Saturday, April 9, 2016

Beyond Finances in Divorce

Here is a guest blog from a colleague that you may find interesting and informative.

Often when couples fight about money the conflict isn’t actually about money at all.  Money provokes all kinds of emotions including fear, greed and the need for power, just to name a few.  As a Financial Family Mediator I have many clients sit in my office and argue about money.  Mostly, it’s about who will receive the lion’s share of wealth that the couple unmasked or who will be the supporting spouse and who will be the receiving spouse.  But when you look under the numbers the discussion isn’t really about money; it’s about something entirely different.

Sometimes, it’s easy to understand what thoughts might be at bay during money discussions.  An older couple divorcing (family law professionals call them ‘grey divorces’) might understandably be concerned with their retirement cash flow now that they have half the pot and very little, if anything, left in terms of future earning potential.  Fear about lifestyle and funding medical issues can prevail.
Others approaching retirement within, say ten years, may feel a sense of insecurity around their financial future now that they have to share all their net worth and may have to put off that dream of retirement for more than few years.  Having put the kids through school, the goal was to create a retirement nest based on two incomes, not one.  Fear of the unknown and insecurity about money issues are key.

Other couples fight constantly about money issues but the underlying catalyst may be the values and beliefs they were individually taught (usually by their parents) about the value of things.  I also attest that one spouse is the ‘perceived’ spender and the other the ‘perceived’ saver in these marriages.  I preface ‘perceived’ because the couple may be doing just fine financially…on track to meet all their financial goals but one spouse is more of a spender and that can create a problem.  Validation of expenditures to the saver says more about the relationship than just money, after all.  Likewise, foolish purchases can also be a problem and be a more deep-rooted issue such as insecurity or a need for power, as examples.

So when I sit in my Mediations and listen to my clients talk about the ‘division of property’ and working through the financial issues surrounding their divorce, I listen closely for clues that might be missed like ‘security’, ‘fear’ and ‘power’ to help these clients to understand the underlying issues and make healthier choices when it comes to resolving their family division.  Knowledge is also important in making financial decisions so have a look at the financial calculators on my website and subscribe to Financial Divorce Services blog for more information.

Kathryn Jankowski, B.A., CFP, FMA, CFDS, AccFM
Certified Financial Divorce Specialist, Accredited Family Mediator
151 Randall Street, Suite 100
Oakville, ON L6J 1P5