Financial Considerations When Getting a Divorce

In a recent episode, I shared that I would be doing a 4-part series on divorce.  I’ve been divorced for 5 years now and wanted to share what has worked for me, my ex-husband, and our 8 kids during this time. While divorce is not easy, time does help heal, and when your focus is putting your kids first, it is absolutely possible to maintain a healthy, happy family relationship.

My first episode in this series was 5 Expert-Approved Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce.  My second episode in this series was 5 Ways to Co-Parent with Your Ex-Spouse. 

There really isn’t anything easy about divorce. Thankfully, as I discussed in the first two episodes, there are strategies and thoughtful ways to navigate through some of divorces issues, especially if the two parents are willing to put their personal differences aside and focus on their kids. In addition to the emotional turmoil that encompasses divorce, there is also another difficult component that couples must deal with and that is the financial aspect. 

After 25 years of marriage and 8 kids, Mighty Mommy had to get her financial house in order and make some significant adjustments going from a two-income household to a single income.

Here are four financial considerations, as backed by the experts, to keep in mind if you are thinking of or getting a divorce.

1. Get Your Financial Documents in Order

The entire divorce process is completely overwhelming, and when you begin to delve into the financial ramifications, the stress is taken to a whole new level. Once we began having our small tribe of kids, we decided I would leave my career to be home with our family. During the last 10 years of our marriage I went back to work part-time as a freelance writer but by no means was I contributing significantly to our income. My ex-husband managed the majority of our financial affairs so when the reality of our divorce settled in, I knew the first thing I had to do was get a handle on every aspect of our financial status. I honestly wasn’t sure where to begin, but my divorce attorney recommended I start by gathering all my financial documents.

Maryalene LaPonsie, contributor to USNews.com writes in 7 Financial Steps to Take When Getting a Divorce that “as soon as you know you’re getting a divorce, collect all the financial documents you can.” She continues, by stating that these include:

  • “Bank statements”
  • “Credit card statements”
  • “Tax returns”
  • “Retirement account balances”
  • “Appraisals for valuable items, if available”

In addition, other documents to consider are:

  • Mortgage Statement, including any Home Equity Loans and purchase information
  • Checkbook Registry for the last year
  • Any other long-term debt account statements you may have, including car loans

2. Know Your Income and Expenses

When we began our divorce proceedings, I admit I was far more focused on my emotional state than my finances. 

When we began our divorce proceedings, I admit I was far more focused on my emotional state than my finances.  Because my ex was the one who paid all the bills and the sole provider for most of our marriage, I never worried much about the details of our 401(K) plan, life insurance policies or what our overall assets and debt totaled.

One piece of advice I received many times over was that I needed to know what our budget was so I could begin to realistically know what my living expenses would be. 

Jason Silverberg, CFP at Financial Advantage Associates, Inc. and author of The Financial Planning Puzzle, told me via email: “If there was one singular, most important piece of financial advice that I could offer someone going through a divorce, that would be to understand where everything is and what everything’s worth. Without knowledge of what you own and who you owe money to, you really are going to have a hard time moving forward. You’ll also want to understand all of your sources for income and all of your monthly expenses as well. This will help you have a good handle on your budget to provide you critical understanding, so you can make smart financial decisions.”

He went on to say, “This exercise should be done both prior to as well as after the divorce. This way you can get a sense for how your household budget will operate on one income.” To help divorcing couples realize these figures, Silverberg has created the Personal Financial Inventory (1 page worksheet) inside the Picking up the Pieces eBook.

This exercise was extremely enlightening as I realized exactly where every penny (and then some) was going on a monthly basis. I was also able to gauge how much income I would need to start making in order to support these bills in addition to the child support and alimony payments I was receiving. One important factor to consider with child support is that it will decrease as your children get older, so I had to continually modify my budget based on this decrease. At first, it was overwhelming to see how much money I would need to keep our household running, but when you are armed with the figures and you pay attention to your monthly cash flow, it becomes easier to make adjustments. The fact of the matter is that some of the extra splurges such as frequent trips to the hair salon or buying my kids their usual top-of-the line items like sneakers or sports equipment had to be adjusted to what I could now afford. My kids have had some disappointments in this department, but they appreciated how we were trying to work together as a family-unit so that their lifestyle wasn't affected as drastically as it could've been which balanced everything out.


