Forgetting 'little' things after a divorce can be a big problem

string-fingerWe all forget to do things. But sometimes forgetting to do a “little” thing can turn into a big, expensive problem. Here are two examples of divorced people who overlooked “little” things that became a big deal.

► Not verifying automatic deductions

When an Arkansas couple filed for divorce, the court issued a temporary order that required the husband to pay his wife $4,300 per month in alimony and child support. The husband’s payments were automatically deducted from his paychecks by his employer.

Later, when the divorce was finalized, the amount of monthly support decreased to $3,660.

But the husband’s employer continued to use the amount in the temporary support order to calculate deductions. And the husband didn’t immediately notice that he was still paying the higher figure - a difference of $640 each month before taxes.

When the husband finally discovered the error, he tried to get a credit toward his future support payments for the amount he had overpaid his ex-wife. He argued that he wasn’t aware he was paying too much, and he shouldn’t be penalized for an innocent mistake.

But the court disagreed, and allowed his ex-wife to keep the overpayments. “[I]t was his responsibility to verify that he was making child-support payments in the correct amount,” the court said.

The court noted that the husband was in the best position to know how much child support was being withheld from his check, and the amount of the employer’s deductions was within his control - not his ex-wife’s.

► Not changing your beneficiaries

A husband in Wyoming designated his wife as the beneficiary of his investment account. When the couple later divorced, their agreement gave the husband the account as his “sole and separate property.”

However, after the divorce the husband neglected to change the beneficiary designation.

When he died, the investment firm paid the balance of the account to his ex-wife. The husband’s estate tried to recover the money, arguing that the divorce agreement was supposed to be a final separation of all the couple’s property.

But the Wyoming Supreme Court disagreed, and sided with the ex-wife. It said that since her name was still listed as the beneficiary, the money was rightfully hers.

Divorce is a stressful time, and it’s easy to forget things. But these cases are important reminders of the need to dot all the I’s and cross the T’s after a separation.