3 Common Errors to Avoid in Divorce Settlements
Divorce settlements are the legal documents and agreements that go along with your divorce decree. In other words, the divorce settlement that you and your spouse come up with or that the court imposes is sort of a road map to what happens in the divorce. The settlement should contain information about the division and sale of marital property, about what happens to debts, and about what happens to your kids. The divorce settlement has a huge impact on what happens to you after divorce, so before you agree to a divorce settlement it is essential that you are aware of common mistakes and that you avoid those errors.
Mistakes in Divorce Settlements
There are several major mistakes in divorce settlements that you should be aware of. These mistakes include:
- Misunderstanding the impact a divorce settlement has on debt obligations: The divorce settlement that you draft and agree to may stipulate clearly that your spouse has to pay the MasterCard bill. If your spouse doesn't pay the MasterCard bill and your name was on that account too, you will get a nasty shock when MasterCard dings your credit and tries to collect from you. They don't care what it says on the divorce settlement - if your name was on the debt, you are liable for that debt. This means it is often a good idea to insist that any debt is either refinanced into one parties name or paid off during the divorce.
- Thinking your divorce automatically covers everything. If you listed your spouse's name as a beneficiary on your life insurance, getting divorced doesn't change that. Only a phone call to the insurance company to change your beneficiary will alter it. Likewise, if you listed your spouse as the beneficiary on a 401K or pension or other accounts, then you have to make the phone call to formally change that as well.
- Giving in too easily and not knowing your rights: If you and your spouse come to an out-of-court arrangement, you may give in to his or her demands and give up things you have a legal right to. For example, you may just want the divorce to be over, so you may agree to more alimony than you should or to giving up a larger-than-fair share of property. Don't do this- the law entitles you to have shared access to assets and in some cases to support... if you are entitled to it, fight for it.
The best and surest way to avoid mistakes in divorce settlements is to have an experienced and qualified divorce attorney acting as your advocate. Your attorney can assist you in drawing up a settlement agreement that is fair and comprehensive and that affords you the full rights that the law entitles you to.