When Georgia couples separate and head into divorce, few expect the breakup to be amicable. Many couples, however, manage to navigate the divorce process and its related issues such as property division, setting spousal support and child custody and support issues in a friendly manner.
What might surprise many Georgians, however, is that the friendly approach carries its own risks, especially later on. For example, if one party agrees to less spousal support than might be allowed by law and then runs into financial challenges, such as getting sick or losing a job, he or she may be out of luck if the former spouse does not agree to modify the support agreement.
Fortunately, with some proper planning, Georgians looking to take the amicable route can avoid many of the most common financial mistakes that couples might run into by being too nice, and which might require turning to the courts.
One of the most common is keeping the house. While perhaps an understandable desire, the party holding onto the house needs to look at whether they can actually afford to stay in the house, especially in this market. Upkeep, property taxes and other expenses add up quickly. Taking the house in lieu of cash or other liquid assets can be a major financial burden if the party cannot pay the costs attendant with owning the house.
Another issue is not having a complete financial road map for both parties. Spouses may not realize until too late that only one of them can claim the children as a tax deduction in any given year, or that the funds accumulated in each other's retirement accounts and other investments during the marriage are considered marital property that should be split equitably upon divorce. In friendly divorces, all too often one party may default to a "don't ask, don't tell" position and fail to get the full picture before negotiating a settlement.
A third problem is not getting help from knowledgeable third parties. This may be especially important if the power dynamics in the relationship are unequal. Getting a lawyer or other knowledgeable and neutral third party professional to help can prevent an inequitable settlement.
Source: Reuters, "Divorce mistakes you can make by being too nice," Geoff Williams, June 26, 2012