Going through a divorce is one of the most challenging times one can go through.
Whether you are on the initiating or receiving end of the divorce process, there are many things you will have to do as you go through the process. Such tasks include generating a budget, figuring out how to divide assets equitably, determining if spousal support or child support is warranted, and planning your financial life after divorce. It may sound cold, but for many people negotiating a divorce will likely be the biggest business deal they’ve ever done in their lives.
Admittedly, the divorce process can be a very emotional time, and sometimes it’s simply hard to muster the energy to address the tasks at hand. My advice is to do what you can — one step at a time — while doing your best to move through the process without having it drag on. An elongated process can take a financial and emotional toll on you and your family.
Start with baby steps — simply take a pen and piece of paper and journal everything you can from memory about the financial aspects of your divorce as follows:
- Assets each of you brought into the marriage (houses, investment accounts, retirement accounts, inheritance, etc.)
- The date of marriage
- Property and assets acquired during the marriage (everything you can think of including cars, real estate, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pension, jewelry, etc)
- How many years did you and/or your spouse serve on the job and any benefits earned such as pensions, employee stock programs, accrued vacation, medical benefits, etc.?
- Debts incurred and outstanding during the marriage
- Monthly household expenses during the marriage
- Identify where legal documents, like trusts and wills, are located
- The date of the separation
- Projected budget and expenses after the date of separation
After listing everything you can, gather or make a copy of every statement with a number on it, even little things as small as a magazine subscription. If the statement is not available, jot down your best estimate of the amount and item.
This may sound like a lot, but there’s good news.
Although there are many things you have to do, you also now get to write the script for your new life.
It’s often true that desires and goals get suppressed during marriage that you now get to undertake. You have a new script and you are the author.
You don’t have to go it alone.
I can’t think of any great achiever who didn’t have a Coach. I highly recommend you work with a financial advisor to help you gather, analyze, and make decisions on your financial settlement. Once you’ve signed the judgment the asset division is final (unless there was fraud), so you want to be in a position to make the most informed decisions possible. Considerations for someone going through a divorce are different than most people and an advisor with a CDFA® distinction (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) is trained, certified, and experienced to give advice for this circumstance. This person will serve as the Quarterback and will help you in working with the Divorce Attorney, CPA, Realtor & Mortgage Lender as they all will need substantial information to help you as you proceed.
Finally, keep your vision on the end goal and be good and forgiving to yourself along the way. If you need to rest, rest. Take a hot bath, have a cup of tea, listen to soothing music, get a workout.
I speak from experience; you will get through this and you won’t believe how great your life can be on the other side.
Glenn Crawford is a Financial Services Representative, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), and Life & Health Agent who is Medicare certified and a member of Signature Resources. He has dedicated a large part of his practice to working with clients through all phases of the divorce process. Glenn offers holistic financial advisory services for those who are considering and going through a divorce or are post-divorce. He is at the center of the process and helps by analyzing and advising on asset division, cash flow analysis, and the impact of these decisions on life after divorce. In short, Glenn’s mission is the help people navigate to the clear waters of life after divorce with the wind in their sails. Glenn experienced divorce himself after 24 years of marriage and keenly understands the importance of having the right financial, legal, and emotional team during this process. You can find Glenn online at StrategicDivorcePlanning.com/About-Us.