Divorce does not only call for mental and emotional preparedness. It also asks us to be financially prepared as well. Divorce specialist and analyst, Christina Lynn, is back in this episode to shed some light on getting your finances ready for divorce. She shares her personal experience that led her to become a personal finance expert specializing in divorce financial planning. With her background and expertise, Christina talks about creating a game plan during this awkward period in between announcing separation and finalizing your divorce. Don’t miss out on Christina’s ultimate weapon to financial freedom that will have you lead an independent and prosperous new life.
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Being Financially Ready For Divorce With Christina Lynn
Every single Tuesday I have the best guests and I bring you guys awesome people. Every single week it gets better and better. In this episode, I am bringing someone back. Rarely do I bring people back but when I have someone fabulous on the show. I reached back into my back episodes and I pulled back the best people I have. I have found Christina Lynn and I loved her once, twice and forever. I’m bringing her back and she’s here. If you ever read Christina Lynn with me before, I love her. I have referred her to many of my clients. Christina Lynn is back and she’s amazing.
She’s a divorce specialist, analyst, and certified financial planner who decided to specialize in divorce financial planning because of her own personal experiences while she was unraveling her complex divorce. She was oblivious to her own family finances and decided she didn’t know where to turn for help. In her own journey, it led her down the path to becoming a personal finance expert. She’s a certified financial planner, certified estate planner, and a certified divorce financial analyst. A doctoral student at Kansas State University in personal financial planning. Her mission is to empower women in their personal finances and goal-based financial planning. Christina, come on out. I love having you.
Your show is great.
Thanks for being here.
I’m excited to talk about money and being financially prepared for divorce.
Let’s do it. So many women and men are ready to get divorced, but they’re not financially ready for divorce.
There’s so much emotion to process that, usually the finances are on the back burner. You know that it’s going to be a huge shift, but you can only prepare for one thing at a time. Finances usually come as an afterthought.
I was not financially ready. I thought, “I’m okay and I’ve got this.” I was not. I was so blindsided by many things. You start. This is so important for my audience to read.
It is a big deal because this is going to be the five biggest financial shifts of your life. Especially during the divorce process, itself. It’s an awkward stage because your finances are shared during the marriage. All of a sudden when you announced the news that you want a divorce, it becomes, “What do we do? Do we split our finances now?” A lot of it depends on the personality of your spouse. Are they going to be vindictive? Do they hold the purse strings? Are they going to shut off your credit cards? There are so many things to think through and account for.
Probably the biggest question that you’re going to have to ask yourself in preparing for a divorce is, how are you going to pay for your expenses during the divorce process? A lot of times, you have some marital assets that are maybe half, less than half or more than half. It depends on your situation that will end up coming to you when the divorce is finalized. This awkward period that I’m talking about is, during the divorce process, after you file, during and until the divorce is finalized.
I see. Can you explain this one more time? This is where I was confused a lot. We’re not talking about, “The papers are signed and this is what you get.” Let’s say you’re separated for a full year because I was separated in North Carolina for a full year. That’s the period you’re speaking of.
It’s the awkward limbo period when you filed the divorce paperwork or even before that when you announced that you wanted a divorce and before the divorce is finalized. That is what I’m talking about. There are two different questions, but what I’m talking about is the first one, before the divorce is finalized. A lot of times when the divorce is finalized, you get some of the assets so that you could pay off credit card bills, you could liquidate some things if you needed to pay for your living expenses. If you don’t have money in the interim to pay for the attorney fees, court fees, rent, food and things like that. How are you going to survive? Especially if you have kids, you’re providing for other little ones. It’s such an awkward time.
That’s your first question. How are you going to pay for your expenses during this interim period? If you are the primary breadwinner, it’s not as big of a deal for you because you have control over where your chuck gets deposited. You can figure out how to make ends meet, even if you have to cut back a little bit. Where it gets tricky is for the non-primary breadwinner, particularly the stay at home moms or dads, that you’re reliant on your spouse to pay for things.
What are your suggestions? Where do we start?
