“Garbage In, Garbage Out”

In the midst of digging through the finances of divorce process, there are many times I find that very important details have been overlooked. These details often make a major difference in the final settlement.  The assets / liabilities and income / expenses that I have seen written on the financial affidavits are rarely correct. It is crucial to have these figures regularly updated and accurate.

The other details that are so often overlooked are the dates of these statements. It is best practice for the prepared financial baseline to all be on the same date (or as close as possible). You can’t divide an asset when you don’t know the true value or the current liability.

Here are some additional items that are frequently forgotten or neglected in the final settlement process:

Assets/Liabilities

  1. Frequent flyer miles
  2. Hotel loyalty points
  3. Credit card points
  4. Health Savings Accounts
  5. Tax refunds for the prior year
  6. Tax liability for the previous year or years if you’re on a payment method to the IRS.
  7. Casino players card points
  8. Student loans
  9. Home expenses that are not paid on a regular basis (e.g. acid washing of the pool once a year)

 Expenses

  1. Review credit card and bank statements when you are trying to remember how much you spend on clothing for the family.
  2. Kids’ camp expenses and school items that you buy only once a year.
  3. Groceries and restaurants: this line item is often miscalculated and/or unrealistic. It seems like these are always on either extreme. $4,000 /month is not a normal food budget for a family of four—neither is $200/month.
  4. Future College expenses for the children may need to be addressed in the Divorce Decree.

Expenses are critical to your cash flow and in determining what spousal support and/or child support is appropriate. More times than not, what you think you spend and what you actually spend are very different things, as most adults do not create a budget. Taking the time to really calculate these items are for your benefit and protection.

As the old saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. If you send garbage numbers to your attorney or financial advisor, your settlement could end up as garbage as well. As a general rule of thumb, the more information you can provide, the better. If you need help with the financial division of assets and cash flow, give us a call today @ 480.897.1067.

-Meredith Dekker CDFA™, ADFA™

About the Author

Meredith Dekker

Meredith Dekker, with Dekker Divorce Financial Consulting, is a certified divorce financial analyst in Arizona helping you navigate the divorce process to find a clear path to your financial future.

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