Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Being financially prepared for a divorce agreement may help

The divorce rate in the United States is significantly higher than what most people in Massachusetts might imagine. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a spouse in a deteriorating marriage to pay little attention to the financial impact a divorce might have. However, there are certain preparatory steps that can be taken prior to reaching a divorce agreement. Although a divorce may be amicable, unpleasant surprises can cause the situation to deteriorate quickly, leaving one spouse at a financial disadvantage.

An experienced divorce attorney will provide the necessary information related to the Massachusetts property division laws, but the key remains to be prepared with the relative financial data pertaining to the marriage. Running an up-to-date credit report will uncover any unknown debts that the other party may have incurred. Instead of waiting for the court to request an inventory of financial and tangible possessions, it may be wise to draft such a list proactively. There may be taxable asset accounts or retirement plans that have been dormant for a long time.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to try to obtain possessions that hold great sentimental value but have little monetary value. Securing appraisals for tangible property will help determine if the property is worth fighting over from an economic standpoint. Furthermore, one needs to create a budget for the time leading up to the divorce as well as a projected post-divorce budget. Each spouse should also open individual accounts for credit cards, banking and investments in preparation for the property division process.

While these steps will certainly help a divorcing spouse prepare for what lies ahead, it may lead to contention when hidden assets are uncovered. Nevertheless, an amicable divorce remains a possibility. Most divorce attorneys have access to professional divorce mediators that can facilitate communication and compromise between spouses who are at odds. With the guidance of such a professional, along with the advice and support of an experienced divorce attorney, solutions for contentious issues may be found prior to finalizing a divorce agreement.

Source: accountingtoday.com, "Tip of the Week: Helping Clients Face Divorce", Accessed on Aug. 21, 2015

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