According to a recent survey, 46% of divorced women reported their divorce brought unexpected financial problems. What are some of the divorce surprises you can run into if you find yourself in family court?

Divorce Surpises

In the study, 1,785 adult women were surveyed across three stages: those with divorce “on the horizon,” those in the midst of divorce, and those who described themselves as “divorced and determined.”

Divorce Tricks

Slightly related, I recently wrote about dirty divorce tricks which were in the news. These tricks should serve as a warning, not as a “how-to course”, because they can seriously backfire. A couple of common tricks to watch out for include:

  • Refusing to pay household bills until a court forces you to in an attempt to “Starve Out the Other Spouse”.
  • Waiting until the latest possible day to pay support money, even if you’ve got the money to send. Never mind the children.
  • Asking the court for sole custody of the children when you only want to share custody.

These tricks are not the kind of divorce surprises reported in the survey though. The above tricks are the result of planning to harm the other side.

Divorce Surprises

The surprises from the survey are very different. The divorce surprises have nothing to do with fraud, or the other side failing to disclose assets. So what are they?

  • Not knowing the size of your debt, including the first mortgage, home equity line of credit, the credit card debt, 501(k) loans, and student loans.
  • Not anticipating you may have to return to the workforce
  • Assuming your child support and/or alimony would be higher or last longer
  • Assuming you could keep the marital home
  • The staggering cost of health care insurance
  • Underestimating the emotional and financial cost of getting a divorce

In general, the study found that many women find themselves in a financially vulnerable position post-divorce due to a lack of financial knowledge and planning. The study claims a solution is twofold:

  • Reinvent careers to become self-sufficient and
  • Invest to avoid outliving your money.

The Forbes article is here.