Navigating the Financial Maze: A Guide to Finances Through Divorce

Divorce is an emotionally charged experience, and untangling finances during this time can feel even more daunting. But amidst the emotional upheaval, taking control of your financial situation is crucial for securing your future. In the next few minutes, I will endeavor to equip you with the knowledge and steps to navigate the financial aspects of divorce.

The Lay of the Land: Understanding Your Financial Landscape

Before diving in, gather a clear picture of your current financial situation. Here's what you need to do:

  • Gather Documents: Collect bank statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements (401(k), IRA), pay stubs, credit card statements, mortgage statements, and any prenuptial agreements (if applicable).
  • List Your Assets: Create a comprehensive list of all assets you AND your spouse own, including real estate, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, artwork, and business interests. Estimate the value of each asset.
  • Tally Your Debts: List all your debts, including mortgages, car loans, credit card balances, student loans, and personal loans. Note the outstanding balance and interest rate for each debt.
  • Understand Your Income: Calculate your gross and net income (after taxes) from all sources, including wages, salary, self-employment income, and alimony (if applicable).

The Big Sort: Dividing Assets and Debts

Division of assets and debts is a core aspect of any divorce settlement. There are two main approaches:

  • Equitable Distribution: This is the most common approach, where assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Factors considered include the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and contributions made to the marital estate (assets acquired during the marriage).
  • Community Property vs. Separate Property: Laws vary by state. In community property states, all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital property and are subject to division. In separate property states, assets and debts acquired before the marriage generally remain separate.

Strategize and Negotiate: Seeking a Fair Settlement
  • Consider Mediation: Mediation is a collaborative process where a neutral third party helps both spouses reach a mutually agreeable settlement. It can be a cost-effective alternative to litigation.
  • Know Your Rights: Educate yourself on divorce laws in your state. Consult with a divorce attorney who can advise you on your rights and options when negotiating a settlement.
  • Gather Expert Help: In some cases, an appraiser might be needed to determine the value of complex assets like a house or a business. A forensic accountant can be helpful if you suspect hidden assets or debts.

Financial Planning for Your New Reality

Once the settlement is finalized, it's time to adjust your financial plan for your new reality. Here are some key areas to focus on:

  • Review Your Budget: Create a new budget that reflects your post-divorce income and expenses. You might need to adjust your spending habits to accommodate changes in income or living arrangements.
  • Reassess Your Emergency Fund: Aim to have 3-6 months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund. Divorce can create unexpected financial needs, so it's crucial to have a safety net.
  • Review Your Insurance: Update your life insurance policies, health insurance coverage, and car insurance to reflect your new marital status.
  • Review Your Estate Plan: Your existing will and power of attorney documents might need to be revised to reflect your new financial situation and beneficiaries.
  • Rebalance Your Portfolio: If your investment portfolio was held jointly, you might need to rebalance it to align with your individual risk tolerance and financial goals.
  • Build Your Credit History: If you haven't built your credit independently before, consider carefully using some proven strategies to establish your credit history.

Emotional and Mental Well-being

Divorce can be emotionally draining. Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being is crucial. Consider:

  • Therapy: Therapy can provide a safe space to process your emotions and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with others going through a similar experience can be a source of strength and understanding.

Divorce can also be a challenging time financially, but by taking proactive steps and seeking guidance, you can navigate through it and build a secure financial future for yourself. Advisors at Coign Capital have helped many clients through this difficult time and can help educate you on the financial aspects of divorce. Don't hesitate to consult a tax accountant or a divorce attorney for guidance specific to your situation.

About Coign Capital Advisors
Coign Capital Advisors is a fee-based investment advisory firm based in Draper, Utah. Specializing in serving retirees, business owners, and entrepreneurs, the firm provides holistic wealth management that goes far beyond investment consulting and strives to attain suitable performance combined with solutions that make clients’ financial goals achievable. Led by J. Matthew Zundel, ChFC®, M. Brandon Riley, CFP®, Adam G. Lefler, Daniel R. Zundel, and Courtland Adams. Clients receive a high level of service from a team with more than 100 years of combined experience. To learn more, visit
Coign Capital Advisors is a fee-based financial advisor & fiduciary. We provide financial planning & wealth management services in Utah, USA, investors, legacy, asset management, capital, markets, estate, retirement, finance

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