June 3, 2023

Divorce lawyers often mediate these types of deals. But the way they approach marital property may differ from the way a financial planner would view things, said Kristina George, an asset manager and partner at Northstar Financial Planning in Windham, NH. For example, lawyers dealing with the tax implications of stock options or holding a home could “trade assets” in ways that are “not apples for apples,” Ms George said.

Ms George pointed out that one of the biggest upheavals of divorce is the way a person is taxed. Women who sign up as heads of household for the first time can be victimized, so it’s important to have a tax projection along with the divorce decree, Ms George said.

Without expert guidance, any ex-spouse can find themselves in financial hot water. There are many stories of people being priced out of gentrifying local housing markets after selling the family home, forcing them to move to other states to make the most of already scarce retirement savings.

After the divorce, Mrs. Stevenson switched from part-time to full-time work; it’s a move that Karen D. Sparks, a certified divorce financial analyst in Santa Clara, Calif., said requires a career-training refresher course for many older women, which she counts in post-divorce budgets. Eventually, however, Ms. Stevenson’s work hours were cut and she is now in debt, on a budget and unable to save.

Dawn Pick Benson, 50, is a copywriter and travel coach living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she filed for divorce from her husband of 18 years in 2018, she had a lawyer ready to negotiate the division of a house, a sailboat, two cars, joint savings and checking accounts, and individual savings and retirement accounts for each husband – although Mrs. Benson’s pension fund was smaller. But she had no idea what format made sense in the long run, or what trouble she’d be in if her lawyer made the wrong choice. In a panic, she contacted Liza Caldwell, co-founder of SAS for Women, an organization that offers divorce coaching and other educational resources.