NY Times Offers Advice From Financial Experts About What They Learned After Going Through Their Own Divorces

Here’s a memorable sentence: “Nobody can relate to the raw, visceral experience of ending a marriage better than someone who has gone through it.” Amen to that. Based on that insight, the NY Times published an article this past Sunday entitled “Experienced in Love and Money” which summarized advice from financial experts about what they learned about divorce after their own marriages fell apart. Great idea, well presented. So, what did the divorced financial experts advise the soon-to-be-divorced to help them get through the process with fewer scars?  The experts had quite a few good suggestions:

Choosing a Lawyer: The experts advised divorcing couples to educate themselves about the different ways they can get divorced. In addition, when interviewing lawyers, the experts advised a divorcing spouse to ask what the lawyer thinks of lower-cost options like mediation and collaborative divorce. As stated quite plainly in one of the comments to the Times article: “For someone reading this and thinking about divorce, the number one recommendation I have is to swallow your pride and bad feelings and BEG your spouse to agree to a collaborative divorce.”

Picking Fights: Bickering costs money. A lot of money, according to the experts. When divorcing couples argue, angry letters are exchanged by their attorneys, leading to hundreds of dollars in legal fees. However, many of the letters go  unanswered, and do nothing but stir up a lot of negative emotions. Try to avoid bickering, and focus instead on the future.

Keeping Records: Keep meticulous financial records and do not make big decisions about investments, debts and other financial issues without communicating with your estranged spouse, even if you always made all the financial decisions in the marriage. If you don’t, you may be forced to pay an accountant to recreate all of the financial record later during the divorce.

Hitting The Details: Try, really hard, to predict every expense you’ll encounter in the future and document how you and your estranged spouse will split those costs in the divorce settlement agreement. If you don’t, you’ll either end up back in court facing more legal fees or you’ll pay the expense yourself when it should have been shared.

Living Nearby: Even though it is counter-intuitive, it may pay to stay close by your ex-spouse if you have children rather than get physically as far away as possible (even though that’s what you really want to do). The children can easily get to each parent’s home for visitation, and it’s easy for your former spouse to take care of the children if you need to leave town for work.

Overspending: Divorced couples often spend too much on the children after the divorce in an effort to relieve the guilt they feel. Also, they often lavish the money left after a divorce on making themselves look good, young and available again.  Not surprisingly, the experts advised against this type of overspending. Rather than spend the money left after the divorce, the experts advise saving it.