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Linda D. States

Divorce process includes budgeting, saving and estate planning

Divorces require people to rethink their futures and make important and sometimes long-term financial decisions. A person going through a divorce in California can expect the process to alter his or her household income and expenses. An honest assessment of the financial situation and careful planning could help a person overcome setbacks.

The development of a post-divorce budget is an essential first step. This process allows people to see exactly what their monthly bills for housing, food, transportation, insurance and utilities will be. Divorcees might need to consider debts as well. Creditors might try to collect debts that were jointly held during the marriage. People should monitor their credit reports and watch out for unexpected liabilities.

Even if income becomes constrained, people still need to save. Jobs that offer 401(k) retirement plans offer a way to deduct savings directly from pay. Boosting the amount deducted could eventually restore retirement savings lost during a divorce.

People who named spouses as beneficiaries in their wills should not overlook the need to select new designations. This same advice applies to beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and other financial accounts.

In addition to seeking out financial advice, a person might want legal representation. An attorney could inform someone about his or her rights to marital and nonmarital property when negotiating a divorce settlement. Distributions from a settlement might also produce tax consequences, and a lawyer could alert a person to this issue. During a contentious divorce, an attorney might buffer someone from a hostile ex-partner. This service might limit confrontations and keep negotiations focused on the future instead of old battles. If former spouses cannot come to terms privately, then a lawyer could prepare the case for court and strive to present clear information that might produce a fair ruling.

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