How to navigate a divorce

Written by
Peter Dunn

We all know December is engagement month, and apparently January is divorce month. This from divorce attorneys who note that filings go up in January. Divorce sucks. There are no two ways around it. Divorce hits you from all angles, and completely changes your life.

Throughout my career I've seen the immediate financial ramifications of over 500 divorces. It's rarely pretty. But what I've noticed during this difficult time is that most people put their emotional needs first. Of course, they probably should, but what happens is they begin to make decisions based on their emotions. This is where things get ugly for their financial lives.

As a married couple your lives were intricately intertwined. The unweaving process is messy. Focusing on emotional needs will help in the present, but often causes financial problems in the future.

There are a few ways you can make smart financial decisions while still tending to your emotional needs:

- Where emotions and poor financial decisions tend to intersect is at the family home. Don't keep the house has always been my advice, but it's also the advice of divorce attorneys. I understand there are emotional concerns which make keeping the house seem like a smart idea, but it will cause major financial strife in the future.

- Go to and print out your report immediately. Understanding what this report says about your debts is paramount to your future financial success.

- Hire a financial advisor to help you negotiate the division of your 401(k) and pension.

- Evaluate your insurance needs. Your new life looks very different from your old one which means your insurance needs have changed.

It bears repeating, divorces are tough on everyone involved. The decisions you make during the divorce can impact your finances for years to come. Use this information to help you make smart, future-oriented decisions. For more tips and information on how to deal with a divorce check out my Indy Star column here.

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