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In Spite of Your Divorce – You Deserve to Be Happy

Are you happy?  You may realize how strong and special you are not in spite of your divorce but because of your divorce. Why is that?  Our culture sees the ideal family and marriage from the premise that you stay together no matter what. We define a family as a mom and dad married, with or without children. Some even add the dog and white picket fence to make it all seem perfect.  

In my lifetime stemming 50 years at this point, I have seen a lot of things change, advance, get better, faster, smarter, and  more efficient.  So why is it that many people feel trapped in an unhappy marriage? Why do we look at divorce as a death or the ending to a happy life we dreamt of, or as something that will ruin our children? Perception is the most likely answer in my opinion. It seems that until we find our true inner happiness, we worry about how the world around us perceives us more than we consider our own happiness. I admit, I used to think like that until one day I realized I rather be alone with my children and happy,  than living in a beautiful large house with a husband and a marriage that wasn’t making me happy. Sure we   had all the material things 20 years later,  but what we didn’t have was the patience, trust and internal happiness that we all yearn for.

 The perception around us made it seem different, and if we had established better communication from the beginning it may have been true, but often times that doesn’t happen. For me, it was too late for us to change, and our paths ended up going separate ways.  But I believe it was meant to be that way! How else could I help so many others had I not experienced divorce for myself? It is not in spite of divorce that I am living a life of endless possibilities and experiencing a life time of dreams coming true, but it is because of divorce that I am able to do this.

 It seems every week I meet women who stay in unhappy marriages because they simply don’t believe they deserve to be happy. Their self-esteem is very low, and they are controlled by their spouse and the perception of others. I want you to know, we all deserve to be happy, and at the end of the day only you can make yourself happy! Do it for yourself, and all those who love you will also benefit from your happiness!

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine ShanahanIn Spite of Your Divorce – You Deserve to Be Happy
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At Divorce U, We Help Clear Things Up

Here at Divorce U, we help navigate the divorce process.  The thought of divorce can be overwhelming and stressful and  can cause an enormous sense of confusion, fear and self-doubt.  You may have trouble looking beyond marriage to imagine a new life for yourself.   Catherine and I  founded Divorce U Solutions, and are  passionate about using our own experiences with divorce to help others.   We are committed to the empowerment of women as they navigate the emotionally trying process of divorce. To date, we have helped hundreds of women and men through the complicated and layered process.  How do we help?  Well, we certainly do not give legal advice, nor do we pretend that complicated legal matters don’t exist.  Because they do exist and they can  seem like insurmountable issues.  Catherine and I are fortunate to have experience in both the legal world and the financial world to be able to help clients “pack their backpack” of sorts to ready themselves for the process.  We are excited that our online course has launched just this week which provides information, resources, guides and worksheets so that anyone facing the prospect of a divorce can get the “lay of the land” before embarking on their journey.

We believe in marriage, but when it does not work, we know that women deserve to go forward to create happy lives for themselves. I was married early at 19 and learned the hard way that divorce can be rough. I spent nearly $30,000 on a divorce that took 10 years to finalize, even though I worked at a law firm!  That, in and of itself did not mean that I knew how divorce would specifically affect me and my children and I did not know how to navigate the process for me and my family.  Catherine is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, trained Mediator, and Certified Daily Money Manager. Four years ago she also went through a difficult divorce and is passionate to demystify the divorce process for as many people as she can. We know we have found our calling by helping others through the emotional process of divorce.

At Divorce U Solutions, we walk our client through the divorce process and assists them by helping them prepare for this major life event. Many people consult Divorce Solutions U when they are considering divorce.  We help our clients find skilled legal counsel to assist with representation and advice for legal matters, both simple and complex.   There are also those times when an attorney is needed on the case right away and we are able to immediately connect them with effective legal counsel for their urgent needs.   We often refer clients to therapists and other professionals as well.  We hear from so many clients, we wish we would have known about you before we started the divorce process! 

Many of our clients call us and tell us that their attorney told him/her to call us and then come back once they have gone through our unique three step program. 

Law firms like Towson Divorce Lawyers  Woodbridge Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have quoted our article as published in The Washington Times and other publications across the nation, because there is no one like us out there.  We are fortunate to work with trusted attorneys, therapists and other professionals who recognize the incredible value of our services.   You see, we are truly changing the face of divorce and are bringing a sense of knowing and empowerment to our clients. 

Divorce is not easy. Regardless of whether you are just beginning to consider divorce as an option, or whether you are certain that it is the best path forward for your family, we understand and we are here for you. 

Catherine ShanahanAt Divorce U, We Help Clear Things Up
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Divorce Patience

Many clients feel stuck in the middle, first some are blind sighted, some mentally prepare and then take the first scary step to start the process and others are just too afraid of the unknown so they accept their status quo.  The middle of this journey can be the biggest test of patience.  You either are waiting for your spouse to respond to you, your mediator, lawyer, CDFA, Accountant or worse, your Children! Many of my clients wonder, how do I get through this waiting period? In this instant gratification world we live, patience could be your best friend through divorce.  If you’re like me and lack patience, this is the time to learn the value of it.  Here are a few things I help my clients do in the middle of the process. 

  1. Forget Instant Gratification.  When your spouse reaches out to you, telling you all the mean things they want to say.  Don’t fire back a response. Make them wait.  Respond when your mind and emotions have had time to get over the anger.  Assess if there is purpose for the comment and if there is actually anything of value that is being asked of you.  Realize that these anger filled messages are to get a reaction from you, either to reach a settlement or for you to just cave in and let them get away with what they want. Don’t make any decisions for parenting or financially when your emotions are high.  Many times my clients send me their responses and I delete half of what they say and help them to respond to what is necessary.  They feel better because it’s off their chest and as their CDFA and advisor I feel better because I know they are then in a better place to make decisions and to move forward in a positive direction.  This also saves them from calling their lawyer demanding things based on emotions and not on merit which in turn, saves a lot of money!
  2. Focus on the knowns.  There are so many unknowns in the middle, where will I live, how will I afford things, when will the process be over, will I be alone forever, will my kids be ok, who are my real friends, what will my family think, is this the right thing to do, did my spouse ever love me, where is all the money…. These answers will come but not today and maybe not tomorrow but they will come, in time.  So journal in the middle.  Ask yourself, what are your goals? Focus on your goals. If you want to know what you can afford, complete a Lifestyle Analysis. If you will need a job, start looking for one, update or create a resume, take a class to get certified in something that interests you. 
  3. Listen.  If you have assembled the right Divorce team, listen. If you agree with their guidance then follow it. Don’t sit inside honed into waiting for responses and outcomes, trust they know what they are doing and go back to following number two above. If your gut is telling you not to agree with your team then discuss it with them remember they work for you, you don’t work for them. Your voice is important, a good team will listen to you and give them their opinion on your concerns.  Getting the clarity you need is one of your assets.   We use our knowledge and resources to keep our clients in the loop providing them with clarity and confidence needed to make very important decisions. Make sure you listen and your team listens to you!

