Women’s Divorce Issue: Protecting Your Financial Interests in Divorce
Divorce is both the end of your marriage and the beginning of the rest of your life. It affects every aspect of your life, everything from self-esteem to finances. Each issue needs to be addressed in time, but your financial health must be protected from the very beginning of the divorce process. By carefully planning, educating yourself, advocating for your interests and working with an experienced attorney, you can increase your chances of achieving a successful resolution.
Both parties in a divorce want to put themselves in the best position possible at the end to maintain the lifestyles to which they are accustomed. This desire is even more pressing in a so-called “gray” divorce, where a couple separates after a long-term marriage. The longer a couple is together, the more their assets intermingle, though, so it is typically harder to agree upon a “fair and equitable division” of property. The community property approach used by a majority of states to divide assets in a divorce does not guarantee a mathematically equal split of assets, only one that is reasonably fair and workable for both parties.
Women have traditionally fulfilled the homemaker role in a marriage, with men being the primary breadwinner. These roles are changing as more women enter the workforce – particularly in more high-profile and higher-paying jobs – but are still the reality for many couples. That being said, women (particularly older women who may have limited opportunities for career development) may need to fight harder to get their fair share of marital property now and protect their financial interests for years to come.
Older women – especially those who have fulfilled the traditional role of homemaker and full-time mom – need to address several questions if they are considering or are involved in a divorce. Such considerations include:
- What do you actually know about the family finances? Do you know the value of the marital home, investments, savings accounts, retirement plans, pensions, college funds and other assets?
- Do you have access to information about the accounts?
- What do you need to keep your current standard of living?
- Will it be more beneficial for you to keep the marital home? For your spouse to keep it? To sell it?
- How will you support yourself?
- Should you seek spousal support (frequently referred to as alimony)?
- Will you be able to return to (or enter for the first time) the work force?
These questions are difficult ones, but they need to be asked. An experienced family law attorney can help you find the answers you seek, educate you about your legal rights and help you explore the options most likely to yield a successful resolution. Contact Jonathan D. Katz, a New York family lawyer, for more information on financial issues and divorce.