Berman & Asbel, LLP

Money matters in divorce settlements

Spats over money issues may be one reason some Pennsylvania couples divorce. These issues, however, may be replaced with a new set of money matters once the divorce papers are filed and may continue into their post-divorce lives.

It's important for both spouses to have a clear picture of the couple's financial situation. They should list all assets and debts as this will be important in the property division part of the divorce. Assets include earned income, bank accounts and physical property such as houses and valuable antiques or art collections. Professional appraisals may be necessary to value physical property so these assets can be more equitably divided by the couple.

When it comes to division of property, a spouse who earns less money than the other, no potential to earn more or who has no earned income at all may get a greater proportion of the jointly-owned property. A fair settlement should allow each spouse to be as economically secure as possible. In some instances, achieving this may require a non-working spouse to find a job.

A settlement agreement should also address future financial responsibilities. This can include child support payments as well as medical and education costs for children. Following the divorce, couples may need to update their estate plans, including changing beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies.

The end of a marriage in itself can be a stressful situation, with money issues only adding to the problem. Couples may wish to consult with financial planners and family law attorneys who may be able to guide their clients into making decisions that are in their best interests.

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