Divorce isn’t as clear cut as ‘before’ and ‘after’. On Your Own Two Feet founder and financial adviser Helen Baker, a Career Money Life Certified Supplier, views the process in four distinct phases—pre- settlement, negotiation, post-settlement and rebuilding.
In her new book On Your Own Two Feet Divorce: The Survive and Thrive Financial Guide, Helen Baker says viewing divorce with this unique perspective can have six key benefits:
- Saves time in the financial settlement process
- Sets realistic expectations for your future financial position
- Delivers easy-to-understand calculations that give a clear perspective on where the money will come from and how you will get what you want from your short-term and long-term goals
- Sets you up with the foundations: emergency funds, insurance, spending and investment plan, superannuation and estate planning
- Eases the mental heartache, allowing life to move on
- Drives the asset pool settlement in terms of income, and what will generate income, moving forward and the assets that suit your future plan
Pre-settlement top tip
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to rely on a lawyer for all aspects of divorce. Yes, you need to see a lawyer, regardless of whether children are involved. They know the law and will guide you through the legal issues that must be dealt with. They can legally draft what is needed to close a property settlement but they are not authorised, nor trained, to give financial advice. An incorrect calculation of the asset pool split or retaining assets that are not aligned with your needs can be costly in terms of financial wellbeing and lifestyle.
Negotiation top tip
Understand the pros and cons of various options before agreeing to any property settlement. This enables you to consider what truly works for you, for now and the future. For example, women often keep the family home for sentimental reasons rather than looking practically at whether they can afford mortgage repayments and ongoing upkeep. Understand also that both parties must legally disclose the true value of all assets and that the old “you’re not entitled” line is emotional gamesmanship, not law.
Post-settlement top tip
Have a financial plan that puts your assets to work with investments that suit you now as well as your medium and long-term needs. Once money is gone, it’s gone. This is not the time to succumb to a dose of affluenza, living beyond your means for appearances. But don’t deny yourself living by imposing hard and strict rules: you need balance now, for mental, physical, social, spiritual and financial wellbeing.
Protect yourself for the future by having in place a spending and investment plan, all necessary insurances, an emergency fund (for the unexpected big bill) and all legal work sorted out. Update your Will. Check your superannuation beneficiary. You may say “never” to another relationship now but about 12% of marriages involve both brides and grooms who have “been there” before. Love is a wonderful thing. It can
blind us, though. Have the precautions in place to protect your assets, just in case.