It’s only natural to want to open up to your loved ones about your divorce. But, be prepared. Once you do, you may become victim to relentless (though well-intentioned) advice and opinions.
My clients at Bedrock Divorce Advisors tell me they hear it all. There’s the best friend whose friend has yet another friend who knows a really good lawyer. Or, the sister-in-law who knows “exactly” what you’re going through –even though she has never been divorced. Or, the investment-savvy uncle who wants to fill you in on a little-known tip about how to handle your stock options; it worked for him, back in 1958.
At least you know they care. Of course, the people around you want to provide comfort and support during this emotional and difficult process.
But, how should you handle these generous offers of assistance? Should you act on the sincerely-delivered advice of well-meaning friends, family and/or non-divorce professionals?
The answer is really quite simple. The answer is . . . No.
1. Every woman’s divorce situation is unique. Sure, it feels good to have those you care about rally around you. But given the complexities of today’s divorce, tax and finance laws, your break-up requires much more than an assortment of free tips and casual recommendations from friends and family, no matter how well-intentioned. And remember: Legal matters aren’t all that’s complicated these days. Most couples’ financial portfolios are incredibly complex, as well. Each divorce needs individualized, professional attention, and now, more than ever before, women need trained, experienced guidance to help ensure they emerge from divorce with a comprehensive plan for a secure financial future.
2. A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing. Many women who are going through divorce find themselves in particularly sticky situations because they have friends and relatives who work in legal or financial fields unrelated to divorce. Even though these friends and relatives may be highly intelligent, successful, well-meaning and persuasive, listening to their advice about divorce will not help you. In fact, listening to their advice could hurt you.
Let me give you an example. A family friend who specializes in business finance may be a genius in handling IPOs, corporate taxes or mergers and acquisitions. But, it’s unlikely that he has expertise regarding QDROs, the division of pensions, how to make long-term personal financial projections, or whether or not it’s in your best interest to keep your marital residence.)
Likewise, many financial advisors and stockbrokers shine at making investment recommendations but know absolutely nothing about the financial and tax implications of divorce. In fact, most financial advisory firms (Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, etc.) prohibit their financial advisors/brokers from giving any advice on residential or commercial real estate and/or private businesses. They know they are not qualified to do so. In the end, other professionals have little or no idea what they are talking about, or what the law says, when it comes to the specific nuances that define a divorce.
3. You can find the professional help you need. There are about 3,500 Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA)in the U.S. specifically trained in the financial aspects of divorce. What’s more, many CDFAs have completed additional education and training. For example, in addition to being a CDFA, I attended law school and completed dozens of advanced training courses in finance and divorce, including many of the same continuing education courses that are required for divorce and other attorneys (trust and estate, asset protection, etc.).
With this kind of specialized training and experience, CDFAs are clearly the most qualified and knowledgeable choice to help you work through the pros and cons of different divorce settlement proposals. We are the ones who can best help you avoid the common, but often devastating, financial mistakes made in a divorce.
So, let those friends and relatives be there for you emotionally. Let them help you with the day-to-day. But the next time they come forward to offer financial advice about your divorce, politely say “No thank you.” Your future financial well-being is just too important to leave in the hands of Uncle Harry –even if he did do really well in the stock market back in 1958.
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Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA™ is a Divorce Financial Strategist™ and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC (http://www.BedrockDivorce.com) a firm which exclusively advises affluent women throughout the United States before, during and after divorce. He assists women and their divorce attorneys with deciding on the most advantageous way to divide marital assets and enable them to negotiate more favorable settlements, especially when there are complicated financial and tax issues.Jeff also advises happily married women who have seen their friends blindsided by a divorce initiated by their husbands and wonder (wisely) how financially vulnerable they’d be in that situation. Jeff developed the nation’s first Just in Case(TM): Secure Your Financial Future,a one-hour program, which quickly shows married women how to be prepared in the event of a future divorce with immediate, practical steps. He can be reached at Landers@BedrockDivorce.com. All articles/blog posts are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney. Follow Jeffrey A. Landers on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Bedrock_Divorce