How to Achieve Financial Independence After Divorce

Alice Ahearn – Senior Associate

Virginia Family Lawyer, Alice Ahearn provides insight into how to achieve financial security after divorce.

One of the big questions that non-wage-earning spouses have in divorce is whether or not they should go back to work. When I am discussing whether or not to go back to work with clients, it’s frequently in reference to whether or not they’re going to receive spousal support. Going back to work can impact spousal support, however, I generally tend to tell people that it’s better to go back to work than to avoid work simply in the effort to obtain more spousal support. The pros of going back to work are first of all it’s difficult to maintain two households on the same income that use to maintain one. Getting a job and entering the work force allows you to do the following:

  • Count on an income
  • Not be reliant on your spousal support in order to pay your bills
  • Do long-term planning such as save for your own retirement

I had a client several years ago who was able to increase her sense of financial independence by negotiating a part-time position into a full-time employment. For that particular client, going back to work was very empowering and gave her a sense of financial security and ability to take care of herself and her family. There are several things that clients can do to start building their financial independence after divorce. The first one is to become more financially knowledgeable. Know your mortgage, know your utility bills, and know what money is going out every month. This helps you make a budget plan for that month and start thinking about long-term planning. Think about the following:

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?
  • What are your goals?
  • Where do you see yourself and how will you get there?

I like to have practical conversations with my clients about what the reality of the divorce is going to cost and not spending a fortune simply to tell your story to a judge. I think spending several hundred thousand dollars to get there is not necessarily the best end result. My goal for my clients is that they achieve the best possible outcome within the reality of the situation and walk away with a true sense of financial security.