A financial advisor briefly hits the financial highlights associated with divorce.
- Know Thy Divorce Law. It is astonishing how very close too many people come to finalizing divorce settlements without having the slightest idea of what they may be entitled to. Often, they believe that their spouse has accurately summarized the law for them, and that their spouse is being very reasonable, even generous … when neither may be the case.
- Property Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, marital assets are divided equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether property is marital property or nonmarital in the eyes of the law may be more complex than the financial expert describes.
- Retirement Assets Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, the marital portion of retirement assets is divided equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether retirement assets are marital property or nonmarital in the eyes of the law may be more complex than the financial expert describes. Division of retirement assets is often particularly contentious. And may be especially complicated where there are pension plan administrators.
- Debt Division. In equitable distribution states like Florida, marital debt is distributed equitably, often, but not necessarily, equally. Note that whether debt is classified as marital debt or nonmarital under Florida law is determined by different principles than this financial expert describes. This financial expert also does not address the distinction between potential liability to a creditor in civil court and potential liability to a spouse in divorce court. Further, whether a particular spouse should make paying down debt a priority really depends on the overall facts and circumstances of their divorce case and situation. One size does not fit all. And, freezing joint debt accounts may be prudent much earlier in the divorce process than suggested, whether through a court order or otherwise.
In Florida, technically, the term “equitable distribution” includes all of the assets and property division and debt division touched on above – and much more.
But it is often helpful and illustrative to break it down into its smaller components, even well beyond what this financial expert has done.
For many couples, however, the marital residence and retirement assets are by far the largest assets the couple have.
And very often, folks anticipating a divorce focus on division of assets, without giving a thought to debt.
Yet, unfortunately, in some cases, marital debt may exceed – or approach – the amount of marital assets. So the debt really must be considered early on and addressed squarely. Otherwise, a spouse, or their attorney, may spin their wheels fruitlessly – but expensively.