If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that the economy touches every aspect of our lives. Inflation, rising interest rates, and layoffs aren’t just financial issues — they can also impact our mental health, our physical health, and our relationships. Any problems in our personal lives can get even more difficult once the stress of finances gets involved. That has certainly been the case with divorce.
We all know that divorce is complicated and expensive, and recently, those expenses have been magnified by inflation. The latest update to the Consumer Price Index shows that the cost of legal services is up 6% from a year ago, which means paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars more in attorney’s fees. Dips in the stock market can also make dividing up investment accounts more contentious. And with a still-tight housing market and mortgage rates that are double what they were a year ago, it can feel like fights over the family home have no winner. The spouse who keeps the house might have to refinance at a much higher rate, and the spouse who moves will face sky-high rent and home prices.
All of this means that — if you’re going through a divorce or think you might be soon — you have to get even more strategic about protecting your finances. Women have historically been at a disadvantage after their marriages end: On average, they experience a 27% decline in their standard of living post-divorce, while men actually see their standard of living rise by 10%.
But as stressful as divorce is, you don’t have to go through it alone. All of us at HerMoney are here for you, as is Lisa Zeiderman, the Managing Partner at Miller Zeiderman LLP, a New York-based family law firm. Lisa is a matrimonial attorney, a Certified Financial Litigator, and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She specializes in prenups, postnups, custody agreements, and complex financial divorce agreements.
We talk about how to protect your money through all the different stages of marriage — starting with your engagement. Lisa tells us why it’s important to get a clear picture of your finances before marriage, what questions you should ask your partner to make sure you’re on the same page with money, and when it makes sense to get a prenup versus a postnup. She also shares tips for how you can broach the topic of a prenup without inadvertently offending your partner.
Then Lisa takes us through the process of divorce, and what women in particular need to pay attention to. Even though women initiate nearly 70% of all divorces in America, they’re not always prepared to negotiate spousal support, child support, and other forms of compensation — all of which have huge consequences for their long-term financial security. We talk about the importance of having a team of people on your side, including your attorney and a financial advisor, and when it makes sense to bring in experts like a forensic accountant. We also share tips for specific groups of women who are more likely to struggle with their finances post-divorce: stay-at-home mothers who don’t have their own source of income, and older women who are in or approaching retirement.
And for anyone struggling through the slog of divorce, Lisa has one big piece of advice: Don’t leave the negotiating table.
“This may be your biggest opportunity to get as much money off the table as you can,” she says. “You may never have the ability to earn this money, and it’s a fact for a lot of women because they have been out of the workforce. So it’s really important that they try to get as great of a division of the assets as possible.”
In Mailbag, we hear from a listener who wants to declutter her house, but isn’t sure where to start. In Thrive, four things you should know about filing your taxes in 2023.
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