Three Reasons Not to Listen to Divorce Advice from Friends and Family

by Jeffrey A. Landers • Divorce Financial Strategist™ and founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC

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.

Here’s why:

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.

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