Although statistics vary, many sources say nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. The physical transition through separation and divorce can be daunting. Physical aspects of your life will inevitably be affected, including insurance. You can bet that if your other half starts hanging the threat of divorce over your head, you should start planning ahead instead of waiting until the last moment.
Divorce can easily have a serious impact on credit standing, both in terms of dividing joint debt that exists at the time of the divorce and the expenses that come with starting new. Couples need to decide who gets which car. If there is a change in the ownership of a car, this means transferring the required documents as well as changing the insurance policy immediately. Don’t settle for continuing to use the same insurance agent as your soon-to-be-ex. It is better to change insurance companies to prohibit tinkering with your account from the other side. Removing a former spouse from the car and any insurance is essential for your own protection. You do not want your coverage canceled due to lack of payment.
The person who stays in the marital home after the divorce will need to make sure that the homeowners insurance is under his or her name. The person moving out must make any arrangements to purchase a new homeowners or renters policy for any new residence.
If you are the one staying in the house, it is important to review your current policy coverages to determine if they are still appropriate. Check to see whether you have actual cash value or replacement cost coverage for both the structure and the contents of the home. Your policy needs to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at today’s construction costs. Satisfying a mortgage lenders requirements protects them, but doesn’t necessarily protect you. If your home were leveled, what would it cost to replace it? If you keep the home, you bear the accountability.
In the event your belongings are stolen or destroyed by an insured disaster, an actual cash value policy pays to replace them minus a deduction for depreciation, while replacement cost pays the full amount that it would cost to replace the item today. Know your deductibles. A low deductible means higher premiums, while a large deductible can save you money on the policy, which can be useful if you are living on a smaller income.
Home inventories should always be updated. If you don’t have one, get started to protect yourself and be certain that you respect the property of your former mate. As far as insurance is concerned, be sure that you aren’t paying for coverage that you don’t need.
Married couples buy life insurance that include covering existing and anticipated debts and financial obligations as well as providing an income or inheritance. When a couple divorces, some obligations may still exist, so the issue of what to do with existing life insurance policies should always be considered during the divorce settlement.
Married couples often list each other as the primary beneficiary on life insurance policies, and should think carefully before making any changes. There may be good reasons to keep life insurance coverage on a former spouse. If one party is providing child support to the other, this may mean a loss of income to the surviving party if the non-custodial parent dies. Term life is easily canceled, but whole life maintains annuity value until it is cashed in. Getting the top dollar in child support at the cost of all else is not usually in anyone’s best interest. This is why separation needs to be a gentle and thoughtful process, despite the emotions involved. Your own best interests and the interests of your children are at stake.
Disability is always a possibility for noncustodial parents. After all, they are people, not money-making machines. Between the ages of 25 and 55, a person is more than twice as likely to become disabled through an accident or disease, as they are to die. If a former spouse becomes disabled and cannot work, payments are in danger, so it is important to safeguard against this possibility by ensuring that income is covered in an individual disability insurance policy. Once again, there is a cost to all of this, which must be considered. Remember… gentle and thoughtful to protect yourself.
A poor payment history on the part of either spouse while married can impair the ability of both parties to obtain individual credit, even after a divorce. The best way to keep your credit intact is to start making changes as soon as you have reached the decision to separate. It is particularly important to close joint accounts before divorce proceedings. A disgruntled spouse can easily reek havoc in your financial life. As long as there is an outstanding balance on a joint account, both parties are responsible for payment. Generally, any debt incurred by one spouse is also the responsibility of the other, regardless of whose name is on the account until after the divorce.
Women who drop their husband’s name and choose to use their maiden name will not erase the credit history established under their married name, since credit histories are tied to social security numbers. Each party must establish a new credit record under their own name, especially if all her previous credit was held jointly in the past. In order to expedite this process, consider turning existing joint credit cards, gas cards and retail accounts into individual accounts. Doing this will mean not having to re-establish credit after a divorce.
Alert creditors that a divorce is pending. If there is a change of address, make sure they are informed so that bills will continue to be received from all joint accounts so no late fees are incurred.
If a debt cannot be paid in full, offer to close the account by paying a smaller amount than is owed. Get a letter from the creditor that the account has been paid in full and a written promise that they will not file anything negative about the account to the credit reporting agencies.
If you are unable to pay off or come to a settlement agreement regarding the balance owed on open accounts, freeze the account in question. Once the divorce is final, the balance owed on the account can be transferred to the party the court holds responsible for the debt.
Make sure all bills are paid on time. Do not skip payments because you think it may ultimately be your former spouse’s responsibility. As long as your name remains on any particular account, by law you are responsible for payment and your credit rating will suffer. If you have a spouse that wants to hurt you through non-payment of debt, you need to be extra vigilant to protect yourself.
In the meantime, remember to write your lawmaker to repeal the Bradley Amendment. Protect your constitutional rights and the rights of others.