Divorce for Women
If you find yourself in the middle of a divorce, chances are that it’s only your first or second time experiencing it, and you feel completely unprepared. And what with traditional family roles still firmly in place, and the gender pay gap a very real thing, women are often frequently worse off financially than a man upon a divorce. Below are some of the best pieces of divorce advice for women to help you plan and ensure a smooth(er) transition.
- Get advice. First, set up an appointment with a divorce attorney. This is one of the most important pieces of divorce advice for women. Remember, divorce attorneys will have gone through this process likely hundreds of times and will know what to expect. They can give you solid advice about when to file, what to ask for, and things to beware of. Even if you think you cannot afford to hire an attorney for your case, most attorneys will offer a free initial consultation. Take advantage and get as much information as early as you can. Next, find a financial advisor. Explain to them that you want to know how to prepare for a divorce. They can help you find out how much money you will need after separating and can give you advice on how to build your own estate after the divorce. A word of warning, though – don't take any action based on the financial advisor until you also speak to an attorney. Moving money around before a divorce can lead to less than ideal outcomes.
- Set up a nest egg. In most, but not all, cases, women often earn somewhat less than their husbands. Before filing for divorce – if possible – start setting some money aside in an account that only you have access to. You should aim to have enough money to support yourself for about three months. This will give you time to obtain court orders for temporary support if necessary. Having money in your own account will also help bolster your credit score, which can be crucial to rebuilding your life after a divorce.
- Be observant. Before you file for divorce, start taking stock of the assets between you and your spouse. Estimate the value and liabilities for some of the bigger pieces of property you have (such as the house). Start paying attention to how much the bills are each month and estimate a budget for incomings and outgoings. This will give you a good idea of how much money the parties should have. Also take note of any unusual spending or purchases made by your spouse, especially once the divorce begins. It can be very tempting for one party to try to hide assets or run up a bunch of debt to punish their partner. Try to be aware of this possibility so that, should it happen, you can alert your lawyer or the court to mitigate the damage.
- Find and preserve records. Keep records of everything you can when it comes to your finances. There will be two important dates for you to keep in mind – the day you got married, and the day you file for divorce. Print out bank statements, credit card statements, and retirement accounts before you divorce for each date (if possible) before filing. This will give you a clear picture of what your estates were before you got married and will preserve how the marital estate was before the divorce. This could be useful if your spouse goes ‘spend crazy’ after you file for divorce. You will likely need to prepare documents for the court anyway, and this will give you a head start.
- Figure out your ‘bottom-lines’. These will become clearer as you go through the divorce. Bottom-lines mean what the bare minimum is that you’re willing to settle for. You will likely have financial bottom-lines, including certain pieces of property you want to keep, and a dollar amount of the value of various assets (such as retirement). What is the minimum offer you would accept when it comes to the financial division? If you have children, you will also need to determine what is the minimum offer you can accept when it comes to custody and a possession schedule. Once you have figured out your bottom-lines, it can be useful to speak to your attorney about it. They will help you determine if these are reasonable under the circumstances, and then how to proceed. Bottom-lines will be useful when the parties begin discussing settlement or attending negotiation. You can bargain away the less important things, giving the other side a ‘win’ while still keeping your non-negotiables intact.
- Engage in self-care. While this is not necessarily a financial piece of divorce advice for women, it is still equally as important. Going through a divorce is a traumatic experience. It is crucial for you to take care of your mental and physical health, especially if you have children. Taking care of you will mean you can take better care of your children. Try to engage in a hobby at least once a week. Eat healthily and try to exercise regularly. If you think speaking to a counselor or therapist will be helpful during this time, then, by all means, take advantage of any opportunity to do so. Round up a supportive network of friends and family who can help you through the dark days. And try not to binge – whether it's on alcohol, ice cream, or shopping, bingeing is a bad idea when going through a divorce.
This is just a small list of divorce advice for women. If you have other questions and want to know more about the divorce process in general, get in touch with the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen today for a free initial consultation: (201) 845 – 7400.