by Kristen Hilty
What’s a guy to do? You may have noticed that there are multitudes of services that cater to helping women during divorce. This is, of course, largely because of the still-more-likely scenario where the man has handled the finances during the marriage and the woman needs a little more hand holding. This is not always the case at all, and men can struggle to find the resources they need.
Even if you were the CFO of your family for the entire marriage, you still need to be sure you understand the intricacies of your financial options as well as your legal ones. In my experience working with men, there are some common mistakes to avoid that could ultimately save you money.
1. Thinking the Assets Are Yours Because She Didn’t Work
If you have been married for a long time and your wife was primarily a wife and mother during the marriage, you may feel she’s not entitled to as much. I’ve been the breadwinner at times in my marriage and I totally get it. You’ve fought through traffic. You have been miserable with airport delays and flight cancellations. You’ve had the stress of deadlines, employees, and bosses and just the overall stress of financially supporting a family. Here’s the deal…Even if you begged your wife to get a job for years and years and she flat out refused right before she scheduled her next tennis lesson, you were still a part of keeping that dance going. Go ahead and grab a beer with your buddies and complain about it…but then get over it! It’s not all YOURS.
2. Refusing to Give Up Retirement Assets
I see a lot of men that are emotionally attached to pensions and retirement plans (after all…you’re the one who went to work to earn it) and will negotiate a settlement that allows them keep those assets. Remember that both pensions and retirement assets are taxable income when you receive them. If you’re earning significantly more money than your spouse for most of your life, chances are you will always be in a higher tax bracket than her. Take advantage of this fact and give her more of the settlement in retirement assets adjusted for HER tax rate instead of yours. This strategy has saved couples that I work with tens of thousands of dollars in taxes and they get to share in the benefit.
3. Making Promises Too Soon
One of the most common mistakes in divorce is making promises too soon. I see this so often. DO NOT MAKE PROMISES BEFORE YOU KNOW THE FACTS! Trust me when I tell you she will hold onto what you say until her last dying breath even if they are unreasonable, unjust, and even unattainable (I’m a woman and I’ll say it…it’s just what us women do). Do not tell her you will give her anything until you know the law, your rights, her rights and your living arrangements/budget post-divorce. DO NOT, out of guilt, say you will financially take care of her for the rest of her life and make sure she is okay – Because she will remember that, and it will be brought up again and again and you will never hear the end of it (Again…it’s just what we do). You are also hindering your wife more than helping her by promising things you cannot and/or will not keep. If you have children, you are going to co-parent for the rest of your lives. Don’t start that post-divorce parenting relationship by promising things you cannot and/or will not deliver. It hurts her and it hurts you. Keep your mouth shut until you have the facts.
4. Not Asking For Help
Put your ego aside and realize that you don’t know what you don’t know. Many men are motivated by saving money and will attempt to have a do-it-yourself divorce where they draw up their own deal. HORRIBLE idea. There are so many intricacies, both financial and legal, to the divorce process. In the end, you will save thousands of dollars by making sure that you have the right people on your team and you are covering all the bases.
Like we always say at Better Divorce Solutions, you have one chance to get this right so let us help.