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  • By Liz Skinner

5 financial mistakes divorcing men make

The strong emotions of a divorce can lead some men to make decisions that will end up being giant financial mistakes. Some of these blunders are most likely to be made by whoever is the primary breadwinner, which in today’s married couples is still often the husband.

Hiring an aggressive attorney

Even though most are culturally conditioned to hire someone to protect their interests, hiring a “killer” divorce attorney puts the matter on a contentious track. When someone digs in their heels to fight, all discussions about children, dividing assets and the transition from wedded to divorced become more challenging and take longer. Litigated divorces are much more expensive than those that use alternative dispute resolution like mediation, and the end result is usually similar.

Letting the wife keep the house

Structuring a divorce settlement that allows the wife to remain in the house, often considered a priority when kids are involved, tends to backfire if the wife cannot afford to keep up with the mortgage, taxes and upkeep expenses. Although not legally required to, the ex-husband is often pressured to pick up the pieces and cover extra costs related to the house, while, of course, covering the full cost of his own home, too.

Keeping a joint credit card open

All credit cards with both spouses named to the account should be cancelled. Just taking one party off of the account isn’t enough — close them all, advisers said. It might be tempting to keep one open to pay for things related to the children or for another reason, but tempers flare during a divorce and someone might be tempted to use the card for something unreasonable in the heat of the moment.

Staying on the family home mortgage

Since a husband can’t just ask to be removed from a mortgage loan that has both spouses’ names on it, the family home will need to be refinanced if it’s not being sold. That can be a challenge if the wife is keeping the home but hasn’t had the income needed to qualify for a mortgage of that size. But agreeing to remain on the loan can hurt the husband’s credit if she fails to pay on time, which could prevent him from being able to buy another house in the future.

Giving away retirement assets

It’s a mistake to trade one’s pensions and other retirement assets for something else, just figuring you’ll be able to make it up before quitting work. A person is unlikely to make up for losses to the account’s value and growth potential due to annual limits in contributions and the limited time remaining for the compounding of interest before retirement.

Sources: Robert Henderson, president of Lansdowne Wealth Management; Chris Chen, wealth strategist at Insight Financial Strategists; and Justin Reckers, chief executive of Wellspring Divorce Advisors.

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