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When it comes to the divorce process, preparation is key

When making any type of life-changing decision, it's always best to know what you're getting yourself into. Prior to making a big decision, most people do some research to determine their best options and the associated pros and cons. For those Massachusetts residents who are contemplating filing for divorce in 2016, this same process should be taken with regard to an impending divorce.

The vast majority of divorces are spurred by strong emotions including anger, frustration and resentment. These intense feelings and emotions can make it difficult to think clearly and rationally and mistakes made during the divorce process can end up having significant financial consequences. It's important, therefore, to do your best to set aside your emotions and do your homework before you file for divorce.

Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state meaning that a judge uses his or her discretion when dividing a couple's assets and belongings. Factors that a judge takes into consideration commonly include the length of a marriage, each spouse's financial and other contributions to the marriage, each spouse's age and needs based upon child custody matters. A divorce attorney can provide his or her professional opinion as to how your specific situation may affect the outcome of a divorce settlement as well as advice on how to proceed.

In addition to getting a good handle on all of your assets and both your own and a spouse's net worth; it's also important to consider the tax implications of getting divorced. For example, if your spouse is the household breadwinner, you may actually be better off tax-wise after a divorce. This is also often the case if you are the custodial parent who can claim a child or children as dependents.

The divorce process can be a complex, confusing and emotionally-taxing experience. To prepare for what lies ahead, Massachusetts residents who are planning to divorce are advised to do their own research and investigating so they can come into a divorce knowing what they have as well as what they ultimately want.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first," Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 12, 2015

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