In order to determine if you can afford a divorce and what is the most effective way to structure a settlement, you first need to understand your total financial picture. Then you can look at the goals for your life after divorce and make informed decisions.
Step one is to assemble the information necessary for a financial inventory. This inventory will reflect family assets, liabilities, monthly income, and expenses. For the Asset/Liability portion, you will need to have the latest statements from your checking, savings, brokerage, insurance, and retirement accounts. You also need to know the approximate gross value of your home, the mortgage due, the down payment originally paid, and the total dollar amount of any repairs and improvements made. Your liabilities include your mortgage, credit-card debt, school and car loans, etc. Lastly, provide copies of your tax returns for the last three years.
To analyze your monthly expenses, go through your checks and credit-card statements for the last calendar year. Then make adjustments for any changes you’re aware of for the future. There’s computer software available that makes it easier to change and update information.
Now we have the information necessary to look at various scenarios and determine what you can afford to do — and not to do. We’ll look at anticipated future growth of assets, retirement plans, and sale of your home, and evaluate outcomes based on tax liability as well a meeting income objectives.
Remember, it is a financial planner’s objective to help you successfully navigate the financial maze of divorce and to help you construct financial strategies that will best secure your future.
Nancy R. Liebman, CLU, has headed Liebman/Associates, an independent firm providing financial guidance for individuals and corporations in the Chicago Metropolitan area, for the last 15 years. Nancy has developed specific strategic financial measures to meet the needs of those involved in divorce proceedings.