See It, Believe It and You will achieve it.  I read this in a golf book years ago, it’s an analogy of putting.  See the hole and envision the path that your ball will take  going into it, believe that you will putt it into the hole and you will achieve it.  I use this theory in many areas of my life, including when I got divorced.  I saw happiness, I believed I would get there and now I am achieving it.  So while you are in the middle, see your happiness believe you will get there and I promise you will! Until then, don’t expect instant gratification, focus on the knowns and listen.

You are not crazy and you are not the only one that feels this way.  Trust me, I hear it all the time and my clients talk to me all the time asking, what do I do to get through this and I can’t wait to be on the other side.  I completely understand, you will get through this and you will be on the other side but right now stay here, take the right steps to protect yourself and one day at a time you will see the light to a new journey and a happier you!

Karen ChellewDivorce Patience
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Death and Divorce

Let me make one thing clear – Divorce is not death.  You may feel like you’re dying inside and your whole world is falling apart, however divorce is not a fatal illness and the world is not coming to an end. Sometimes when I hear a comparison of divorce to death, it makes me upset because I refuse to let myself or my children believe that my marriage died and the world ended when their dad and I got divorced.  I often hear divorcees or their friends and family say they need closure to move on after a divorce, comparing it to the need for closure when someone passes away.  What is closure? Closure comes from a Latin word meaning a conclusion or a finish.  So, your friends and family want you to find closure because they are uncomfortable around the grief and sadness that you may be feeling.  They want you to “get over it”, “move on”, or “let it go”, because the sooner you do the sooner you will be back to your old self and that’s a more comfortable place for everyone. In my opinion and personal experience it doesn’t happen quite like that.  You can’t just “wrap it up” and bring your sadness or grief to a closure or ending and just get back to your “old self”.  Do you even want to get back there? Maybe, just maybe, and I hope that you do, want to get to your “new self!” How do you do that?

During my own experience, I wasn’t seeking closure, I was seeking peace. Along with peace, I wanted to find my inner happiness. I also thought and believed my ex was seeking peace as well.   In life, we all have our own journey,  and it is our responsibility to find what we are looking for. To find what you are looking for after divorce, I recommend that you concentrate on four things:

1.       The actual facts that led to the Divorce. When did the breakdown of the marriage begin?

2.       Your role in the dissolution of your marriage.  Acknowledge what you could have done differently.

3.        How did you and or your spouse try to make it work?

4.       Why will this decision be better for you in the long run?

If you understand your part in the ending of your marriage, change any of the behaviors that contributed to the cause, try to understand why your spouse acted as he/she did, and accept that you had no control over their behavior, then you can start to mend your heart and clear your mind. After my divorce, I clogged my mind with a lot of “what if’s”. What if, we went to counseling years ago? What if, we spent more time communicating? What if, we spent more time just the two of us? I could go on and on, but that didn’t change anything. In search for peace and happiness I decided to just concentrate on how I could get there.  I don’t believe my marriage was a death or a failure, instead, I look at it as lasting the 20 years it was supposed to last.  No matter what you hear, divorce is a different process for everyone.  It takes us all our own amount of time to feel the peace settle in our own hearts.  I challenge you to give yourself the time you need at the pace comfortable for you.  It wasn’t until five years later, when my ex went on a verbal rampage at me causing me to cry, yet again, that I looked at myself in the mirror and knew that I made the right decision to get a divorce.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it just matters that you get there! Please, I ask, don’t compare your divorce to death and look for closure, rather, seek peace and happiness because your life is not ending it may actually be just beginning!

Karen ChellewDeath and Divorce
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The 10 Truths about Divorce and How I Felt from The Beginning

This is how my journey through divorce began five years ago. I decided to begin blogging to share it with you and to continue sharing a part of my life, a part of my clients lives (no names will be mentioned), and anything else that I feel will help others going through divorce stand strong and realize they are not alone and they will not be defined by divorce and through all the changes #UwillbeOK!

1. The Divorce process is difficult.  You know the saying, If it was easy everyone would do it.  It’s true, divorce rates would be even higher if it was easy.  I can tell you, it’s easier to stay married then get divorced.

2. I was sad for two years.  The first year, I cried every day.  If my kids weren’t around, I cried. I thought my ex would change and fight to get me back. He didn’t. Instead he blamed me for everything, even things I was clueless about, he said hurtful things to me and made up dirty stories that he told to friends and family.

3. I was embarrassed the first time I went to the doctor’s office.  I had to fill out forms and for the first time I checked the box that labeled me, divorced.  That box left me feeling, less than and alone.

4. I have a financial background but I was scared financially.

5. I dreaded going to events.  I was used to going to my children’s school events alone, but it was different as a divorcee. I felt like everyone looked at me differently.

6. I missed my Ex.  Even though we fought often, I was used to involving his reaction into everything I did.

7. I looked into every reaction my kids had and wondered if I was messing them up.

8. I wished the first year of firsts would just come and go. First holiday, birthday etc…

9. I lost a lot of weight, well I liked that.

10. It was sad to realize who your true friends actually are.

So, I realized that my happiness and future income was in my own hands and it scared me. So, when the crying stopped,
I decided my motto would be to “make the rest of my life the best of my life!” no matter what….

My business partner, Karen Chellew, will also start blogging to share her personal journey and client experiences as we hope to create a community both locally and nationally where all divorcees have a place to feel connected and empowered to move forward!

Catherine ShanahanThe 10 Truths about Divorce and How I Felt from The Beginning
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Is Your New Year Starting with Divorce?

By Karen Chellew
Co-Founder of Divorce U Solutions, LLC
experienced paralegal, business manager and QDRO adminstrator

It’s that time of year again. Resolutions and new beginnings are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The decision to get a divorce is one of the top New Year’s resolutions and hence the reason January is dubbed “divorce month.” Once the decision to leave a marriage is made, fear, guilt and uncertainty begin to flood in, which results in indecision and questioning the decision to leave.

