Life was actually pretty good. Married for over 25 years, I raised 2 boys and was looking forward to the peace and quiet of the empty nester years. We survived raising kids, and job changes that resulted in relocations to 6 different states. Little did I know that my life was about to change.
We were enjoying dinner with our favorite friends at a nearby restaurant. Chatting during dinner, I made a statement that obviously did not agree with my husband. To show his disdain, he boldly blurted out “That’s why I filed for divorce! I don’t agree.” Needless to say, dinner promptly ended and the divorce was launched.
While I was in shock, I continued to believe that he would treat me fairly during the divorce process because I had been married to this man for over 25 years. I really believed he just “wanted out of the marriage” and that we would remain friends to the end.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word Premeditated as “consideration or planning of an act beforehand that shows intent to commit that act.”
Divorce is premeditated. The “filing” spouse has an unfair advantage from a financial perspective because he has had the time and motivation to prepare. In my case, my spouse filed for divorce on June 1st and it was 23 days later before I knew what was happening. His excuse for not telling me was he didn’t have time to tell me. He didn’t have time because he spent those 23 days collecting pertinent financial information that impacted me greatly when we divided our assets. Women need to understand their financial situation at all times and not wait for divorce to occur.
Divorce rates are over 52% in the United States. The percentage increases for 2nd and 3rd marriages. Chances are you may be surprised in the future, like I was.
The “Just in Case” Financial Kit
The divorce process isn’t very quick. Emotions are high. Trust is compromised and the documents that are needed for a fair settlement are inaccessible or may “disappear” once the proceedings start. Prepare yourself by collecting information that is critical to your financial well-being that becomes incredibly valuable if a divorce pops up in your life. The “Just in case” document kit will prepare you:
- For distributing assets in the final divorce decree.
- To track any unauthorized withdrawals by your spouse prior to the settlement.
- To protect your ownership of your vehicle and maintain insurance.
Income and Tax information…the last 5 years of income tax returns, 6 months of paystubs for both spouses
Credit Cards…statements showing what you owe and payment amounts
Banking information…all records for Savings accounts, Checking accounts, Certificates of Deposit, Mutual funds, Brokerage accounts, safe deposit box
House information…Mortgage information, Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit, Property Titles, Purchase price of home, Homeowners Insurance, Umbrella Policy
Automobile information…Automobile loans, Vehicle titles, Automobile insurance
Health Benefit information…Medical insurance, Dental insurance, Life insurance, Disability insurance, Long-term Care insurance
Retirement information…401K plans, IRAs, Keoghs, Wills and Trusts
Valuables…such as wedding rings and jewelry
There are many opportunities to sabotage the financial stability of divorcing couples since a typical divorce takes between 90 and 120 days in the state of Texas. The decisions that you make financially prior to the final decree will impact the rest of your life. Therefore, it is wise to prepare.
Suddenly Single due to loss of a loved one?
Preparation is also necessary for those who suddenly find themselves single due to the loss of a loved one. My father passed unexpectedly at age 57 leaving my mother a widow at age 49. While grieving, mom had to collect the details of her financial future and figure out how to move forward. Had she taken the time to collect this information prior to Dad’s death, she would have been less fearful and at peace knowing she would be able to continue her lifestyle.
Discussing what might happen when your spouse dies seems awkward. Our experience is that most men find it comforting when their wife is informed in case of an unforeseen death or disability. Death of a loved one can be less traumatic when you know where you stand financially.
The Bottom Line
Women need to participate in their finances. Most women will be solely responsible at some time in their lives due to high divorce rates or death of their spouse. It is extremely emotional at times like these to catch up and become financially literate. Put your “Just in Case” financial kit in order today.Brought to you by our Content Experts, Sue Brown and Jean Freeman of Brown and Freeman, LLC