Preparing Your Finances for the Worst-Case Scenario

No one wants to think about the possibility of a divorce, but not thinking about it adds fuel to an already stressful, emotional situation. Northwestern Mutual’s Joanna Burish says talking to a holistic financial planner and understanding your household’s financial situation at the beginning and throughout your relationship are keys to a smooth conversation, should the worst happen.

It can also help make sure women are empowered to take control of their own finances and, in doing so, their futures.

How do you have these tough conversations with a partner?

Start early, if you can. They’re hard conversations … but that discussion is going to make a really difficult event in your life less challenging down the line.

Often, couples rely too heavily on the breadwinner to make financial decisions. The other partner needs to negotiate some control over their contributions. These things are helpful to understand going into the marriage.

How do you even start planning for a divorce?

The best thing you can do is find a holistic financial planner who can get you on need right path and give you the tools you need to understand how to protect and strengthen your finances before, during and after a divorce.

I cannot recommend enough finding a divorce coach to help advocate for you, and building a team of support. Having a divorce coach and holistic financial advisor before you even get to the negotiation table can help you understand what the assets are and also what you’re going to need to live.

What are some basic factors to consider?

Things such as the length of the marriage, splitting income and assets, as well as custody of any children.

The splitting of assets and the division of custody are the two biggest factors that will hold back the agreement if you’re not on the same page.

What are some common costs of divorce?

The more complex your divorce is, the more costly it’ll be. Common costs include real estate appraisals, tax experts, hiring a guardian ad litem if you have children and forensic accountants.

The average cost of an attorney in the state of Wisconsin is anywhere from $200-300 an hour. If you’re not on the same page and you start these negotiations, that money will disappear quickly.

How does holistic financial planning soften this blow?

We are really going to look at more than just your retirement and investment accounts. We look at the big picture:

Planning and growth, as well as your life goals and really understanding those to get you on a path to where you need to be, or where you could be.

Also, most financial planners will have relationships with different types of resources you need, like a banker or an accountant or even business owners to potentially help you find your next job.

What about preparing for after the divorce?

Whether you were the breadwinner or not, your finances will shift on a single income. For example, the full cost of rent or mortgage is going to be on you. Understanding a budget is the first key to building the foundation of your new chapter, and working with a financial advisor to understand what you need to live on is critical.

The more you understand your budget and lifestyle needs, the more realistic and possible it is to start building a plan that will take care of you today and grow with you in the future.

What advice do you give to your clients in these situations?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. While this chapter is going to be hard, in the next chapter you’ll have the opportunity to reconfigure how you want to live your life, personally and professionally.

If you’d like an introduction to a divorce coach, reach out to me. With a divorce coach and a holistic financial planner, you can paint a better picture. It’s just going to take some time.


Contact Joanna Burish directly at 608-658-3482 or [email protected]

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability Insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker dealer, and member of FINRA and SIPC. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Joanna Burish is an Insurance Agent of NM. The testimonial presented may not be representative of the experience of other clients and are not a guarantee of future performance or success.

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