Divide Debts?
Chapter 18 Alimony and Child Support: What Might I Pay or Receive?
Chapter 19 Negotiating and Finalizing the Best Possible Settlement
Chapter 20 After the Divorce: How Do I Get From ""We"" to ""Me""?
Appendix
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    Helped me make the right decisions

    This book helped me stay focused on the future and to understand the long range impact of the choices I was making. The divorce may have cost me emotionally, but with the help of this book, not financially.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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