If your New Year is starting with getting a divorce, follow these four simple tips to help you gain clarity and confidence about your decision – whether you stay or leave. If your spouse is the one who wants the divorce, these steps are just as important for you:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s normal to question the effects of your decision as it relates to your children, your family and your friends’ well-being. It’s important to remember you don’t have to figure it all out today. The only thing you need to do today is acknowledge how you feel about leaving your marriage. The only person who knows if this decision is right for you is YOU. Trust that when you acknowledge how you feel and you accept those feelings, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you. Once you are clear about your feelings and your decision, then you can explore what this decision will mean for your family.

2. Get Informed About What’s to Come

One of the biggest reasons divorce is so difficult is we often feel left in the dark about where to start, what’s to come, and what life will look like and be like after divorce. It’s imperative to take the time to learn how divorce works, how divorce will impact you financially, and how it will affect your living situation. You should also think through best case/worst case scenario for your children so you can prepare. You might be asking where you can you go to find this information, the key steps and how to prepare for what’s to come emotionally and financially. At Divorce U Solutions, we’ve been helping women transition through divorce in a positive and empowering way for many years. We guide you through the entire divorce process and help you gain clarity over your finances, your next steps and help you understand the multitude of terms and processes involved in a divorce. Our assistance allows you to be clear and confident through every stage of the divorce process. You can learn more about our upcoming online course Divorce U: Navigate Your Divorce with Confidence and Clarity on our website.

3. Get Organized

Even if you decide to stay in your marriage, it’s important to have a sense of your financial standing. This is a great time to gather financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, year-end mortgage statements and tax records from previous years. This is also a good time to do a credit check. Make copies of these documents and store them in a safe place.

4. Make a Plan

Allow yourself to make a plan that can be revised and tweaked on a daily basis. You don’t have to figure it all out from beginning to end. You plan may become very fluid as you become more informed and acclimated to what divorce may mean for you and your family. This allows you to take one step at a time and removes the fear and anxiety about what your life will look like after divorce if you do decide to leave your marriage. This will also allow you to interact with your entire divorce team (attorney/mediator/CDFA/etc.) empowered, informed and engaged.

By having the right information about what steps to take, knowing what’s to come in divorce, and gaining clarity about your next steps, you’ll relieve a tremendous about of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. At Divorce U Solutions, we believe knowledge is power – and in divorce, it’s EVERYTHING! Allow every day to be a part of your journey that may or may not result in divorce. Whether you decide to leave or stay, you’ll be clear about your feelings, about your finances and about your next steps.

Catherine ShanahanIs Your New Year Starting with Divorce?
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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

(Or Not…If You Are Thinking About Divorce)

Originally appeared in Bucks County Women’s Journal on December 30, 2015

By Catherine Shanahan, Co-Founder of Divorce U Solutions, CDFA, and trained mediator

woman holding sparklerJanuary is dubbed “divorce month” because many people are now saying, “Let’s make this the last good holiday for the kids and our families” or “Let’s wait until after the New Year when the kids go back to school.” No matter what the reason, divorce is never easy, and there is no good time for divorce. I know because I’m divorced and wished the first holidays away. I also can tell you, from experience, there is no last best holiday.

My first Christmas divorced went much smoother than I expected. I set realistic goals and put my children’s thoughts and feelings first. I even enjoyed the two hours alone and my glass of wine before they returned home for dessert. However, everyone is different, and both parties involved must be willing to put their kids’ feelings first.

If you’re thinking about divorce, you can plan ahead, and, with planning, you may just pull off a wonderful holiday too.

Here are 8 key steps you can take now to plan ahead if you’re thinking about divorce:

  1. Complete a budget

Review your spending over the last year. Ask your spouse to do the same since you’ll need this moving forward. Make a holiday spending budget with and without your spouse. Overspending over the holidays adds a lot of stress to happily married couples, so you can imagine the stress it adds to divorcing couples. Alleviate some of this anxiety by setting expectations on gift giving. I suggest you both set cash aside and agree to only spend that. If cash is not an option, agree to a set amount to charge and write it down.

  1. Take caution with credit cards and Get a credit report

Get a free credit report at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. Credit reports allow you to see all outstanding bills and credit problems, if any. If you do not have a card in your own name, apply for one now. When going through divorce, oftentimes money is unavailable and expenses need to be paid by credit. If you only have joint cards, access may be shut off by your spouse. Be mindful that your friends may advise you to max out your credit, but they might be unaware that you may also be responsible for repaying the debt.

  1. Make copies of year-end financial statements

This is when year-end financial statements will be generated. Look for them in the mail and make copies of anything you find. If you have access to statements from prior years, copy those as well. Finally, make copies any and all credit card statements.

  1. Don’t comingle monetary gifts

If you receive monetary gifts, keep them in a safe place out of your home. Don’t commingle them. Explore obtaining a safety deposit box or leave money with a trusted family member. You should also store any financial statements and personal documents outside of the home.

  1. Be mindful of what you post on social media

Once you post, it stays there forever. Think of how others perceive what they see and how it would affect your children. The world doesn’t need to know your personal business. Posting your emotions and your personal affairs on social media can lead to those emotions taking over and prevent you from making important decisions in the future. If you are flooded with emotions, keep a journal close by –this is a safe way to acknowledge and move through your feelings.  You’ll also want to change all your passwords and create a new email address that only you have access to so you can send and receive private financial and legal information.

  1. Start thinking about your divorce team

Some of the advisors you may need are a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), mediator, therapist, CPA, Certified Financial Planner, and lawyer. We can help you put this team together, so reach out to us at Divorce U Solutions when you are ready to take the next steps.

  1. Start a new holiday tradition with your children, family, and/or friends this year

By doing this, next year you will all have something to look forward to, and you will enjoy having something new that brings about a sense of tradition. This will also act as a reminder that this is not your last happy holiday, but the beginning of a new happy.

  1. Finally, play your favorite holiday music, journal the things that you are grateful for

Write down what you are grateful for in this moment like good health, an opportunity for something new, or time with your friends and family. Remember this is a wonderful time of the year if you focus on the positive aspects in our lives and the opportunities that await you in the future.

Since my divorce, I made a New Year’s resolution to “Make the Rest of My Life the Best of My Life.” Here’s a list of what some of our clients’ New Year’s resolutions are. These women are either separated, divorced, or in the thick of the process:

● “Create a budget and STICK TO IT.”
● “Always remember I have options! That way I never stay stuck.
● “Embrace whatever life throws at me and accept that every day happens for a reason.”
● “Forgive and let go and move forward.”
● “Live the best and most fulfilling life I can and just be happy.”
● “Make a point to no longer feel guilty over things I can’t control.”
● “Looking to be excellent!!”
● “Get through a day without thinking how horrible my ex is.”
● “Once and for all to deal with my anger and allow myself to fully embrace happiness”
● “Focus on myself more; I’ve never really done that.”
● “Maintain a healthy body, be mindful, and practice loving kindness!”

