Why Women Need a Financial Advisor When Getting Divorced

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There's no need to go through a divorce alone when there is an army of professionals who can help get you through.

There's no need to go through a divorce alone when there is an army of professionals who can help get you through.

University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio calls divorce one of the top five stressors in life, a fact that will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever been through the dissolution of a marriage. Whether it is you or your spouse who instigate the divorce, a breakup triggers a cascade of unsettling emotions.

Added to this jumble of emotions are the dozens of decisions, large and small, that you must make about your future, including finances. Everything -- from where to open a bank account in your name to who's going to pay for the kid's college -- is suddenly on the table. It's enough to make you feel as though you're being swallowed, but I assure you, you're not.

While things may feel overwhelming right now, there are things you can do to take control. The first thing is to avail yourself of the wide network of professionals who make it their job to provide support and expertise. 

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Finances are a top concern for many women during divorce, which is understandable as many grapple with reduced incomes and increased demands on their cash. Here are some concrete steps you can take to build a solid foundation for your newly single life: 

  • Begin to build credit in your name. If you've always shared credit with your spouse, you may have a thin credit file. Change that by building your own credit, even if it means taking out a prepaid credit card or department store card.  
  • Create a budget. A simple budget will show your monthly income (including spousal and/or child support) and monthly expenditures. If you need to make any cuts, like downgrading your cable package or canceling subscriptions, a budget will help you identify needs vs. wants. 
  • Start saving toward an emergency fund. Ideally, you should have enough savings to pay three to six months' worth of bills. If you don't have enough at this moment, that's okay. Take small steps toward building that safety net. 

Over 60% of divorced women believe that a financial advisor would have been helpful during their breakup, according to research by wealth management company Francis Financial. Now is the perfect time to gather your own army of professionals who will fight on your behalf, including: 

Your financial flank 

Divorce attorney: If you're thinking of a DIY divorce or hiring someone's cousin as your lawyer, consider this: Our brains naturally default to their most primitive part during times of stress, essentially taking the complex decision-making center of our brains offline. This matters because divorce is an extremely stressful process. And it is precisely the wrong time to make mistakes. 

An experienced divorce attorney knows what to expect and how to be tough when you're feeling weak. He or she will make sure you receive everything you deserve, including things you may not remember to ask for (season tickets, frequent flyer miles, royalties, pensions, photographs, club memberships, intellectual property, cemetery plots, etc.). 

A lawyer who knows his or her way around a divorce will help you circumvent mistakes you could regret for the rest of your life, avoid delays, and reduce stress. 

Certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA): A CDFA is a financial professional who has trained, tested, and become certified to help you navigate financial matters during a divorce. He or she will be part of your team, working with you and your attorney to identify the effects of dividing property, tax issues, whether you can afford to stay in your home, retirement, and the educational needs of your children. In short, a CDFA will help you figure out how to make your finances work today and to come up with ways to build a stronger financial future

A CDFA will comprehensively uncover anywhere there may be assets that you are entitled to, which means you don't have to remember what's hidden in all the financial corners of your life on your own. Even if you initiated the divorce, or you have no hard feelings towards your soon-to-be-ex, a professional will help you remember what is yours. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts helps divorcing couples find a CDFA in their area. 

Your emotional flank 

Divorce therapist: If, like most of us, you discuss your concerns and heartaches with friends, a therapist may seem unnecessary. But here's the difference between your friends and a trained professional: A therapist is not emotionally invested in your divorce, and that's a good thing. 

A trained divorce therapist specializes in moving on from marriages that have dissolved. He or she will listen without judgment and help you sort through your emotions. Rather than riling you up emotionally, a good therapist will help you see light at the end of the tunnel. You can search for a divorce therapist near your home at TherapyTribe.

Support group: The only good thing about the number of divorces in the U.S. may be the number of support groups formed as a result. They spring up everywhere, from churches to community centers, and provide a place where you can discuss issues with people who understand precisely what you're going through. WomansDivorce.com offers a resource list of groups in each state. 

Statistics reminding you that almost half of all marriages end in divorce mean little. What matters is getting the right support for you and your family. With planning, it is possible to protect yourself and all that is dear to you.

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