Divorce can really mess with your mind. I know because I’ve been there. It is like my brain was removed from my head and placed beside me for about a year. (It does come back!) The intelligent together woman that I once was turned into an emotional, brain-fogged, unorganized basket case. I tried very hard to keep it together, but I was not at my best. I felt paralyzed and incapable of coherent thought when I very much just wanted to focus and plan for my future with my young child. Divorce financial planning in Texas would have been the solution.
What’s a person to do? First things first.
1. Know the Basic Finances of the Home
What’s your role when it comes to the family finances? Do you handle the bill paying? Are you “in the loop” on all your bank accounts or are you in the dark? What about investment accounts or retirement plans? Do you have any? If you’re in the dark, you need someone to help you turn the lights on – and FAST! This is where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or CDFA® practitioner can really help.
Has your spouse blocked you from your financial life? If so, a CDFA® may help you shed light on the situation. A good CDFA® can walk through your taxes and identify brokerage and bank accounts. He or she can also walk through any financial statements you have and help you identify where assets may be hidden. A Master Analyst in Financial Forensics or MAFF® a different type of professional who can help you forensically trace bank accounts or brokerage accounts to look for hidden assets. There is help available – you do not have to stay in the dark. One client brought in a box of papers from years of stuffing them in drawers and closets. We found 3 rent houses and $100,000 in CD money!
If you and your spouse are cooperative, ask for statements on all your asset accounts and your most recent tax returns so you can find a CDFA® practitioner to help you out with divorce financial planning in Texas and bring you up to speed. A CDFA® professional is specially trained in the financial aspects of divorce and will be your best friend in this process!
2. Think About Your Future
This part will be hard but start thinking about what the next phase of your life looks like. Unfortunately, this has to happen at the same time that you are grieving what you THOUGHT the next phase was going to look like. But if you allow yourself some space, it can actually be healing and fun. You now have the chance to start over again.
What did you used to dream of doing that got lost while you were married? Is it time to go back to school? Maybe a cool downtown loft condo should replace that huge family home that you had to keep clean. Whatever you dream of, you will need your budget and financial picture top of mind. That way, if your dreams outsize your wallet, you know you have some serious planning to do!
3. Build A Single Identity for Yourself
Often through marriage all the credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc. are in the names of both spouses. All of those accounts will have to be closed or converted. Immediately open a checking and savings account in your own name to begin the process of establishing your own financial identity. Be sure to put some things in place while you’re still married because after the marriage is over, your credit picture may not be nearly as strong. Next, find a good rewards credit card to apply for in your name alone so that you will be assured of having access to credit after the divorce and maybe even during if legal fees are necessary.
These steps may seem small but they are valuable first steps to get you thinking financially and looking out for your future. You can get through this, and a little divorce financial planning in Texas help from a CDFA® friend is a great place to start.