3.  Consider What Professionals Will Represent You

There are important considerations to keep in mind when choosing which divorce professionals will represent you. Adrienne Rothstein Grace writes on the Huffington Post, 3 Steps to Prepare for Your Divorce, that you must align yourself with the right professionals.  She explains “First, think about the divorce process you and your spouse will want to undertake and ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Is this going to be an acrimonious divorce? Or will my spouse and I cooperate?”
  • “Do I already know about all of our household and personal finances? Or do I suspect that I may be out of the loop on some assets, debts or income sources?”
  • “Do I trust my spouse to be cooperative and forthright?”
  • “Do I have any reason to believe that I will feel intimidated by my spouse during these proceedings?”
  • “Are we both focused on the wellbeing of our children?”

Grace says that “If you believe that you and your spouse will cooperate and will have joint best interests in mind while negotiating, then you might want to choose a divorce mediator or embrace a collaborative divorce. Those options are less costly, more private, and usually result in a more peaceful settlement process. However, if you’re not certain about finances, or cannot trust your spouse to be completely above-board and cooperative, then you might hire a traditional divorce attorney, who will only have your interests in focus while they help negotiate the complexities of your divorce.”

My ex-spouse and I decided to retain individual divorce attorneys. In addition, we also hired a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, (CDFA) at the recommendation of each of our lawyers, who met with us jointly to give us a complete overview of what our financial future was going to look like. It's a huge wake-up call when you see all the numbers in front of you on paper.  At our first meeting with the CDFA I learned quickly that I was going to have to go back to work, full-time to sustain the home we lived in as well as the upkeep, taxes, insurance, and basics like groceries for our large family. 

It's a huge wake-up call when you see all the numbers in front of you on paper.

If you surround yourself with competent, caring professionals who will guide you through this very delicate journey, you will have made an important investment in your family’s future, financial well-being.

4.  Stay in the Financial Know Throughout Your Divorce

Throughout your divorce, you’re bound to get all kinds of advice from friends, family, co-workers and other concerned individuals that will be looking out for you and have your best interest at heart.  This can be both helpful and draining depending on your relationship with these people.  When I began divorce proceedings, I too received lots of comments and suggestions from well-meaning folks, but I also decided I wanted to be armed with my own facts so I began reading lots of articles and books as well as listened to informative podcasts about divorce, particularly financially-related pieces.

My QDT colleague, Laura Adams, Money Girl, recently did an wrote about divorce in Getting Divorced? Here's How to Protect Your Money. She interviewed Stan Corey, a divorce expert and author of a new book, The Divorce Dance. This podcast had some terrific insight and some of the topics she and Corey cover in this interview include:

  • Different types of divorce proceedings that you can choose
  • The biggest mistakes that can cost you financially in a divorce
  • Why relying on a single family law attorney can be a bad idea
  • Tips for dividing up financial assets the right way—especially when you’re not so financially savvy
  • How to get divorced when you don’t have much money to pay for it

As you continue down the path of your divorce, surround yourself with as much information as you can, so that you will be able to make the best decisions possible for you and your children.

Five years later, I am still watching my financial picture very carefully.  I work full-time and do freelance work on the side in order to maintain my home and other living expenses.  I am extremely grateful that my ex-husband is very supportive of many of our 8 children’s extracurricular expenses, but the reality is I’m responsible for my own financial future so I have learned to be extremely careful with purchases and expenses.

The final topic in this divorce series will revolve around putting your kids first after the divorce.

