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6 Things Often Overlooked in Divorce Agreements

things often overlooked in divorce agreements

Divorces can really put you through the wringer emotionally. As you’re dealing with the painful split and trying to figure out custody, dividing up possessions, and getting finances sorted out, it’s easy for some pretty important stuff to get overlooked in the divorce agreement.

We’ve seen firsthand how many headaches can arise years later because of items that were left out or glossed over during divorce proceedings. We’re talking about things like underestimating tax obligations, forgetting about inheritances, or not being crystal clear on separating certain assets.

Our divorce attorneys know exactly where people frequently drop the ball, and we’re here to make sure your divorce agreement doesn’t leave any loose ends that could turn into problems down the road. Check out our list of the most commonly overlooked divorce issues to avoid them in your case.

#1 Retirement Accounts and Benefits

One of the most commonly overlooked assets in divorce are retirement accounts like 401(k)s, pensions, and IRAs. According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than half of respondents said retirement assets were the most often forgotten item in divorce agreements they’ve seen.

This oversight can be extremely costly, especially if you’ve been married for many years. Generally speaking, retirement accounts you or your spouse contributed to while you were married are considered marital property. Without specific language in your divorce decree, you may lose claim to a portion of these assets.

In some cases, they may recommend a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a special court order that allows retirement assets to be divided between spouses, protecting your share even after the divorce is finalized.

Don’t forget about pension plans and deferred compensation from previous employers, either. An attorney can work with actuaries to determine the present value of future pension payments, making sure you receive your fair share.

#2 Insurance Policies

Health, life, home, and auto insurance policies are often overlooked during divorce negotiations. This can leave you vulnerable if policies lapse or if you cannot obtain your own insurance right away.

If you were covered under your spouse’s health insurance, you may be able to get COBRA coverage for 36 months after divorce. Life insurance beneficiaries also need to be updated. If your spouse forgets to remove you as beneficiary, an ex-spouse could receive the payout after their death.

Your divorce attorney can address insurance coverage in your marital settlement agreement. This will specify who is responsible for maintaining policies and how beneficiaries are designated.

#3 Holidays and Special Days Parenting Schedule

When hammering out child custody details, many divorcing parents focus solely on the regular weekly routine. However, failing to get into the specifics about holidays and other special days can lead to major conflicts down the road.

Both mom and dad likely have expectations and traditions around occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and summer vacations. If those aren’t properly laid out, you could find yourselves butting heads every year over whose turn it is to have the kids. The same goes for important family events like reunions or cultural celebrations.

To avoid future headaches and resentment, your custody agreement needs to include a clear schedule designating parenting time for all major holidays and special days. Decide if you’ll alternate years or split things up more granularly.

Lock in specifics like start/end times and pickup locations. While it’s tedious, getting granular about holidays and events now prevents countless arguments later as you aim to give your children an enjoyable, low-stress experience during meaningful occasions.

#4 Tax Implications

Divorce almost always comes with tax implications that many couples fail to consider. Certain assets, such as homes, investment properties, and stock options, can create massive tax bills if not properly addressed.

For example, couples often make the mistake of assuming the higher-earning spouse should keep the home. However, their tax liability can be greatly increased without mortgage interest and property tax deductions.

Child tax credits, deductions for dependents, and alimony obligations also impact taxes for divorced parents. Working with an attorney and accountant can help you understand how to minimize taxes and avoid costly mistakes.

#5 Property Division

Dividing up property is one of the most disputed aspects of many divorce cases. People are often surprised to learn what constitutes marital property under state law.

This includes:

  • Investment and bank accounts opened during marriage, even if only in one spouse’s name.
  • Gifts received by either spouse, such as jewelry, art, or collectibles.
  • Real estate like vacation homes and investment properties.
  • Businesses started during the marriage.
  • Vehicles purchased while married.
  • Valuable personal property like antiques.

An attorney will look at the total value of marital property and work to divide it equitably between spouses. Don’t assume you only need to split assets you think of as jointly owned.

#6 Debts

During divorce, couples are often eager to divide up assets. Yet, they completely overlook outstanding debts. This can leave one spouse saddled with credit card bills, personal loans, and other debts they were unaware of or did not agree to take responsibility for.

Mortgages, car loans, student loans, and credit card balances should all be addressed. Even debts incurred separately during the marriage may be deemed marital debts. An attorney can help negotiate who is responsible for payments and protect your credit.

If joint accounts are not paid, both spouses’ credit can still be damaged. Defaulting on debts assigned to one spouse in the divorce decree may allow creditors to pursue the other spouse if their name remains on the accounts.

Don’t Let Overlooked Divorce Details Derail Your Future

If you are considering divorce or in the process of dissolving a marriage, please get in touch. At Vasquez de Lara Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience helping clients like you. We are here to listen, answer your questions, and provide guidance each step of the way.

To arrange your case evaluation, contact us today. We have helped thousands of people across the Miami area navigate divorce, child custody, and other family law matters. Whether you need advice, representation in court, or help finalizing your marital settlement agreement, we are here for you.

Author Bio

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara is the founder and owner of Vasquez de Lara Law Group, a Miami family law firm. With over 20 years of experience in family law, she has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and other family law cases.

Vanessa received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002 and is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named to the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and the 2016-2023 Super Lawyers list.

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