Written by Mary Helen Gillespie
Elizabeth, 49, describes the stress she experiences in a post-divorce environment while delivering a message of hope to other women.
How has your divorce financially affected your retirement plans?
Have you hired a financial advisor, chartered accountant, or other financial professional to help you plan for your retirement needs during the divorce proceedings? would you like today
No. It would not have helped.
Was your divorce attorney worried about your retirement resources? Was it a divorce judge?
no. The marriage had little money but abundant assets. However, I was the victim of a financial vendetta case.
How would you describe your financial quality of life after divorce?
I am very poor and very stressed. I depend on public assistance to survive.
What other information would you like to share with women in similar situations?
Stand on the ground. You have contributed more than you think. Tell your truth.
Retirement daily shared Molly’s story with Rick Fingerman, CFP®, CDFA®, CCPS®, mPrincipal Partner, Financial Planning Solutions, LLC of Newton, MA. Here’s the advice he gives her and other women who are facing similar issues in divorce and retirement.
Many divorce attorneys aren’t ready for the money piece. I’ve worked with many women who are going through a divorce (even in fairly amicable divorces) and the process can be very long, arduous, and stressful. I highly suggest having people on your team to help you through this journey. This definitely means having a financial professional who is familiar with things like splitting assets. Having a divorce therapist or coach can also be invaluable.
When marriage has little money as in Elizabeth’s case, it is critical to have a CDFA® or CFP® working in the field by your side. A $100,000 (401)k is not the same as a $100,000 Roth IRA or $100,000 in equity. Each comes with different tax ramifications and a qualified professional can help with a fairer division of assets.
Elizabeth can’t go back and change things, so all we can do is put together a comprehensive plan moving forward for her and the woman facing similar dilemmas. By working with a financial professional, a plan can be put in place to help ensure a comfortable retirement and things like the best way to pay for college. For example, being a custodian single parent and having a lower income can provide some advantages when it comes to receiving financial assistance.
Getting help from a CFP to help manage expenses and develop a savings/investment plan can be critical going forward. You will be amazed at how much better looking you will have when you are financially savvy.
It might be possible if Elizabeth wasn’t on a high income to be able to go back to school and reinvent herself. It may be possible to obtain an adjustment in spousal maintenance for a specified period of time to help cover the cost of education. For example, if a higher-income earner is required to pay a five-year subsidy, perhaps it can be adjusted to pay a slightly larger amount when studies are completed, and a new job can be obtained. I knew a woman who went to trade school and is now living very well without taking on student loan debt.
A tip I always give to my divorced clients regardless of wealth:
- Take care of yourself first. Divorce is stressful regardless of wealth. Eat well, exercise, keep in touch with friends, and get a good therapist.
- Don’t reply to emails from your ex on the same day. Give them time before responding when you are calm. The wrong things that are said or written can come back to affect you.
- Remind yourself that you will go through this.
Learn more by watching our webinar, Roundtable on retirement: women, divorce and retirement With Robert Powell and panelists Michael Petrovsky and Bonnie Sewell.
To find a financial professional with experience in divorce, visit Institute of Financial Divorce Analysts website.
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