Unraveling two people’s lives and bank accounts is not an easy process. While each divorce is unique, I offer some tips on how to plan for post-settlement success and prosperity.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
The breakup of any marriage generates powerful and varied emotions. Whether it comes as a surprise or it is a long-stewing split, rage, betrayal, confusion, and sadness will be unavoidable. Make sure these real and legitimate feelings are not leading you to make regrettable financial choices. Get support from your family and friends, and possibly a professional therapist. Their assistance in working through the emotional side of your divorce will help ensure that your financial decisions will be sound and smart.
Build the Dream Team
Alongside your trusted loved ones, you want to make sure you are getting the right professional advice and information. The details of each divorce differ, as do the laws and policies regarding divorce in each state. Do some research and get the right lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, and necessary advocates on your side. A certified divorce financial analyst will help make sure that your economic well-being is protected and that your best interests are preserved in the long run.
Get Your Documents in Order
Different states can require significant and varied documentation when determining a divorce settlement. You and your spouse may be asked to produce tax returns, credit reports, statements from the bank and brokerage firms, pay stubs, insurance policies, and any other documentation that attests to properties, assets, and debt. Locating all the paperwork and filing it appropriately can be a big step toward easing stress and forming a fiscal plan.
Take Note of the Numbers
If you are not already monitoring your family’s income and expenses, now is the time to start. Consider all the bills you pay, how much you spend on food, clothing, cultural activities, home repairs, travel and transportation, child care/education, and any other regular expenses. It is also wise to consider future expenses and some of the irregular outlays like vacations and appliance replacement, and plan for them as well. These figures inform your post-divorce budget and determine how all the resources and debts are split. If you and your spouse have children, this data also affects how much child support you will receive.
Identify Needs vs. Wants
Equipped with a general sense of your financial activity, the next step is to adjust your life and lifestyle to accommodate what is ahead. It might be necessary for you to rethink certain luxuries like dinners out and club memberships. If you were considering a job change, opt for the one that will pay adequately and provide you necessary benefits and life-style flexibility. Avoid retail therapy and show caution throughout the divorce process. This self-assessment and control will serve you well when the divorce is final.
Stay Positive and provide
Resist any urge to take monetary revenge on your soon-to-be-ex. Don’t use your money, shared accounts, or joint assets as a mechanism to punish them for the dissolution of your marriage. Not only may such a tactic be illegal, it also compromises the possibility for any future good-faith negotiations. If you are worried about your partner tampering with your finances, seek legal counsel about the appropriate ways to secure your money.
The pain and turmoil of divorce won’t last forever, but you will have to live with the realities of your settlement for a long time. With careful consideration, planning, and support you can reach divorced life with your mental and financial well-being intact.