I met with a financial planner today, just to see what I should be doing in preparation for my own security post-divorce. I have paid all our bills most of our marriage, dealt with the business end of our lives, downloaded banking information, kept a log of vacations, where we went, how long we stayed, I dealt with the insurance, refinanced the house - I did it all. I have so much information about our lives financially, it's actually quite amazing the level of detail that I have, all of which will help to illustrate our standard of living, how money was spent, etc. Little did I know that the little calendar of events of our lives I kept would someday be useful for other than remembering what we did, where we travelled and so on.
The financial planner told me to keep a log of communication and occurrences just for the divorce proceedings; fortunately I started one a couple of weeks ago at the suggestion of a friend. I chronicled how I found out he was seeing someone else, the phone records online, the unexplained charges on the credit card, the phone calls to an attorney, his withdrawal from joint accounts. It is all logged. I am keeping a journal too, that way I have a place to put all the things I want to say to him, but know it is in my best interest not to. I blocked his number from my cell - email is easier to track communication. I am sticking strictly to business and only communicating when necessary.
She said I should not take a lump sum settlement, rather that I should get alimony for 10-20 years. We'll see what really happens. She said that I need to stipulate in the decree that he maintain a life insurance policy on himself with me as an irrevocable beneficiary for the duration of the years of alimony payments. She suggested I change the beneficiary on my IRA and remove him. She said that he could do the same with his IRA and the current life insurance policy, unless there is legal action that stipulates he cannot. There is health insurance to think about as well, she said my lawyer should petition that I remain on his health insurance throughout the proceedings. The same goes for the auto and home insurance; coverage should remain intact as is, and then in the divorce decree, stipulations are made for coverage going forward.
I felt better after seeing the financial planner, she said I really have so much information that most people going through divorce just do not have, she said that his retirement account is not something that can be hidden, she helped me with questions to ask the lawyer when I see him next. I just read a book entitled: Divorce; Think Financially, Not Emotionally, which briefly covered many of the topics that she covered, but I think the most valuable part was the introduction that lists the four people you need on your divorce team: Divorce Attorney, Financial Planner, Counselor and You. As much as I wanted someone to just take care of it all while I fell apart on the floor, you must take an active, deliberate role in managing your own divorce. After all, it’s your financial future on the line.