How property division can impact retirement planning

Negotiating the division of marital assets is one of the most dreaded aspects of many Florida divorces. Spouses know that property division is a necessary step, but are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of decisions that must be made. Navigating this process can be a challenge, especially for individuals who are also nearing retirement age, and who will have to take an entirely different approach to retirement planning after their divorce.

One of the biggest obstacles involves making the mental shift from retirement planning as a couple to planning as an individual. In many cases, couples have saved for retirement over the course of many years, always in the belief that they would move through their golden years as a unit, helping and supporting each other. Divorce shatters that ideal, and requires a whole new mindset when it comes to retirement planning.

Spouses must make savvy decisions when it comes to dividing marital wealth, and not be swayed by emotion. In order to make the best possible decisions, it is necessary to understand the full range of ramifications associated with each choice. For example, cashing out certain retirement savings will have tax consequences, while choosing to keep the family home will come with associated costs related to maintenance and eventual sale options. Factoring in these ramifications ahead of time allows spouses to make decisions that are in line with their best interests.

The best way to move through the property division process in a way that creates a favorable retirement outcome is to seek out the advice of trusted legal and financial professionals. Having guidance throughout this period of time is an investment that will pay off many times over in the long run. With the right approach, it is possible for Florida spouses to move through the property division process in a way that also bolsters retirement planning.  

Source: Forbes, “Does Divorce Derail Retirement?“, Larry Light, July 24, 2017

Consider refinancing requirements during property division

When going through a divorce, many Florida residents place keeping the family home at or near the top of their priority list. Staying in one’s home is often more about emotions than financial planning, which is why so many spouses make critical mistakes in their property division negotiations. It is important for spouses to consider their refinancing options before they agree to keep the family home.

Very often, refinancing is not as simple or easy as it may seem. Spouses often remember how easy it was to purchase their home, when both parties provided the required information, got prequalified and then went out house hunting before signing on the bottom line. Refinancing to remove one spouse’s name and obtain a new loan solely in the name of the retaining spouse is a different matter.

For one thing, many spouses are unable to qualify for refinancing without including child support or alimony in the equation. Most lenders require proof that those payments have been made in a timely manner for a period of time prior to issuing a new loan. That waiting period can range from a few months to half a year or more. In addition, the retaining spouse will need to have his or her credit screened prior to signing for a new loan, and a decline in scoring could be a problem. Having a demonstrable income history is another challenge for some spouses.

In short, keeping the family home is not always as straightforward as many Florida spouses believe. If that is one’s goal, the best place to begin is by sitting down with a lender and working through the numbers. Very often, spouses determine that selling the house and splitting the proceeds is a better option than trying to secure new financing during or after a divorce. That can simplify the property division process, and allow both parties to move on to look for their next homes.

Source: The Huffington Post, “It’s Harder to Divorce the House Than the Spouse!“, Ashley Tate Cooper, July 17, 2017

Handling property division with a narcissist spouse

Being married to a narcissist is never an easy road, but divorcing one can be an absolute nightmare. For many Florida spouses, the reality of their partner’s personality disorder was not made apparent until after the wedding bells faded. Once married, many people feel compelled to adjust to their partner’s behavior, even when that behavior is nearly intolerable. When divorce inevitably becomes a pressing need, working through child custody or property division with a narcissist can be incredibly stressful.

To clarify, a narcissist is an individual who displays an excessive level of self-interest, to the exclusion of healthy relationships with others. They often lack the ability to feel empathy for  other people, and are often confused at the emotions displayed by those around them. They can be very charming on the surface, and they are sometimes able to garner the support of friends and family, even when their actions do not deserve that support.

When divorcing a narcissist, the most valuable piece of advice that a spouse can receive is to make every effort to disengage. That means not taking the bait when the other party wants to argue over details of the divorce. It means watching passively as the other person tries to elicit a response. Reacting only feeds into the narcissist’s need to control the situation, and perpetuates a negative cycle.

A better approach is to secure the services of a trusted legal advisor and to follow that individual’s advice. Take the time to work on healing from what may have been years of emotional abuse, and begin strengthening the basic skills needed to live as a single person. It may be helpful for Florida spouses to remember that divorce is a process, one that has a beginning and an end. Working through child custody and property division may be unpleasant, but it is also a means to an end.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce From A Psychopath Or Narcissist Is Never Easy“, Tiffany Beverlin, July 9, 2017

Three custody and divorce mistakes to avoid

Navigation of custody and divorce is complex, but the greatest priority should always be the well-being of your kids. Even the most well-intentioned parents can make serious mistakes in the midst of a separation. It is important to be conscientious of how you are treating your kids throughout the process and how they are adjusting to the changes that are taking place.

These are three of the most common faux pas that parents can make when going through a divorce or custody battle. If you want to help your kids get through the transition of a divorce smoothly, it is imperative that you avoid these and other careless mistakes.

Making the child a messenger

According to the Huffington Post, this is one of the most detrimental mistakes you can make. It is never your children’s responsibility to act as agents between you and your ex. Putting them in this position imposes extreme stress and pressure on them, and it sends the message that their parents are not mature enough to communicate. 

Unintentionally manipulating kids

Even if you are not intentionally badmouthing your ex, you can subtly manipulate children to favor you, and it is even possible to do so unintentionally. Asking loaded questions or reacting negatively to a mention of the other parent are just a few ways you can affect your kids’ perception and unfairly influence them to think ill of your ex. 

Bad-talking your ex to them

Sometimes parents unintentionally manipulate their children, but other times, it is nothing short of deliberate. No matter what events preceded your separation, it is never ok to badmouth your ex in front of your child. Doing so puts them in the position of having to disregard your opinion or continue interacting with a parent they think less of. This also models poor communication and resolution skills at a time when positive modeling is imperative.

Florida’s Collaborative Law Process Act could change divorce

Spouses who want to end their marriage in Florida will now find that the state is taking a new approach to the legal aspects of divorce. With the passage of the Collaborative Law Process Act, spouses will now be required to go through a collaborative process in the early stages of a divorce, rather than taking the matter directly to court. That could change the way that divorce is perceived in the state, and could have a ripple effect on other states considering similar legislation.

Under the new rules, couples are expected to work out as many of their differences as possible outside of court. They are tasked with discussing child custody, property division, child support and other relevant issues through their attorneys. By taking this approach, it is hoped that couples who cannot reach a full divorce settlement on their own will at least head to court with a shorter list of matters to be adjudicated.

Supporters of the new law believe that encouraging couples to take a collaborative approach will lead to less contentious cases. That means an easier time for not only the parties themselves, but also for the children who are caught in the middle of a divorce. They also hope to relieve some of the pressure that courts face when dockets are clogged with divorce cases that might be better resolved across a bargaining table than in front of a judge.

Of course, Florida couples who are unable to reach an agreement on their own will still have access to a court if need be. However, moving toward a collaborative law approach could help change the face of divorce in Florida for the better. When individuals are able to work through their differences outside of a courtroom, the stage is set for a more productive and enjoyable co-parenting relationship, which is a better outcome for children.  

Source: legalscoops.com, “Will New Florida Law Usher in Kinder, Gentler Divorces?“, Jacob Maslow, July 3, 2017