Am I Going to Be Okay?  A Timeline of Organizing Finances After Divorce

Amidst the whirlwind of emotions when going through a divorce, one of the most pressing concerns is often the state of your finances…and there’s a good reason for that: there can be a lot of fear in the unknown.  Even with my own divorce, I found myself full of anxiety and wondering whether I would be OK.

What can help alleviate some of this stress is finding the concrete financial answers you need at different stages post-divorce. Throughout my years working with clients who have experienced this major life transition, I’ve learned how to walk this path with them, providing them with the answers they need, while not overwhelming them by tackling tasks at the wrong time.

Here is a timeline of what we’ll go through as you navigate this new normal:

This period is about moving out of crisis mode and getting to a place where life is feeling more stable again.  You may begin to establish new support networks and understand that major financial decisions are now yours to make. At this point, you’re likely focused on getting through the divorce settlement process, making sure the kids are okay, and getting to a place where you feel financially stable.

Trying to figure out the monthly budget (oftentimes while in transitional housing) is a priority. Together we’ll start a process called Transition Cash Flow Planning.  This is where we work collaboratively to create the initial budget that can also include expenses for one-time items like necessities for moving into a new home (furniture, household supplies, etc.) and replacing items lost in the divorce.

This allows you to focus on the “now” and create stability when you need it most.

We also ensure that essential tasks are being completed, such as overseeing the execution of the property settlement, transferring, and updating accounts appropriately, revising titles as needed, terminating accounts, and updating beneficiary information and addresses. There are deadlines to complete certain items, like filing the QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) to split 401(k)s.  While you may no longer be legally responsible for the debt claims of your former spouse, creditors may still try to collect payment from you.  Not following the terms of the separation agreement and divorce decree could cause problems later if you want to try to enforce it. 

Also, as a general rule, we recommend putting off any large purchases for at least 6-12 months, if possible. It is a good idea to wait a while for things to settle down, so you have an idea of what your cash flow looks like.  After 6-12 months, you will have a better sense of your regular cash flow and how much you can afford to spend on housing, travel, and other big-ticket items.

From 3-6 months, you might be thinking about your future and how you’d like to move forward.  This can be an exciting time because you’re starting to envision your new life – and we’ll work together to get you on the right path.

We may go through a process I call the Start-Stop-Continue exercise where you’ll determine what will fall away, and what will continue, which will allow you to think about goals for the future.

We regularly use my post-divorce checklist which provides you with clear guidance and confidence as you transition both financially and personally.

In one year, you’re likely feeling more settled into your new life.  Now we can talk about saving again and think about your goals for the future. You might be thinking about a new job, a new relationship, or a bucket-list vacation – all of which can be discussed with your financial advisor to help ensure you’re making informed decisions.

When it comes to navigating a new life post-divorce, nothing is more empowering than having a firm handle on your finances. If you can accomplish that, everything else will likely fall into place more easily. I’m here to guide you through this process and keep you moving toward your goals.

Is it time to get started on your new future?

To download my complimentary post-divorce checklist, CLICK HERE

Want to learn more about my process and how I can help you secure your financial future?  CLICK HERE