It's 2012 and tax time will soon be rolling around again. If you've recently gotten divorced, are in the process of getting a divorce or are contemplating divorce, we have some tips to help you. When we interviewed Garter Brides (women who got married over the age of 35) for our book "Love for Grown-Ups," we wrote a chapter called "Dollars and Common Sense" that lists all the financial things you should think about before marrying or re-marrying. Many of the women we talked to who were marrying for the second time told us what they did or wished they'd done when they got divorced. You should still consult an attorney or an accountant, but here are some things to consider:
Establish your credit. Whether you're a working wife or a stay-at-home mom if you have joint charge accounts, make sure you open some charge accounts in your name only. This goes for checking and savings accounts, too.
Handle joint debt - i.e. a mortgage. Check with your divorce attorney and your accountant as to how this should be handled and consider getting mortgage insurance. You don't want your kids left homeless if something happens to you.
Take time to make sure your divorce agreement is what you want. Some of the Garter Brides felt that when they were facing divorce all they wanted was to get it over with as quickly as possible and now regret that they didn't take more time with their divorce agreements, or have them read by someone else before they signed them. One bride told us "I would have signed anything as long as I could get custody of my son- and I did."
Make sure you understand any financial responsibility your ex-husband has to you and to your children. Is there a time limit on alimony? Is he responsible for your children's college tuition? What about his life insurance? Are you or the kids the beneficiaries? And is that guaranteed even if he re-marries? Are you entitled to share in his pension or IRA?
Get a new Power of Attorney. If your ex has your Power of Attorney, get a new one right away. The new Power of Attorney will supersede the previous one.
Write a new will right away. When you get divorced you should write a new will immediately. This is especially important when it comes to choosing guardians for your children. Whoever you had named in earlier wills may not be who you want responsible for your children in the future.
Change your passwords. Choose new passwords for computer programs, email etc.
Are you filing a joint tax return this year? Check with your accountant on how to handle this. You want to try and make this go as smoothly as possible.
The Garter Brides believe in love and romance, but we are also practical women who have worked hard for what we have and want to make sure our friends are careful when it comes to handling the important paperwork that is easy to overlook or put off until tomorrow. We have a question for you-
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you'd change in your divorce agreement?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life, a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. on how to have the love and life you want. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice.