Prenups, Postnups, and Financial Planning for Couples with Marilyn Chinitz

Marilyn Chinitz, a New York lawyer specializing in matrimonial law, joins us to talk about prenups, postnups, and financial planning for couples.

This week on Women and Money, our guest is Marilyn Chinitz. Marilyn is a divorce attorney in New York who has been practicing law for 41 years and has extensive experience in matrimonial matters. She joins us today to help us better understand the world of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and their importance, especially in cases involving significant wealth or complex financial situations.

Join us as Marilyn breaks down some key considerations for crafting fair and effective agreements and stresses why it’s so critical to involve financial and legal professionals in these discussions. In our conversation, she covers the provisions that should be included in prenuptial agreements, why they need to be updated regularly, the costs and timeline involved in creating these legal documents, and much more. Don’t miss out on this episode packed with valuable insights!


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • Marilyn’s experience in law + The advantages of prenups and periodic reviews of prenups throughout a marriage
  • The importance of thoroughness and legal expertise in drafting prenuptial agreements
  • Having your own attorney when setting up prenuptial agreements or trusts + protecting individual interests and assets
  • The key provisions that should be included in a prenup + avoiding unconscionable terms
  • Prenuptial agreements for average couples looking to protect individual assets + potential state law differences
  • Timing and cost considerations involved in the process


Learn a little more about Marilyn:


Marilyn Chinitz is a formidable advocate specializing in matrimonial law, focusing on high-net-worth divorce cases. With over 35 years of experience, she navigates clients through complex transitions, handling diverse matters such as:

  • Complex divorce actions involving diverse transactional matters
  • High-conflict custody cases
  • International custody cases including the return of abducted children in proceedings filed under the Hague Convention
  • Premarital agreements and postnuptial agreements
  • Same-sex divorce/dissolution matters
  • Paternity cases

Known for her straightforward, creative, and responsive client approach, Marilyn is as successful in litigation as in settlement negotiations. She has argued winning appeals in the appellate courts of New York, and in trials before the family court and the supreme courts of New York.

When high-profile marital matters or recent changes in the law make headlines, Marilyn is a sought-after commentator. She is often quoted in print, and has appeared on local and national television and radio shows including NBC’s The Today Show, ABC News 20/20, Inside Edition, among others.

Beyond her legal career, Marilyn is the proud mother of two accomplished adult children. She loves cycling, and participates in fundraising rides, and organizes travel to international destinations.


Episode Links:


Where you can find Marilyn:

Blank Rome LLP


The Ins and Outs of Mediation with Brian James

Brian James, the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, is here to help us understand the ins and outs of mediation.


We’re delighted to sit down with Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator based in Chicago with offices across Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. As the founder and lead mediator at C.E.L. & Associates, Brian brings over two decades of experience to his practice and has dedicated his career to helping families navigate divorce and domestic conflicts.

He’s here today to talk about the mediation process, highlighting its benefits, misconceptions, and how it differs from traditional litigation. Throughout our conversation, he shares some of the unique challenges women might face in divorce, the essential questions they should ask their mediators and the importance of financial education. Brian aims to equip women with the tools they need to navigate divorce confidently, so they can make well-informed decisions and receive the support and guidance they need.

We learned so much from Brian in this episode and are excited to dive into this topic with you!


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • What is mediation and how is it different than hiring an attorney?
  • The typical timeframe for mediation + how Brian works with families to navigate finances during this process
  • The questions that women should ask when consulting with a mediator
  • Managing client expectations during the mediation process + avoiding emotional decisions that might lead to regret
  • When is it better to work with an attorney?
  • What working with Brian looks like, typical costs of mediation, and Brian’s advice for our listeners


Learn a little more about Brian:


Brian James, a seasoned Divorce and Family Mediator, established C.E.L. and Associates, Inc. in 2005, serving Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin.

Brian holds a B.S. in Sociology from Northern Illinois University (1994) and received Mediation and Conflict Resolution training at Northwestern University.

For a decade, Brian worked in the Criminal Justice System, aiding domestic violence and divorcing families in resolving conflicts and facilitating healing post-life-altering events. His approach to mediation is client-driven. By aiding his clients with the resolution of their divorce issues outside of the courtroom, Brian helps create a win/win situation for all parties in a divorce.

His mediation style not only resolves immediate issues but equips clients with conflict-resolution skills for the future, emphasizing problem-solving, empathy, and informed decision-making.

Brian recently celebrated 27 years of marriage to his wife Cindy. They have two boys, Connor, age 25 forever, and Evan, age 22. Connor and Evan are the C. and E. in C.E.L. & Associates, Inc.


Episode Links:


Where you can find Brian:

Brian on social media


Navigating the Financial Challenges of Divorce with Jennifer Merida, CDFA

Divorce can be a turbulent journey fraught with emotional and financial challenges. Trying to navigate the financial maze of splitting assets, dealing with taxes, cash flow, and retirement implications can be incredibly overwhelming. That’s why we want to introduce you to Jennifer Merida, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst at Grace Financial Consulting, who has her own powerful story about making mistakes through her divorce but using that to empower herself.

Jennifer’s experience is not just about survival, but also about transformation. She used her personal trials to shape her professional triumphs, becoming a CDFA and using her experiences to guide women through the financial intricacies of divorce. She unraveled the importance of having a CDFA on your team during a divorce and how it could be a game-changer.

Having someone who understands the financial intricacies can save you from financial mishaps and can help you make informed decisions that will protect your financial future. Jennifer also touched on the importance of being part of a network of professionals who specialize in serving women in financial aspects.

Today we’ll lean on her 22 years of experience in financial planning to provide guidance and tips for anyone that might be in this position.


Here’s some of what we discuss in this episode:


  • When Jennifer went through her own divorce, she was overconfident to a fault and didn’t have someone to help her avoid some of the mistakes she made.
  • So many women just want to get the divorce over, for good reason, and they rush through the process.
  • Learn what role the CDFA plays in the process and why they are so valuable for getting your finances in order to start your new life.
  • Tips on actions you need to take if you’re thinking about a divorce or going through one now.
  • Why she thinks we should approach divorce and the small details like we do our wedding day.



Episode Links:

Learn more about Jennifer and the services she financial services she offers.

Get our free Divorce Prep Check List that will give you some action items to take now.

The Financial Impacts of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

Purse Strings Approved Professional

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The Financial Impacts of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom: Navigating Post-Divorce Finance

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The financial impacts of being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) are many.

When planning for the birth of a child, some couples take a long, hard look at their finances to budget for a reduced income. For years, it’s been the societal norm that the man will be the “breadwinner,” and the woman will be the stay-at-home mom.  And for many families, this works out great!

But can we take a moment to realize that “stay-at-home mom” is a very broad phrase that doesn’t really capture all of what she does? For instance, many SAHMs not only care for the children, but they also care for their spouse and the family home. I know I won’t be able to list all the “jobs” of a SAHM, but here are a few to consider.

For instance, they are nurses when a child is sick, and… let’s be honest when their spouse is sick, they nurse them back to health too. SAHMs are household managers. They budget, menu-plan, shop, cook, clean, pay bills, drive school carpool, make medical appointments, attend school meetings, chauffeur their children to various activities, etc.

And while doing all of these things for their children and home, they still manage to be supportive and attentive to their spouses.

Oh, and did I mention that the monetary pay really stinks for a SAHM?  It truly does.

I’m active on social media, and I see the contributions of women to the family being devalued on a regular basis. When the family is splitting up, too often, the husband thinks that his wife shouldn’t receive part of the assets like the home and the investment account because “she didn’t go to work, I did.” But being a SAHM is much more than a full-time job. And while it’s hard to assign a monetary value on all that mom does, it’s time we start recognizing that keeping the kids alive, managing their busy schedules to ensure that they have a well-rounded childhood, and keeping the home livable, and generally ensuring that the whole family functions well….. is a very demanding job.

Becoming a single-income household can put a big strain on the family’s finances. Maybe her previous employment and income provided health insurance, covered certain bills, or gave the expendable income to eat out or make non-necessity purchases. Or maybe the income lost changes the outlook of savings and retirement.

The financial impact of being a SAHM can be especially significant if the relationship ends in divorce. Did you know that 87% of women go broke five years after divorce?

When a SAHM has put her career on hold and faces divorce, returning to the workforce after years on hiatus is often difficult. You feel like you’re behind in your skills, and you see that your peers have been promoted and are on a different career trajectory than you. You may find that you’re earning less than you expect because of your absence from your field. Your financial future may look scary.

Navigating your post-divorce finances can feel overwhelming. This may especially be true if you weren’t actively involved in managing the finances for your family. You might not know how much your family’s bills are, and you are probably worried about how you will afford all of it.

Remember that alimony and child support can help fill the gaps financially. But they’re not forever, and you need to work toward financial independence. Even if you are receiving support payments now, things can happen that are out of your control, and the payments could unexpectedly stop. None of this feels fair, but it is the reality that you need to be prepared for.

So where do you start if you find yourself facing divorce and you are a SAHM? I’m so glad you asked.

A budget is a must! Getting a handle on your finances is the best way to see where you are currently, where you want to be in the future, and what you need to get there. I prefer to call your budget a “spending plan” because it really is a plan for how you’re going to spend your money.

