Friday, September 21, 2007

Keeping Control During Your Divorce

There is an excellent article , entitled "Keeping Control During Divorce", on a website by Lee Borden, a Birmingham, Alabama attorney . He lists some very practical ideas to help you protect yourself from yourself and your spouse.

1. Don't give up control of the divorce to your lawyer. It is your divorce and you are the one most affected by it. You are also better able to make decisions based on your knowledge of how your spouse is expected to react to situations. You are the one to feel the effects of your spouse's emotions. You have to deal with the effects of numerous strategic decisions made in the course of a divorce. Some attorneys have standard ways of dealing with situations, and sometimes those ways may make a situation worse. You have more to lose than your lawyer does in the process, so you should be consulted before major decisions are made.

2. Don't divide the property without a thorough inventory or disclosure of the assets and liabilities. Minimize the possibility of hidden property. If you don't insist on disclosure, your spouse can later say that the (hidden) asset would have been disclosed if someone had asked about it.

3. Don't spend too much time and money doing Discovery. It's easy for too much to be done, which causes attorney's fees to go up. Much information can be exchanged informally or gained by using releases. The more information you gather and present to your lawyer, the less time your attorney will have to spend gathering and organizing the information. A balance must be struck -- you do need a certain amount of information. One way to limit discovery is to insist that the requests be focus on limited targets rather than having the attorney use the standard catch-all requests. Again, the more you can do to handle the information, the cheaper the process will be.

4. Don't Let your family or friends tell you what you need or what you should be feeling. This is your divorce. You are the captain of your own ship. You are the best judge of how you feel and what you want. It's nice to have support, but don't let them take over. Each case is different, so their experiences and stories may not fit your situation.

5. Don't ignore taxes. Pay your quarterly taxes, withhold enough (or a little more) and keep good records. Make sure that you withhold enough if you withdraw funds from a 401 K plan. When you are dividing assets, consider what items could be taxable and which might have no tax consequences. It is prudent to work with a CPA or certified divorce financial planner if you have significant assets. If alimony is part of a package, remember to figure the tax effects on it.

6. Don't try to win back your spouse by being generous, especially if you are not usually generous. You may get taken advantage of and then left behind. Your spouse may see the generousity as weakness or foolishness. You may end up feeling resentment toward your spouse once your effort fails. It's OK to be nice, just don't be abnormally generous.

Following this advice will help you keep your divorce under control and help you get a better result.

No comments: