For many people, the New Year is about much more than just losing weight, quitting smoking or pursuing other avenues of self-improvement. Indeed, it's about finding the courage to pursue major life changes like embarking down an entirely new career path, starting a family or even ending an unhappy marriage.
Indeed, January has long been referred to as "divorce month" in legal circles given the dramatic spike in divorce filings that typically accompany these 31 calendar days.
As admirable as it is for people to want to secure a fresh start in 2016, it's nevertheless important for them proceed with some degree of caution. For example, experts have identified a few basic items that people should keep in mind to help protect their financial interests prior to, during and after a divorce.
Ensure your everyday financial health
While a person may be tempted to initiate divorce proceedings as soon as possible, experts indicate that they would be wise to both open a checking account and secure a credit card in their own name first. This simple step, they argue, will help ensure that they have access to funds otherwise needed to cover basic living expenses should a financial battle ensue.
Furthermore, they suggest making copies of all relevant financial documents prior to filing, as such information is vital in divorce proceedings, but can sometimes become difficult to track down as legal matters unfold.
Be open-minded about assets
It's possible that heading into a divorce that a person has their mind set on securing a certain asset even if it means sacrificing other assets of similar or perhaps even greater value.
As you might imagine, experts urge people to remain as open-minded as possible about the division of property, essentially taking sentimentality out of the equation as it can prove costly in the long run.
For example, while single-minded determination can help secure the martial home, it may fail to account for the expenses that accompany it, including mortgages payments, maintenance and, of course, property taxes.
Plan retirement on your own terms
Once the divorce is finalized, it's understandably tempting for a person to want to take some time to recover both physically and emotionally. Before doing this, however, experts urge them to revisit their retirement accounts, the balances of which may have changed considerably in the divorce.
Part of the reason for doing this, argue experts, is that the manner in which these funds are invested (i.e., the portfolio mix) may still be in accordance with a retirement strategy set forth by the now-ex spouse. Consequently, a person may want to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that their retirement income is invested in accordance with their preferences going forward.
To learn more about the divorce process, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.