Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Understand finances before signing divorce agreement

Money plays a pivotal role in almost every Massachusetts divorce, regardless of whether it is an amicable or litigated proceeding. It is often suggested that anybody who is considering divorce become fully informed about the family finances, and also learn the details of post-divorce money management before signing a divorce agreement. This may be overwhelming for a spouse who has played a minor role in family finances; however, help is available from a variety of sources. Along with a divorce attorney, a financial advisor and a tax consultant can provide valuable guidance.

To start the process, the spouse will not only need copies of all financial documents but also learn to understand its contents. An understanding of existing debts and how it will be handled after the divorce is also important. Understanding budgeting, investments and more will enable a person to make informed decisions in the time leading up to the divorce. Property division and child support have tax consequences that may catch an uninformed spouse unaware.

Keeping emotions out of a divorce is not easy, especially if the negotiations are contentious. Divorce mediation is one option of navigating negotiations in a manner that is focused on resolving issues rather than complicating them. This process provides a platform on which each spouse can air their concerns, and, with the guidance of a neutral mediator, mutual agreements may be reached. However, a spouse who is not entirely informed about the financial dynamics of the family may unknowingly agree to something he or she might later regret.

Some experienced divorce attorneys in Massachusetts are also trained mediators or have access to divorce mediators. Such professionals can facilitate mediation that may lead to a divorce agreement that will be in the best interests of both spouses without getting involved in expensive and time-consuming litigation. The attorneys of both spouses are typically present during mediation sessions to provide valuable input and ensure that the ultimate agreement is legal.

Source: The Huffington Post, "8 Tips to Keep From Being Taken Advantage of Financially in Divorce", Karen Covy, Jan. 29, 2016

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