News and Commentary

How Women Can Establish Financial Independence Following Divorce By Kathleen Marteney, CRPC

The emotional rollercoaster one endures during and after a divorce can be debilitating. Equally devastating are the financial fallouts that can ensue from these life transitions. However, there is a ray of sunshine beyond the storm when women take a moment to assess the facts of their newly single life and rebuild a strong financial foundation for their future.

Re-title financial accounts. Closing joint bank and credit card accounts ensures that ongoing liabilities of one party do not become the responsibility of the other party down the road. Equally important is checking your credit scores to identify and resolve any issues that could tarnish your creditworthiness and affect your ability to stand on your own financially going forward. Once all prior debts are satisfied, you can open new accounts in your individual name and start establishing your own credit history, especially if prior credit was dependent on a former spouse.

Update beneficiaries. When re-titling accounts, women should update transfer on death (TOD) registrations and change the named beneficiaries on bank, investment and retirement accounts as well as insurance policies to ensure ex-spouses will have no claim to their assets upon their deaths. Making these revisions is a simple process that requires completing a form you may obtain from your bank or financial advisors.

Review and update estate plans. If a will and/or trust are already in place, take the time to review them with legal and financial counsel to ensure that they continue to reflect your specific wishes and goals. This may include naming persons to serve as guardians for your minor children, executors and trustees of your estate, and beneficiaries for trusts, employee health benefits and retirement accounts. Women should also ensure they have both health care proxies and durable financial powers of attorney in place, naming a third party make critical medical and financial decisions on their behalf should they become ill, incapacitated or physical or mentally unable to make those decisions on their own. Similarly, having a living will in place will document and help to ensure your wishes are followed concerning life-sustaining medical care.

Update Insurance Policies. Having health insurance for yourself and your children is critical throughout the divorce process, whether your coverage comes from a former spouse’s employer, a new employer for you, COBRA coverage or a new individual policy. Evaluating property/casualty, personal life and umbrella insurance policies can further ensure that women have the right type and amount of coverage to meet their new needs. Moreover, women should remember the importance of both disability insurance to replace income when you are unable to continue working as well as long-term care insurance to help pay for the rising costs of care you will likely require later in life.

Evaluate Career and Lifestyle. Following a divorce, both spouses may have less resources available to them than what that to which they are accustomed. Women should take this as an opportunity to assess their career options and evaluate their lifestyle “needs” versus “wants.” A new home may be better suited for one’s new lifestyle or a new career path may provide a renewed sense of purpose, fulfillment and earnings to preserve assets for long-term retirement needs.

Plan and Budget. Women can more easily manage and achieve their financial goals when they map out a blueprint of their post-divorce finances and budget accordingly. While these plans will likely address the short-term realities of doing more with less, one of the major focuses on financial planning is preparing for the future, whether that includes establishing an emergency fund, saving for retirement or for a child’s education. Oftentimes, a review of current and potential investments can help identify opportunities to help you manage risks and maximize returns.

Special consideration also should be given to understanding an individual’s tax liabilities following divorce to help ensure that newly established budgets address these obligations. Your financial advisor and accountant are great resources to your through these processes.

Life transitions are never easy. However, taking the time to understand one’s financial options and address post-divorce issues and opportunities head on, often with the help of financial advisors, will empower women to move ahead and take control of the financial aspects of their new lives.

About the Author: Kathleen Marteney, CRPC, is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. She can be reached at (800) 737-8804 or via email at

Provenance Wealth Advisors, 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.

Kathleen Montgomery is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.

Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

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Posted November 2, 2021