Getting a divorce can be a devastating experience, it can also be just as painful on your finances. Your savings account balance is usually the last thing on your mind after suffering through a divorce, but it is important to take steps in order to protect yourself from permanent financial ruin. Many times, a divorce will affect both individual's finances, and it will create the need for a lower standard of living. If you are one who needs to adjust to a lower living standard, rebuilding and planning your finances is essential.
Create a Written Financial Plan and Budget
The biggest factor is not making any rash decisions out of anger, resentment or bitterness. Those feelings are often justified and understandable, but you must separate them from financial decisions. Be realistic about your situation, create a financial plan and follow it. It can be wonderfully therapeutic to establish a working plan and then to stick with it. This is something in your control and you can do it on your own.
Most of your financial information like your income, child-care needs, expenses and assets was gathered for use during the divorce. Use that information to create a financial plan. Adjust it for your current income and include costs like any child-care expenses you will be responsible for, health-care costs and insurance. More than one-third of all women who are awarded child support or alimony never see any, so it is better not to depend on any support as a guaranteed income. Try to exclude any support from your income and plan so that you will still be okay without it.
Separate Joint Accounts
Most credit card and other debt arrangements will be determined during the divorce procedures, but you will still need to separate any joint checking or savings accounts and credit card accounts. You can close all joint accounts and open in new accounts in your name, this will allow you to begin building credit as an individual as soon as possible.
You will also want to contact any utility companies, cell phone services and mortgage brokers, so that the individual now responsible for them is named on the necessary documents. If you are a female and reverting back to your maiden name, you will also want to change your name on any applicable documents above as well as changing your name on your driver's license, social security card and on the title and registration of your vehicle. It is also a good time to update your will and change any beneficiaries.
Consider Mortgage Refinancing
Mortgage refinancing is when the existing mortgage is paid off and a new one is created. Your home may be one of your most valuable assets, so it is essential to take care when choosing a broker or lender and mortgaging terms. Home mortgages are often re-financed after a divorce in order to take it from a joint account to a single one. You may want to decide if a longer mortgage is more appropriate at this time in order to reduce the amount paid each month. More interest will accrue, but if your income has been reduced, it can keep your payments affordable until your financial situation improves.
Establish a Retirement Plan
If there was a court-ordered division of a 401(k) plan, pension or an independent retirement account, you will want to ensure that a qualified domestic relations order has been filed with the fund administrator and the appropriate changes were implemented according to the agreement. If you have been married for at least ten years, you are eligible to make a claim against your former spouse's Social Security benefits.
While a divorce can be stressful and painful, you can protect yourself and your children if you take the time to plan financially. It can be challenging to move on to a new life, but the sooner you begin planning, the easier the transition will be.
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