Breaking up is hard to do, and it turns out a global pandemic makes it even harder.
January is already known as “splitting season” in the lawyer world, because after the financial stress of Christmas, being cooped up with the family 24/7, trying and sometimes failing to have a good time, some of us simply decide that we’ve had enough.
Now look at that list of stressors. Financial problems. Being stuck at home unable to escape each other. Juggling the needs of extended family.
Oh dear, it looks like Covid-19 and its regular lockdowns created Christmas-level stress throughout all of 2020, doesn’t it?
Divorce is well-known as a wealth destroyer, but it’s even worse when one partner has simply left the finances to the other person, and then has to fly blind when it comes to the split.
From our experience, about 80 percent of our female clients have no idea what the shared marital assets are.
There’s plenty of research floating around that gives us a reason for this. Several different studies have found women see it as a sign of trust, and good for the relationship, to hand over the finances to the man in their lives.
The problem is that this can backfire terribly.
The other person can feel like they’re handling one of the hardest aspects of life all on their own, and that they’re being saddled with the entire burden.
Trust is a good thing in a relationship. Blind faith is not. Abdicating responsibility is even worse.
To help stop a relationship from ever getting to the splitting stage, each partner should at least be staying on top of the decisions being made, where money is going, and what future goals they want to work towards together.
Starting the money conversation can be difficult at first, especially if it has been rarely discussed before.
But one good technique can be to take the pressure off by taking it out of the here and now.
Ask your partner what they would do if they won Lotto. Whether their answer is pay off the house, go travelling, or quit their job, you’ve just been allowed to see what their financial life goals look like.
Now it’s time to ask yourselves – could you change your finances to get there together, without bothering to wait for Lotto?
Starting at the end goal, and working backwards, gives you a way to start all sorts of important money conversations.
After that, try to make it part of the family routine to regularly go over the finances together, and check that you’re both happy with how things are going.
With any luck, that will stop the need for a divorce coach at all.
And if it does still go sideways, at least now you know the lay of the financial landscape.
|Radio Interview with Bridgette|