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Divorce in Wisconsin - Tips for Your First Steps:
Prepare for court. One of the first things you'll want to do is take a financial inventory. Collect all your financial information and obtain copies of important financial documents, such as tax returns and bank records. Even if you anticipate an amicable resolution with your spouse, being prepared will mitigate unnecessary stress and could lead to a more complete resolution of the issues.
Typically each spouse will be required to complete a financial affidavit and file that document with the court. These documents typically list each spouse's income, expenses, assets and debts. Getting a head start on this inventory will help your attorney do his or her job and ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Begin to separate your finances. Your divorce decree may mandate child support, alimony or life insurance on one of your lives for the benefit of the other or for your children. Other than these requirements, it is generally a good idea to disentangle yourself financially to reduce your liability.
Separate your debt. Contact lenders and make sure all joint credit cards have been canceled and new ones have been issued in your name, or your spouse's name only. Otherwise, in many states, your liability for your ex-spouse's bills will continue. (This may not be applicable in Wisconsin - a marital property state.)
Considerations Going Forward
Even after the divorce has been finalized, there are a number of things you should do to protect your financial future:
Complete necessary documents. Make sure that any documents required by the divorce decree are completed. Car titles may need to be changed; property deeds and qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) may need to be drafted - do not wait to get these things done.
Review your overall retirement situation. The divorce may have taken its toll on your hard-earned retirement savings. If that's the case, you may want to increase the amount of income you put aside (especially if you hope to retire on schedule). If you're not already doing so, this may be a good time to start making maximum contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan and your own IRA.
Create or update your estate plan. This is especially important if you have children or other dependents. Following are some important steps you can take:
- Revise your will.
- Select a guardian for minor children and do so with great care.
- Make sure your children's future needs are funded.
- Leave written instructions regarding everything from how you want your children raised to how you want assets managed and used to benefit and protect your children.
- Update your retirement plan beneficiary designations.
- Review your life insurance needs and beneficiaries.
- Make trust arrangements.
Divorce Isn't Easy But It Can Be Financially Fair - How we can help
The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors are among the few practices in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area whose financial advisors are also Certified Divorce Financial Analysts®
. They have a combined 65 years of experience in the financial services industry, including extensive knowledge in the complex financial issues affecting clients in the midst of a divorce .
According to the American Bar Association and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the participation of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®
during the divorce process can greatly enhance the strength of your case. While the Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group wades through the financial paperwork, the attorney's time can be better spent focusing on the legal issues, drafting petitions and preparing arguments for trial.
The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group works directly with the divorce attorneys as collaborative members of their team. Ultimately, they are available to lend support with the financial analysis aspects of case preparation, and to help individuals going through divorce understand the long-term impact of any settlement. For example, they can help organize financial documentation and prepare a Net Worth Statement complete with exhibits. They can also perform a Lifestyle Analysis and help create a spending plan so that attorneys and divorcing individuals will understand how divorce will impact an independent life after the divorce is finalized.
Other functions they can perform are much more analytical. The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group will document the cost basis of marital assets and analyze the tax consequences of selling each asset.* They will review and analyze different retirement and pension plans and advise as to terms and features. They can compare and contrast various settlement proposals offered by opposing counsel and evaluate the long-term impact of each settlement proposal on future financial well-being. They can also provide powerful exhibits and visual aids including easy-to-read graphs and charts, which attorneys can use for both negotiation with opposing counsel and during Master's hearings and trial.
Divorce Financial Analysis Services Include:
- Compile and Organize Financial Data
- Perform Lifestyle Analysis & Future Spending Plan
- Prepare Net Worth Statement
- Analysis of Marital Assets & Cost Basis
- Analysis of Retirement & Pension Plans
- Analysis of Complex Financial Issues and Potential Tax Implications
- Financial Research and Creative Settlement Strategies
- Analysis of Long-Term Implications of Property Settlement Proposals
- Reduces Attorney Time Spent on Financial Paperwork
- Helps Ease Client Anxieties About their Future Finances
- Assists in Case Preparation with Powerful Case Exhibits
- Facilitates Property Settlement Agreement
- Free booklets - "Divorce & Your Finances"
Once the divorce is finalized, they are available to continue to serve as personal financial advisors. They can open new accounts and arrange for the transfer of assets after equitable distribution and a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. They can complete a comprehensive investment plan which is designed to help envision a newly independent life. They can manage investment portfolios and offer guidance to make more informed choices.
If you are thinking about divorce, or are already going through this difficult process, please call The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group for a consultation. If you have already arrived at an equitable settlement, it's never too late to develop a financial strategy for your future. By working with them you can increase your chances of arriving at a settlement that fully addresses your long-term financial needs, so you're much closer to a better tomorrow!
The use of the CDFA® designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field.
*Wells Fargo Advisors does not render legal or tax advice. Be sure to consult with your own tax and legal advisors before taking any action that may have tax or legal consequences.
*No fee is charged for divorce financial analysis or The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group's time in meeting and preparing data and reports for your divorce. Divorcing individuals who become clients of The Berrall Kons Wealth Management Group will arrive at an investment management fee structure that suits them and their investment approach.
* This example used in the graph is hypothetical and is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to represent any specific case, nor is it indicative of future results.