After the dust settles from your divorce, you may feel your blood pressure spike when you check your bank account. Unexpected costs like a sudden drop in standard of living and separation expenses can pile up.
You may feel like there’s no way you’ll ever recover. However, we have written some valuable tips below that will be your detour around your financial hardship. But before we break down these tips, let’s first look at how divorce impacts you financially. Remember, you’re not alone, there’s guidance at your fingertips to help you through your divorce.
The Impact of Divorce on Finances
Everyone’s financial situation is different. Therefore, this may change how you experience the economic impacts of divorce. Two specific financial life situations to be aware of are the following: High-Income Earners and Retirees.
High-income earners accumulate more assets through their marriage that are vulnerable to being divided up during a divorce. There is typically, but not always, one person who is the breadwinner in these homes. This leaves the lower-earning spouse vulnerable to a sudden drop in living standards compared to when they were married.
Retirees risk dividing up their hard-earned retirement fund upon divorce. This can create a drop in standard of living. Given how late in life they are, it may be hard to bounce back from this financial shift. AARP states that the standard of living for women who divorce after 50 drops by 45%. For men, the percentage is 21%.
As you can see, divorce can give anyone a reason to find a way to cope with their money worries. With that in mind, check out these 15 tips that will help you maintain your finances.
15 Tips to Maintain Finances During a Divorce
1. Organize Your Financial Records
Get your banking and financial records in order. Even better, upload them into a shareable Google Drive folder. This will keep everything organized and, when you hire an attorney, it will cut down on the time they have to spend understanding the scope of your finances.
2. Attempt to Cooperate with Your Spouse
Improving your personal finances after a divorce is a challenge. That’s why you should consider fair negotiation before you resort to the mad dash of protecting your finances. Divorce is emotional and hard to go through. For this reason, negotiation may seem like a hopeless option. However, if you both cooperate, you can be sure that each person will walk away financially stable.
3. Scale Back Your Budget
You need to make a realistic budget, and, in many cases, you will have to be open to adjusting your lifestyle. Take the time to assess what you spend your money on, identify what expenses are must-haves versus what is nice to have, and then prioritize.
4. Obtain a QDRO
Any retirement savings added during a marriage are considered marital property, which means your retirement accounts will more than likely be financial assets involved in divorce negotiations. To avoid losses, work with the divorce attorney of your choice to obtain a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order).
It will ensure that your spouse receives payments but not the benefits of future contributions. It’s also highly recommended that you roll your remaining 401(k) funds over into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) once that’s complete.
5. Update All Estate Planning Documents
Estate planning may not affect your finances now, but it will in the future. Therefore, make a point to review your will and any powers of attorney. If you notice that updates are needed, an attorney will help you create new documents.
6. Work With A Financial Advisor
Getting help to navigate protecting your assets and retirement savings is one of the best ways to invest in yourself during this time. A financial advisor can help you chart a path from where you are now financially to where you’d like to be post-divorce. They are critical, especially if kids are involved.
7. Consider a Career Change
Suppose you know that your income is expected to drop after your divorce. It may be an excellent time to understand how much you will need to maintain a proper standard of living. You may consider a possible career change. Making these adjustments can cushion the blow and prevent such a drastic change.
8. Update Insurance Coverage for Assets
Given that you and your spouse are no longer together, there may be insurance you no longer need. Many people ask, “Can I stay on my spouse’s car insurance after divorce?” You might be paying to cover your spouse’s assets, including their car or other personal items. Contact your insurance agent to review your policy and remove any unnecessary coverage.
9. Establish Ownership Over Assets
During your marriage, you most likely accrued many assets with your spouse. For this reason, your spouse may still hold title to these assets. Take inventory of what is yours, and be sure to retitle these in your name.
10. Run a Credit Report
Throughout your divorce, your credit score may fluctuate. After assets and debt are divided, it might be a good time to check your score for any inaccuracies. These inaccuracies can make it difficult for you to move on and find a new home. However, it’s only a temporary setback. Once you review your new score, you can create a plan to improve it.
11. Close Joint Credit Accounts
Now that you and your spouse are separated, your money should be separated too. It’s wise to close all credit accounts that are jointly held between you and your spouse. This will ensure that you maintain good credit throughout your divorce and afterward.
12. Open a New Bank Account in Your Name
Now that you have closed all joint credit and bank accounts, it is time to open new accounts in your name. By acquiring a new bank account, you can now manage all your personal finances and separate them from your ex-spouse’s.
13. Change Your Marital Status and Address
Your tax records, bills, and insurance are all under your married name and address. This should all be changed once you divorce. Changing your marital status and address will ensure you only pay for what’s yours. Keep all relevant financial parties updated on your transition.
14. Review Your Health Insurance Policy
If you currently have health insurance through your work that covers both you and your ex-spouse, you may be overpaying since you’re no longer together. Speak with your human resources representative or insurance agent to review your policy and make adjustments.
15. Don’t Take Financial Advice from Friends or Family
Expanding on point number five, you most likely know other friends or family members who have been divorced. Once they find out about your situation, they can offer you advice on what you should do.
Although this advice means well and is coming from a loved one, refrain from doing anything without the help of a professional. You could find yourself in a more complicated situation as a result.
The main themes of these tips are organization and cooperation. When you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways, you need to separate financially as well. This means organizing what’s yours and what’s not as well as documenting your finances to ensure a smooth transition.
These tips will provide a road map to navigate the storm of divorce so you can come out the other side with your assets intact.