Think of everything! Yes, you need to plan for housing, food, insurance (auto, health, life), medical expenses, car payment, utilities, etc. But don’t only think about right now or the immediate future; think of what it will take to continue to provide for your children with or without child support. Will your children need braces? What about a college fund? Is it worth keeping the house simply because you love it or just don’t want your ex to have it?

Have a plan by making a realistic budget and start planning for your financial freedom. I’ve created this free home budget worksheet to help get you started.

You can do this. It probably won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. And wait until your children see you conquer this and thrive!

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?

Say ‘I Do’ to a Debt-Free Future: How to Avoid Money Fights in Your Marriage

Purse Strings Approved Professional

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So, you’re getting hitched! You’re making what you hope will be a lifelong commitment to the one you love through sickness and health, for richer or poorer, now and until death do you part. Sounds heavy? Well, it is! And the best way to make it less heavy is by getting the leading cause for marital splits out of the picture: money fights.

Financial disagreements are among the top 3 causes for divorce, along with infidelity and basic incompatibility. That’s why it’s crucial to get started on the right foot by addressing any potential money issues upfront, discussing short and long-term goals as a couple, and having open and intentional conversations about money. By doing so, you can avoid unnecessary stress and focus on building a strong and lasting partnership.

Before we go further, bear in mind that money is a very sensitive topic for some people. Why? Because it’s personal, and it’s based on what you’ve been taught by people you respect and trust, like your parents. There are two main ways in which most people learn about money: what they hear or are told, and what they feel and observe. If you didn’t have role models to teach you about money growing up, you have to figure it out on your own, through trial and error. This can lead to many painful lessons in the form of fees, fines, and penalties. These can cause shame, guilt and remorse. It’s not your fault, but as my dad would say, “Smart people learn from their mistakes, and really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes.”


10 things about money you should discuss with your partner before you tie the knot:

1. Joint bank accounts:

One of the main ideas of marriage is two become one… two lives, becoming one through, yes you know, sickness and health, richer or poorer etc. I have heard a ton on this topic. Listen, whether you combine accounts or keep them separate, it’s critical to have a healthy financial communication system between the two of you. In general, joining bank accounts makes it much easier to track shared expenses and communicate clearly. The less moving parts, the easier it is to track, communicate and everyone is on the same page. This comes down to trust and communication.

2. Open Communication:

Successful partners openly communicate about money on a regular basis, either daily, weekly, or at least monthly. They discuss concerns, goals, dreams, fears, all of it. Take time to sit down and talk to your partner about your goals and dreams as a couple. What, where, when, how — don’t hold back. Also, be honest about what you were or were not taught about money growing up.

3. Show all your cards:

Be honest about debt. Show everything — student loans, credit cards, auto loans, medical debt, tax debts, 401(k) loans, and that loan from Uncle John for the business venture. Talk to each other about how you can become debt-free together.

4. Lifestyle choices:

I’m not talking about the decision to join a sorority or spring break in Cancun. I am talking about everyday lifestyle. Tory Burch vs. Vans Prada vs. Kohl’s. Charities that are important, hunting season, annual ski trips, you get the point. These things don’t change much even after you get married, and it’s good to be upfront about expectations, non-negotiable things and spending habits.

5. Personality differences:

Everyone is unique and brings something to the table. There are some qualities you love about the other person and others you don’t quite understand. I chose my wife for the wonderful things she possesses that make me a better person. Things I strive to be myself, look at in bewilderment, and frankly could never see myself doing. We both have these qualities, when put together we are stronger as a whole. I, for example, am spontaneous and very outgoing. I am very comfortable talking with strangers. I’ve been known to strike conversations up in an elevator. Not only that, but I love Halloween because you can use your imagination, get creative and live out your ideas once a year for all to see. My wife, on the other hand, not so much. She is more reserved, isn’t very talkative around new people, not shy but more comfortable with the other person initiating conversation. Once she gets to know you and likes you, she opens up and lets you in, where I am an open book from the start. She doesn’t like spur of the moment ideas. She likes things to have an itinerary of sorts. Likewise, she tends to plan things out. I, on the other hand, will go with the flow and figure it out as we go. Now admitting it’s not always the best plan of action, but some great stories have come from this approach as you can imagine. These qualities have come in handy on both ends for both of us. Once we had children, having someone lay out the morning routine step by step and post it on our kitchen wall brought the level of shall we say chaos to minimum levels. She saw the issue clear as day and brought her strong quality to rescue. Now, I needed to conform and participate for this to work. Like I said, it’s not my nature, it took a few weeks to get it working like a well-oiled machine.