Being an experienced Certified Divorce Financial Analyst has allowed me to help many people through the divorce process. Raising five children has allowed me to understand what it is like to love unconditionally. Now, as a divorced woman, I understand this emotional process and how the holidays can be difficult. I want to assure you, in time, things do get better! One life lesson I’ve learned is life is what we make of it and we can create our own happiness!

If you know you are heading for divorce in the New Year, stay connected with us to learn more about our new Divorce U Online Course to help you navigate your divorce with confidence and clarity.

 

Catherine ShanahanIt’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
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4 Common Divorce Regrets and How to Avoid Them

woman facing away toward nature and sunWhile a divorce can greatly affect you emotionally, it can also impact you financially. As you go through the divorce process, remember that the decisions you make now will have long-term effects on your future. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I’ve seen people make numerous mistakes as they went through a divorce, especially when they didn’t have the necessary information or tools beforehand.

For the most part, the common divorce regrets divorcees end up having are avoidable when given the right information on how to navigate this life-changing process.

The 4 Most Common Regrets of Divorcees

  1. Attorney Hopping

It’s bad enough that you have to retain an attorney with costs exceeding $30,000 in most cases. However, not hiring the right attorney at the outset is one of the most costly mistakes you’ll make during this process. Many divorcees who make this mistake entrusted the promises offered by an attorney only to find through the process that these promises could not be honored. After seeing what they wanted could not come to fruition, these divorcees changed attorneys, sometimes more than twice, throughout their divorce process!

Not only was this extremely costly, it delayed and prolonged the emotional process and left these divorcees with less than desirable financial results. There are key questions you can ask an attorney so you know you are choosing the right one the first time (I share some below). It’s important to remember your attorney is not your therapist. Save your emotional questions for a qualified counselor and rely on your attorney to protect your legal rights.

  1. Keeping the Family Residence

How does one lose $150,000? This is more common than you think. Choosing to keep the marital home and using your share of the marital assets, such as cash, to buy-out your spouse can prove detrimental to your financial future. You will get emotional about your home, but you have to set your emotions aside and consider the maintenance costs a home requires before deciding to keep the home.

Post-divorce budgets are frighteningly low when you see the maintenance and repair bills for a home over time. Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of keeping the family residence and create a realistic budget if you do decide to keep your home.

  1. Forfeiting Your Right to Your Spouse’s Pension

Who would give up $850,000 in retirement security? People who don’t know the difference between marital and non-marital assets. A woman I worked with was told by her husband that he would never give her any portion of his pension. He said his pension was for his 25 years of work and, therefore, was his money. Knowing the difference between marital and non-marital assets is key to arriving at an equitable divorce settlement – and can affect how you live during retirement.

  1. Loss of Money, Self-Esteem, Clarity and Independence

This is the most costly mistake you can make. “I wish I knew you five years ago,” or “I wish I knew you when I was going through my divorce.” This is what I hear all the time, even from strangers I meet. Not having the right information or clarity when making very important financial decisions turns into making emotional choices that negatively impact you financially, emotionally and mentally. It’s normal and even necessary to process emotions during a divorce. However, it’s detrimental to use your emotions to make important financial decisions. Your divorce will be unique, so relying on other people’s experience of divorce is also unwise in making decisions during this very important time.

If you’re thinking about divorce, or you are going through a divorce, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes or have the regrets I see so many divorcees carry into their new lives.

4 Ways to Avoid Making Big Mistakes During Divorce

  1. Interview Your Attorney

Make sure your attorney is the right fit for you. Ask what their philosophy is and determine if their way of thinking matches yours. Interview at least two attorneys, and find a third if you are still unsure about the first two. Not sure what questions to ask? Read this BLOG.

  1. Get a Detailed Lifestyle Analysis Before Keeping the Family Home

Don’t agree to stay in the marital home unless you have the cash flow to do it. Have a detailed lifestyle analysis completed before you agree to keep the family residence so you are clear about the costs of maintaining and keeping the family residence. Even if the value in dollars of giving up some marital cash in order to keep the marital home seems fair, meet with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to ensure this is equitable and a financially sound decision long term.

Keeping the home so your children can stay in it is a very emotional decision and one that should not be taken lightly. If you can’t afford to maintain the home, you or your children will feel that burden and the pressure. Remember, a “home” is what you make of it. Wherever you chose to live will be your home, and your children will adapt.

  1. Understand the Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Assets

Consult with an objective CDFA to learn the difference between marital and non-marital assets. What’s important during the divorce process is to understand the guidelines of divorce laws in your state. I know of one divorcee who gave up her right to a $850,000 pension because she didn’t know that pensions were marital assets and, as such, are divided during divorce when pensions are acquired during marriages of long duration.

4.Take the Emotions Out of Very Important Decisions

When working with my clients, it’s my job as a CDFA to take the emotions out of the very important decisions that need to be made in order to move forward with confidence. When I see that my clients are stuck in the emotional moment (which is almost always), I project their financial future for them so they can see the costly mistake of making decisions based on emotions. We look at fair vs. equitable, marital vs. non-marital, and lifestyle analysis pre- and post-divorce to ensure we have a solid plan for their future.

Before you finalize your divorce, get a settlement you can live with and receive what is rightfully yours. You can’t go back, so it’s important that you have all the necessary information at the outset for an amicable and equitable divorce settlement.

Divorce is a difficult and confusing time that leads to uncertainty and high levels of stress in many individuals. A CDFA can help you make informed decisions that will benefit your future. Whether you’re considering a divorce, in the midst of a divorce or are just starting to recover, know that #UwillbeOK!

 

Catherine Shanahan4 Common Divorce Regrets and How to Avoid Them
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Thinking Divorce? Where do I start?

Get Organized!

“Divorce” can incite so many emotions in a person, whether they’ve been through the process, are in the middle of the process, or are just starting the divorce journey.  Emotions such as fear, guilt, anger, betrayal, loss and shock can wreak havoc in the divorce process.

get-organized-prior-to-divorceWhere do I start?  Where do I go?  Who can help me?  What do I do?  These questions can create roadblocks to critical decisions that need to be made.

