Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Marcia’s career skyrocketed during her seven year marriage. In fact, she had become the couple’s primary source of income and handled all financial matters. Brittany had decided to provide 24/7 care for the two children she and her husband had during their five year marriage. And Sandra worried that her divorce from Rick after 22 years of marriage would leave her destitute. She had never worked outside the home and trusted her husband to make financial decisions. Though their lives are very different, each of these women would benefit from learning some financial tips for women going through a divorce.

Assess Your Combined Financial Situation

As soon as possible, start looking over your financial accounts and property owned. You can do this before you file the divorce petition or if you even suspect your spouse is considering divorce.

  • Gather all documents related to your finances. Review them carefully. Look for any hidden expenses or evidence of hidden assets.
  • Know what you and/or your spouse own. Prepare a list of assets and store in a safe location. List everything, even property you think might be your spouse’s separate property.
  • Prepare post-divorce budget. This step will help you make informed decisions about your divorce settlement and prepare for your new life.

For women who did not participate in their family’s financial decisions, this step may be difficult. They must learn how to handle finances on their own sooner rather than later.

Build Your Own Credit History

Most women find their credit is intertwined with their husband’s. Some may find it difficult to get a credit card or sign a lease within their husband’s backing. You can take the following steps as you prepare to be single again:

  • Get a copy of your credit report.
  • Open at least one bank account in just your name.
  • Start opening credit cards and applying for credit.

Building your credit history takes time. It may be particularly tough for spouses who have given up a career to care for children.

Think Carefully About Child Support, Spousal Support, and Retirement

In addition to their own concerns, some women may have to worry about providing for their children, supporting themselves after years of being out of the workforce, or having a short window of time to rebuild retirement accounts.

  • Women with children need to focus on child support during negotiations. A consent order may provide temporary child support during the pendency of the divorce.
  • Some women just don’t have the training, experience, and education to find work that provides a sustaining wage. Vocational experts may be needed to assess their earnings potential. Spousal support can help, especially in long-term marriages.
  • Finally, women involved in a gray divorce may have expected to live on hubby’s retirement accounts. Or they built a nest egg that they now have to split with their spouse. Even if they have worked, refilling retirement accounts takes time they may not have.

Get the Advice You Need

Your divorce attorney can help you get through the financial maze. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Our new Beverly Hills office will be open soon.

What If I’ve Been Married More Than Ten Years?


In some instances, ten years is the benchmark for a marriage to be considered a long-term marriage.  California follows this general rule, along with the Social Security Administration and the U.S. military, which can make it worthwhile to stick it out a little longer if you are close to your ten-year anniversary.  (And vice-versa if you are more likely to be required to pay spousal support.) In some cases, a marriage shorter than ten years may be deemed a long-term marriage.  As with many decisions in family court, the judge has broad discretionary authority and his or her decisions are likely to withstand appeal if evidence was presented at trial to support the judge’s decision. California law (Family Code Section 4336(a)) says that where a marriage is “of long duration,” the court retains jurisdiction indefinitely after the divorce is completed, unless the spouses agree otherwise.  Retaining jurisdiction means the court may continue making decisions about matters between the ex-spouses, and can reevaluate original orders and modify them if the facts justify a change.  In other words, unless alimony was waived by agreement, a court can reopen a case and award alimony later based on a change in circumstances, even if alimony was not awarded in the original proceedings. The Social Security Administration also considers ten years to be a long-term marriage, which means a spouse could be eligible for derivative Social Security benefits if he or she remains unmarried at retirement age, depending on the former spouse’s earnings. If your spouse is an active duty member of the military and you were married ten years, you may also be eligible for retirement pay and other continuing military benefits. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will persistently pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or post-divorce proceedings, whether you need to demonstrate the other spouse’s faults, or defend such claims.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a spouse facing litigation, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

How Will a Pension Be Divided in a California Divorce?

Splitting a pension
Splitting a pension
An issue most people worry about when facing a divorce, after child custody issues, is how property will be divided.  California is a community property state, which generally means any property acquired during a valid marriage by a husband or wife is considered joint property. Sections 760 and 771 of the California Family Code outline the state law pertaining to community property. During a divorce proceeding, a judge will equitably divide community property based on possession, the earnings of both parties and the length of the couple’s marriage. (Remember equitable does not necessarily mean equal.)  Unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement, California community property will apply if the couple divorces here. A pension is often the most valuable asset in the marriage, and you should consult to a qualified California family law attorney before agreeing to any terms of a property division.  Procedures for dividing a pension can vary greatly depending on the type of pension. Certain types require the pension be joined and named as a party to the divorce before a judge can rule on how it will be divided. Once the court decides how a pension will be divided, if at all, the court must issue a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).  Courts often look to the parties’ attorneys to provide a proposed QDRO, which should be preapproved by the benefits provider to eliminate multiple submissions to the court. It should be noted, that if you are in a same-sex marriage or domestic partnership, your union is not yet recognized by federal law. Since pension plans are governed primarily by federal law, there may be special rules that apply to your case. If you are involved in a case that involves the splitting of a pension plan, the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce proceedings, including a fair distribution of retirement assets and pension plans. Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are facing divorce, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.