Proper Planning Helps in a Divorce

It’s a fact: deciding to divorce is an emotional process. While you can’t help the way you feel, you can control the way you act. So when considering a divorce, use proper financial planning to help ease the pain.

A recent MSN article discussed proper financial planning for a divorce. The article quoted a statistic that I found scary – most women will see their standard of living drop by 27% after a divorce. That’s a really big adjustment, and I have seen this in my practice as well.

The best way to counter this drop is to plan for the divorce before you file. You may not want to. Maybe you found the scumbag cheating and you just want out. Well, I don’t blame you, but objectively speaking, you need to go slowly and plan your exit.

The advice may seem obvious after the fact, but it’s sometimes hard to think straight with all the conflicting emotions rolling around in you.

  1. Don’t Blab – especially if you are a non-working spouse. The fact that you don’t work will give your spouse leverage over you in a divorce. Your planning is not to hurt your spouse, it’s to even the playing field. If you blab about seeing an attorney or filing for divorce, your spouse may take action to keep that leverage over you.
  2. Get a lawyer – it is truly almost impossible to do a divorce on your own. You will need help. Legal Aid may help with some issues, but they won’t do everything. I have seen people come in who paid $100 for an online Divorce Kit only to learn that it didn’t work. For just a little more, the client could have receive advice from a person, not a website.
  3. Consider a Separate Account – I almost hate to say this one, but I have to. It sounds slimy. The thing to understand is that you are not “stealing” from your spouse (assuming you have community property). You are going to tell your spouse about this during the divorce and this money will be considered when the property is settled. But you need to make sure you have control of enough cash to make it if your spouse refuses to help pay the bills.
  4. Copy Documents – copy everything that describes what you own: bank statements, car notes, property descriptions, everything. This will save you time and money when you do file for divorce.
  5. Get Ready to Work – if you haven’t been working, you should prepare to reenter the workforce unless you have very young children.

As always, different states have different laws, so hire an attorney before you start moving money around to be sure you can do so.