As soon as we begin working with clients, we recommend they get a lifestyle analysis and get organized. Emotions can create erratic and impulsive decisions that can be critically detrimental to your long term wellbeing. All the while, the ability to gain clarity and knowledge can be lifesaving and alleviate so much stress.  We can’t control other people or their behavior, but we can take steps toward finding solutions and creating a new life.

From our experience working with clients, we’ve found that clients who take charge of their financial well being and have their affairs in order fare the best in the divorce process.

If you’re thinking divorce, here are a few simple steps to get organized:

  1. Get your financial documents in order. Gather together yours and your children’s personal documents (birth certificates, passport, marriage license, etc.), your asset documents (bank accounts, deeds, titles to cars, boats, etc.), retirement account information, estate planning documents, tax returns, insurance documentation.
  2. Store Your Documents in a Safe Place. We have developed a Forever Box which is a storage system which consists of pre-labeled expandable files that are color-coded for use ease of use and organization. This box can be used for copies of your documents to give to a friend or family member for safe keeping, or can be safely stored in a fireproof box if you are housing the originals.
  3. Get a Lifestyle Analysis. Once you have gathered and organized your documents, it is time to have a Lifestyle Analysis prepared. Essentially, a Lifestyle Analysis establishes your standard of living prior to divorce.  It reconstructs the day to day spending habits of both you and your spouse and determines the lifestyle of which you are accustomed to living.

The Lifestyle Analysis creates an accurate picture of what funds are required to maintain the standard of living of which you were accustomed during your marriage. These calculations act as a guide to help develop a budget for yourself as a single woman/mother. Of course, maintaining two households is more expensive than maintaining one, so it may not be possible to completely maintain your marital standard of living, but this analysis lays out the details of expenditures for consideration by the Court. In addition, the Lifestyle Analysis can serve as the basis of your new budget and your new lifestyle post-divorce.

So what can a Lifestyle Analysis do for you?

I recently had a client who brought her lifestyle analysis and her current Court Order which mandated that she pay thousands of dollars to her ex-husband as a result of a Support Hearing.  I was able to help her organize her paperwork in the Forever Box so she had all essential documents that were a part of her financial wellbeing.  I helped her connect with a mortgage broker so she could refinance her home, contacted her insurance company to reduce her auto policy expenses, and find an attorney to help her reduce her support payments based on this new financial plan. With this new budget and new lifestyle in mind, we were able to save this client thousands of dollars a month in expenditures and she was able to live life with less stress and more clarity.

Being organized and in the know can create clarity, peace of mind and focus during this very difficult time.  If you’re thinking about divorce, take these simple steps now so you know what your financial future looks like during and post-divorce.

To learn more about our Forever Box, contact us for more information.

Catherine ShanahanThinking Divorce? Where do I start?
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What This Divorcee Knows About a Lasting, Fulfilling Marriage

By Catherine Shanahan

Getting married is a very exciting time and a moment most women dream of for a long time.  I know this because I was a dreamer and enjoyed being married for twenty years. Although my marriage didn’t survive the test of time I certainly gained some wisdom on what not to do.  The best wedding gift I can offer you is hindsight from my own experience and the experience of the women I counsel through divorce.

I believe in marriage and in the covenant shared between two people who commit to share a life together.  Sometimes, we learn more from failing than we do at succeeding and creating a life with someone is no different. Hindsight, the gift of looking back at what was and what went wrong, has given me 20/20 vision on what makes a marriage work and stand the test of time.

6 Tips for a Lasting, Fulfilling Marriage

  1. Become Fluent in the Love Language You and Your Partner Speak

Make sure your plans for your marriage together is as important as the planning of your wedding day.  I have been to a lot of beautiful weddings and heard of wonderful honeymoons. Churches and venues are reserved a year or so in advance, but I am not sure if the same time and effort are put into loving your spouse and nurturing each other after the big day.  We all need to be loved differently so make sure you are showing your love in a way your partner can receive it and that you are being loved in a the way that fulfills you.  If you need to hold hands make sure your hand is being held.  If your spouse needs to have dinner together every night, then have dinner together every night.  Ask your partner what makes him/her feel loved. Ask yourself how you feel loved and let your partner know.

  1. Retain the YOU in WE

If you are both professionals, make sure you retain your professional identity weather you choose to keep working or not.  Even if you decide to stay at home and raise children, stay informed and engaged in your profession. You may never return to work, but if you do, you’ll be much more likely to find work you love. If you do not have a career, stay current and involved with something other than the household duties.  This will provide you and your spouse with conversational topics beyond the household and kids.

  1. Share Your Financial Goals and Expectations

Money, and how it’s spent, often leads to conflicts in marriages, and yet it’s a topic rarely discussed prior to marriage.  Usually one person is a spender and the other is a saver. If you are clear about your goals and expectations for the future, this won’t be a problem.  Create a budget and financial plan before you even get married.  This gives both of you a chance to discuss your concerns and avoid potential and avoidable money arguments. You can find budget templates online, contact a financial advisor, or even create a simple word document that maps out your joint goals and expectations. Be proactive about your finances and you’ll avoid one of the greatest causes for divorce.

  1. Comingling Beyond the Bedroom – What You Both Need to Know

I have a client who lost her mother years ago and received an inheritance.  After 20 years of marriage, she got divorced and because she comingled her inheritance, she had to split the money with her ex-husband.  If she hadn’t comingled her inheritance, she would have retained the entire amount.  As long as inheritance monies are not comingled, they are considered non-marital assets. Discuss with your spouse how you plan to handle inheritances and other separate money accounts. Maybe you’ll both decide to share it all, or maybe you’ll decide to keep some finances separate. Either way, it’s better to be open now than hurt later.

  1. Don’t Leave All Money Matters to Your Spouse

I’ve met many people who are married who never get involved with finances.  They don’t pay the bills, ask about retirement, look at credit card statements, inquire about investments or check their bank accounts. If your spouse handles all the finances, that’s great! Just stay involved and informed by looking at statements, knowing your credit score, meeting with financial advisors with your spouse, and reviewing important documents before signing anything. If you have questions that aren’t being answered, ask until you get what you need to know.

  1. Before Signing Joint Tax Returns – Do This First

Maybe you stay at home and your husband works. You’ll be asked to sign tax returns if you file jointly. Be present with your spouse during accountant meetings. Show interest in your financial well-being so you have the full picture. This is especially important if your spouse owns his own company. Remember, financial concerns are one of the biggest reasons for divorce, so be sure you are involved in all financial matters. Ask questions if you need to and don’t be ashamed if you have to ask multiple times. CPA’s and Financial Advisors work for both of you!

