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Getting a Better Financial Outcome in Your Divorce

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The divorce process hasn’t changed much over the years, but the financial issues in divorce certainly seem to be getting more complicated. As a forensic accountant who specializes in helping women get better financial outcomes in their divorces, my job is to trace and find the money. I’ve helped many women uncover money their husbands are hiding and I want to help you, too. Not everyone has the means to get a forensic accountant to help them figure out where their family’s money has gone, but guess what? You can do a lot of the legwork yourself.

Make a list of every bank, credit card, and investment account that you have with your soon-to-be ex. You need to get account statements for all of these, and the sooner you do it, the better. Don’t risk your husband cutting off your access…. Get the statements now. Doing this work now saves your attorney headaches later, and also saves you money. If you don’t have access to accounts that you know exist (such as a bank account in his name only), your attorney can get the account statements with a subpoena.

Stay-at-home moms may feel additional stress in the divorce process because they are not only worried about living arrangements, but are often looking for employment outside of the home to start supporting themselves after divorce. Many women who stay at home caring for the children, running the household, and supporting their spouses are blindsided by divorce. Their whole way of life changes and that can be scary, but if you find yourself in this position just know that you are not alone.

Don’t be ashamed if you didn’t manage the bills and have no idea what your spouse has done with all of the marital money. This is a common arrangement and just because you do not work outside of the home doesn’t mean that you aren’t entitled to your fair share of everything. It’s common during the divorce for the main breadwinner to say “this is MY retirement account” or lay claim to other assets saying they paid for them. You are entitled to part of those assets even if your name wasn’t on the paycheck, so don’t believe the threats and don’t just give up.

Your journey to journey to financial security after your divorce starts with a little planning. Start with a budget, looking at what your post-divorce costs will be. If you want to stay in the marital home, first, make sure that you can afford it on your post-divorce income. Write down all costs associated with the home, including the mortgage payment and taxes, lawn maintenance, repair and cleaning services, home-owners association dues, utilities, etc. It’s essential to be realistic to secure your financial future.

There are so many things you need to do to protect yourself financially as you begin the divorce process, and it often feels overwhelming. But there are lots of resources out there to help you get organized and navigate the finances. Don’t get discouraged. Take things step-by-step, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional who has been down this road before.

Tracy Coenen, CPA, CFF

Tracy Coenen, CPA, CFF

Forensic Accountant and Fraud Investigator

I work with divorcing parties who have concerns about the money. While I can work with either party, it is most often the woman who is in need of my services. I focus on “lifestyle analysis,” which is a detailed tracing of funds through bank accounts, credit card accounts, and investment accounts to determine where the money went and how much the family’s lifestyle costs. My results are used to track down hidden money or make calculations related to spousal and child support.

I truly believe that knowledge is power. I am here to help inform the parties about their money. Where did the money go? How do we make sure there is a fair division of the assets and the income?