Laura’s Divorce Story: Married for 20 Years, Now What?

Laura (name disguised) was referred to Sigman Financial Fitness® through a family therapist. After a lot of counseling, Laura and her husband decided to divorce. The year–long divorce process was extremely stressful and confusing for Laura, who was 50 years old and had stayed at home to raise her three children. Her husband, a successful investment banker, had focused on building his company. They were married for over 20 years and the youngest child was a junior in high school. The end of the marriage was not only an emotional blow to Laura, but also a financial one, for she had never managed the household finances.

By the time Laura came to Sigman Financial Fitness®, her divorce settlement was nearing completion, and she was anxious and fearful about her financial future: she had no idea about how to begin creating an independent financial life, separate from her husband’s, and was uncertain about who to trust and how to manage her assets allocated from the divorce, which included the marital home.

Post–Decree Transition™: Sigman Financial Fitness® Role

The first task I took on when I began working with Laura was to review the Separation Agreement and check to make sure that both Laura and her ex–husband were in compliance. There were many favorable provisions Laura’s attorney had negotiated for her that would make her life easier after the divorce, such as monthly automatic transfer of child support and maintenance payments from Laura’s ex–husband into Laura’s checking account; and requiring that her ex–husband procure sufficient life insurance to cover his child support and maintenance obligations in the event of his death.

But Laura didn’t know about some of these provisions because she couldn’t bring herself to re–read the Separation Agreement. It was now her responsibility to manage many financial tasks she had never done before, such as qualifying and negotiating for a mortgage, opening bank accounts, arranging her health and personal umbrella and property insurance, and picking a financial advisor to manage her money securely.

By reviewing the Separation Agreement with her, I broke it down into understandable chunks and created a list of tasks for Laura to complete in a logical and sensible order, with our assistance any time she needed it. This gave Laura focus and confidence to move ahead with her life. I also ran retirement projections that showed Laura that if she stuck to a budget and tracked her spending, she would be able to support herself without harsh cost–cutting measures.

In the past year alone, Laura began a new part time job, sold the marital home, purchased a new home, and applied for a mortgage using her own credit. I was there for her every step of the way, advising Laura on how and when to sell the marital home and obtain a mortgage for her new home.

Now that the divorce has been finalized for a couple of years, I continue to work with Laura on making financial decisions and completing financial tasks such as:

  • Routine bookkeeping services
  • Tracking spending, expenses, and cash flow
  • Monitoring her budget using Quicken
  • Developing an asset–allocation strategy for Laura as she invests her divorce settlement and working with All Season Financial Advisors so she can provide a comfortable lifestyle for herself during retirement.