Protecting Your Finances Before, During, and After Divorce

Roughly 88% of Americans marry for love. Marriage is a beautiful thing but, unfortunately, doesn’t always last. In fact, close to half of all marriages across the U.S. end in divorce — that number is even higher for second and third marriages.

No matter how difficult your relationship may be, if you both decide to fight for it, you can certainly overcome all kinds of difficulties. However, sometimes two people just aren’t meant for each other and divorce — as tough as it may be — is the only viable option.

Just remember, no matter your situation — you can and will get through this. It’s just going to take some hard work, some help, and plenty of time. Here are some of the best financial tips for navigating a divorce:

Track all your expenses and plan future expenses

“Look beyond the normal monthly expenses and include things like your holiday trips, vacations and seemingly ‘one-time’ expenses like replacing the dishwasher,” said Avani Ramnani, a certified divorce financial advisor with Francis Financial in New York City.

This is even more crucial if you have children. Divorce is obviously extremely tough on children, but it can be just as stressful on you if you aren’t financially prepared for what’s to come. Start by developing a budget and plan out every expense you made and every payment you have coming up in the future.

Reach out for government assistance

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people all across the country are finding themselves stuck in horrible financial situations. They might’ve lost work, hours, or have to cover for other members of their family. If you’re worried about the cost of divorce and what your finances are going to look like afterward, you should try and take advantage of every opportunity you have available.

In the last decade, the U.S. government has invested $35 billion in meaningful use incentive payments. Additionally, you might be able to qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which can date back to when you lost your job or hours (dating back to April). Make sure you do a little research beforehand and then call your local unemployment office to see if you can claim benefits and bring in some extra cash. Also, it’s important to note that every day, another 10,000 people turn 65, making them eligible for government-provided health insurance programs.

Get professional help

You could be the emotionally strongest and most financially sound person you know — but divorce can change that fast. It’s okay to seek out professional help during these stressful times.

Not only will a divorce mediator, attorney, and therapist help you out every step of the way, an experienced financial advisor can ensure that your money is taking care of and you’re not being taken advantage of by your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and his or her team of attorneys.

Additionally, though you’ll certainly want to consult with your family and friends about this stressful process, you should only be taking legal and financial advice from legal professionals and trusted financial advisors. This can help you stay out of both financial and legal trouble, leading to a quick and easy recovery process!

Change benefeciaries

Changing the beneficiaries on your accounts after a divorce is paramount. If you don’t, your ex-spouse could end up with all your essential assets like your 401(k), IRA, and so much more. Changing beneficiary designations might seem daunting but it actually is a very easy process that can typically be completed with a simple form. Again, talk to a financial advisor if you’re in over your head with all this stuff!

These are obviously difficult conversations to have and can be one of the most stressful moments of your entire life. If you’re careful about planning, however, and are communicating with legal and financial professionals, you should be fine! Make sure you’re taking care of your finances before, during, and after your divorce — good luck!

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