SOURCE: Take Charge America

July 15, 2008 10:00 ET

Four Personal Finance Tips for Dealing With Divorce

Take Charge America Offers Advice to Help Maintain Financial Stability After Dissolution of Marriage

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - July 15, 2008) - Take Charge America, one of the nation's oldest and largest non-profit education, credit counseling and debt management organizations, is offering financial tips for couples facing divorce.

"Individuals going through a divorce are often so caught up in the emotional aspect, they neglect to do their homework and many wind up in a financial nightmare," said Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America. "It is important to step back and rationally discuss your current financial situation so that both parties leave the marriage with the amount of money that is deserved, as well as an understanding of payment responsibilities."

Sullivan also emphasizes the importance of compromise and cooperation between the two spouses in making fair, reasonable financial decisions. If debt accrued during the marriage is a problem, Sullivan suggests seeking debt management assistance from a highly trained counselor at Take Charge America at 1-888-822-9193. To help protect one's credit, Sullivan offers four tips while in the midst of a divorce:

1. Lock down everything financial – Close all joint credit card
   accounts and savings and investments accounts. It is extremely
   important to know what assets you have secured and what you stand to
   lose. Now is the time to reestablish credit and open new accounts in
   just your name. It is a good idea to order a credit report and
   address any issues immediately. Keep a close eye on it to make sure
   no new credit is opened under your name. Knowing where you stand
   with your credit score and your assets will help to ensure a less
   costly divorce by keeping individual expenses down.
2. Update personal documents – Make sure to update insurance policies,
   retirement plans and beneficiaries so that you are solely in control
   of your assets. Some employers require that this information be
   changed as soon as there is a separation in the marriage, so it is
   important to review your policies early in the process.
3. Communicate and compromise – Though it may not be easy, compromise
   is an important component to successfully dividing shared finances.
   Accrued debt must be paid, and payment responsibilities delegated.
   When dealing with credit cards, it is important to have a written
   agreement for paying off balances. The best option is to pay off
   debts with joint assets. If there is too much debt, each person
   should take responsibility for certain ones. Remember though, if
   your ex fails to pay off joint debt, you will still be held
   accountable.
4. Reorganize finances – Finances that were once a joint effort are now
   your sole responsibility. Compare the bills you took over from the
   divorce to your current income, and create a new budget. You may
   have to make serious lifestyle changes to afford new payments or
   cover debt, but these actions are necessary to establish good
   individual credit.


"There is no doubt that going through a divorce is difficult, but being proactive and staying organized with finances can lessen the burden," said Sullivan. "Remembering that divorce is not a contest and should not have a winner and a loser can ease the transition and allow both parties to move on with less conflict."

ABOUT TAKE CHARGE AMERICA

Founded in 1987, Take Charge America is currently celebrating more than 20 years of service as one of the country's largest non-profit financial education and consumer debt service organizations. Through education, customized credit counseling and debt management, Take Charge America helps consumers achieve self-reliance, financial stability and financial freedom. Take Charge America is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, a national membership organization established to promote quality and consistent delivery of credit counseling services. In 2006, the organization received the Better Business Bureau Ethics Award in recognition of its business ethics and integrity in the marketplace. To learn more about the organization or its programs, please call 1-888-822-9193 or visit www.takechargeamerica.org.

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