Throughout my career as a financial manager, women would come to me to help establish their financial independence as they began the long road to divorce. I knew what they were going through was difficult and painful, but I think it took my own divorce to really understand the magnitude of what they faced, especially in the beginning.
Now, when women come to me looking for financial (and also emotional) support, looking for assurances that everything will be OK, I have answers because I know from personal experience that they will be OK. So if you’re standing at the base of the mountain, heading toward divorce, there are some steps you should take for your family, your finances, and your sanity.
Here are a few starting tips:
Set your priorities. In doing this, you will know what is most important when it comes to negotiations. Some areas to consider are: property division, finances, spousal and child support along with asset division and your children. Think about a fair visitation plan and always keep in mind what is best for the children!
Gather as much financial information that you can. You may or may not have been involved with the finances in your marriage but now is the time to collect any statements pertaining to finances. To make it easy, collect any statements with numbers such as tax returns, pay stubs and retirement plans. Going back 3 years is ideal.
Make a budget. List all expenses according to how you lived during your marriage.
Avoid the most common mistake—insisting on keeping your marital home. Many women, through anger or fear, don’t look at the actual value of the home and end up giving up other assets that would have been better for them in the long run. You have to consider taxes, upkeep and net cash value before making this decision, since it will impact you 5, 10, and even 20 years in the future.
Consult, when ready, a lawyer, mediator, and or a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
Take one small step at a time. Every day can seem like a battle when you’re preparing for and going through a divorce. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.
Make time for yourself. The stress of a divorce can be utterly overwhelming. Do the things you love—go for a run, get a massage, take nature walks, or go to the movies with your girlfriends. Inner peace is the fuel reserve that will keep you going when you need it most.
Find support. Whether it’s your family, your girlfriends, or local support groups, reaching out to other women who have been through what you’re going through or who love you unconditionally will help you find the confidence you need to get you through this. Visit our website for upcoming events, like WE Chat Wednesdays, where woman have to opportunity to ask questions of CDFAs and compare notes with each other at curowm.com and csmdivorcesolutions.com.