Preparing for life after divorce

Budget pixaBefore you got married, you may have had a good handle on all of your finances. You knew what your car payment was, how much you paid in rent, utilities, what you spent on food and all of your other living expenses.

But after you were married, perhaps you let your family’s financials fall under your spouse’s list of responsibilities. Now that the prospect of divorce has reared its ugly head, you may be asking yourself a litany of questions relating to your own personal financial situation.

Far too many married couples come to the divorce table not having answers about their family’s finances. While you may live happily ever after until death do you part, it’s always a good idea to know how the family’s money is being earned and spent in the event a breakup occurs.

Here is a list of things that you should remain knowledgeable about throughout your marriage:

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Dating through a divorce: Should you?

dating pixa smallFor many people going through a divorce, dating is the last thing on their mind. But for others, this might seem like the perfect opportunity to shed the past and move on to a new and hopefully brighter future.

But is it a good idea to start dating before the ink is dry on your final Marital Settlement Agreement? The first thing you might want to think about is that, although you may no longer live with or love your ex, you are still legally married until the court says otherwise. That could cost you before, and even after the divorce is finalized -- both emotionally and financially.

Although Florida is a no-fault divorce state – meaning either party can seek a divorce without assigning blame – a vindictive soon-to-be ex-spouse can try to use your decision to date against you. He or she might feel jealousy or anger and that can result in their unwillingness to cooperate during the proceedings, which in turn can drag them out even longer.

In states where fault is assigned, your ex-spouse might add adultery to the list of grounds for divorce.

Dating during divorce becomes particularly problematic if children are involved. The courts may take your decision to date into consideration when determining child custody matters. In addition, this is a difficult time for children and adding a new boyfriend or girlfriend into the mix is likely to make it even harder on them.

Read more: Dating through a divorce: Should you?

Same-sex marriage is legal in Florida, now what?

gay marriageOver the last year or so I have written numerous blogs relating to same-sex marriage: From the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to how the various court rulings around Florida muddied the waters for those same-sex couples who wanted to tie the knot.

But the tide has finally turned and Florida has become the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. While many rushed to the altar to become a part of history, others have said they will wait.

Whatever path same-sex couples choose, there are things that any soon-to-be married couple needs to take into consideration before getting a marriage license.

First, Florida law requires a three-day waiting period between the times a couple applies for a marriage license and actually has a ceremony. There is an exception: Those who complete a marital counseling course can skip the waiting period.

The ability for same-sex couples to marry now gives them rights and protections that other married couples enjoyed including:

  • Social Security benefits including spousal survival benefits, spousal retirement benefits and lump sum death benefits
  • Veteran and military benefits
  • Tax benefits
  • Immigration benefits

 

If there are children involved and only one parent is the legal guardian then you might want to consider a second parent adoption. That way if one parent dies, the other one becomes the legal parent without needing to get the court involved. This also gives the parent who did not adopt legal rights (to timesharing) as well as legal responsibilities (to child support).

Read more: Same-sex marriage is legal in Florida, now what?

As oil prices fall, billionaire appeals divorce settlement

Profit and lossOklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm has quite the dilemma on his hands – how to keep up with his ex-wife’s financial demands as his net worth shrivels along with oil prices.

When an Oklahoma judge initially ordered Hamm to pay his ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall $1 billion in a divorce settlement earlier this year he walked away a happy man calling the deal “fair and equitable.” But as oil prices continue to plunge, Hamm has had a change of heart and has appealed the divorce ruling calling it unfair and inequitable.

His appeal followed his ex-wife’s own appeal claiming the award she received was too small. Arnall filed for divorce in 2012 after 26 years of marriage alleging Hamm was having an affair.

The judge awarded Arnall cash and based her share mostly on her husband’s company stock price, which at the time was around $116 a share. She was to receive a lump sum at the end of 2014 of around $322 million and the remaining money over time.

Hamm, meantime, was allowed to keep all of his company’s shares because, as the judge ruled, he had founded the company before the couple married. However, since then the stock’s value has taken a huge hit as oil prices plummet, and is now valued at around $38.00 a share.

In her petition filed last month, Arnall’s attorneys argued that not only should she have received significantly more money, but that the judge failed to explain how he calculated her “contribution to the marital estate in her roles as a wife, mother and public supporter of her prominent husband.”

Read more: As oil prices fall, billionaire appeals divorce settlement

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