With Divorce on the Horizon

With the 2016 holiday season here, most of us look forward to spending quality time with our families and loved ones. But for some couples, this time of year may be filled with disappointment, anger, and financial anxiety. Statistics show more people file for divorce in January than any other month of the year.

In terms of finances, there are few things more damaging than an ugly and expensive divorce.  But even amicable couples will often experience a loss in living standards as a result. Assets must be divided and household income that used to support one residence must now support two.

The holiday season is stressful enough. If you are contemplating separation or already in the process of divorce during this time, here are some tips to reduce your financial anxiety and look forward to the holidays, knowing that you have planned well in advance:

  1. Begin assembling your team of advisors. At a minimum, the team should include a therapist and certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). The latter is imperative if you don’t fully understand your current financial situation or are worried you won’t be able to thrive financially after divorce.
  2. Gather and organize your family’s financial documents. Obtain the most recent mortgage, retirement, and brokerage account statements, your 2014 and 2015 tax returns, and a schedule of your monthly income and expenses. If you don’t have accurate data, it will be difficult to determine how to divide assets fairly and negotiate child and, potentially, spousal support.
  3. Don’t let legal costs get out of control. Consider using a mediator and CDFA early on in the divorce process. If you can resolve most financial and co-parenting issues in cooperation with your spouse, you won’t incur costly legal bills while opposing lawyers hammer it out.

Enduring the holidays amidst separation or divorce is difficult but there are resources to help you during this time so you can still enjoy loving moments with family members and friends.