Before my wedding years ago, someone said to me, “Something will go wrong on your wedding day. Maybe the cake won’t be as tasty as you expected or maybe the band will show up late. Enjoy the day anyway because none of those little things will matter.”  Something will go wrong in your marriage, but if you love each other, communicate and show gratitude and appreciation for one another, you will have a long lasting, happy marriage.  The best part is, you can learn from those of us who have been married and divorced, and gleaned hindsight for why they failed.  I believe in marriage, and my wish for you is a happy, healthy and lasting love.

 

About Catherine Shanahan

After 25 years in the financial industry, having raised five children and having endured her own experience with divorce, Catherine became a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and trained mediator.  She founded CSM Divorce Solutions, now Divorce U Solutions, to provide a place where women could go to be heard, to release the emotions of this tumultuous time, and have their financial portraits explained to them in order to start moving forward with a plan. Catherine and her partner, Karen Chellew, an experienced mediator, help clients navigate divorce with confidence while preserving the dignity and importance of the family unit. Catherine is a member of several groups and serves on the boards of Sisters U, PWBN and Delta Zeta and her mission is to empower women to be their best.

Catherine ShanahanWhat This Divorcee Knows About a Lasting, Fulfilling Marriage
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4 Simple Steps for Women Going Through a Divorce

#UwillbeOK

 

By Catherine Shanahan
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and Cofounder of Divorce U Solutions, LLC

 

Divorce can leave you feeling tremendously vulnerable. You may fear you’ll lose everything – time with your kids, the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to, and the close relationships with friends and family members. I want you to know that your divorce can be fair, equitable and supportive of your goals including maintaining your close relationships with your children and family members. In order to create this outcome, however, you need to know what questions to ask yourself and what questions you need to ask about your finances.

Five years ago, after many years of being married, I found myself facing divorce, and I was scared, sad and uncertain about what my future would bring. Every day, I questioned my decisions, I cried any time I was alone, and I was fearful of what was to come. After many months of repeating this pattern, I did something different. I faced the mirror, placed my hands on my cheeks, and said aloud, “Catherine, you will be okay!”

Crazy as this may sound, saying these powerful words in front of a mirror actually gave me a little more strength each day.  Five years later, because of these four very simple, yet profound words, I am more than okay, my kids are doing well, and my life is pretty amazing.  Saying those four simple words took me from feeling bad about myself and feeling powerless to taking action and feeling in control over my future.  I was suddenly willing to seek the information, guidance and support I knew I needed. Unfortunately, I could not find the help or guidance I was seeking at that time, so I had to create my own path. This led me to create a service to help women take control over their futures – financially, emotionally and mentally – by giving women the tools, the information and the guidance so vital when going through a divorce.

If you are currently going through a divorce and you don’t like how the process is unfolding, or if you’ve recently made the decision to end a marriage, I invite you to give yourself a confidence booster. Look in the mirror and put your hands on your cheeks and say aloud, “I will be okay.” Next, use these four simple steps to gain clarity, gain confidence and get what you truly want during and after your divorce:

  1. Get it on Paper: Goals Move You Forward

Ask additional questions to map out your true goals. Maybe you wish to stay in the marital residence. If so, create a detailed budget and consider the pros and cons of keeping the marital property. The priority here is to be honest about what you want, write it down and then sit with someone you trust to develop a plan that makes these goals realistic and attainable. Without clear goals, you will be unable to make important decisions which will affect your emotional and financial future.

  1. Organize Important Documents to Support Your Goals

Now that you’ve established your goals, it’s time to gather important documents to support those goals. Let’s say you set a goal to stay in the marital residence. Do you know how much it costs to maintain that home? For instance, what are the monthly expenses, how much do you owe on the mortgage, how much are the property taxes, and what is the current market value of the home? If you can’t answer these questions, you’ll need to find the information so you can answer these questions.  Now is the time to get organized so you can access these answers and make important financial decisions. As Certified Divorced Financial Analysts, we can help you set, organize and implement your goals at Divorce U Solutions.  Money Managers can also be helpful with this important step. Whether you hire a professional, or you do this discovery work on your own, just make sure you have documents on hand for easy access and for reference.

  1. Consult a Professional Regarding Dividing Assets

Divorce is a rocky road with a lot of unknowns. Many questions loom about what’s yours, what’s mine and what must be divided equally between the two of us. Focus on the knowns. Many people do not understand the difference between marital and non-marital assets. For instance, did you know that if you inherited money during your marriage, but never comingled it with your spouse, the inheritance is considered non-marital and solely yours? Did you know that if your spouse has a pension in a company he/she has worked in for over 20 years and you’ve been married during the same 20 years, that pension is considered marital and a joint asset? It’s important to understand the laws regarding marital and non-marital assets, so be sure to consult with a professional before you sign any binding agreements.

  1. Determine What’s Fair Versus What’s Equitable

This is a topic often overlooked and frequently misunderstood. Let’s say you and your spouse own a house worth $200,000, qualified accounts worth $100,000 and cash totaling $100,000. Your assets may look simple to split; you keep the cash and your spouse keeps the qualified accounts and you both split the proceeds of the sale of the house. This seems absolutely fair, but is it equitable? Many of my clients retain my services while working with mediators and attorneys to ensure the asset split is not only fair, but also equitable. For instance, in the example above, did you consider the tax deferral growth you were losing by letting your spouse maintain ownership of qualified accounts? Did your spouse consider any costs involved if she/he needed access to money before retirement? A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFN) can show you the long term effects these decisions have on your financial future. Taking this time with a CDFN will prove a worthy investment in the end.

Whenever we experience a life transition, all we really want to know is that we will be okay. Going through a divorce is no exception. Divorce marks the formal ending of a marriage, but it can also mark the beginning of a positive, healthy and happy life.

From my own divorce experience, I noticed when I started taking simple steps, I instantly felt a bit more confident, more in control of my life and I started to see what was possible for me moving forward.  It’s important to remember through this process that the act of divorce itself does not define who you are, but how you move through this process certainly determines your future – financially, mentally and emotionally. Understanding the formal process of divorce and making smart decisions throughout the divorce process has an enormous bearing on your finances and for your emotional well-being. When you take these four simple steps, #UwillbeOK!

If you’d like to learn more about preparing for a life transition like divorce and how Divorce U Solutions can clear confusion and map out a plan for your financial future, visit https://www.divorceusolutions.com/ and make the rest of your life the best of your life!

