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FIVE GOLDEN STARS
on April 24, 2013
Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally
Jeffrey A. Landers
Anyone that thinks divorce is a piece of cake, no sweat or not a problem has either taken something to calm their nerves, is living in world of make believe or not facing reality. Divorce is difficult but the end result is what you make of it and how you work to make sure that you and your children come out financially sound. Anger, loss, betrayal, disloyalties, hate, fear, panic are just some of the emotions and feelings you might feel just learning that your spouse has decided to let's say move on with his life. But, there is help, hope and definitely many support systems out there that a smart, savvy and well-prepared woman can avail herself of before falling down a deep dark pit known as financial disaster. Many women fall into several different traps when they begin the process of landing on their feet and finding their way to financial freedom and independence.
When deciding that this is your only route you need to think with your head and your mind and leave those emotions of anger, helplessness, despair and rage somewhere else. You need to be informed, you need to have the right team of experts handling your case and you need to read page 5 of this great resource to help you create a checklist of what you need to know from the start. Your goal or mission and you do choose to accept it is to make sure that when all is said and done you go not remain in this Divorce Rollercoaster or take an elevator ride that goes up and down getting you nowhere but emerge debt free, emotionally sound and of course with your finances in tact. But, first warnings that you must heed first. When driving your car you know that the yield or stop sign means you need to stop or take notice of another car allowing them to go first or they have to yield the right of way. No one is going to yield the right of way in a divorce so you need to charge ahead on your own but first: STOP: LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND THE FOLLOWING: If Uncle Ned or Aunt Sally suggests that cousin Tim do your finances thank them and cordially decline. If Nora Jean your best friend has divorce advice for you on how to handle your ex-husband thank her but do not act on what she says. Author Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA states three major reasons whey you need to not heed the advice of friends and relatives. First, every woman's divorce is different. Second, "A little knowledge can be very dangerous," and third you can find the professional help you need. Numbers one and two you can read the explanations for yourself but I will focus on number three. You need to find a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who is trained to handle and understand the financial aspects of divorce. The author then elaborates on his training and why relatives and friends would not be the right ones enlists in this matter even if they happen to be CPA's or financial planners. Added in he adds a Reminder at the end of the chapter telling readers that divorce financial advisors are the most qualified and knowledgeable to handle your case and deal with the good you might say and the bad. An important point that many people forget and all too often I have seen on the social networks and that is comments, statements, pictures, remarks, facebook updates, tweets, blogs and photos that will make you look bad. Watching your words, not putting photos of you out with the girls in a bar or a club would show that you are using your mind and not venting your anger in public. Emails, texts and other forms of communication are divorce lawyers you might say chocolate treat that they eat up, swallow and savor at your expense. So, let's talk divorce. Not that hard and you see it really is just a word you have to fully understand not just because it means a disbanded marriage but what the words inner most thoughts and feelings express and how they will affect you.
There are six financial steps that the author explains in chapter three that are vital, crucial and needed to Prepare for divorce. Step One: Collect financial documents. Step Two: Check Your Credit Report. Step Three: Research Divorce Professionals, Step Five: Really important so listen carefully: Open New Accounts in Your Name and finally Establish Private Communication. What that means is take out a post office box so that your mail comes to a different place and your soon to be ex cannot get his hands on it. Change your mobile phone number, passwords and pins to insure that your privacy and funds are not invaded. Be aware of what he is doing and by getting your credit report you will know if he is using your name, social security number or accounts for himself or maybe a hidden girlfriend.
Chapter Four highlights how to get organized and the ball rolling in your direction of favor. After you collect your financial documents you need to have a Lifestyle Analysis Prepared, which "establishes your standard of living," during the time you were married. In other words it is the day-to-day living expenses incurred during your marriage and the spending habits of both you and your spouse. Monitoring your spending is vital and secure funds for professional fees and once again I cannot impress this upon you too much: Get A Copy of Your Credit Report. Next, the author explains Legal matters. Chapter Five is really self-explanatory where the author explains the four divorce alternatives. I will let you read that for yourself. Chapter 6 is quite vital, compelling and will set you on the right road to divorce and financial success. You need four Key Players on your Divorce Team: Matrimonial/Family Law Attorney, Divorce Financial Planner, forensic account, a valuation expert and one more for homeowners or proper owners: A real estate appraiser. But, do not feel that there is something wrong with you if you or your children need to speak to a therapist or counselor. But, the most vital member of the team is YOU! Chapter 7 focuses on protecting your credit followed by a detailed explanation of equitable distribution and community property. First, you need to learn whether you live in a community property state or equitable distribution state and the definitions are clear and the examples quite detailed. A really interesting chapter that will save you much grief and might make things easier for you to understand is what is the difference between separate vs. marital property detailed in Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 which explains the importance of understanding and knowing your exact date of separation and how it plays in your divorce proceedings. Valuation Dates: in a divorce that is the "point in time when that dollar value is assigned. Divorce requires "the division of all marital assets." This is explained in detail and easily understood in Chapter 11. Did you ever hear the terms: MINE, HIS, OURS: Well chapter 12 Active vs. Passive Appreciation will explain that more fully. Let me explain further: An asset can increase in value in one of two ways: Actively or passively. Actively: as a result of actions by the owner of the asset or passively as a result of change in the market. The rules, how it applies in equitable distribution states, what the judge must find and how this affects your assets is explained in detail in this chapter.
Chapter 13 is crucial as it discusses whether you should keep your house. Several questions come into play: Why you are interested in keeping the house? Can you afford to keep it? Have you fully considered the truth worth of the house vs. other assets? Be careful when it comes to retirement accounts and pension and whether your spouse is entitled to a part of it or a percentage. Chapter 14 explains that retirement funds added during your marriage are considered marital property. Division of 401 K's and pension require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A QDRO specialist will help you avoid mistakes. Once again you can read about alimony yourself and health, life and social security in chapters 15 and 16. Protecting your business if the bulk of Chapter 17.
Special topics makes up Part two and the first is eight underhanded tactics husbands use during divorce and the author explains each one, gives examples and how to protect yourself. Next, eight places husbands hide assets like a safety deposit box, overpaying the IRS or creditors or even transferring stock. So, be vigilant and stay alert. Let's hope things do not get out of hand and the information in Chapter 21 will be just that information dealing with restraining orders. How to Divorce Proof your Business and Post and Prenups and finally the seven important steps for Financial Stability After Divorce: Update your accounts, develop a comprehensive financial plan, build your credit and seek help from a financial advisor. You guessed it there are more but you need to learn what they are for yourself in order to understand how to get to be financially stable on your own. Appendix A has your financial checklist and the author is the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors and works exclusively with women. Author Jeffrey A. Landers presents a clear, concise, easy to understand way for women to find their way to financial stability during and after a divorce. This is a great resource for everyone to read. I would even say that before young couples marry they might want to read this book to understand the seriousness of marriage and what might happen if their marriage winds up in divorce. One great book that is a definite must read.