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Tips to Help You Rebound Financially After an Uncontested Divorce - Part I
Even the most amicable of uncontested divorces will have an impact on your finances. In addition to the loss of your spouse’s income, you can also lose your moral support, retirement benefits, and often safety net that comes from having a partner. By following a few important steps, however, you can quickly start getting your financial life and health back to previous levels.
#1: Rethink Your Retirement Planning
Money is often tight following a divorce. Both spouse’s monthly budgets will generally increase as one set of household expenses multiples to two. Due to financial constraints, some divorcees decide to forego saving for retirement or even dip into retirement savings. This is a costly mistake. You need to reassess your budget and make the necessary adjustments that will allow you to continue to set aside money for your retirement. While a momentary pause on short-term investments is understandable while going through a divorce, you should attempt to resume investing as soon as possible.
Following a divorce, it is also an ideal time to rebalance your investment portfolio. Spouses often diversify their assets, with one spouse investing in a 401(k) while the other used a Roth IRA. Now that you are flying solo, you may need to adjust your portfolio so that it is diversified enough all on its own. Be sure all of your assets are working together.
#2: Rebuild Your Credit
In many marriages, one spouse ends up doing the bulk of the borrowing. Sometimes one spouse has better credit than the other, allowing for better interest rates. Other times, in dividing household tasks, matters involving money, including applying for credit, end up being handled by one spouse. Either way, it is quite common to see joint debts rest in only one spouse’s name.
If you did not have a strong credit history or score while married, you will need to build up your credit after a divorce. Be careful to proceed cautiously and not take on new debt. You could start building your credit history with a secured credit card or a starter loan from a credit union.
Another possible method is to ask your landlord to report your timely rent payments to the credit bureaus. This can help you build a positive credit history that is not associated with your former spouse. Rebuilding your credit score as soon as possible after a divorce is an important part of achieving financial freedom and success on your own. It will also pay dividends later on when you apply for a mortgage or car loan.
#3: Update Your Estate Planning
Your estate plan will likely change drastically following a divorce. You may already have a will or trust setting out your beneficiaries, executor, and choice of guardian for your minor children in the event of your death. Chances are, your designation for these important positions will change after a marital split.
It is crucial that you update your will, along with any living wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, or other estate planning documents after a divorce. Be sure to name an executor who will carry out your last wishes as you desire.
Florida requires an equitable distribution of the marital property (what is fair, not necessarily equal). Each spouse keeps the property and debts that belonged to them before the marriage. Each spouse also keeps any property received as a gift or inheritance, or any property that the spouses agree to divide in a written agreement. Any property that was acquired before the spouses married or that was received as a gift or inheritance is not considered marital property. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement, a court will divide the property and the debt.
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