A case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’

Nothing causes more apprehension than fear of the unknown. And there is the kicked-in-the-gut feeling of underestimating a situation. Divorce is like that on both accounts.

Emotionally, divorce is hard enough, but that’s not all that is difficult. Divorce involves dealing with issues —many times when you are not in the best frame of mind — that are foreign. Many people enter the process unprepared for the divorce marathon. Depending on your stage, here are some things to think about.

Child Support —The amount of child support awarded is in accordance with Florida statutes, which take into account of the net income of the parents and the number of children. Also factored is the financial ability of the parents to pay the determined amount of child support. There are many child support calculators available on the Internet, which may serve as guide.

Alimony — Once the need of one spouse for support and the ability of the other spouse to pay are determined, many factors are considered in the final award. Pay no mind to what your friends and family tell you about “who got what in their divorce”.

Financial Awareness — During the divorce process, you will need access to financial documents and information. Do you know where these are? If you lack this information, you could be at a disadvantage in understanding your potential, future financial situation.

The Process — The process can be long and there is more than one way to get divorced. Educate yourself on the process and the alternatives best for you.

Selecting Divorce Professional — Attorneys, mediators, financial advisors; they all work for you. Select providers that match your personality, objectives and pocketbook.

Staying in the Home — The marital home belongs to both spouses. As noted in our interview with Gil Izquierdo, a Miamibased family law attorney and mediator, only under certain circumstances must one of the parties leave the house. • What to Keep and Give Away — Marital property belongs to both parties. So, in a divorce these “things” need to be split between them. This is equitable distribution. It could be wise to decide early on what’s important for you to keep and the financial ramifications. Getting professional help in this area is important, such as from a tax professional.

Focus on the End Goal—The average divorce lasts a year, which means yours could take longer. With any long process, it’s easy to lose focus and react to things. Early on in the process, determine your goals and the strategy. Forget what your soon-to-be ex does or says and what people tell you. Sooner or later you will be divorced and you will live with your actions and the outcome for the rest of your life.

• Asset Separation — Property, vehicles, IRAs, pension funds, bank accounts — the list can be long. Getting these separated and titled correctly as soon as possible is a very good idea.

Insurance — If you were covered by your spouse’s medical plan, now you need your own. For the possibility of prolonged illness, consider long-term insurance. What about life insurance for you in the benefit of your children?

Change of Beneficiaries — Imagine if you pass and the proceeds from your IRA or a life insurance policy go to your exspouse and not your children, for instance?

Trust/Will — After a divorce, these documents could take on an even bigger sense of urgency. Any single person with assets titled in their sole name should consider a trust, especially where minor children are involved.

Carlos Blanco founded The Big Kaboom www.thebigkaboom.com, which combines people, technology and social elements to support clients through the divorce process. Contact him at 305-908- 1171 or via email at cblanco@thebigkaboom.com.

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