Divorce – A New Financial Beginning

By Kalee Boisvert, MBA, CDFA® On 09/05/2019

I am sitting across the desk from my recently divorced client, who seems a lot lighter today. At our first meeting last year, her marriage had just broken down. And on that day she expressed raw emotion and pain, coupled with exhaustion and stress. I can only imagine how difficult those early days of the separation were for her. Her daily routine was in complete disarray and she was coordinating schedules for their two daughters while going through the emotional stages of grief and loss. 

I am sitting across the desk from my recently divorced client, who seems a lot lighter today. At our first meeting last year, her marriage had just broken down. And on that day she expressed raw emotion and pain, coupled with exhaustion and stress. I can only imagine how difficult those early days of the separation were for her. Her daily routine was in complete disarray and she was coordinating schedules for their two daughters while going through the emotional stages of grief and loss.  

This woman was referred to me by a friend who had also recently gone through a divorce. She wanted to discuss the asset division that was being worked out in her separation agreement. While married, she hadn’t been involved with their money. Her spouse had taken the lead when it came to their finances. Divorce meant she would have to take control of her finances. 

This is a common reality - often one spouse isn’t an equal participant in the financial matters of the household prior to separation. For this person, the prospect of taking back control can be daunting. Parting ways with a spouse is emotionally challenging, but also has a major impact on one’s financial life.

When I first meet with clients at this difficult stage in their lives, they are often confused and overwhelmed. Becoming solely responsible for the finances of the household thrusts them into the lead role, where avoidance is not an option. Many don’t know where to start, but a professional can help them gain confidence and control over their finances. Taking this plunge can be new, uncomfortable, and frustrating at times, but together we can break it down into manageable stages. 

The right financial advisor will stand beside their client on this journey, exploring a variety of wealth management topics that may be completely new to the client. Most of my clients are eager to learn, listen intently, ask questions, and do their homework between our meetings. We make lists and gradually, over several months, check off our progress. There is a lot to cover when going through a divorce, but over time we’ll achieve the following: 

  • Update household net worth statement to see the full picture

  • Create a safe money strategy to plan for monthly income and expenses

  • Outline and prioritize new independent financial desires and goals

  • Develop a personal income plan to map out future goals 

  • Explore tax considerations, implementing tax-efficient solutions where possible

  • Complete the steps for pension splitting 

  • Make adjustments to investments based on risk tolerance and income needs

  • Grow knowledge and financial literacy through additional learning opportunities, such as my Women & Wealth events

For the client I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it’s being a challenging year for her,  but the change I see in her is remarkable. Her entire demeanor has shifted and a new woman sits before me today. She has been through a lot and has come such a long way. I am grateful for the opportunity to have accompanied her through this difficult transition and so proud of her. She is confident about her finances, she is in control, and ready for her new financial beginning.

Tagged with: financial advisor, divorce, cdfa, finance