indicatorSupport through the financial complexities of divorce

Four tips to protect yourself during divorce

Secure your finances and your well-being during separation

By Orlando Trulli 23 April 2024 3 min read

As a rule, most people, with the possible exception of Elizabeth Taylor, do not enjoy the process of getting divorced. While a better life, hopefully, awaits all parties on the other side of a divorce, actually getting through it is no one’s idea of a holiday. 

Much of the stress and uncertainty stems from the stakes. Divorce can mean a huge change in your financial circumstances and beyond.

Fortunately, the right protection plan can make a huge difference for guarding your assets and your well-being, both before and after your divorce.

Here are some points you should consider including in yours.

1: Prepare for the financial impact.

The financial burden of getting divorced cannot be ignored. An uncontested divorce usually costs $1,500-$3,000 and takes between two and six months, while a contested separation usually costs at least $10,000 (and often much more) and takes between one and three years. More complicated situations will have financial implications well beyond this. 

This is why it’s a good idea, if you can, to begin setting money aside before formal divorce proceedings begin. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but as a rule of thumb it’s useful to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved up.

If you’re not able to save that much or divorce has already begun, don’t despair, whatever you’re able to save today is better than not saving anything at all. If you need access to credit, your financial advisor should be able to assess your situation and recommend solutions.

You should also begin preparing for an independent financial future. Consider opening a new bank account, personal line of credit, and signing up for a new credit card.

Finally, you should develop a reliable and convenient system for tracking all divorce-related expenses and create a new personal budget.

2: Freeze accounts and change passwords.

As a species, we don’t always resist our worst instincts in times of stress and divorce can be extremely stressful. As soon as you know divorce is in your future, you should update every PIN and password in your life. This includes PINs for every credit and debit card you have, smartphone access codes, and passwords for both computers and online accounts (especially but not only online banking). 

You should also consider freezing or closing any joint credit products you hold with your spouse and updating the beneficiary designations of any insurance policies and investments you have (RRSP, TFSA, pension, and so on).

3: Open a new divorce-focused email account.

One reason divorce can be a downer is that there’s a lot of paperwork involved. These days that usually means email, and lots of it.

Dealing with all that correspondence in your regular email account is inadvisable for two reasons. First, it will make it harder to achieve a clean break and focus on your new life once your divorce is finalized. Second, the amount of email sent around in the modern world means that, if you don’t set up a dedicated divorce email account, you’ll need to sift through all your other personal emails whenever you need to find one related to your divorce.

This is why I recommend anyone getting divorced set up a brand new email account exclusively for paperwork and correspondence related to their separation. It will make it easier to keep track of everything, and once your divorce is done you can shut the account down and move on with no second thoughts.

4: Think beyond finances.

Many people focus on the financial impact of divorce, which is understandable it’s a major financial event in your life, and it’s easier to measure than some of the other changes divorce can bring. But divorce is about more than money, and your plan to protect yourself should reflect this. 

Most people going through divorce think to reach out to friends and family for emotional support. Fewer think of therapy for themselves or their children. Divorce can be traumatic and therapy during it, in my experience, is less an expense and more of an investment in your emotional well-being. Support from friends and family is also important, of course, but their good intentions mean their advice is biased. Input from a neutral professional can offer an important, fresh perspective.

These four steps are not a comprehensive guide to protecting yourself during divorce, but they do cover some of the most important ideas. I would be happy to provide comprehensive personalized advice at your convenience. Let's connect to discuss your unique situation.

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