Catherine Shanahan4 Simple Steps for Women Going Through a Divorce
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10 Questions for Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney

The Most Common Questions Women Ask about Divorce

By Karen Chellew
Paralegal and Cofounder of Divorce U Solutions, LLC

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

woman meeting with a divorce mediatorAccording to the Holmes and Rahe’s Stress Scale, divorce is second on the list of the 43 life changing events that affect your health. I remember myself as a young 29 year-old, having survived 10 years of a rocky marriage with two small children in tow. Divorce was not easy or wanted, but yet I found myself needing to make the decision to move out, find another place to live and start the long, challenging road to divorce. As a legal secretary, I had access to the best attorneys, yet, looking back, I realize that I lacked appropriate emotional advice, effective financial guidance and I lived day to day feeling anxious and stressed. Under this stress, I needed to make life altering decisions related not only to my well-being, but the wellbeing of my children and our future. I didn’t know where to go or where to turn and felt like I was at the mercy of my ex and our attorneys. Even though I had great attorneys, they could only respond to my directions and the Court’s decisions. Somehow, I had to figure it out on my own and make the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time.

For 30 years, I have worked in a law office as a paralegal and business manager. I am passionate about helping women take control over their emotional and financial futures, especially through a divorce. After going through this heart wrenching process alone, I realized we can be better, and we can do better. I now know how helpful it is to have a financial planner who understands the financial aspects of divorce and the legal process. I realize the critical need of a therapist who is there when the days are dark and the emotions run high. And choosing the right attorney can have a lasting impact on the financial and emotional outcomes of a divorce.

Because of the need I saw among women going through this life transition, I co-founded Divorce U Solutions, a company dedicated to helping women navigate the divorce process in a safe, protective and empowering way, while preserving the dignity and importance of the family unit as a whole. When you have a team of support behind you, life can be a little easier, a little less stressful and the process doesn’t seem so endless. And the best part of it all is, having a supportive team can save you money because every aspect is focused on you, your well-being, and your wallet.

The most common question my clients ask is, “How do I choose the right divorce attorney?” Oftentimes, worries and fears lead women to seek legal advice. How do you know this attorney will fend for you and your rights during the divorce process? At Divorce U Solutions, we help our clients create a foundation of communication with their attorneys to ensure the divorce process offers them the best possible outcome.

You do have rights and choosing the right attorney is a critical part in determining the outcome of your divorce. The ability to defend your rights depends largely on the attorney you hire. Just because an attorney practices family law doesn’t necessarily mean that your rights will be protected or that your best interests will be the primary focus in dissolving your marriage.

Here are 10 questions to help you choose an attorney who will support your specific needs during the divorce process:

  1. How much do you charge, how frequently will you bill me and when will payment be due? How much retainer do you require initially and on an ongoing basis?
  2. What other fees, costs and expenses will I have to pay?
  3. Can you give me an approximate estimate of the total cost of the divorce?
  4. Are there less experienced attorneys or paralegals who can perform some of the work at a lower per hour rate?
  5. Will you provide me with a monthly progress report free of charge?
  6. Will the progress report provide an update on the progress of the projected budget as well?
  7. Will you personally handle my divorce negotiations?
  8. Are you more likely to tell me what to do, or offer options and expect me to make a decision?
  9. Will you be my day-to-day contact or will I mainly be working with another attorney on your staff?
  10. What is the best way to contact you, and how quickly should I expect to receive a response?

The answers to these questions determine the type and quality of communication you’ll have with your attorney during your divorce. While it can be very intimidating to sit face to face with an attorney, these questions are important to ask and will play a significant role in the longer term relationship between you and the attorney you choose.

If you feel uncomfortable asking these questions, have someone knowledgeable along with you to ask these questions for you.
A word of caution if you are consulting friends who’ve recently gotten divorced: Every situation is unique unto itself and what may have worked or not worked for your friend and/or family member may not be relevant to you and your family.

Divorce U Solutions was created because we understand your concerns because we have been through the divorce process. We have helped many clients be “in the know” and “prepared and organized” so that their clients are assured of the opportunity to move ahead with confidence. We guide you to state specific resources. We help you gather the necessary paperwork and assist with pre-divorce budgeting so that you can be prepared as possible before seeking legal advice. We help you ask the tough questions of both yourself and the attorney role so that you can be prepared as possible in this journey. Taking these necessary steps goes a long way in creating your new life post-divorce.

We offer some helpful free resources at Divorce U Solutions, so no matter how you proceed during this life transition, be sure to access as much information as you can before making any binding decisions. #UwillbeOK!

 

Karen Chellew10 Questions for Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney
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Spring Cleaning After Divorce

It’s that time of year when we open the windows and enjoy the fresh air! It always made me feel better hearing the birds chirp, smelling the fresh air and cleaning as if it were a new beginning. Well, on a positive note, divorce is a new beginning! Put aside all the emotional feelings like sadness, anxiety and doubt about what you are supposed to do next, and consider some of the following tips for your financial spring cleaning!

1. Get your financial house in order. Update your will. Check that you have the proper beneficiaries listed on your life insurance policies. Review your retirement plans and get rid of non-performing investments (contact your CDFA or financial advisor if you need help). Get a file box or use a file drawer and label your files. Doing this will it easy to find any important financial papers.

2. If you aren’t doing what you love or loving what you do, then prepare to make a change! Update or write your resume. Take some courses and explore new opportunities in your area or an area that you would like to be in. Expect more from yourself. I’m sure you will be amazed what you’re capable of achieving.

3. Review your credit report!! Not only is identity theft a concern today, but so is human error. I recently found that there was a major mistake on my credit report and it took me a lot of time to have it corrected. It is also a good place to see if you or your spouse have any accounts that you were unaware of. If you haven’t already, make sure to establish credit in your name. Open a credit card, or the next time you purchase a car, register it in your name only.

4. This is also a great time to review your benefits at work. If you aren’t involved in a retirement plan, and one is offered, enroll!! If you are already active in a plan, review it!! It may seem overwhelming and out of your comfort zone so consult a financial advisor. Most advisors are happy to review your statements and offer you some advice.

5. I am sure that you just got your taxes done and you are saying, “Next year I will be more organized!” That’s what I said! So go buy a file for tax receipts only! Ask your accountant if s/he can provide you with some areas that may save you money on next year’s tax return.