You need to come up with a game plan of how you are going to pay for things if your spouse pulls strings back and you don’t have any way to pay for things. That needs to be your game plan figuring out that interim budgeting period. The best-case scenario is if you could build up a little emergency fund for yourself. The quickest the divorce could go probably is a few months, but it could take you over a year. It took me a few years. I’m saying you have to budget for a few years, but the best-case scenario is to come up with a little slush fund for you to cover you during this interim period. If you can’t, you can go to family for help. The worst-case scenario is if you put money on credit cards because it can get out of control pretty quickly and get stressful.Fear inhibits us from making logical plans for how to proceed with divorce. Click To Tweet
The silver lining with that is, if you had to put money on a credit card, hopefully, you would get some assets in the divorce settlement that you could pay off after it’s all done. That should be your last resort. The second thing that is super important, after you come up with that game plan is, creating a budget for your new life. Before you move out of the house, do a lot of homework. Figure out where the apartment, townhome or house that you want to rent and figure out how much that rent is. Start calculating all of the other expenses that you’re going to have to pay on your own like the internet, fuel, cell phone bill, groceries, and school lunches. Figure out all of those basic necessities that you’re going to need to pay for and then figure out how much your income is. Do you have a job?
If so, what’s your normal paycheck? You compare your income to your expenses. If you’re spending more than what is coming in for income, then you have a couple of options. That’s when you look at that difference as an argument for spousal support, you can say, “There is no way for me to make ends meet on what I’m making. Let’s talk about possibly spousal support. If that isn’t the case or if you can’t get temporary child support or spousal support, you start looking at, “How else am I going to make ends meet?” Do you need to go to credit cards? Hopefully not. Do you need to make a change in your career? Possibly. Some of these questions are difficult for people to make in this position because it requires sacrificing and down stepping your quality of life. I don’t know about you, Jennifer, but I can imagine that it would have been hard.
I freaked out. This is the biggest thing for me. I don’t care if you’re going from a mansion to a house, a house to a trailer. It doesn’t even matter. It’s a change of life period. No matter what you’re doing, you’re going to take a hit financially with the divorce. You have to prepare yourself for that hit. I didn’t realize how big of a hit I was going to be taking. I was prepared for the emotional aspect of it. I thought, “Sure. My finances were going to change.” I did not realize how drastically. I don’t think I did. I was, I was rocked to the core. This also caused me to have more emotional distress because I was scared. As a stay at home mom, I didn’t work for many years.
For many years, I raised my kids. I didn’t know what I am going to do with my life. I didn’t have a career. I didn’t have a degree anymore. I was a DJ for several years. I was a DJ when my twenties. How is that going to go back to being a DJ or a dance teacher? No one was going to hire me. Who wants a 40-year-old DJ? It was horrifying. I can relate to the stay at home moms and dads who don’t go back into the workforce. It’s horrifying and I was horrified. What you’re doing, Christina, your work is necessary and needed. Which is why I have you back on the show. All of us are so scared which causes so much emotional distress.
Fear inhibits us from making logical plans for how to proceed. It’s normal because it’s the biggest financial shift. It’s dealing with your kids, your lifestyle, and hopes and dreams realigning. The trick here is not to bury your head in the sandbag. Get help if you need to. Otherwise, if you are capable of only putting pen to paper and mapping it out yourself with this budget, that’s going to help you get a realistic view.
I sat down and I remember making a list of all the things that I needed to budget for. Going through a divorce, I can’t believe the things that I forgot because I hadn’t seen the bills in several years. My ex-husband was an accountant and he was in charge of the bills and I was in charge of the kids. When I sat down, I was like, “I have actually to look at these bills.” I had forgotten what I was responsible for. It’s scary.
It is scary. I’m talking to you and your audience, you are capable of doing this. You can do it. It’s going to be a little painful at first, but you can master this. It’s going to change your life because you’re going to be empowered. Do you have time for a couple of more tips?
Yes, I have time for you as long as you want to stay. Go ahead.
Another tip would be to stay in your current home until the divorce is finalized. This isn’t always the case, particularly if there is abuse going on. This isn’t going to be a valid option. If you can stay in your current home until the settlement gets distributed. This is going to help you alleviate some of those issues in that interim period of having to pay for a whole household on your own while you’re waiting for the divorce to be finalized. It is a case by case situation, but it’s particularly smart for the people who are not the primary breadwinner.
