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3 steps that can help you survive divorce financially intact

Marriage may be a matter of the heart, but divorce is a matter of finances.

If you and your spouse worked hard over the years to build up your assets, neither of you probably want to see those assets depleted with an ugly divorce -- a protracted fight could diminish what you both ultimately walk away holding.

Experts recommend that you take certain steps if you want to come out of a divorce financially intact:

1. Choose your attorney carefully.

Different attorneys have different skills -- some are better at litigation than collaboration and some are the other way around. Some firms are equally adept at both.

Consider your situation carefully. If you hire an attorney whose main route toward settling an issue is always litigation, you'll probably end up in a legal battle at some point. If you hire an attorney who knows how to work well with others, you can often reach a settlement agreement with your spouse over even complicated issues, like the value of a family business or how to divide retirement funds fairly.

Keep in mind, "Conflict costs money," and aim to avoid it where possible.

2. Look for hidden financial issues.

This doesn't just mean looking for signs that your spouse is hiding assets in an offshore account (although that's something to also consider). You need to make certain that you understand how any money you receive in a split will be taxed, whether it's from your share of the retirement accounts or the home equity.

You also need to check your credit record so you know if there are any debts or damage on there that you didn't know about.

Finally, make sure that your alimony payments and child support are covered, if at all possible, in the event of your spouse's death if you're going to rely on them for income.

3. Accept your new standard of living.

There's no quicker way to get into financial trouble after a divorce than by refusing to acknowledge that your standard of living has changed. You can easily run up credit cards or run through the cash from your share of the marital assets by not living within your current means.

For more information on how we can help you reach a fair settlement when there are complex property issues or assets involved, please visit our web pages on the topic.

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