By Bryan Trugman, CFPⓇ
You’ve tried to make it work but it’s time to get real. A divorce is on the horizon. There is a lot to consider when getting divorced, with finances being a major concern for most. Who will get what, and how much? You want to be fair, but you also need to be smart.
With that being said, here are six things to consider if you’re getting a divorce.
Stop—in the Name of… Money
First and foremost, don’t rush the divorce process. There are too many difficult decisions to make regarding property division, child support, and parental responsibilities to name a few. Each one of these decisions has a long-term impact on your emotional and financial well-being.
Take a deep breath, and take your time making each decision. I even tell my clients to remove their emotions from the equation and think of each decision as a business transaction. This may sound cold, but emotions are at an all-time high during a divorce. It’s critical to calm these emotions, adopt a business-like attitude, and make rational decisions..
The Devil’s in the Details
Getting organized before a divorce can help minimize stress and reduce the chances of running into problems down the road.
Start by making a list of all your assets, liabilities, and financial accounts, including:
- Bank statements
- Insurance policies
- Investment accounts
- Estate planning documents
- Tax returns for the past few years
- Retirement account statements
- Loan documents
- Real estate deeds and car titles
You’ll need to gather these items and give them to your attorney. It may also be helpful to divide them up into marital property (i.e., assets and debts obtained during the marriage) and non-marital property (i.e., assets and debts obtained before or after marriage).
Know Your Cash Flow
Whether you need to be more disciplined about money or you anticipate having a considerable net worth after divorce, it’s important to know what your cash flow will look like moving forward. You don’t necessarily need to budget and track every expense, but you do need a clear idea of how much money you’ll have coming in each month..
Write down your income, including your salary, alimony, child support, dividend income, and so on. Then write down all of your expenses. (Don’t forget one-off expenses like property taxes and private school tuition that may not show up on your monthly bank statements.)
Seeing these numbers in writing will help you get comfortable with your new cash flow and help you prepare for any unexpected expenses.
Plan Ahead for Post-Divorce Life
Life drastically changes after divorce. And, no, we aren’t talking about Tinder. We’re talking about finances.
Instead of dividing financial tasks with another person, you become solely responsible. Now is a good time to start:
- Making a legal name change (if applicable)
- Updating all assets, documents, and liabilities
- Changing beneficiaries and emergency contact information
- Setting up a filing system to keep tax records, investment documents, insurance policies, and legal information organized
Easy Does It
No matter how amicable you try to make it, divorce is messy. It’s emotionally, physically, and financially draining.
Go easy on yourself. You may be in a fog right now—and that fog may last for quite some time. Seek therapy or counseling if you need to. Do whatever it takes to protect your mental and physical health.
Talk to Your Advisor
I asked a colleague and attorney, Elan Wurtzel with Wurtzel Law, to share his thoughts on preparing for a divorce. “Divorce is always difficult, but it can be a springboard to a new and better life,” Wurtzel commented. “Financial decisions will be hard, but they will be the foundation for your new start. It’s necessary to evaluate your circumstances with your attorney and financial advisor and chart a course for future financial security.”
If a pending divorce has you worried about how it will impact paying for college for your children, your retirement goals, tax implications, or any other financial concerns, you need a financial advisor in your corner. An advisor experienced with helping clients navigate this emotional process can help shift your attitude from dread to hope.
Bryan Trugman is managing partner, co-founder, and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner at Attitude Financial Advisors. With more than 14 years of experience, Bryan specializes in addressing the financial needs of new parents as they seek to realign their finances, assisting divorced individuals as they navigate an unforeseen fork in the road, and strategizing with those seeking to accrue a dependable retirement nest egg. Bryan is known for being a good listener and building strong relationships with his clients so he can help them develop a customized financial plan based on what’s important to them. He is passionate about helping his clients experience financial confidence so they can worry less and play more. Bryan has a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering with a minor in mathematics from State University of New York at Binghamton. He has served on the board of the Financial Planning Association and continues to be actively involved in the national organization. He is also a member of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce and has served as its vice president and as a board member. When he’s not working, you can find Bryan on the ballroom dance floor or engaged in a fast-paced game of doubles on the tennis court. To learn more about Bryan, connect with him on LinkedIn. Or, watch his latest webinar on: How Much Is Enough? A Surprisingly Simple Way to Calculate Your Retirement Savings Needs.
About Elan Wurtzel
Elan Wurtzel and his firm are committed to representing the best interests of their clients in the areas of personal injury law, family law, and estate law. Since 1984, they have been the premier NY personal injury law firm serving Long Island and the City of New York, including Suffolk and Nassau Counties, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.