Another tip is to gather all the financial information. People handle the news of divorce differently. Some people take it like, “This sucks, but let’s figure it out.” Other people, they get vindictive, resentful, they hide things and they want to make the divorce process as difficult as possible for their spouse. They’ll make it next to impossible to get transparent information. Unfortunately, that makes it more expensive for you because you have to pay for divorce attorney fees to get these documents that you’re entitled to anyway. If you can get those on the front end, you don’t need to pay an attorney to force that through the discovery process. Get recent statements and even logins if you can for retirement accounts, pensions, investment accounts, life insurance policies, checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, student loans, car loans, other loans, and other assets. You want to get all those things so that you can eliminate an expensive portion of the divorce process if you’re going through an attorney.
It makes no sense if you’re going to have to pull a financial affidavit anyways. Might as well do it in the front so that you don’t have to spend on attorney fees to do it. You might as well have both of you do it honestly and transparently.
That money because anything that you have to route through your attorney is going to be expensive. Attorneys serve a needed purpose. I’m not trying to say it like you don’t. If you can get this on your own it’s going to save you money. Depending on your spouse, if you don’t have your ducks in a row prior to, it might be difficult for you to get access to some of your other documents like birth certificates, passports, mirror certificates, social security cards, and those documents for your kids. For example, I didn’t have any of those pieces when I left. I left with my purse and my two kids and it was the worst beastly time to get new documents for all of those things. It was horrendous.
Don’t you need both parents there to get them?
Yes, it was.
I cannot imagine.
It was a nightmare. I changed my name even because I was, “I’m going through the worst process ever. I might as well [00:16:57] and get the name change done at the same time.” Do it all at once. Get those documents if you can see that it could potentially be an issue.
I should’ve said at the beginning of the show is for everyone to get out a pen and take notes because this episode is super important. Take notes because this is such important information.
I am a little biased, but it’s important too.
I’m going to make sure people know where to find you.
Thank you. You don’t necessarily need the originals if that’s going to cause an issue, you could get copies. If you are the primary custodian of your kids, I will try to get the originals of those two. If you’re not the primary custodian, that’s not necessary but it does help for the primaries.
At least if you can, get at least get the copies.
There can open a whole new can of worms. Another tip is that this is a good time because you’re going through transition any way to realistically assess your career and your job. If you’re a stay at home mom, unless you’re your spouse’s ultra-wealthy or you come from money, this might be a good time to think about a new career. You have time to go back and get a new career, like what you’ve done Jennifer and I’ve done. No matter what your age, you have plenty of time to do it. The important part is to take the bull by the horns and get it done.
Even if it requires schooling certification, starting at the bottom, or entry-level, take that and, and start somewhere. It’s better to do that than to sit on the sidelines and feel sorry for yourself. Take some movement with that.
That’s a great tip for a lot of women. I’m not judging at all, but a lot of women have a hard time with the transition and with this whole thing is so overwhelming. If you would put yourself into a certification, a new class or a new career, it may give you something to take your mind off of all this horrific time. That’s maybe a good and a positive thing. It is movement and movement is good and change is sometimes helpful. That’s a great point, Christina. A lot of us sit in the negativity instead of moving towards the positive and the positivity.
Thank you. I’m going to share it as a quick story about this. It was funny. I was a stay at home mom for a few years, and even that short gap rendered me useless in the workplace to get a job. I went through this period of brainstorming, “What am I going to do in this second career now?” I had to start from scratch. I had this list going and my family helped me with it of all the different potential things that could be. On it was raising cats, cleaning houses, a dental hygienist. It is so silly to look back. I have the list still. My career now is so fulfilling I cannot imagine my life without it now. It can be an exciting thing. Don’t be intimidated that you don’t know where to start, just start.
Just do it. That’s how I started. I had nothing and tone day my kid was like, “What are you doing, mom?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m writing a blog, but I don’t know how to do it.” Jonah was like, “I can help you. Go on to Blogger.com” I was like, “What’s that?” He showed me. I’ll never forget that he was eleven. I started a blog and that’s how this all started, by writing a blog. I wrote a blog about my divorce, how sad I was and how it was killing me. People started reading it. You’ll never know by starting something where it will lead.
