How Women Can Keep From Making Themselves Victims in Divorce
Women often don't think far enough ahead in the financial part of divorce.
-- All too often, women getting divorced become financial victims. Many get settlements that are fair or, in some cases, more than fair. But because they have misguided priorities, they may make choices that aren’t in their best interest, ultimately rendering themselves victims. The sad reality is that they are responsible for this unfortunate fate.
For some women, victim status is assured by the way they relate to their husbands concerning money during their marriages. When they get divorced, the choices they make amid this emotional turmoil may stem from this marital dynamic in ways that make their situations worse. By contrast, women who are financially empowered are more likely to make choices in their best interest.
If women are to emerge from divorce in a financial situation that works for them in the long run, many need to begin thinking in a new way. Just thinking straight is difficult when undergoing this emotionally wrenching process. Thinking about money in a new way is especially difficult.
Critical to this new mindset is the importance of looking out for yourself – not just regarding the division of marital assets, but also regarding your long-term financial security. Many women who have been financially dependent on their husbands in marriage make the mistake of continuing this dependence after divorce by focusing too much on alimony. There’s nothing inherently wrong with getting alimony, especially if you’ve foregone career opportunities to stay home with the children, enabling him to advance his career. However, obsessing over alimony to the exclusion of self-reliance can be an error with serious consequences.
You may not get all of this money; some ex-husbands disappear to avoid their alimony (and child-support) obligations or they just don’t pay, and it can be extremely difficult to get them to make up missed payments. They could become disabled, unable to work, or they might die. Many women think they have this covered by life insurance, but what if, to give an extreme example, he commits suicide? Then the insurance company may not pay.
Also, in many states where alimony is common, divorce agreements typically limit the total amount and duration of alimony payments. What will you do when the payments end?
A more fundamental problem with obsessing over alimony is it’s a distraction from what should be your real focus: earning a living. If you can get alimony, fine. But instead of getting as much alimony, perhaps you can secure a provision in your divorce agreement to receive money for tuition for more education or skills training to increase your value on the job market.
If you’re working already, of course, there’s not as much need for alimony, though you’ll probably need to make more money. Consider the old adage about learning to fish versus receiving a fish. If you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s when you get divorced, becoming equipped to get a job or increase your existing income can make a significant long-term difference.
Failing to realize the importance of true independence, some women undergoing settlement negotiations don’t like to talk about increasing their incomes -- or, if they don’t have a job, about getting one -- because they believe they’ll get a better deal in their agreement if they appear helpless (victims). They should be aware that because they’re not focusing on their own earning potential, their fixation on alimony could cost them dearly.
NY AG says she may seize Trump's buildings if he can't pay his $354M civil fraud fine
- Feb 20, 4:50 PM
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events