If you are reading this article, you are either in the preparatory stages of filing for divorce and planning ahead (highly recommended), or your divorce process is not going as smoothly or quickly as you had hoped, and you are looking to keep the wheels from falling off of the proverbial Divorce Bus.
While New York is a “no-fault” divorce state, we tend to have a high volume of financially-complex “conscious uncouplings” (the term eloquently popularized by the former Mr. and Mrs. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin). Asset portfolios are more voluminous, ranging from real property to trust, investment, savings, and retirement accounts; art and vehicle collections and actual, liquid cash.
I have ensured that my clients are protected, both during their divorce and well into the future, for over 26 years. Preparation, strategy, and flexibility are imperative - as well as anticipating the other side’s plans.
What is your spouse’s divorce attorney telling them?
- Do not be a financial victim! If you are in the dark regarding your marital finances, you are in trouble. Assumptive gender roles aside, you would be surprised at how many bread-winners are ignorant to the financial details, processes, and procedures in their marriage.
- Do not forget about the IRS during the divorce and settlement process. A formidable Manhattan divorce attorney will engage the participation of a specialized divorce financial planner or tax accountant to minimize the total taxes that both divorcing parties may have to pay during the separation and post-divorce. Both cash settlements, as well as other assets, may be subject to taxes; therefore it is imperative to have a thorough evaluation of assets, investments, and cash on an after-tax basis.
- Avoid emotional attachment to assets. Do you genuinely want to continue living in the marital home with all of the attached memories and nostalgia? Thinking forward, would your subsequent significant other want to spend time or live in a house synonymous with your previous marriage? Emotional attachment to marital assets weakens negotiating power and minimizes leverage. Onward and upward.
- Never express anger, especially in writing. If it is something you would not want the judge to read, do not send it. In fact, avoid the “draft and delete” exercise, as well. This also holds true for verbal expressions of anger and negativity. Keep your communication with your spouse positive and collaborative, and consistently exhibit the same when communicating with neighbors, your children’s teachers, coaches, and co-workers. They are all potential witnesses.
- Abstain from over-sharing with your soon-to-be-ex spouse. In the interest of maintaining peace, some feel it is natural to confide in their spouse during divorce proceedings. Absolutely no, not ever. Additionally, do not eschew bargaining chips by negotiating assets individually without consulting your divorce attorney. This mistake compromises strategy and may be detrimental to attempts at reaching a global settlement, which could keep your divorce out of expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Divorce, for both parties, is, at a minimum, disruptive and has the propensity to be emotionally and mentally gutting. The most effective means of mitigating such tumult is preparation, trust in your attorney, and actively participating in the strategy.
Dror Bikel is a Manhattan divorce lawyer, author, and social commentator. To connect with Dror: [hidden email] or to book Dror to speak at your event: [hidden email]