That is so inspiring.
You too. I feel that women need to help each other out.
The second to last one is, run a credit report. Most people say, “I’ve done that before,” or, “I know what my credit score is.” I’m not talking about that. Do it now. Go on AnnualCreditReport.com you can get a free one each year. You need to get the whole report. It’s twenty pages long. It is not even a score. If you don’t know what that is, google it. Be careful for there’s a ton of advertisements that will try to upgrade you to pay, but you don’t need to pay anything. This is super important because you need to know what’s outstanding in your name as far as the debts go.
There might be nothing. It might be clean, that there won’t be any surprises. You may be surprised by what your spouse took out in your name. Hopefully, that’s not the case, but I’ve seen it all. It’s better to be aware of what your name is jointly on with your spouse that you thought was only in his or her name. All of those things are super important because once you file for divorce, you start to have or not to have conversations like, “Who’s going to pay for what?” If things that have your name connected to them don’t get paid or paid on time, that’s going to affect your credit.
Everybody, this is so important. I was in college, I opened a Gap card and I put $12 on it. I swear to God. I’ve never been the same since. I’m not kidding. You’re right about that. That is so important, everybody. What’s the credit place again?Divorce is hard to process emotionally that usually, the finances are on the back burner. Click To Tweet
It’s called AnnualCreditReport.com. If they’re asking you to pay for it, don’t. It’s not the right website. The follow-up to post that. The last piece is, this is empowering. I want to share that news with everybody that yes, it’s going to take some temporary setbacks, some painful transition process to figure out your new finances. The good news is you can be so successful independently in your new chapter of life. All it takes is setting up this new budget, new financial plan, and you can be independently prosperous and successful. That is so exciting. No matter where you’re starting at now, it doesn’t need to be your story in 1 to 5 years or 20 years. You can pivot yourself now that you’re on your own. You don’t have dead weight from your ex-spouse.
That’s true. You can do this.
You absolutely can. I want you to take a proactive approach to this and do this budget, set up a new financial plan for your success, plan for your financial future because it’s in your hands. You can navigate this ship to where you want it to go. I want you to be independently financially successful so that you can get remarried if you so choose to for Reasons out of love and not financial convenient.
That’s a good point. It’s not about finding someone to support you financially. You could do it on your own and you can also have control over your finances because that’s another thing a lot of women like I did, did not have control over my finances when I was married. Now I do. It’s an empowering place to be. This is an empowering episode. I love talking to you. Christina, are you part of the national association of divorce professionals?
You can be.
I want you to know that I was inducted and I was thinking about you. I was going to send you an email. I didn’t even know about it and I saw it. I was like, “I’m going to join in,” and I did. Now I’m part of the NADP and you can be too because you’re a divorced professional. It’s the seal that I have and everything. I’m part of the National Association of Divorce Professionals.
It’s cool to see how the divorce industry and the profession has grown in the last years. There are resources out there for you people.
Christina, what’s your website again?
Everybody reached out to Christina. I know that I’ve given your name, so many people. This is not my area of expertise at all, but I know if I have a question I come to you. Please come back again because I know we have another topic that we want to touch on. Maybe next time you’ll come back. I would love to have you once a month. You’re phenomenal. Thank you for coming. Everyone can find me everywhere, but I’m www.JenniferHurvitz.com, @JenniferHurvitzBiz on Instagram. Christina, where are you on Instagram? What’s your thing?
I follow you. If you follow me, you can follow Christine as well and everybody can follow us. It’s fun. That’s it in Doing Divorce Right (or Avoiding It Altogether). We have fun here and we’ve got great topics. This is a great podcast. Christina, thank you once again. Everybody, do your thing. Get help, be empowered and control your finances and that’s it. Everybody, have a great one. This was an awesome episode and as usual, peace, love, and so much truth. Thanks.
Thanks for reading Doing Divorce Right. If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe, recommend, rate and review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Want to keep the podcast going? Support us by going to www.JenniferHurvitz.com. Thanks for listening. Peace, love, and truth.
- Christina Lynn
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