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When the White Knight Falls off His Horse: Surviving the End of the Fairy Tale

You met the man of your dreams. You met him 5, 10 20 40 years ago. You were going to spend your life together. You may have had kids, a business, a life. Then at some point and for whatever reason, your white knight became tarnished and fell off his horse. Now what do you do? How do you handle this change in your life, both financially and emotionally. Whether you were dependent on your white knight for your financial and emotional support or whether you were the main breadwinner, your financial picture will change.

  • The first thing to remember is that a divorce is a death. Instead of a death of a person, it is the death of the marriage and you will go through all of the same emotions: anger, grief, sadness and “zombieism”, where you feel nothing at all, and yes, I made up a new word. This rollercoaster ride is normal and will get better as time goes on.
  • The second thing you need to do is to sit down and figure out your cost of living. Write down all of your expenses and expenditures for you and your children, if you have any children. This would include possible college education or vocational training, braces, medical expenses, any and all things you need money in which to live.
  • The third thing is to look at all of your assets, what is in the bank, investments, property, the marital home, etc.
  • The fourth item it to look at your marital debt, this would include a mortgage, loans, credit card debt.

You need to know your financial picture so you can make the best decisions for your future and the future of your children.

If your white knight fell off after retirement, the same financial assessment should be made, except in that case, money from pensions, etc. may already be in pay status and a different way of dividing the pensions or other retirement that is being used to supplement income.

After you have some idea of a financial picture, that picture along with any documents to an attorney, an accountant and a financial planner.

The attorney will help you navigate through the divorce process and obtain the best result for your needs and if custody is involved, for the best interest of your children. The attorney will also negotiate what is called equitable distribution, which is distribution of the assets and liability of the marriage. That is why it’s important to have a financial picture ready so the attorney has the information necessary to assess the case and to decide if other documents are needed.

An attorney also, at times, will work with accountants and financial advisors in order to make sure any financial decision is sound. My office has a working relationship with an institutional financial advisor and tax planer who performs domestic and foreign tax services. The need for all three services is for any woman, whether you will acquire assets for yourself after the divorce or whether its your money going to the tarnished knight. Then you know you will be given all options and will be well informed when making decisions for your future.

There is life after the knight fell of his horse and many times, that life is better. It’s just the process of getting through the uncertainty that is the challenge.

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