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Addressing financial vulnerabilities after divorce

When couples get married, it isn't uncommon for one of the spouses to compromise his or her career prospects in order to strengthen the other spouse's career or to care for the children. The spouse who stays home or otherwise compromises may do so happily, but unfortunately, an unexpected life change, such as divorce, can leave a stay-at-home spouse with financial burdens.

What Garden City residents should remember is that the terms of a divorce are negotiable. Too many people simply aren't aware of all their options regarding child support, spousal support and the division of marital property.

New York law presumes that marital property will be divided equitably in a divorce. An equitable distribution may not be an equal distribution, and soon-to-be ex-spouses should have legal representation to seek the best possible settlement.

For example, if one spouse accumulated funds in a retirement account during the course of the marriage, then the other spouse should be aware of the options for receiving a portion of those funds. A qualified domestic relations order, otherwise known as a QDRO, can be written and submitted to the divorce court. With an approved QDRO, the administrator of a retirement plan can transfer funds to the other spouse.

Divorce can also lead to financial vulnerabilities related to credit issues, health insurance and various kinds of debt. How will these matters be addressed fairly and equitably? Since each situation is different, divorcing spouses would be wise to take the proper legal steps to draft a comprehensive divorce settlement.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "After divorce, a mother needs a financial overhaul and more income," Ronald D. White, March 16, 2014

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