Like many people, on Sunday mornings I like to read financial news articles while I have the two cups of coffee to get me going for the day. And I usually skim through and like many of us, half read the articles.

However today I began reading and became entrenched in a Huffington Post blog article about divorce settlements and planning. It was written by a divorce attorney who has obtained a Master’s degree in counseling and psychology.

Interesting I thought, so I read on.

Review Divorce Financial Advice Cautiously

She spoke about a number of accurate topics regarding settlement agreements and how many women end up with a lifestyle level at approximately 73% of what they had before, while the ex-husband’s lifestyle was improved by 43% in the same scenario. The article next goes on from a psychologist’s perspective, to discuss accurately how families evolve and how the children’s needs change as they get older. She believes the divorce planning should be viewed more as a family restructuring than as a separation.

So far so good.

The author accurately depicts the ways in which a divorce attorney can get distracted with details and Court requirements, and may not present you with the best financial choices for your future. I have seen that so often it makes me cringe.

At the end of the article this attorney, now psychologist gives you the absolute worst advice I’ve heard regarding settlement agreements. She explains that before you sign your agreement you should get a second opinion from another divorce attorney. I almost spilled my coffee! Get a second opinion on what you and your spouse have already verbally agreed on? Was your cart before your horse?

Prevent Your Own Financial Disaster

When you need financial advice, who contacts a legal specialist for guidance?

That’s akin to seeking out a second general family physician’s opinion for a cancer diagnosis. And to get the financial advice AFTER your spouse agrees to anything is even more absurd. After all the effort and negotiating, do you think it would be fair to change your proposal AFTER you have a verbal agreement? Would you get any cooperation?

I wouldn’t expect any, even from a reasonable person! Financial planning should be done BEFORE you consider agreeing to anything.

Many divorcing people are not steered in the proper direction. It is important to understand that while during divorce your assets are divided and child support are calculated according to your state laws, there are financial settlement options you can explore that can make or break your future. Attorneys are your legal specialists. Unless they present you with a solid plan for your future, do not use them as your financial planners during this pivotal time in your life. Your future depends on it.

 

Corrine’s Failed Financial Plan

I recently met a gal in California who was already divorced. She was given limited alimony while she completed college and maintained a home for her two elementary school children. When she graduated and was unable to find a job, she went back to the courts to ask for a temporary support extension until she could secure employment to support herself and the children. She was denied solely based on “the agreement”, and was not relevant to the circumstances.

 

 

Corrine’s ex-husband was earning well over six figures with a new wife earning the same. They lived in a beautiful home on the ocean with a boat that they relaxed on every weekend. Meanwhile this mother and her children were forced to move into a seedy motel because she could not even afford a 2 bedroom apartment to rent. Sadly, too many find themselves in positions such as this due to a lack of true financial planning. 

 

Begin Your Own Planning

Finally, this article is not meant to scare you.

The purpose is to open your eyes to the realities of how important financial planning is to your future, and it does not appear this advice is being published clearly enough, even in some of the biggest and most respected journals. When those considering divorce work closely with Strategic Divorce Decisions, we lay out different financial scenarios together. This helps facilitate informed and intelligent decisions before sitting down to negotiate.

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Ellen Wanamaker

Ellen Wanamaker is a Divorce Financial Specialist and Communications Strategist. She began helping women with uncoupling, after her own egregious divorce from which she created a step by step system. Post-divorce, she went on to become a Matrimonial Paralegal, Mediator and Divorce Financial Specialist. Ellen's divorce strengths stem from her financial background, being a federally licensed tax practitioner for more than 25 years,, and investment and insurance advisor. She has been helping women in many stages of divorce set up their finances on autopilot. Ellen is also the author of the popular book "Divorce Starter Tools Women Need."