Divorce Math: Get Help Splitting Your Finances

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sometimes finances are so bad that couples are forced to put off divorce, unable to afford life on their own. (Published Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010)

    Troubled economies often lead to troubled marriages. That's not new.

    But experts say that sometimes finances are so bad that couples are forced to put off divorce, not being able to afford life on their own.  In fact, divorce filings last year were down.

    Figuring out how to split up a household can be daunting, especially for women who have relied on bread-winning husbands.

    "The worst fear is financially," said Len Doria, a divorcing mom of four who said she was "looking at a pile of bills you have to pay yourself."

    Enter "Divorce University," an annual workshop put on in November at Evanston Hospital by non-profit resource organization Lilac Tree.

    It's aimed at educating women on money matters in a time of so much financial uncertainty.

    "It’s shocking. They’re typically unaware how much divorce can affect you financially," said Nicole Romito of Financial Strategy Network.

    Romito has a strategy she shares with clients:

    • Gather as much financial information as possible, especially those tax returns. It's a "key forensic tool," Romito says, and may be the only way you learn about a possible hidden bank account.
    • Establish credit solely in your name.  And do it while you're still married.  Most financial institutions still look at household income and assets.
    • Review expenses and make yourself a divorce budget. What does your future look like? Do you have enough money? How long will it last you?
    • Forget about getting even.  It will only cost you more.  Focus more on educating yourself. And don’t think about what your friends got.  Each situation is different.
    • Review settlement options with these factors in mind.
    • Realize that you will need to adjust your lifestyle. It simply costs more to run two households.
    • When you look on paper, keep in mind that not all assets are equal, even at the same amount. Get the house and you have taxes and expenses.  Get the retirement fund and chances are good it will grow and make you money.

    $MART MONEY:  Navigating the Road to Financial Freedom