2 steps to take control of your money again after a divorce, according to a financial planner

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Ylisa Sanford  cfp

  • Divorce is difficult both personally and financially, and rebuilding your financial life on your own can be difficult. 
  • A financial planner suggests that anyone dealing with divorce take stock of what their financial life will look like post-divorce, and decide where they want to be. 
  • Then, she suggests finding a financial planner to help achieve those goals with objective financial advice. 
  • SmartAsset’s free tool can help find a financial planner near you »

Divorce is expensive.

Whether you’re paying spousal support, paying down debt, or dealing with the costs of a divorce itself, it’s not cheap. As Insider’s Erin McDowell reports, the average cost of a divorce in the US is $15,000 per person for all the fees, mediation, and attorneys involved. 

If you’re faced with figuring out how to rebuild your financial life after a divorce, the most important thing is to assess your situation, and then find a professional to help, according to Ylisa Sanford, a financial planner and Ameriprise private wealth adviser based in Santa Rosa, California.

1. Take stock of your current finances, and set goals for the future

Knowing where you’re starting is the first step, Sanford says. “It’s extremely important to start out not with implementing advice, but to start out with analysis,” she says. “That really needs to be asking yourself, ‘What is my new normal? What does my new life look like? And, where do I want to be?'”

“Part of what people are required to do in the process of divorce is go through their different expenses,” Sanford continues. This might also be a good time to draw up a budget for your new life, check in on your saving and spending habits, and check on your retirement savings, too.

“I really suggest people start out with just analyzing where they are and where they want to be,” she says.

2. Find a financial planner

Her next step: Find a good financial planner. “Start working with someone who, in my recommendation, can act as a fiduciary (someone who takes an oath to put your best interest first), and can provide objective financial planning advice,” she says. Finding a planner who is fee-only, or paid only by client fees rather than by commissions through products they sell, can be a good place to start. 

Her suggestion is to find a financial planner who “you can collaborate with and have a very candid relationship with.” After all, you’ll be going through a lot with this person, so having someone you can be yourself with is critical. 

“What someone may want to do two months after a divorce, they may not feel the same way about six months later, simply because so much has changed in their physical and emotional health,” Sanford says. Having a neutral party to help with your financial choices can be a big help after a divorce.

Sanford says it’s all about choosing the right balance of personality and skills in a financial planner. “Find someone who understands the advantages and disadvantages of how you want to get assets from the marriage,” she says. “Find someone who really understands what’s in your best interest, can work with you, and who can work as a fiduciary,” she says. 

SmartAsset’s free tool can help find a financial planner near you »

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