There have been times when having me be the icebreaker at events and conversation starter has been invaluable. They have led to great fun, memorable evenings and new friends.

Many people stick with what works, and live within their comfort zone. They need an itinerary to know what’s next. Some people don’t like too many rules, they aren’t very organized and are spontaneous at heart. They are perfectly fine with winging it.

How does this tie into money? Budgets aren’t everyone’s favorite, one person might say it’s not their thing or too restrictive. Let’s put it this way – chances are the person doing all the wedding planning right now, that’s the planner they may be tilted towards budgeting numbers and the other person is the one that says, “Sure babe, whatever you want sounds good!” or “yeah we’ll just figure it out.” This might not be the case because everyone’s different. Believe it or not, my wife doesn’t like sitting down and reviewing the monthly budget…what I know, right!! But we both know we need to do things for each other to make things work in the long run. It’s about balancing each other out to make the team stronger. It’s also about participating in the process.

Remember I said open communication is important for a successful marriage? Well, part of that is the dreaded “B” word, Budgeting. Since I hate that word, let’s say cash flow planning meetings. It helps to tell your money where to go, versus wondering where it went. That means sitting down together at a designated time and having the wildcard show up and contribute to the meeting in some way and participate. I like them changing one thing in the spending plan, adding something, so they have some ownership in the process. You’re a team, and you’re in this together.

6. Salary differences:

Whoever earns more money doesn’t automatically have a greater say in financial decisions. As a team, you both have equal say. Treat your budget meetings like you would a company: lay out your income and expenses. And think about how to best use this money to stay profitable, stay afloat and grow together.

7. Keep purchases in the open:

Financial infidelity is a real thing. Financial infidelity is not uncommon among couples, and it occurs in all age groups. A study found that 27% of the participants had kept a financial secret from their partner. This study was published by the American Psychological Association This breaks down trust and causes all types of problems. It’s not worth it. Believe me, the damage lasts way longer than the joy of whatever you buy secretly. It can also lead to divorce, which is the opposite of our goal here.

8. Set expectations and boundaries:

When it comes to money, being proactive and setting clear guidelines can go a long way in maintaining a healthy marriage. Work together to create a financial decision-making framework you both can stick to. Agree to discuss purchases that go over a specified amount or take a few days to research and think over significant financial decisions, like buying a car. If it involves an amount over your agreed upon specified amount, sleep on it. You want to make decisions based on facts, not emotions. Use cash when you’re able to, discuss credit card spends, and be clear on your partner’s expectations regarding things like family vacations and career paths.

9. Children and Money:

I’m not talking about the true cost of raising children, such as childcare, clothes, medicine, camp, diapers, etc. That’s important to know, but before you get married, talk to your partner about what you want to teach your kids about money. What attitudes and money habits do you want your children to develop? Will they learn that “work equals money” or will they grow up thinking “I get money from my parents for breathing?” Will they learn delayed gratification? When they want a video game, will you give it to them instantly or teach them to wait and save up for it? Think about all the things you wish you’d learned about money when you were young. Talk to your partner about how you will pass these money lessons on to your kids.

10. Money isn’t everything:

Before I got married, I got wise counsel from a great friend and spiritual guide who told me what really matters in a successful marriage (hint: it’s not money!). He talked to me about firemen and here’s what he said:

Firemen know to take care of people over things in a fire, because things are replaceable.

They communicate in scary situations. They know where everyone is, and what their teammates need most at all times during a fire.

They always have each other’s backs. The bond between firemen is fierce; they fight for each other and support each other unconditionally.

My friend told me that once I get married and start a new family, I’d have to be willing to stand up and fight for it. My old family, the one I came from, would have a lot of opinions on what I should and shouldn’t do, but they’re not my new family. Sometimes, you need to fight for what you believe is right and do what you need to, to take your new family in a new direction.

Remember, every household is unique. You may have other variables to consider for you and your spouse when it comes to creating healthy communication. If you need additional support, a second set of eyes or a referee, consider meeting with a financial coach who can help you assess your situation and find solutions that work for you.


Book a free coach match session! I want to wish you all the blessings of a successful marriage, all the fruits of your hard work, and all the fun memories that come with growing old together. If you need help along your journey, please reach out to me through my website or via email at

Connor Tyson, ChFC

Connor Tyson, ChFC

Personal Finance Coach

Like any great coach, my approach is a blend of education, accountability, cheerleading, implementing strategies, and executing. I show my clients how to develop strategies that deal with a complete lifecycle of financial situations, such as: establishing an emergency fund, effective budgeting, eliminating debt, paying for college education debt-free, saving for retirement, insurance, and the basics of estate planning. I also love helping my clients crush debt, build the relationship they want to have with money and attain financial freedom.