March Madness

March Madness

Divorce Slam Dunks No Fouls!

By Steven B. Chroman, Attorney at Law

If you think you might be filing for divorce this year, I’m here to encourage you to put some of that springtime energy into getting yourself organized financially. With taxes dues on April 15, as well, this is an excellent time to get a firm grasp of your financial situation.

Here are six tasks to put you in excellent shape for all three: spring, tax filing and the beginning the divorce process.

Get your financial documents in order. 

Having important documents on hand early in the divorce process means you save yourself the time, expense and possible unpleasantness of trying to get copies of them later.

Check into your credit.

During your marriage, you may not have been paying special attention to your individual credit situation. However, good credit will be one of the most critical aspects of your financial well-being. Without credit, it can be nearly impossible to obtain loans for any purpose, or even to manage household expenses. Request a copy of your credit report now, so that you can correct any misinformation it contains. If you don’t already, you should also begin to keep a close eye on joint credit card statements.

Get bank and credit card accounts in your own name.

It is not too soon to discreetly establish the bank accounts and credit cards you will need as a single. Use a different bank than where you currently have joint accounts, and open both savings and checking accounts in your name alone.

Credit cards are especially important, and may require some time to obtain. Although changes have been made to the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) to allow non-working spouses to apply for credit in their own name based upon shared household income, it can still be difficult to get approved if that income isn’t individually yours. Apply to several companies, and do so well before you absolutely need your own credit cards.

Know your tax situation.

As you prepare your 2015 tax return, be mindful of how a divorce will change your future tax status. You may be filing jointly for now, but if your divorce is finalized this year, your 2016 tax situation will be different. Divorce will likely mean significant change to your income structure. This time next year, you may be receiving alimony or other support payments, or you may have capital gains and other taxes to declare after the sale of investments and other assets.

Put together your professional divorce team.

Gone are the days when all it took was a good lawyer to get you through a divorce in good shape.

As a Family Law Attorney, I recommend you not only work with me, but with a good financial planner and a therapist/counselor. Gather and compare information, and schedule interviews with the best candidates. With your professional divorce team on standby, you won’t have any anxiety about not knowing who to call when the time comes.

If you’re anticipating the end of your marriage, you will definitely be feeling a whole range of strong emotions, some of them conflicting . . . and many all at once! At times, it can be difficult to cope with, and I strongly suggest you include a compassionate therapist on your professional divorce team to help you through it.

But never forget that divorce is about laying the foundation for your financial well-being on your own!

When you are making financial decisions, I urge you to set emotions aside. Negotiating a divorce settlement agreement from a standpoint of grief, anger or spite is a recipe for financial disaster.

Ticking these six items off your spring “To Do” list will get you well organized and well positioned to begin the divorce process and avoid any ‘March Madness’ that doesn’t have to do with basketball. Make this process a slam dunk with no fouls for your team!

For more information and to schedule your free consultation, please call The Law Offices of Steven B. Chroman, P.C., at 661-255-1800. Mr. Chroman is a Trusted Advisor Award Winner and named Top 100 California Attorneys with over 19 years of experience and local service

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