When It Comes to Your Wallet, Knowledge is Your Path to Success

by Christine Palmer Hennigan, ChFC, CDFA

Financial Frequency. myEducation

February 4, 2019 .2 min read

As we travel through our adult life, we will be faced with unexpected events. In the best cases, they are happy events such as engagement announcements, career victories, or news of a grandchild coming our way. Unfortunately, we are sometimes also faced with unwanted surprises… the diagnosis of a health event, the death of a family member or friend, or divorce which you may not have known was in your future. In the last example, this can be paralyzing news.

For the past 28 years, I have been serving a client base of women who have experienced the transition to widowhood or divorcee. Aside from all of the emotions involved, both circumstances can be terribly daunting. After all, the majority of women have relinquished the financial roles in their marriage, to their husband. Although this may seem efficient and save them time to do other things, it can be dangerous. Knowledge of martial finances is critical.

In death, the couple remained together and were usually quite happy. In divorce, it is most often entirely another story. There are many ways which money is controlled or hidden, leaving one party in the dark.

What should you do if you suddenly find yourself heading into a divorce proceeding, whether or not you wanted to be headed that way? The steps are important… after all, it quite possibly is the largest financial transaction you will ever enter into. Although the case may take years, let’s talk about the three most important initial steps to get organized.

Assemble a Good Team

At the core, you will need a Divorce (Family Law) Attorney, a CDFA, and a CPA. On the perimeter, you may need to engage a:

  • Therapist,
  • Realtor,
  • Mortgage Broker,
  • and Career Consultant

Depending upon the complexity of the case, there may eventually be a need for a Forensic Accountant, Business Valuation Expert, Vocational Experts, etc. As with other areas of our life, referrals are best. If you find a qualified and trusted advisor listed on the core team, they will be able to connect you with the others.

Begin to gather documents.

This may not be easy if you did not manage the finances, but it is important to create a “financial roadmap" for the case. The members of your core team above can help with this is you are not familiar with how to access your information.

Reflect on your approach to the case before you meet with the advisors.

Even though there are high emotions involved, your initial approach to the case will “set the stage" for many interactions between the parties and all of the professionals. If there are children involved, it is particularly important to “keep your eye on the ball" and not let it be more difficult on them than it needs to be. Remember that even though this event is consuming your life at the moment, there is peace and happiness ahead which you cannot even imagine. You will be in control of your finances and your happiness again!