Minimize financial fallout from divorce

October 18, 2012 4:46:40 PM PDT
It's a sad reality, but nearly 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. And the financial fallout can be devastating, especially for women. That's having a plan before the marriage ends could save you money and heartache down the road.

"We both were making money. We were both working full time," said Sharyn Shirley, a divorcee and mother of two.

Living under one roof, with two incomes, Shirley and her husband were financially comfortable.

"Clothes, going out to dinners, vacations," she said.

Then something changed. The Shirleys decided to end their five-year marriage.

"The first couple of years were difficult because the kids were in a private school, it was a nursery. So it was a little more difficult financially 'cause I had to pay for it myself," Shirley said.

So she made cutbacks, moved into a smaller home and setup a budget for her new lifestyle.

But that's not something everyone does when going through divorce.

"Sometimes when we get caught up in the emotions, we don't always think clearly about the business side of things," Trippon and Associates CPA Jim Trippon said.

Trippon says this is what you need to do before you split.

"Make sure you get a good inventory of what all your finances are," he said.

Trippon says it can be difficult to get access to bank account numbers once you move out.

It's also important to make sure...

"That you have at least some credit cards in your name because if the marriage ends, you need to have your own credit," Trippon said.

What if you're a stay-at-home parent and your spouse earns a paycheck?

"In the state of Texas, this is a community property state, so any earning that incurred during that entire marriage could be community property," Trippon said.

Another tip is to avoid emotional spending.

"The one thing that women tend to do is they spend more to fell better. They start shopping," legal analyst Rania Mankarious said.

Mankarious says basing decisions on your emotions is the worst thing you can do.

"Women don't want to let go of the things that have emotional meaning to them. They might want to keep their home but reality is they can't afford their home anymore," she said.

As for Shirley and her two boys, she's getting used to being independent and feels like she's heading in the right direction.

"It's about me and what I'm building for me, myself and my children," she said.

Trippon says there's one more thing to consider if you're divorcing and there's more than one child is involved: You can split up who claims each child for tax purposes. That would have a significant impact on the amount of tax liability each parent has.


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