Divorce lawyers frequently negotiate agreements like these. But the way they approach marital assets may be different from the way a financial planner would view things, said Kristina George, a wealth manager and partner at Northstar Financial Planning in Windham, NH. Lawyers who don’t know the tax consequences of stock options or retaining a house, for example, could “trade assets” in ways that “are not apples for apples,” George said.
Ms. George noted that one of the biggest upheavals of divorce is the way the way a person is taxed changes. Women filing as head of household for the first time can be hit, so it’s important to have a tax projection along with the divorce decree, Ms George said.
Without expert guidance, either ex-spouse can fall into financial trouble. Stories abound of people finding themselves out of gentrifying local real estate markets after selling the family home, requiring moving to other states to make the most of now too meager retirement savings.
After the divorce, Ms. Stevenson went from a part-time job to a full-time job; is a move that Karen D. Sparks, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in Santa Clara, Calif., she said it requires a professional training refresher for many older women, which she factors into post-divorce budgets. Eventually, however, Mrs. Stevenson’s work hours were cut and she is now in debt, on a restricted budget and unable to save.
Dawn Pick Benson, 50, is a copywriter and travel coach lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she filed for divorce from her husband of 18 years in 2018, she had an attorney ready to negotiate the division of a house, a sailboat, two cars, joint savings and checking accounts, and individual savings and retirement accounts. accounts for each spouse, although Ms. Benson’s retirement fund was smaller. But she had no idea which division made sense in the long run, or what kind of trouble she would get herself into if her lawyer chose incorrectly. In a panic, she contacted Liza Caldwell, co-founder of SAS for womenan organization that offers divorce counseling and other educational resources.