Understanding these five key issues can help women prepare for divorce and make the process easier and more financially manageable.
Divorce can help struggling couples reclaim their independence, but it is not without its dangers, especially for women. The physical and financial repercussions of divorce can be harder on women than men in various ways. A 2015 Duke University study of over 15,000 people found that “women who had been divorced once were 24% more likely to have a heart attack. Women divorced at least twice were 77% more likely to have a heart attack.”
Men, on the other hand, only had an higher heart attack risk if they divorced two or more times, and remarrying canceled out the increased heart attack risk. These added health risks for women were definitely cause for concern in our office, and we wanted to look for ways women can prepare for divorce. For many couples, divorce is the only reasonable option, so it’s especially important for women to come into this life change properly prepared for the financial and emotional changes involved. If we can empower women with the tools they need during the divorce process in New York, we can help them transition into this next phase of their lives.
Here are our top five ways women can prepare for divorce in New York:
- Divorce can disproportionally impact women’s income, retirement accounts, credit standing, and more, so the first step is to choose the proper legal counsel. Finding a lawyer who is properly versed in divorce and family law can help women get a better settlement. An experienced family law attorney in New York will know the details of alimony, custody, visitation, and other legal issues that can come up in the divorce process. It may also be helpful to hire a financial planner if both spouses have more complicated combined assets like a shared business. This will ensure that both key issues – finances and family – are covered.
- The second issue at hand is joint finances. It is important that women prepare as much financial information as possible before the divorce process gets underway. This can include obtaining details of financial advisors, bank account information, and investment details. It’s often not enough for a spouse just to know that ‘X’ amount is in ‘X’ account. Save information on account numbers, passwords to online banking, and which accounts have automatic payments. But don’t obtain information illegally; consult your divorce attorney if you have questions about the proper actions to take.
- Next up is anticipating unexpected costs. These can arise while gathering financial information, or during the actual divorce proceeding. A spouse may remove his wife from his health insurance plan, passing on hundreds of dollars in monthly additional costs to the other spouse. One way to avoid unanticipated expenses like this is to request a one-time payment outside of alimony. This can protect you from out-of-the-blue costs before alimony payments kick in, and relieve unneeded stress during this difficult period.
- Moving into the more emotional aspects of divorce, we warn against trying to hurt an ex-spouse. Yes, emotions run high during a divorce, and taking repercussive action often seems like a way to gain back lost control. A woman may want to expose a spouse’s philandering to his boss, but if he gets fired then both spouses – and their children – are affected by the financial loss. Even taking your emotions to social media may seem harmless, but they become permanent, public displays of aggression that children and family members can read.
- Finally, we look at the complicated reactions children have to divorce. Parents need to monitor the actions of their children in order to understand how they are coping, both during the divorce and the beginning of your custody agreement. Then you can take the appropriate next steps to help them adjust to this new life. Age is important here: young children often regress into childlike behavior, while teens may react by breaking rules and crossing boundaries. Even if they are told they are not the cause, children often feel responsible for the split in their family. We suggest talking about issues early on as a family. This way, children can open up about problems together. It also helps to take extra steps without making children feel stigmatized. It may be helpful to inform a child’s teacher of divorce to help monitor changes in behavior. But don’t feel the need to start therapy immediately. Doing so can make the child feel singled out.
Taking these key issues into account during a divorce can help alleviate stress and additional emotional sufferings during this big life change.