Finances and Divorce – Where do you start?

Divorce, while often an emotional journey, brings with it a significant financial dimension that requires careful navigation. The process can seem daunting, but with the right preparation and understanding, you can emerge with your finances intact and future secured. Preparing financially for divorce takes time but it can help you tremendously in the long-run.

1. Building Your Support Team

The first step in preparing for divorce is assembling a team of experts. This includes a family law attorney, a certified divorce financial analyst, and a mental health counselor. Select professionals who specialize in their fields to ensure you receive tailored advice and support. For instance, a divorce attorney with a focus on family law is more likely to have the nuanced expertise needed for your case.

2. Understanding and Managing Finances

Gaining a clear picture of your financial situation is crucial. Start by paying close attention to household expenses and bills. If you’re not the primary bill payer, now’s the time to familiarize yourself with these details. Also, check your credit score, especially if most financial documents are in your spouse’s name. Begin to gather key financial documents like bank statements, pay stubs, retirement accounts, and a list of assets and debts. This step lays the foundation for informed financial decisions during and after the divorce process.

Saving and Budgeting

Divorce can be expensive, with costs varying widely. On average, divorces can run between a few thousand dollars all the way to over $20,000, encompassing attorney fees, court costs, and other related expenses. Therefore, start saving early. Be conservative in your spending and consider how to discreetly set aside funds. Post-divorce, you’ll need to establish a new budget that reflects changes in income and expenses. This includes identifying potential increases in costs like childcare or insurance premiums.

Strategic Financial Moves

Certain strategic financial moves are advisable before and during a divorce. First, refrain from making significant financial changes without legal advice. The divorce proceedings will determine major financial shifts, so premature actions can be detrimental. Be wary of well-meaning advice and always consult with your attorney or financial analyst before making any financial moves. This includes adjusting beneficiaries on insurance policies or retirement accounts.

3. Preparing for Post-Divorce Life

Once your divorce is final, it’s time to solidify your financial future. Close any joint accounts and establish separate financial identities. This involves setting up individual bank, credit, and investment accounts. Re-evaluate your post-divorce income sources and create a budget that aligns with your new financial reality. If you weren’t employed during your marriage, consider your need for employment post-divorce, especially if alimony and child support are involved.

Retirement and Insurance Considerations

Post-divorce, you’ll need to think about retirement planning independently. If you were relying on your spouse’s retirement plans, setting up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) could be a beneficial step. Also, consider the implications of your divorce settlement on shared retirement assets. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can facilitate the transfer of these assets without tax consequences. Additionally, securing a life insurance policy on your ex-spouse can safeguard alimony or child support payments, should anything happen to them.

4. Decisions Regarding Shared Property

Property, especially the family home, is often a critical point in divorce proceedings. Decide whether to retain, sell, or buy out your spouse’s share in the property. Consider all financial implications, including mortgage payments, refinancing costs, and the emotional aspects of keeping or letting go of the home. Sometimes, selling the property and splitting the profits offers a fresh start and a simpler financial arrangement.

5. Cooperation and Communication

Throughout the divorce process, maintaining a cooperative stance with your spouse can greatly reduce costs and emotional strain. If possible, agree on major financial decisions and strive for transparency. This approach can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more amicable resolution, ultimately benefiting both parties financially and emotionally.

Careful Planning can help you save money during and after your divorce

Divorce is a challenging life event, but with careful planning, strategic decision-making, and the support of professionals, you can navigate its financial aspects effectively. By understanding your current financial situation, anticipating future needs, and making informed decisions, you can lay the groundwork for a stable and secure post-divorce future. Remember, the goal is not just to survive the divorce financially but to emerge with a plan that supports your new beginning.


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