WTOP Interview: Tie Up Those Post Divorce Financial Loose Ends

Interview Transcript:

SHAWN ANDERSON: And even amicable divorces can be very complicated. If you’re splitting up, it’s very understandable that you want to put up the legal work, paper work and distraction behind you, but not following through on certain things can have significant financial consequences.

HILLARY HOWARD: Joining us in studio to talk about it Dawn Doebler; Senior Wealth Advisor at Bridgewater wealth and cofounder of Her Wealth’. Dawn, what should people do after divorcing to make sure their finances don’t take such a big hit?

DAWN DOEBLER: Well, you know Hillary at Her Wealth we help existing clients through divorce and many of our new clients are actually women who just went through divorce proceedings. And what we find is they’re trying to build a new financial plan, but we really need to take a look at what is in their divorce agreement and understand. And what a lot of people don’t realize is that, when you’re splitting assets and executing the agreement, most of that does not require legal counsel. So many times, you and your ex-spouse are working through the execution of the document.

I went through a divorce, I know what that’s like and I love checklists, so I came up with the idea to come up with a checklist for women to use. And what we like is that it tells them what needs to be done and I also think it’s a really great sense of accomplishment; they can go through the list, check things off and have that sense of moving on. And in fact that’s what we call it, we call it the Moving On Post-Divorce Checklist’.

SHAWN ANDERSON: Going through those items on the checklist, I can imagine it to be a very emotional experience, but then as you say at the end a chaotic feeling.

DAWN DOEBLER: That’s right and you know one of the things that we struggled a little bit with is; there are a lot of things on this list if you look at it. So we split it down into kind of bite-size pieces and broke it down into four major categories so that people can kind of work through each section.

The first one is what you might expect ”division of property”, basically splitting up the assets. It can be tricky though, if you have a pension or complicated retirement account or if there’s a business involved.

The second section ”child support” actions. People understand child-support payments, but they don’t really realize oftentimes that you do need to split things like summer camp and sports and other costs and if you don’t have a good system to keep track of those cost, you can really lose a lot of money if you’re not going back to your ex-spouse to get their portion.

Another section is ”tax related actions”. I could spend an hour talking about this, but basically very important to understand tax ramifications; couple of things people need to do oftentimes change their tax withholding because now they’re filing single, paying higher taxes and considering IRA contributions if you’re woman receiving alimony.

And then lastly ”estate plan actions”, this is a huge one. It is very, very important to change your estate plan, make sure beneficiaries are all lined up and that your children are protected if something happens to you.

HILLARY HOWARD: We only have about 30 seconds left. What can people do on their own and what do they really need professional help with?

DAWN DOEBLER: On the last page of the checklist, you’ll see a section that talks about things you can do on your own, most related to changing your name if you did that in your divorce. You do also want to change or check your credit report, also learn about Social Security benefits which you may qualify for as an ex-spouse. So you can go to Bridgewaterwealth.com, go to Her Wealth we have the Moving On Checklist you can download, it’s also on WTOP.com in our article.

SHAWN ANDERSON: You did all our work for us Dawn, we were about to read that. Thank you so much.


SHAWN ANDERSON: Dawn Doebler with us here live on WTOP with Bridgewater Wealth in Bethesda.