Divorce is hard enough but when you have to start working out the financial health side, it gets a whole lot more stressful.
Many women going through a separation quite often experience financial hardship more than men and since it is such an emotional period in their life, it can be hard for women to focus on their financial health and go after what they deserve or need.
There may be a number of reasons for this; perhaps you are the primary carer for your children or for elderly relatives. Maybe you also have to work part-time or full-time and you are too overwhelmed to deal with the financial stuff. It could be that you don’t have the energy and feel it would be a long fight and it’s just easier to take what you’re offered.
A little about me and my story
During my marriage, my husband and I had joint accounts and everything went into one place. This worked for us at the time and given that I eventually gave up working to raise our kids, I had nothing to put in the pot anyway. I was never worried or thought I should have been thinking about a future on my own.
However, on reflection, I wouldn’t put myself in that position ever again. Now just before I go on, I want to be clear that at no point did my ex-husband ever leave us struggling, but at the time I didn’t know that. He had been lying about other things and I just didn’t know if he was going to cut me off financially too.
I went into a complete panic thinking that one day he would cut us off and I made a decision that would leave me safe, at least for a while. But to say I was scared was an understatement because I knew when he found out that I had just transferred most of our UK bank account into my new solo account, he was going to be really angry.
Even the young banker was nervous and asked a few times should we ask your husband if this is ok?
This is an example of how cultural attitudes toward money management based on gender are so outdated.
When I got home I sent an email to my ex explaining what I had done and that it was just insurance for me until the finances were all sorted. Then I switched off my phone and calmed myself down.
Many women put careers on hold during their marriage to raise families and are just not prepared when the marriage dissolves. My ex-husband always reassured me that I didn’t have to work and he preferred me to be home raising our kids. Also, we lived a big part of our marriage in the Middle East and at the time it wasn’t easy for me to just go and get a job.
When meeting with clients, one of the first things that come up as a stressor is ‘how will I manage financially’?
Perhaps you’ve become accustomed to a certain level of lifestyle or perhaps splitting the finances will put a huge burden on what little finances you both had to begin with. Many women have to downsize after a divorce and really budget their spending. This impacts everyone involved, including kids who may have to give up things like activities and holidays and they don’t understand what’s going on.
Here are my critical tips for temporary financial security in anticipation of a separation:
● Regarding splitting finances it’s important to remove any emotions and treat it like a business decision. Create a budget of what you will need to live on e.g. food, rent/mortgage, utility bills, children’s expenses, car etc. Start to think a few years down the line and make sure you are not giving in or taking less to appease your ex.
● Allow your lawyer to be the one to converse with your spouse/partner when it comes to finances. Do not get into a battle about this with your spouse/partner, as you can be manipulated into making poor decisions when you are emotional.
● Take control from the beginning by finding an independent financial advisor to help you with the finances – there are a number in The Hug Directory. This is something I truly regret not getting advice on. Do not wait for permission to address this area of your life. Your financial health is crucial for your future well-being.