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Long Island Family Law Blog

Collaborative divorce has its advantages

The process of getting divorced in New York can understandably cause anxious feelings and even ill will. However, divorce does not always have to be an entirely negative experience. Thanks to collaborative divorce, a married couple can navigate a marital split-up without having to experience the type of hostility often associated with going to divorce trial.

Collaborative divorce is an alternative to divorce litigation that allows two spouses to sit down and try to work out issues such as the splitting of assets or spousal support. The benefit of this type process is that going to court is not necessary. The first step of collaborative divorce is for both parties to sign a contract that states that they both agree to act in good faith and to be fair in their negotiations.

Tightly intertwined finances can make divorce challenging

Getting divorced is oftentimes a challenging process due to the emotional toll it can take on a person. In addition, a few financial mistakes during a divorce proceeding can cause a newly divorced spouse to be in much worse shape than anticipated. The more tightly two spouses' finances are intertwined in New York, the more important it is to pay close attention to the process of untangling them.

One area of divorce that can be challenging is dealing with the family home. Staying in the family home may seem like an easy choice, as it eradicates the need to find new housing and accrue the costs that come with it. However, keeping the marital home usually does not make sense financially due to the exorbitant cost of keeping up a home.

Annulment is not the same as divorce

One question couples in New York face when they are thinking about ending their marriage is whether to get an annulment or to actually get divorced. Choosing one or the other is relatively simple, involving placing a checkmark beside either one on a petition. However, the two legal processes of annulment and divorce are quite different.

Annulments can be granted if married couples who want to split up can provide legitimate reasons why their marriages were never truly valid in the first place. One possible reason is fraud that resulted in the marriage. Other reasons include insanity as well as bigamy, and where one spouse was under 18 when the marriage occurred. Yet another valid reason is that marriage took place by force. Proving any of these caveats requires going to trial in court.

The family home may not be worth keeping after divorce

One of the most painful parts of dissolving a marriage is determining how to handle the family home. After all, the marital home usually sparks many positive memories for a couple. A few tips may help with addressing both of these areas during a divorce proceeding in New York.

Regarding the house and other assets, what may look equivalent might not actually be equal. For instance, the marital home might be on a divorcing couple's list of assets. Perhaps the home is valued at $300,000 but has a mortgage of $200,000, leading to a net value of $100,000. If there is $100,000 in a retirement plan as well, rather than keeping the home and giving up the retirement money, it might be better to sell the home, use the profit to purchase a new home and take half of the retirement funds. In this way, one ends up with both a home and retirement funds after the divorce.

Millennials more likely to have prenuptial agreements today

An increasing number of millennials in New York are putting off marriage until they get older -- the opposite of what previous generations did. As a result of this, millennials usually have more property, businesses or careers by the time they are ready to get married. This is why putting together prenuptial agreements is becoming more common today.

In years past, prenuptial agreements were often a point of contention for couples. In some romantic relationships, these agreements signaled a lack of trust or the foreseeing of an end to the marriage down the road. Other couples felt that these types of legal contracts were simply unromantic.

Unanticipated costs may catch spouses off guard during divorce

If two spouses are having a hard time getting along, then getting divorced may not be a bad idea. This is true despite how heartbreaking, taxing and stressful divorce can be. Being prepared for often unexpected costs can make the divorce process a bit easier to manage in New York.

One expense that is sometimes overlooked is the cost of counseling. Counseling can be immensely helpful for those emotionally struggling during divorce. It can be particularly helpful when children of divorce are having a tough time coping with their parents' breakup.

Deception on part of spouse can be costly during divorce

During a marital breakup in New York, spouses sometimes find out that the other party has been hiding property or reporting less income than was actually learned. In every divorce proceeding, each spouse is legally obligated to disclose any and all expenses, debt, assets and income. Unfortunately, some divorcing parties try to steal, lie or cheat in an effort to keep more assets for themselves.

One common attempt at deception is to drain a retirement account to keep the other spouse from being able to get a share of the funds. In this situation, an attorney can work on recouping this lost money from other assets of the deceptive spouse. This is critical because a retirement fund can easily be one of the largest assets subject to property division during a divorce.

Knowing finances an important part of divorce

The process of dissolving a marriage in New York is not just an emotionally challenging experience -- it can be a financially difficult one too. A U. S. Government Accountability Office report from 2012 indicated that divorce can lead to more than a 40 percent decrease in income for females. Meanwhile, this drop is more than 20 percent for men.

Because finances can take a hit during the divorce process, taking stock of all of one's cash flow is critical early on. In fact, knowing how much money is flowing into and out of a household is beneficial whether a divorce is impending or not. However, having this knowledge is especially paramount when a marital split-up is about to happen.

Health savings accounts must be addressed during divorce

Health savings accounts may seem as though they have been around forever. The reality is that they have been in existence in the United States for only 13 years. As a result, those who are going through divorce in New York may understandably not know how to deal with them during the process of property division.

Health savings accounts are essentially custodial accounts that are tax exempt. Account holders can make tax-deductible contributions up to particular amounts each year, and no income restrictions exist for making contributions. These accounts have to be used along with qualified health insurance plans that feature high deductibles.

Divorce aspects may impact financial lives of New York residents

Dealing with money problems under any circumstances can prove stressful. When New York residents go through divorce, they may find that their finances have taken much harder hits than they were expecting. As a result, they may begin looking for ways to get their financial affairs back on track while continuing to provide for themselves and their families.

One of the first steps parties may find helpful is to understand their current financial state. This means individuals may need to create and understand a personal balance sheet. This document can list debts owed, money saved and expenses due as well as property owned and income changes. By having this information organized, people may feel more in charge of their finances and understand what steps they need to take to address pressing matters.

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