Financial Planning for Divorce

A Guide By Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C.


When is the best time to financially prepare for divorce?

Divorce is an emotionally and financially challenging experience that can significantly impact your life. Proper financial planning for divorce is crucial to navigate this complex process and ensure a stable future. Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C., located in Atlanta, GA, has prepared this comprehensive guide to help you understand the key aspects of financial planning during a divorce.

Understanding the Financial Implications of Divorce

Divorce involves the division of assets, liabilities, and income, which can drastically alter your financial landscape. Understanding these implications is the first step in effective financial planning for divorce. 

Assets and Liabilities 

  1. Marital Assets: These include all properties and financial assets acquired during the marriage. This encompasses real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and personal property.
  2. Separate Assets: These are assets owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Identifying and documenting these assets is crucial.
  3. Debts and Liabilities: Both marital and individual debts need to be considered. This includes mortgages, credit card debts, personal loans, and any other liabilities. 

Income and Expenses

  1. Current Income: Assess your current income from all sources, including salaries, bonuses, investment income, and any other earnings.
  2. Future Income: Consider potential changes in income post-divorce, such as child support, alimony, or changes in employment status.
  3. Living Expenses: Evaluate your current and projected living expenses. This includes housing, utilities, groceries, healthcare, and other regular expenses.

Steps to Effective Financial Planning for Divorce

Gather Financial Documents: Collecting all relevant financial documents is the foundation of your financial planning for divorce. These documents will provide a clear picture of your financial situation and help in equitable asset division.

1. Tax Returns

At least three years of tax returns to understand income sources and deductions.

Bank Statements: Detailed records of all bank accounts, including checking, savings, and money market accounts.

Investment Accounts: Statements for all investment accounts, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and retirement accounts.

Real Estate Documents: Titles, mortgages, and appraisals for all properties owned.

Debt Statements: Current balances and payment histories for all debts, including credit cards, loans, and mortgages.

2. Assess and Value Marital Assets

Determining the value of marital assets is essential for fair distribution. This may require professional appraisals, especially for real estate, businesses, and valuable personal property.

Real Estate: Obtain current market values for all real estate holdings.

Business Interests: If you or your spouse own a business, consider a professional business valuation.

Personal Property: Assess the value of valuable items such as jewelry, artwork, and vehicles.

Retirement Accounts: Understand the current value and future potential of retirement accounts. Consider the tax implications of dividing these assets.

3. Create a Post-Divorce Budget

A realistic post-divorce budget will help you understand your financial needs and constraints. This budget should include:

Housing Costs: Rent or mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, and insurance.

Living Expenses: Groceries, transportation, healthcare, childcare, and other daily expenses.

Debt Payments: Monthly payments for any debts retained after the divorce.

Savings and Investments: Contributions to savings accounts, retirement plans, and other investment vehicles.

4. Plan for Tax Implications

Divorce can significantly impact your tax situation. Consult with a tax professional to understand these implications and plan accordingly.

Filing Status: Determine how your filing status will change post-divorce and the resulting impact on your tax liability.

Asset Division: Understand the tax consequences of dividing assets, particularly retirement accounts and investment portfolios.

Alimony and Child Support: Be aware of the tax treatment of alimony (now non-deductible and non-taxable post-2018) and child support (non-deductible and non-taxable).

5. Update Legal Documents

Post-divorce, it is crucial to update all legal documents to reflect your new circumstances.

Wills and Trusts: Revise your will and any trusts to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Beneficiary Designations: Update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial accounts.

Powers of Attorney: Change your power of attorney and healthcare proxy if your ex-spouse is currently listed.

Consider Insurance Needs 

Insurance coverage is an often-overlooked aspect of financial planning during a divorce.

Health Insurance: Determine your health insurance options post-divorce. If you were on your spouse’s plan, explore COBRA or individual health insurance plans.

Life Insurance: Evaluate your life insurance needs, particularly if you have dependents. Ensure the policy covers child support or alimony obligations.

Home and Auto Insurance: Update your policies to reflect changes in ownership and living arrangements.

 Seek Professional Advice

Divorce is a complex process that benefits from professional guidance. Consider consulting the following professionals:

Divorce Attorney: A family law attorney can provide legal advice and represent your interests throughout the divorce process.

Financial Planner: A certified financial planner can help create a comprehensive financial plan and budget.

Tax Advisor: A tax professional can advise on the tax implications of asset division and other financial aspects of divorce.

Protecting Your Financial Future

Effective financial planning during a divorce can protect your financial future and provide peace of mind. Here are some additional tips to ensure a stable post-divorce financial situation:

  1. Avoid Emotional Decisions

Divorce is an emotional time, but it is essential to make financial decisions based on logic and facts. Avoid making hasty decisions out of anger or fear. Take the time to evaluate all options and consult with professionals.

  1. Build an Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund is crucial, especially during and after a divorce. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses to cover unexpected costs.

  1. Focus on Your Career

Your career and earning potential are vital components of your financial future. Consider furthering your education, gaining new skills, or seeking career advancement opportunities to increase your income.

  1. Prioritize Debt Repayment

Managing and reducing debt is crucial for financial stability. Create a plan to pay off debts systematically, starting with high-interest debts first. This will improve your credit score and free up more of your income for savings and investments.

  1. Rebuild Your Credit

Divorce can impact your credit score, especially if joint debts were not managed properly. Obtain a copy of your credit report and work on rebuilding your credit by paying bills on time and reducing outstanding debt.

  1. Plan for Retirement

Ensure that your retirement plans are on track despite the financial upheaval of divorce. Adjust your retirement savings plan to reflect your new financial situation and consider working with a financial advisor to create a robust retirement strategy.

Contact Us

Divorce is a significant life event that requires careful financial planning. By understanding the financial implications, gathering necessary documents, creating a realistic budget, and seeking professional advice, you can navigate the complexities of divorce and secure a stable financial future. Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C., located in Atlanta, GA, is here to support you through every step of this process, ensuring that your financial and legal interests are protected, contact us today.

For personalized advice and representation, contact Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C. today. Our experienced family law attorneys in Atlanta are dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible outcome during this challenging time.