Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events anyone can go through. And that may be amplified for women. According to a study by Pew Research, in the U.S., women’s financial contributions to marriages have steadily been increasing in the last four decades, but men still earn more in 69% of heterosexual relationships. Interestingly, women’s finances tend to take a bigger hit than men’s after a divorce.
The impact spans Social Security benefits, retirement savings and even credit scores. If you find yourself headed toward a split, here are some considerations before, during and after you file.
Before you file for divorce, it’s important to prepare for what’s to come – emotionally and financially. Putting these in place will help:
1. Build a circle of trusted people around you. Surrounding yourself with friends and family is expected, but don’t overlook professional support. A counselor can provide unbiased emotional support, and a financial advisor of your own will help you navigate the tricky financial considerations.
2. Gather all documentation. It’s smart to pull together any legal and financial documentation.
A divorce averages a year, according to a survey by Nolo.com. These tips will help you take care of yourself when in the midst of it:
3. Practice self-care. Take time to grieve your relationship and process your emotions. For you, this may mean reading a book, volunteering, meditating, exercising to reduce stress or practicing affirmations to stay positive.
4. Think clearly and fairly. Do your best to create stability for any children involved. Then, think beyond which assets you want to retain and consider what you can maintain as well. For example, if you want to stay in the family home, add the maintenance to your budget so you can make it happen.
5. Update your beneficiaries. Even after your divorce is finalized, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could be entitled to your assets if they’re listed as a beneficiary. Be sure you make changes official on insurance policies and retirement accounts once you’ve made that decision.
Once the divorce is finalized, it’s important to start anew:
6. Consider tax consequences. After a divorce, you will need to consider how filing individually will affect your tax bill. Other considerations are who will claim dependent children and how the transfers or buyouts of jointly owned assets will impact you in the first year. A financial advisor can help you navigate this.
7. Detail co-parenting responsibilities. In addition to child support and parental rights, it’s just as important to decide who will take on responsibilities like monitoring your children’s social media scheduling the children’s activities and other commitments.
If you’re going through a divorce: