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Jackie Porter | Guest Author

Women, Money, and Divorce: How to Move Forward

Your marriage has been in trouble for many years. The news of his desire to divorce is a surprise but not a shock. But the pain of him moving on and the fear you feel about starting a life on your own feels almost unbearable. You can’t imagine what your life will look like as you try to grapple with this new reality. The truth is you are not alone. Coming to terms with an impending divorce is hard on everyone. If you are a woman there are unique challenges you will have to face. Read on to learn how divorce uniquely impacts women. 

The Need for Emotional Support

Men are more likely to remarry after a divorce. Often may have a partner in waiting as they move through the divorce process. 

This is usually not the case for women who may be reeling from the heartbreak of the breakup. They must navigate the changes associated with their new life as a single person. This includes leaving their family home. Leaving their married friendship circle. Leaving their current lifestyle and helping their children adjust to their new reality as well. These changes come at a high emotional cost. The need for support from family, friends and or a professional is enormously important at this time.

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Focusing on Keeping The Home And Paying the Bills At the Cost of Their Future

As the divorce proceedings move forward women need to think about the lifestyle they will have a post- divorce. A word of caution: Avoid making hasty financial decisions associated with staying in the family home. Often in a divorce, women tend to focus on keeping the family home. They may not think through the financial implications of paying the bills as a single person. 

Consider how much income you will have access to. Will it be enough to pay the mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance along with all of the other person living and childcare costs you will need to factor in as well? Do the math to getting a better understanding of the spousal and child support payments you will be entitled to.

Keep in mind it may make more financial sense to downsize to reduce your monthly obligations after the divorce. Chances are the amount will not be enough and so finding employment if you have not worked outside of the home before can be crucial in being able to have cash left over to put towards your retirement. The high costs of keeping the home can also lead to a higher level of mental stress after the divorce as well. All the more reason to seek the advice of a financial professional to ensure your decision is based on sound financial planning and not just an emotional one.

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 Understanding Divorce and The Gender Pay Gap

A major financial headwind many women face after a divorce is finding employment after being out of the workforce for many years to raise a family. Resuming a career after not being unemployed can be extremely challenging. Especially since women earn 81 cents on the dollar as compared to men in their chosen field. This already places them at a disadvantage when it comes to financially becoming independent when the relationship breaks down. Will your skills associated with your employment background need updating? Will you need to go back to school to pursue additional qualifications? Perhaps you may need to use some of the savings from the settlement to invest in your career. As a woman you are also likely to be the primary caregiver of children after the divorce, leaving less time to earn a living. 

Consider your finances carefully as you move through the divorce proceedings to negotiate your settlement. Seek professional support to work through your specific circumstances to gain as much clarity on your financial position after taking the settlement that is currently on the table.

 Advocate For Yourself When it comes to Your Settlement

Considering the emotional and financial toll a divorce may have on a woman’s overall circumstances, it is important to pay close attention to the numbers being offered in your settlement. This includes assessing the value of your home, pension entitlements if applicable, along with spousal and child support obligations. Recognizing that sometimes it may be tempting to settle to get it over with and maintain family harmony, being clear-eyed about the income you will need to fund your financial plans after the divorce is crucial. Remember you are in the best position to advocate for yourself when you know ahead of time what it will cost to pay for the future you want to have post-divorce.  

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