3 Tips for Creating a Financially Beneficial Divorce Settlement Agreement
A divorce settlement agreement is a written document that encompasses every decision and concession a separating couple makes during the divorce process. It typically includes determinations regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, and asset division. By its very nature, this agreement can have a lasting impact on your quality of life. So how can you guarantee that your divorce settlement agreement financially provides for your post-divorce life?
Tip #1: Retain an Experienced Attorney
The only way to negotiate a beneficial divorce settlement agreement is to retain the services of an experienced lawyer. This legal representative can review any proposed agreements and add or remove provisions that don’t reflect or provide for your best interests. This can protect you from suffering financially in the future. Granted, some concessions are necessary to finalize your divorce, but no one can force you to settle on an unfair agreement.
It’s important to remember that your spouse’s attorney doesn’t care if your divorce settlement agreement provides you with adequate financial support. Even if a proposed agreement seems fair, you still need to have your lawyer thoroughly review it.
Tip #2: Hire a Certified Financial Planner & a Forensic Accountant
The best way to prepare for your post-divorce life is to hire a financial planner. These money-saving experts can review your assets and explain if you’re entitled to Social Security or retirement plan benefits. Also, they can help you with any tax and financial issues that may affect your divorce. Likewise, a forensic accountant can also thoroughly investigate your financial circumstances (tax returns, credit card statements, investments, etc.) and discover if your spouse has any hidden properties or accounts.
Tip #3: Determine if You Can Collect Benefits
In Florida, retirement benefits are considered part of the marital estate and can be subject to equitable division. The courts evaluate many factors when dividing retirement benefits and pension plans.
Traditional retirement accounts include:
- 401K plans
- IRA and Roth IRA accounts
It’s important to note that these accounts can be divided even if you never worked in the past. Under certain circumstances, you may be entitled to collect up to half of your spouse’s Social Security retirement benefits. If eligible, you can claim these benefits now and delay receiving your own until you’re 66 (Full Retirement Age). By waiting, you may be able to collect 100% of your own retirement benefits.
Schedule a Consultation & Discuss Your Financial Concerns
Developing a beneficial divorce settlement can be a complicated process if you don’t have a knowledgeable attorney representing your best interests. If you have concerns about your divorce or require legal representation, contact the New Port Richey divorce lawyer at Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office.
Contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office at (727) 312-1112 to schedule a consultation.