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Long-term thinking needed for divorce financial decisions

Divorce represents not only the severing of a marital relationship but the end of a shared financial life. Some Texas couples in this situation might be tempted to accept any apparently reasonable terms simply to get the process over with, but they should research the long-term impact of their decisions.

One certified financial planner said that keeping a home often represents a costly choice. The cost of the home might require two incomes to support, and one income will not make ends meet. A president of a financial firm agreed and added that accepting a home in exchange for other assets, such as savings or investments, could saddle the divorced homeowner with property maintenance costs. What might look equal on paper actually turns into a liability for the party who keeps the house.

Tax bills can pop up after a divorce settlement distributes assets, especially the funds within a 401(k) retirement plan. A person might have to pay an early withdrawal fee on retirement assets and pay income taxes unless the funds get rolled over into a new account. Another certified financial planner raised the possibility of a former spouse dying. He said that someone who will be heavily dependent on child or spousal support payments should consider requiring that the divorce settlement include a life insurance policy on the person making the payments.

A person who is facing the end of a marriage might want to meet with a family law attorney to discuss these and other issues. In some cases, the attorney could assist in negotiating an overall settlement agreement that obviates the need to have a judge make these decisions.

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