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Last month, I had the great pleasure of filming an interview with the CBS News affiliate in New York City. The segment highlighted a new service we’re offering at Bedrock Divorce Advisors, and it certainly has generated plenty of buzz. Why? Because the service is somewhat revolutionary –it focuses on happily married women who want to learn about their options in the event of a possible future divorce.
Click here to watch a video clip of the segment.
Since the interview aired last week, I have received lots of positive feedback . . . and many women are asking lots of questions, too. Here’s a small sampling of my answers to the most commonly-asked questions:
1. Why should a happily married woman learn about divorce? Granted, the idea of a happily married woman getting guidance from a divorce financial advisor may seem a little unusual, at first. But, when you stop to think about it, doesn’t it make sense? Naturally, a divorce financial advisor can offer insights to help a woman avoid the common, but often devastating, financial mistakes made in a divorce (if the unthinkable were ever to occur). But, perhaps even more importantly, she can also use this consultation to learn about her financial standing in the marriage now.
Just because a woman is “happily married,” doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a solid, working knowledge of her financial status, cash flow and net worth. Researchers cite “concerns about money” as one of the number one triggers for marital arguments and conflict, and personally, I feel that many of these worries are based on misunderstanding and miscommunication. Why not eliminate some of this confusion before it causes trouble?
As I discuss in an earlier post –June Brides, Are You Ready for Divorce? –clear expectations and a shared understanding of financial issues help form the cornerstone of a successful union. By offering this service, we are in no way advocating for divorce. To the contrary, I’d like to think of this service as a kind of divorce prevention strategy.
And, let me stress one more point. It’s always the right time to learn more about your personal finances. At Bedrock Divorce Advisors, our clients run the gamut –from doctors, lawyers, and Wall Street executives to business owners and stay-at-home moms –and many have had little, or no, involvement with the family’s finances, investments, etc. Regardless of how highly educated or successful these women may be, some don’t even know their husbands’ salaries, or if they have a 401k, profit sharing and/or pension plan, restricted stock or equity, deferred compensation, etc. The goal of our new service is to educate women, so they’re better prepared for whatever curveballs may come their way. (Unfortunately, divorce isn’t the only one. A woman should also be prepared for potential financial ramifications from other life-changing events such as her husband’s death, a career move, an addition to the family, etc.)
2. Why does our firm offer this only to women? Our firm specializes in advising women, so this offering is a natural extension of services we already provide. Plus, we feel that it’s important for women to sit down alone, face-to-face with a financial advisor, so that they can feel free to ask questions and dive in-depth into topics, which they may be uncomfortable discussing with their husbands. Many, many times I hear from women who feel “left out” of financial issues at home. Since they haven’t followed the family finances closely over the years, they may be “out of the loop” –and too shy (or embarrassed) to ask for clarification now. We provide a comfortable setting where women can feel at-ease discussing the full range of financial issues, from the most basic to the more intricate details of tax code and pension funds.
Note: Although Bedrock Divorce Advisors doesn’t provide this service for men, I feel strongly that it is equally important for husbands to be involved and knowledgeable about family finances.
3. Do women have to “sneak” to these appointments? Absolutely not! We encourage women to be open with their husbands about these consultations. Again, a healthy marriage depends on both spouses taking responsibility for the family finances. Although the CBS segment chose to portray husbands as unhappy about this service, I think the “real truth” may be just the opposite. Most men will value having a financial partner in the marriage.
4. How do women feel after their consultation? Initially, women tend to feel a little overwhelmed. Most discover that there are lots of financial details they should know, but don’t. Our job is to move beyond those initial feelings, though. We help women put this new knowledge to work so they no longer feel overwhelmed. They feel empowered, instead.
A woman who fully understands her financial status in a marriage is a woman who is going to make better decisions both for herself and for her family. As attorney Gloria Allred says in the video, “Knowledge is power.”
Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA™ is a Divorce Financial Strategist™ and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC (http://www.BedrockDivorce.com), a divorce financial strategy firm that exclusively works with women, who are going through, or might be going through, a financially complicated divorce. He also advises women business owners on what steps they can take now to “divorce-proof” their business in the event of a future divorce. He can be reached at Landers@BedrockDivorce.com.