6. Divorce is a big change and a new beginning. You will want to update your wardrobe, and feel pretty!! I am a big supporter of dressing the way you want to feel!! This can be costly, so make a plan. First, clean out your current wardrobe. There are consignment shops, example: Plato’s Closet, where you can sell your clothes and use that money to purchase new clothes for yourself. If you already have a budget, donate your clothes to women’s shelters. You will feel great about helping other women and they will greatly appreciate it!! It’s a win win!!

7. Divorce is draining, I know. Emotionally and financially, you feel exhausted. You will need time to rebuild yourself and your finances; start by setting long and short term goals (write them on paper). Prepare your new budget and then meet with a financial advisor. You work hard for your money and your advisor can help ensure that your money is working hard for you.

Lastly, accept what your financial situation is now, make the changes that you can, and live accordingly. Focus on implementing the above suggestions and you will be able to move forward confidently rather than living in the past.

Catherine ShanahanSpring Cleaning After Divorce
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What is your (filing) status?

A Deep Dive into Divorce and Taxes

I was talking to one of my colleagues, Marianna Goldenberg, founder of CURO Wealth management, who told me that one of her clients decided to delay her divorce because she wanted the tax deduction for the children. She didn’t realize that alimony is taxable, so putting off the divorce ended up costing her in the end! With tax season just around the corner, this conversation prompted me to write about what you should consider when filing your income tax returns if you are separated or divorced. There are some things to consider: Filing Status, Tax Deductions for Children, and Alimony and Child Support.

First, Filing Status

Your filing status is used to determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits and your correct tax. You want to choose the one that results in the lowest amount of tax. In general the tax rates get higher in this order, starting with the most advantageous:

· Married filing jointly
· Single head of household
· Single
· Married filing separately

But there are things to consider – carefully – before you decide which way to go.

Filing jointly: As far as the IRS is concerned, If you are separated but still legally married as of December 31st of the year in which you are filing, you are considered married and can file a joint return with your spouse. Is this a good idea? Keep in mind that if you file jointly, you could be liable for any problems related to the return. I have heard from countless women who said they didn’t know that they were exposed to the liability of the joint return they signed. It is never a good idea to sign without fully understanding all of the information claimed. If you aren’t sure of the information, hire an independent accountant and have them review any tax returns before you sign them. Worst case, if you find you have signed a return that creates a liability, you can try to invoke the “innocent spouse” principle that allows a spouse to escape liability, if they can prove their case. I don’t suggest this as a plan, but it may help if you find yourself in that position.

Single: Since your filing status depends on your marital status as of December 31, if you were divorced by that date you would file as single taxpayer, regardless of whether or not you and your spouse lived together during any part of the year.

If you are still married on December 31, and if you and your spouse live together, and are not legally separated, you must file either married filing jointly, or separate returns. Married filing separately is usually the least cost-effective way to file taxes.

Single, Head of Household: You may qualify for Head of Household if you meet the following conditions:

· You were unmarried or considered unmarried on December 31.
· You paid more than half of the household costs for the year.
· You have a child or other qualifying person living with you for more than half the year.

Second, Tax deductions for Children

Most divorcing couples believe that they are entitled to take the exemptions for the children. I have seen divorces delayed due to people thinking they will lose the exemption if they divorce. Often, when there are multiple children, spouses agree to split the exemptions. While the IRS assumes that the spouse who has custody of the children is entitled to the exemption, in fact the spouses are allowed to trade them back and forth freely, using IRS Form 8332.

Honestly, the spouse with the higher income should tax the deduction, otherwise, they are missing a chance to maximize tax savings. I know this idea makes the other spouse feel like they are missing out on a tax savings so I suggest consulting with an expert on tax in divorce who can calculate the value of the exemption(s) to each spouse. The one who can make better use of the exemption(s) should take all of them, and if appropriate, compensate the other spouse. As my mom always says, pick your battle and this would not be the one that I would advise you to pick!!

Third, Alimony and Child Support

It is important to understand the following: child support is not a deduction for the paying parent nor taxable income to the receiving parent. Alimony is. When completing your lifestyle analysis you should take into account (as an expense) the taxes that will be due on alimony, and budget to pay that expense quarterly. Otherwise, April 15th will come and you will be upset with the tax bill that may be handed to you! Believe me, I have clients who are prepared and still get upset! It is important to consider taxes when negotiating alimony. When possible, would it be better to take a larger marital asset distribution in lieu of alimony? Short answer – yes!

Taxes are not simple, and as in all complicated issues, I urge you to consult your Lawyer, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or Financial Advisor for further details.

Contact Catherine Shanahan at divorceusolutions.com

Catherine ShanahanWhat is your (filing) status?
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Who’s on your Team? (And I’m not referring to the NFL Superbowl)

The teams are set and the super bowl is a couple of weeks away! Are you wondering why your husband doesn’t spend as much time working on your relationship than he does watching his favorite football team?

January has been referred to as “the divorce month” for a few reasons and one may be the realization that he will never love you the way you need to be loved or as much as he loves football!

Seriously ladies, if this month has your thoughts turning to the possibility of divorce, don’t try to do it alone! Put together your own winning team! Here are some of the people that you should add to your roster.

1. CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. As a CDFA, I work with individuals helping them to understand and organize their assets so that they will have clarity when making financial decisions that will affect their future. I help them before, during and after divorce by taking the emotions out of the decisions that need to be made.

2. Financial Advisor. A CDFA can help you with all of your financial information and a financial advisor will make some investment choices after your divorce is final.

3. Accountant, or tax preparer. It is important to have copies of your last three years’ tax returns and any business tax returns. If you have not been active with your accountant or if you do not have one, you can request copies from your local IRS office.

4. Lawyer or Mediator. If you are not sure you are ready, or don’t know who to choose, talk to a CDFA first. My clients tell me that by working with me first, it has saved them a lot of money before seeing a lawyer. CDFA’s also work alongside lawyers and mediators so they are able to share your information and be involved throughout the whole process.

5. Therapist. I am a firm believer that women need women and we all need at least one good girlfriend – but sometimes we need a neutral party to give us a clear perspective. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to find a good therapist.

6. Hairdresser. OK, so it may seem odd that I’m suggesting this but I truly believe we need to give ourselves attention at times of stress – and more often than not that is the first thing overlooked. If you knew me, I would also add a manicure and pedicure!!

So ladies, pick your favorite color, wear it on February 1 to a Superbowl party or at home and get ready to start rooting for your own team!! Once you empower yourself, your team is sure to win – not just this year but every year!!! I’m cheering for you!!

Catherine ShanahanWho’s on your Team? (And I’m not referring to the NFL Superbowl)
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