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high-asset divorce

3 tips to protect yourself financially in a divorce

If you had to, could you list off your family’s income, assets and debts with a reasonable certainty? If the answer is, “No,” then you need to educate yourself financially before you initiate your divorce. Many times, high-profile couples have prospered together with one spouse taking the financial reigns and the other handling the home and children. When a divorce happens, the less financially-educated spouse often has no idea what sort of stock options the couple holds, what other investments they have or even what banks they’re spread around. Sometimes they aren’t even aware of property they own because the spouse handling the income bought it as an investment and didn’t bother telling them. Here are three things that you need to do as quickly as possible if you suspect a divorce is on the horizon: — Document everything. Get copies of every tax return, deed, bank record, bill or brokerage statements. Get your insurance paperwork together, including inventories of the household goods. Copies of your spouse’s business records for the last several years are also valuable — especially if you think the business may be worth more than he or she is letting on. 2. Put money aside. You are going to need more money than you realize — part of it will go to attorney fees, but part of it will go to just ordinary living expenses and you probably don’t really know what those are yet. You may have additional expenses like therapy bills, new furniture for

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Advice from financial planners on preparing for divorce

Many married couples live comfortably for years without thinking much about how much they have saved for retirement. If they get divorced, as couples over 50 are increasingly doing, and they have to divide up their assets, they often realize that they’ve been spending too much and saving too little. Many Americans reach that realization as they get closer to retirement. However, when you’re suddenly faced with living on roughly half the income you’re used to while maintaining your own home, the financial consequences of inadequate planning can be particularly serious. Financial planners note a number of things that they’ve found with their divorced clients and have some advice based on their experience to help people better prepare for the potential of retirement years without their spouse. — Over 75 percent say that people should learn how to better manage their finances. — Some 73 percent say people should understand the long-term consequences of their divorce. — Almost 57 percent say they should understand the tax implications of their settlement. — Over 50 percent recommend increasing retirement savings. — Almost 43 percent recommend reducing spending. — Over 36 percent suggest getting a prenuptial agreement. — Over 19 percent recommend getting long-term care insurance. — Almost 18 percent recommend selling off high-value assets like real estate before the divorce settlement is final. Many of these recommendations are wise whether you and your spouse live out the rest of your lives together or call it quits. If you’re already at the stage

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What areas have the highest divorce rates in Massachusetts?

Overall, Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Only seven states rank lower than we do. Almost 10 percent of all adults in Massachusetts are divorced, according to the Census Bureau, and another 2 percent are separated. However, the city and possibly even the zip code where you live just might have something to do with your chances of getting divorced. Some areas of Massachusetts have considerably higher divorce rates than the state average. Following are the 10 with the highest percentages of divorced adults: — One part of Fall River (the 02723 zip code) comes in first at 17.7 percent. — Hyannis is second at 15.8 percent. — N. Adams is close behind at 15.6 percent. — The 01604 zip code of Worcester is fourth at 14.4 percent. — Just behind it is Newburyport at 14.2. — Pittsfield ranks sixth at 13.7 percent — Gardner and Taunton are tied for seventh at 13.5 percent — Another section of Fall River (02720) is eighth at 13.4 percent — Amesbury and Athol are tied for ninth at 13.3 percent — The 01605 zip code of Worcester ranks tenth at 13 percent. Divorce rates can vary even within one city, as we see with Fall River and Worcester, let alone within a state. Even if you feel like no one else is in your shoes, you can be assured that many people are. Often having a therapist or even a support group to turn to during a divorce

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It’s essential to protect your credit during divorce

After a divorce, your credit will be more important than ever. Most people need to either rent an apartment or buy a new house. They often need to get some type of loan, such as for a new car. They may need to look for a job. That’s why it’s essential to take steps to protect your individual credit, which has likely become entwined with your spouse’s during the marriage, before, during and after the divorce. It’s essential to be cautious about what your spouse is doing with any joint credit cards and bank accounts. Consult with your attorney about the steps you need to take to start separating your accounts. In the meantime, keep an eye out for large unnecessary withdrawals by your spouse from your bank accounts as well as significant charges to your credit cards. Angry, vindictive spouses have been known to drain bank accounts and leave their husband or wife holding the bag for significant credit card debt. If you believe that your spouse is taking such actions, tell your attorney immediately so that he or she can work to put a stop to it. Another problem that can negatively impact your credit is if you and/or your spouse don’t make timely payments on your joint financial obligations. This includes not just mortgages, car loans and other joint debt, but things like utility bills. It’s essential that spouses determine who will continue to make these payments during the divorce process. Even if your spouse has agreed

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Why married women need to be ‘financial grown-ups’

In a new book written by a personal finance columnist for Reuters, people who have achieved considerable success in business and finance discuss when they first became “financial grownups” in their own lives. For one woman, Sallie Krawcheck, a former executive with Citigroup and Bank of America and founder of an investment website, it wasn’t until she and her husband divorced when she was 28. That’s not unusual. Many women, even today, don’t find themselves taking control of their own finances until they and their husband split up. Ellevest, the website founded by Krawcheck, provides a digital investment platform for low-cost investment in exchange-traded funds (commonly known as ETFs) to help them build wealth. Krawcheck noted that changes in a person’s life can happen without warning. Whether it’s the death of a spouse or (as in her case) learning that your spouse is cheating on you, women who haven’t been actively involved in the household finances can find themselves having to deal with issues they aren’t prepared to handle at one of the most emotionally-devastating periods of their lives. She says it’s a “recipe for financial disaster.” Krawcheck admits that even though she was building a successful financial career when she was married, she was “managing my own finances like a 1950s-era, stay-at-home housewife. He paid the bills, he made the financial decisions. I didn’t even know what our assets were.” She advises all women to take control of their finances and for married women to learn from her mistakes

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How do you know if it’s time to find a new therapist?

