Financial Tips for Women During Divorce

2983302382_6cf78e7c60Photo courtesy of Serge Melki

Even with the consistent progress women continue to make toward financial equality with their fellow men, a discrepancy still exists, and divorce is a time when this disparity becomes readily apparent. There are several factors that can leave the divorced woman between a rock and a hard place when it comes to raising any children that may have come of the marriage, and being able to make a decent income.

The usual practice among divorce lawyers these days is to divide any monies and real property acquired by both parties during the marriage equally. The goal is to have both husband and wife able to sustain a quality of life similar to the one they were living whilst married. On paper, this might be able to hold water. The reality, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Although divorce has come a long way, there are still many factors that often leave women struggling financially after their divorce is stamped with a gold seal of approval from the court.

Many women who are facing a divorce in 2013 have been, and will continue to be the main caregiver of any children that have resulted from the marriage. Even in cases where shared custody is awarded and adhered to, the hard truth is that moms are still usually in charge of more than 50% of the child-rearing responsibilities. In fact, many women today have spent a significant number of years away from their professions so that they may stay at home and care for the children. When faced with a divorce, it can easily become apparent that the woman now has a much lower earning potential due to childcare responsibilities and those years in her field that may have been lost to raising a family.

Aside from all of the emotional damage divorces cause, the fact that women typically come out with less money and less earning potentially than men means that it’s extremely crucial to make your future financial well-being your priority. Take the following advice to heart to solidify your new, smaller family’s financial stability.

  1. Find the right counsel. It’s true that pretty much any ol’ lawyer can get you divorced. Taking the time to find a family law attorney with a great reputation and success record will mean a better settlement for you in the end because he/she knows state specific divorce laws and has important connections that will also be an asset to you.
  2. Hire a financial planner. If you choose wisely, your divorce lawyer will already work in tandem with a wide variety of financial professionals. The best attorneys aren’t afraid to ask for help from their professional network, and will often have you working with a ‘team’ of attorneys, advisers, and other financial experts. However, if your attorney doesn’t happen to have someone to help with your finances, hire an adviser yourself.
  3. Focus on the future. As much as we are told to ‘live in the now’ – during your divorce proceedings, you’ve got to make sure that your future is secure.
  4. Keep a close eye on your credit score. Before the divorce has been finalized, keep one eye on your credit rating at all times. Life after divorce is going to require you to have a good rating, and your husband may still have access to many of your joint money accounts and credit cards. If he’s spending money on a new girlfriend using joint marital money, keep documenting every dollar he spends.
  5. Get your own bank account. While you’ll still want to have access to joint accounts (after all, it’s your money, too!), open both a savings and checking account in your own name only as soon as possible. Open these accounts at a different bank from your joint accounts. Apply for a few credit cards in your name only as well. Thankfully, in 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made it a lot easier for at-home or non-working spouses to apply for an obtain credit cards.

Bonus Tip: BE ON YOUR TOES. Even if he’s never displayed such behavior before, your spouse may very well choose this time to hide assets, so that it appears that he is worth much less than he really is. Result? If he does it successfully, you’ll end up with much less money in the end, and he’ll be sitting pretty. Pay very close attention to his financial moves during this time.

Divorce is never our intention, but sometimes it becomes inevitable. Use all of the plentiful resources that are available to you as a divorcing woman in 2013 to guarantee your financial security as a divorcee.  Keep your eyes on the future at all times, and soon, the future you’ve always wanted will materialize.

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