Dissolving a marriage is never easy and can be both financially and emotionally draining. It is even harder if there is bad blood between you and your spouse, making it very tempting to take revenge through the legal system. However, there are many reasons to play nice during a divorce, and it goes beyond what is best for the children.
Here are five reasons for taking the highroad during a divorce, from alleviating your conscience to protecting your finances.
Although it is difficult, divorce needs to be about preparing for the future, not reliving the past. If you and your spouse are on good terms, consider an uncontested divorce. This can be a much less expensive option than ongoing battles through attorneys. Working together to calculate marital assets and joint debts can be more fair and more efficient. Together you can also avoid acquiring additional joint debt, close any joint accounts and copy all important financial papers.
In addition, you should each open individual bank and credit card accounts before your divorce is finalized, because it's often easier to get a credit card and an individual bank account in your own name while you are still married.
Protecting your credit
You and your spouse should pull your credit reports and together dispute anything that can be resolved. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—and obtain a copy of your credit report from each of these agencies. Cancel any joint credit cards and let the credit agencies know. Remember that if these cards remain open, each of you continues to share responsibility for any outstanding debt.
Playing fair to collect your share
One of the first steps in divorce is taking a home inventory and deciding how assets will be divided. Together with your spouse, write down all information about assets and debts, and take pictures of property. Any assets you brought into the marriage yourself, whether it is a vehicle, an inheritance, or real estate, should continue to be yours. However, joint asset distribution must be decided upon before a divorce can be finalized.
One large asset that can be tumultuous if you and your spouse are not playing nice is your home. Unless you have children living in your house, you may want to work with your spouse in selling the home and dividing the money appropriately. This can also be a great step to starting fresh for both you and your spouse.
Joining forces on joint tax returns
Both you and your spouse are liable for taxes on joint returns. Working through taxes is much easier if you can work together. This can help minimize the amount of taxes you and your spouse owe.
Yes, it is better for the kids
You will need to protect your children both emotionally and financially; make sure to check the beneficiaries of your will, pension plan, trusts, IRAs, and life insurance to protect your children. If your spouse remains the primacy benefactor, he or she could end up receiving a windfall is something happens to you, and there's no guarantee the money will make it into your children's hands. Protecting children goes beyond child support payments: it begins with parents playing nice. Each state has guidelines to calculate child support for children.
Many states have different divorce laws and regulations, so you will need state-specific information to be sure you're following the proper steps. Try Googling "divorce [and your state]" to learn more, or visit LegalZoom today.