Do I Need a Divorce Financial Planner?

Context:  Launching A Next Life

Mary is getting divorced after twenty-two years of marriage and needs a financial partner to help her figure out what comes next.  Mary has always been good with money, but her plans never included starting over late in life, and she is full of uncertainty. After they sell the family home, should she buy a new smaller place?  Should she rent? How much can she afford to spend and travel based on the settlement with her soon-to-be ex-husband? How much can she afford to support her grown kids if they need help? With so many questions and unknowns, and the ongoing work with her attorney, she just wants someone to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and to help her through this process.

Opportunity: A New Trusted Partner

Mary wants to find a professional that has her best interests in mind and can understand that she doesn’t have all the answers yet about what she wants to do next.  She wants to rekindle her own identity, and it will be helpful to know how her finances will plug into that process and exploration. She needs to revisit her estate planning documents, insurance, and investment portfolio to understand what will need to change going forward.

Approach:  Regaining Enough Control to Face Forward on Her Own

We were able to create a roadmap with Mary that showed which decisions were time sensitive and which could be pushed into the future or discarded entirely, which allowed her to feel a sense of control in her life.  We focused on creating flexibility for her during this period of exploration. In particular, she needed to re-assess how much she wanted or needed to work, and how her spending would shift. Looking further forward, she assessed her desire to create legacy and connection with her kids and how she could accomplish that both financially and personally.

Solution:  Mary’s New Normal

After our first year of work together, she:

  • Understood the pros and cons of selling her house versus buying her husband out, balancing emotional complication with a more analytical long-term financial perspective
  • Set a monthly draw on her assets so money lands in her checking account every month as a supplement to her paycheck
  • Set some liquid assets aside for a period of transition and uncertainty where she may have unanticipated expenses
  • Learn the basics, without jargon, about how her investments are managed, and what to expect from portfolio management at North Berkeley
  • Connected with a new CPA and estate planning attorney so she can build her own relationships for tax and estate advice, separate from her ex-husband, as she finishes moving through this life transition

Results: Coming out the other side

Even an amicable divorce includes dramatic changes, in work life, living situation, and relationships with family and friends.  Not every change was easy, but Mary gained confidence in her ability to face difficult decisions and work through them. She doesn’t look forward to repeating the journey – but she does look forward to her new life.