If you seek the help of a therapist while going through a divorce, it can make a significant difference in how successful you are in moving on with your life. However, not all therapists, no matter how prestigious their alma maters and how many best-selling books they’ve written, are necessarily good at one-on-one counseling. If you’ve never been “in therapy,” it can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t accept from a therapist. One psychotherapist notes some important “red flags” that people should look out for. — Critical: A good therapist will help you see things about yourself that you should change to have healthier relationships and a happier life. Sometimes that involves a little “tough love.” However, that criticism should never be unkind or insulting. — Self-absorbed: While some therapists will share their own experiences if they believe it’s helpful to their patients, that should be done sparingly. You’re not paying to hear about their lives. Your sessions should focus on you — not your therapist. — Distracted: You should be the sole focus of your therapist during your session. If your therapist is checking emails, sending texts, taking phone calls or even watching the clock, call him or her out on it. You’re paying for that person’s time and expertise. — Inappropriate: Unfortunately, some therapists don’t understand the appropriate boundaries of their professions. While a hug or comforting pat may be welcome and needed, if your therapist’s physical contact moves beyond that or if he or

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Many couples don’t talk about retirement funds

When heading to divorce, one of the most important things to do is to list out all of your assets and your spouse’s assets. To know what a fair split of your property will look like, you need to know exactly what property is there. This is something that sounds easy on the outside. Wouldn’t both people naturally know how much money was in the bank, how much was saved for retirement and how much was invested? You hear stories about spouses hiding money, but they seem curious if you assume that couples talk about money and know what should be there. Well, a new study showed that couples don’t actually talk about this as much as you may think. Couples were asked if they knew how much their partner had saved up for retirement. They weren’t even asked to give an exact figure, but just to give a ballpark number — $10,000, for example, or $200,000. In 21 percent of the cases, they simply couldn’t do it. Experts note that there could be a distinct decision not to disclose these amounts. People may feel that financial information is personal and they’re not interested in opening up all aspects of their lives, even after marriage. However, they do admit that, for some couples, the question just never came up and was never addressed. Regardless, though, this shows how difficult property division can be. It doesn’t matter why you don’t know what your partner has; it just matters that you don’t.

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Court rules man can opt not to pay ex-wife $1.4 million

An heir to the Educor Inc. fortune will receive millions from a trust, and a court recently ruled that he does not have to pay his ex-wife out of that money. The money comes from a trust that the man’s father set up, which contains around $24 million total. The man also works for an Educor subsidiary as an assistant bookstore manager, and he brings in $170,000 per year. On top of that, the man’s brother paid him about $800,000 out of the trust. The brother is in charge of distributing the money. The man’s ex-wife, on the other hand, has been part of the Army Reserves and worked as a part-time ultrasound technician, making $22,672. She quit her post with the military just two years before she would have been eligible for a pension. Reports indicate that she did it to take care of her daughter, at the insistence of the family. Her daughter has Down syndrome. An appeals court had previously ruled that the man needed to turn over about 60 percent of the money from the fund, along with some interest, saying that it was part of the “fabric of the marriage.” The total he was meant to pay was $1.4 million. However, the Supreme Judicial Court recently decided that he should not have to pay since he was not the one in control of the fund, and there was technically the chance that he may not get payments in the future. The man’s lawyer agreed with

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Financial divorce documents you may need

For those getting divorced, it’s very easy to focus on the social and emotional sides of the split. While these things are important, it’s crucial to remember the legal side of the divorce, as well, and it comes with a lot of documentation. You don’t want to overlook anything, so consider the following examples of documents you may need: 1. Change of ownership forms that go along with your investments. If you’re saving for retirement, you want to make sure that you still have access to your funds — and that you’re the only one who does. 2. Beneficiary alteration forms. You probably listed your spouse as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, and it is time to change it over to another relative, such as a sibling or a child. 3. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly known as a QDRO. This can be used if you get benefits — like a pension plan — from your employer. Your spouse may be entitled to a portion of those benefits. 4. Title change forms for your major assets. Things like your family home or your car may be in both of your names. Most couples either transfer these assets into just one person’s name or sell them off and divide the money. 5. Your will. This is perhaps the most important document to alter after a divorce, as you want to be sure the right people are given your estate when you pass away. It can be tough to

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How to divorce a wealthy spouse when you have few assets

When there is a great disparity between the individual wealth of the spouses in a high asset divorce, the marital assets and resources can become symbolic of the failure of the marriage. When this happens, sometimes one spouse will unreasonably try to tie up a divorce in order to exact a kind of revenge on the other. Former partners can get hopelessly bogged down haggling over wine collections or antique cars and running up their respective attorneys’ bills. Mediation may be helpful when trying to reach accord on some sticking point in a high asset divorce. One thing that is important to consider when there are children involved is that it can foster confusion and resentment in the kids when one parent has a vastly different lifestyle than the other post-divorce. When one parent earns a great deal of money or comes from a background of wealth but the other parent has few resources, children shuttling back and forth between the two may struggle with living two very different lifestyles. Ensuring that the less well-heeled spouse does not end up penurious is often the best solution for all concerned. This doesn’t mean that the parents will have the same amount of wealth, but will provide the minor children with all that they need to live comfortably in both households. If you have concerns over the financial settlement in your pending divorce because your soon-to-be ex-spouse is independently wealthy, retaining a family law attorney who is very familiar with asset valuation

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