It might be the only thing the two sides in a divorce can easily agree on: it’s no fun.
On top of the emotional toll, financial missteps during the process can leave you in far worse shape than you intended. And the more intertwined you and your spouse’s finances are, the more closely you’ll need to pay attention while untangling them.
“You are your own best advocate,” said certified financial planner Joyce Streithorst, director of financial planning at Frisch Financial Group in Melville, New York.
Your attorney also might be a bit busy right now. After summer winds down, divorce filings tend to multiply.
“Most people don’t file during the summer, partly because the kids are out of school, they’re vacationing and they’re not focused on their relationship,” said John Slowiaczek, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “Then there’s a rise after Labor Day because people want to get things going before the holidays hit.”
If you are among those pursuing divorce, here are some financial mistakes to avoid.
1. Keeping a home you can no longer afford.
While staying put means one less change in the midst of an already life-altering event, it often makes little financial sense.
“Unfortunately, many keep their homes not realizing that upkeep costs are no longer sustainable,” said certified financial planner Stacy Francis, president and CEO of Francis Financial in New York. “There are now two households existing on the same income where previously there was only one.”
2. Taking the house in lieu of liquid assets.
If you are offered the house in exchange for your ex getting comparably valued investments — i.e., a retirement, bank or brokerage account worth the same amount — think twice before agreeing.
“On paper the two may be equal, but practically speaking the house is far more costly to maintain,” said CFP Barbara Shapiro, president of HMS Financial Group in Dedham, Massachusetts.