How have you managed your finances during a separation or divorce?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

Be sure to sign up for the upcoming Mighty Mommy newsletter chock full of practical advice to make your parenting life easier and more enjoyable. 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

How Your Teen Driver Affects Your Budget

The post How Your Teen Driver Affects Your Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Ever wonder how a teen driver affects your budget?  Get ready to learn!!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Progressive Insurance. All tips and opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties.

 

how to budget for your teen driver

As much as many of us don’t want for it to happen, there will come a day when your teenager will be ready to jump behind the wheel.  It also seems to sneak up on us too.  When did that 5 year old kindergartner suddenly ask to borrow the car on Friday night!?!

Parents and guardians all want to make sure that our kids learn to drive and are always safe behind the wheel. One way to do that is to create your own safety contract.  It is the terms your teen agrees to in order to ensure that he or she is safe on the road.  The violation of these terms results in immediate jail time for the car keys.

In addition to ensuring that they stay safe, it is also time for your teen to budget for the cost of a vehicle.  While Mom and Dad may help from time to time, driving comes with responsibilities and some of those are financial.

To start, make sure your teen has his or her budget prepared.  Yes, even teens need to learn how to create and follow a budget! And, mom and dad should also know how a teen driver affects your budget!

Once your teen has a budget in place, you can then sit down with them to go over the costs of actually owning a car.  There is much more to it than they may realize.

 

Buying a car

As much as most teens would love a brand new set of wheels, most parents know that will not be the case. That doesn’t mean that he or she has to drive a clunker either.  Look at your budget and determine how much you are willing to spend on a car — but don’t tell your teen!

Instead, develop a plan to help him or her save for that vehicle. You might offer a dollar for dollar match.  So, if your son saves $3,000, you will give him $3,000 as well to buy that car.

When your teen has to use his or her money to buy a car, they will have more of a vested interest in insuring that they take good care of it.

Read More:  How to Get the Best Deal on Your Next Car

 

Insurance

Teens and insurance do not usually go well together. The cost to insure your teen driver can be expensive.  Take the time to research companies and plans to find the best option for your family.  Remember that less expensive does not always mean best plan.

Don’t forget to see if you qualify for safe driver, multi-policy or good credit discounts as those can help keep your insurance costs low.

teen driver affects your budget

Fuel costs

As a teenager, having the freedom to drive yourself where you want to go is part of the thrill of having a license.  But, cars don’t run on air.  They run on fuel.

Help your teen develop a budget so they know how much they have to spend to fill up the tank.  They may not realize how expensive it can be.  After all, if gas is running $2.50 a gallon, it will cost more than $40 to fill that 18 gallon tank!

Read More:  Tricks to Save Money on Fuel

 

Snacks and Treats

I remember when I was learning to drive.  My mom was too nervous to teach me, so a family friend volunteered to help. He told me that the first lesson of driving was to go through the drive through for a soft drink before you really hit the road.

While that was a fun lesson, the truth is that many teens do this as well. It is convenient to drive through to grab dinner or stop into the convenience store for snacks.  Those costs can add up very quickly.

If your teen has to foot the bill for the snacks, it can quickly put a damper on his or her budget.  They may be forced to choose between lunch out and putting a bit of fuel in the car just to get to work.

 

Maintenance

There is much more to owning a car than putting gas in the tank.  In order to ensure that your vehicle lasts, maintenance is a must.  This includes regular oil changes and tune ups, as well as new tires.

Whether you plan to help your teen with these costs or not, it should also be included in their budget.  Oil changes are not cheap and if your teen driver spends a lot of time in his or her vehicle, these will be needed more frequently.

To determine how much to budget for savings, show your teen the cost for an oil change and tires.  Then, have him or her include a small amount of monthly savings to help cover those costs.

 

Your teenager is growing up.  Owning and operating a vehicle comes with responsibilities which include more than safety.  Help your teen learn how to properly budget his or her money when it comes to car ownership.  Your budget will thank you.

This post brought to you by Progressive. You could save $620 when you switch to Progressive.

The post How Your Teen Driver Affects Your Budget appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

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