In many cases you simply can’t control the timing of your divorce. You may need to do it right away for safety reasons, or your spouse may have filed already. But, if you are in a position to plan ahead, there can be legal and financial advantages. In a contentious divorce, planning ahead can help you protect yourself. If it is an amicable split, there are certain areas, such as taxes and health insurance, where the right timing can make life easier for both of you.
No matter what time of year you divorce, you can’t file jointly for the year during which your divorce became final. The implications can be huge. Your withholdings may have been wrong, and your refund or the amount you owe may be far different from what you were expecting. A December divorce can create far more tax surprises than a January divorce. If the two of you can work together, you can maximize your tax advantages.
If you are included on your spouse’s health insurance plan, you could get dropped, depending on your circumstances. It’s complicated. If COBRA applies to you, you can continue the coverage for up to three years, and pay for it yourself. COBRA applies to certain employer-provided health insurance. Some states have similar laws that cover some spouses who aren’t covered by COBRA.
One option for keeping your health insurance is legal separation. You can resolve many of the issues that are taken care of in divorce, while remaining legally married and eligible for coverage as a spouse. You may choose to divorce at later date.
Preparing to Protect Yourself
If you are dealing with a contentious divorce, planning ahead gives you a chance to get your important documents together and take the steps necessary to prevent your spouse from hiding assets, running up your credit card debt, and cleaning out your bank accounts. Your attorney can give you detailed advice on what you need to do to protect yourself and whether it is in your best interest to be the filing party.
To learn more about timing and divorce in South Carolina, please schedule an appointment with attorney Darrell Beckham.