NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - After the holidays a lot of couples call it quits. So what should you do if you think your marriage is done? For starters, don't panic. But you should start getting your finances in order and find legal and financial experts you trust.
Rachel Gottlieb, a certified divorce financial analyst at UBS, says most couples go into marriage hoping that it works out and they live happily ever after. But, if you're breaking up like Brangelina or consciously uncoupling like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, you're not alone. In fact, January is one of the most popular months for breakups. It is known in the legal and financial industry as Divorce Month.
Couples calling it quits will need to do a few important things.
1. Rachel says get organized. Find all your statements, mortgages, checking accounts pay stubs, tax returns, brokerage statements, retirement statements. Gather any paperwork in your name and your spouse's name.
2. Line up your troops. Rachel says you want to make sure you have an attorney or mediator—and learn the difference between the two. Some couples can work through a divorce amicably and may want a mediator. Others really want to have "man on man" coverage and need separate lawyers. You'll also want to find an accountant and certified divorce financial analyst to help with your finances, which are a huge part of getting a divorce.
3. Rachel tells clients to start thinking about what they want their future to look like. That can be hard to do when you're in an emotional state, but it is important.
Rachel says that one of the biggest mistakes people make in a divorce is hanging onto a house they can't afford. What happens is they, especially women, think, "I want to keep my children in their home." That is great in theory but in practice that can be a problem if keeping the house means you're not going to have money elsewhere. If all of your assets are in your home, you need to know what you're getting into.
And remember: not all assets are equal from a tax perspective. If you need to sell an investment asset that has appreciated (such as a stock) because you need the cash now, you'll have a huge tax bill. So make sure you consider the tax implications when taking over that asset.
The best time to set yourself up for divorce is when you're getting married but most romantics don't. Rachel says most people do not have prenuptial agreements so don't worry if you don't either.
If you're not yet married, she says, you should look at your assets—what money and property—you and your partner are each bringing into the marriage to decide whether a prenup might be right for you. Prenups are not for everyone but Rachel says that they're worth looking into.
And do not feel like you're going to lose everything if you're not financially savvy or that you can't get help if you don't have a lot of money. Certified divorce financial analysts like Rachel are always happy to take a preliminary call for free and steer you in the right direction if they're not the person for you.