Women Pay the Price for Opting Out Financially
If you’re going through a divorce, you probably need some help with money issues – and that can be especially true if you need to deal with things your partner handled in the past. Find out what you can do to get on top of your finances when you really need to.
All right – time for a surprise test (and you need to complete it without any help from your partner). Ready?
Question one: What do you know about your family finances?
Did we scare you? If we did, it’s no surprise – according to the Viewpoint Economic Vitality report, when it comes to couples women are far more likely to handle the ‘soft’ money decisions such as grocery and clothing shopping and men are more likely to control long-term financial decisions – so it’s not a test either of you is likely to pass alone. But while we’re not really going to test you on your family’s financial position today, understanding your money is a skill you really don’t want to do without – and too many women are leaving the ‘big’ money management choices in the hands of their partners. By choosing to leave major and long-term financial decisions to their partners, women are gambling with their financial future, placing themselves at substantial risk if their relationship ends.
And it’s a problem that can have long-term effects – 51 per cent of women say they have made career comprises for family reasons, and women traditionally build up less than two thirds the amount of superannuation that men do over the course of their working lives, leaving them in a position to be reliant on their partners for financial support. Recent research showed that 43 per cent of women had no idea how much super their partner had before retiring, and a ‘significant number’ of them, 51 per cent of whom were divorced or separated, had no idea how much money they would need in retirement.
The fact is that women are crippling themselves financially, and if their relationship ends, they’re in serious danger of being left out in the cold when it comes to the divorce property settlement. In fact, Your Family Your Money’s recent Divorce in Australia survey showed that over half of the respondents felt they were hard done by in their property settlement – and almost 80 per cent of them were female.
If you’re financially unaware and facing divorce, there are some things you’ll need to do to put yourself in the best position possible:
Initiate an emergency response strategy
Stay calm and assess the situation objectively. Collect important financial and legal documents – originals in the case of things like your passport, tax returns and birth certificates and copies of any title deeds, share certificates and investment statements. Make a list of all known bank, credit and broker accounts, insurance policies and investments – and remember to include superannuation accounts as well.
Contact the professionals who handled the finances and legal matters during your marriage and request full disclosure about all marital matters. Do the same with all institutions you and your former partner had joint accounts with.
Create a divorce ‘dream team’
Get new legal and financial advice. If your partner handled these things during the marriage they will have relationships with existing advisers – it’s time to build your own team of trusted advisers to give you impartial advice and all the help with money you’ll need.
Whatever your current situation, the most important thing you can do is become accountable for running and improving their financial situation. Education is the key: read books, listen to audios, attend seminars and, if you are in a stable relationship, work with your partner to make financial decisions – both big and small. Immerse yourself in reclaiming your financial independence – that way, if life ever does throw you a ‘surprise test’ you’ll have all the answers!
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Tags: help with money, divorce in Australia, divorce property settlement
Analaura Luna is an author, wealth adviser and founder of Your Family Your Money. Your Family Your Money’s goal is to simplify traditionally complex financial strategies, demystify financial jargon and debunk common financial myths, becoming every family’s first stop for financial advice, information and inspiration.
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