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6 Common Pitfalls in Marital Settlement Agreements

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 1-Feb-2013

A marital settlement agreement is your financial future. It's more than just a "good idea" to be fully prepared when entering negotiations with your spouse during your uncontested Pennsylvania divorce. The last thing you want to do is to make monetary mistakes because of lack of preparation or knowledge. We have put together some ideas on how to avoid some common pitfalls when negotiating your marital settlement agreement with your spouse.

Plan now

If you are separated and getting an uncontested Pennsylvania divorce, start planning right now. Create a short term budget (6 months to a year). Get copies of your credit reports and figure out your debts, assets and monthly income. Don't wait till your spouse has wiped out your accounts and runs up credit card debt.

Figure out your financial worth

If you have been the stay-at-home-parent, start adding monetary value to all the things you do. Watching the kids, cleaning, cooking and tutoring the kids are just a few to get you started. Don't underestimate your value when it comes to negotiating your alimony. Women often tend to undervalue their work and then find themselves struggling on meager alimony payments.

Be a savvy negotiator

Don't walk in blindly to the negotiating meeting with your spouse. Have a list of what you really want to keep and items which you are willing to give to your spouse. Keep your emotions out of the negotiations. For example, do you really want to keep the ugly shag rug in the dining room or are you trying to teach your spouse a lesson?

Spouses May Lie

If your spouse has been the one taking care of the finances don't expect him or her to divulge all monetary issues. It's your job and future to figure out exactly what is going on with your marital finances. If you suspect your spouse is hiding finances you may want to consider hiring a forensic accountant.

Don't Rush

You have had enough and are more than ready to sign on the dotted line. Take a moment and make sure you are making decisions that are in your best financial interest. Don't cave in because you just want it over. Taking a moment longer may make the difference between scraping by and being financially secure.

Letting Go

Let go of items you can't afford to keep. This area can include anything from the house to the family boat. Women are especially vulnerable in this area because they feel it's important for children to stay in the marital home. A house can quickly drain a humble budget with repairs, insurance and taxes. Most often it's not worth the financial strain and stress if you are not able to maintain it.