Time is Ticking…
Do you want to get a divorce, but are just waiting for the right time? The last few weeks I have spoken to several woman who have plans to get a divorce but are putting it off for a number of reasons. I hear a few repetitive thoughts, “I will wait until the holidays come and go”, “I will wait until it’s a new year and start my life fresh”, “I will wait until my youngest child graduates this year”, “I will wait until after my child’s birthday next month”, “ I will wait until I see how he treats me this month” and lastly, “I’m waiting for a sign!”
I completely understand these thoughts and have even used a couple myself. However, I know that there is no ideal timing for a divorce, but that shouldn’t stop you from making preparations for the divorce. Here are some things you can do today to be better prepared when the time is right:
1. Gather Financial Data- Just the other day a client asked, “Why is divorce so complicated?” I responded by holding up her financial portfolio statement. Her response, “You’re correct.” This client happens to have access to her financial statements, but not all woman do. Now is the time to look for statements and make your own copies of them. Last year’s tax returns are also very helpful. Once your spouse is aware of your intentions to divorce he may be less likely to share any information with you. Don’t keep copies in the house; store them with a relative or trusted friend. You may even want to get your own safety deposit box.
2. Credit Cards-Credit Check- This is a great time to do a credit check on yourself and your spouse. This information is free and will disclose any credit rating problems, any outstanding credit that you may be responsible for but unaware of, and the current balances of your active cards and loans. It is also important to have a credit card in your own name. If you do not have access to monies during your divorce you may need to use credit for some household expenses, so in preparation, acquire a credit card. Also, gather as many of the last few months’ credit card statements you can find. If your spouse is spending money without your knowledge, you may need that information in your divorce proceedings.
3. Cash- Divorce proceedings could be quite costly. Most professionals require upfront payment of consultations and then a retainer if you want to work with them. I suggest you open your own personal bank account, in a separate bank than the one you are currently using with your spouse. Start setting monies aside into this new account to cover these costs. How much you will need varies depending on how complicated your case is. Here’s a thought: if things turn out great, you can always split the money with your spouse or put it back into your joint account. Remember, better safe than sorry!
4. Lastly, Start putting together your Divorce Team- A CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst can review your financial data and make you aware of your financial life moving forward. We can also inform you of the divorce procedures and help you align your team. A therapist is very helpful in the emotional process of making the decision to divorce your spouse. A lawyer will be needed to process your divorce and keep you informed of your legal rights.
Divorce is emotionally draining and it’s impossible to control the timing, because there is never an “ideal” time for a difficult process. We all have one life to live and we all deserve to be happy! In my opinion, there is always time to be happy and being prepared is the best way to move forward!
Catherine Shanahan is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst at My Divorce Solution who partners with Karen Chellew, LL. My Divorce Solution is committed to helping divorcing couples develop a transparent plan via a three-phase process to optimize the outcome of their divorce. Phase 1 is the development of the financial portrait.
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