When married couples part ways, the process can be draining – financially and emotionally. The more headaches – and bills – you can spare yourself, the better.
Keep in mind that whether an action or decision is a divorce “mistake” may depend on your priorities. For example, some might call it a mistake to give up a greater portion of marital property without argument, but if it removes you from a toxic relationship faster, then perhaps the tradeoff is worth it.
Our East Brunswick divorce attorneys offer years of extensive experience in New Jersey family law and have identified the top divorce mistakes we hope more people will avoid this year.
- Failing to consider collaborative divorce or mediation. We recognize that untangling the years of life spent together – from child custody to child support to division of assets and retirement accounts – can be complicated. But that does not mean it has to be acrimonious. A mediation or collaborative divorce can help you reach amiable and fair resolutions on many things about which you are largely on the same page. Ultimately, this is probably going to save you a lot on attorney’s fees. Further, even if you do not exactly plan to be cozy with your ex in the future, collaborative divorce and mediation often results in more civil resolutions. This can be much better for your peace of mind. Of course, mediation is not for everyone. It is probably not the best idea in cases where there was a significant power imbalance or lack of transparency in financial matters. It is also not advisable in cases involving an abusive relationship. However, if you feel you can still safely and calmly communicate with your ex and both generally want what’s best for each other – even if that’s not with each other – collaborative divorce or mediation is a good way to go.
- Having unrealistic lifestyle expectations of life after divorce. Divorcing couples often underestimate how substantial the financial hit of a divorce can be. You will want to take a very honest assessment of what it is going to take to maintain separate households with the same income and assets that previously sustained just one. It is highly likely, there will be lifestyle sacrifices. The more pre-divorce financial planning and budgeting you can do, the better off you will be long-term. This is especially true if your former spouse is the one who has primarily been handling the finances.
- Overlooking the tax implications of divorce. In most divorce cases, there are numerous tax impacts. This is particularly true when the assets and income are subject to equitable division under NJ Rev. Stat. § 2A:34-23.1. Alimony especially can have consequences for taxes. For instance, alimony payments ordered in divorces that were finalized prior to Jan. 1, 2019 are considered tax deductible for the payor and taxable to the recipient. For divorces finalized after Jan. 1, 2019, alimony is not considered taxable income to the recipient/tax deductible to the payor. However, New Jersey is among the handful of states that has not changed its laws to align with federal tax reform. There may also be tax impacts associated with splitting or liquidating assets, and pension plans in particular. Your divorce attorney should be able to help guide you on this front and refer you to the proper tax law professionals if necessary.
- Not considering Social Security benefits. If you have not yet reached the 10-year marriage threshold, you may want to evaluate the possibility of holding off until you do for the sake of Social Security benefits. That is because for couples married 10 years or more, the lower-earning or non-earning spouse is entitled to receive benefits on the basis of the higher-earning spouse’s pay-in record – without hurting the higher-earner’s benefits. For some individuals, this may be an important consideration. For others, perhaps not so much. It will depend on your individual circumstances and how waiting could affect other aspects of your divorce as well.
- Lack of a post-divorce financial plan. When you are initiating or going through a divorce, it’s imperative to begin mapping a financial plan for life after. Take a careful look at your current financial situation, where you will be afterward and realistic financial goals. Recognize that your financial goals may shift after the split.
These are just a few of the considerations we encourage clients to weigh during a New Jersey divorce. Having a supportive legal team dedicated to help you reach an amicable next chapter can also make a world of difference.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.