Research indicates that married people generally amass four times more savings and assets than single people, while divorced people have 77% less assets than singles. Financial advisor Susan Bailey says it’s important to consider the financial implications when considering a divorce. “If both parties are in agreement, it’s advisable to petition for divorce yourself via the local magistrate’s court. Agreeing on the settlement, custody and maintenance will significantly reduce attorney and legal costs. A contested divorce, however, can be very expensive, with attorney costs starting at R5 000 and increasing significantly the more complex and litigious the process becomes.”
When it becomes final that the divorce will go ahead, Smith suggests the following steps:
- Make yourself aware of your financial rights, as well as the family income, debts and assets involved.
- Close all joint banking accounts and credit cards and open individual accounts in your name. Monitor your banking accounts and credit cards to ensure your former spouse is no longer accessing your funds.
- Notify all your creditors of your change in marital status.
- In order to determine how the assets will be divided, various factors – including whether you were married in community of property or equitable division – will be taken into consideration.
- Child and alimony support is determined according to income and thus quite significantly depending on the parties involved. It’s important to be aware of the costs of housing, food, schooling or day care, clothing and other expenses – as well as your spouse’s salary – when negotiating child support.
- If you have a joint will with your former spouse, it’s important to amend it and add the new date to revoke any previous wills.
Change the beneficiaries on all of your life insurance policies, retirement funds or saving policies to ensure that your loved ones are protected should something happen to you.