A Story of Divorce


A Story of Divorce

By Julie Lord - Magenta Financial Planning

At Magenta we understand divorce on a personal level. One day I was happily married with 2 gorgeous daughters, a lovely house, no financial worries and a bright future. The next day my husband of 20 years told me he didn’t want to be with me anymore and my happy, carefree life came crashing down.

My own story is not dissimilar to that of many of our clients and this puts us in a strong position to understand their emotional distress, and their feelings of loss, grief, frustration, anger, despair, loneliness, sadness and their fear of the future.

Divorce is generally a stressful and unsettling event. A major relationship is ending, all sorts of routines are upset, and in the midst of the stress of transition there are legal hoops to jump through before things can be resolved. Add in the volatile emotions that are frequently associated with divorce and you have a difficult situation indeed.

A divorce or breakup can be extremely painful because it represents the loss, not just of the partnership, but also of future dreams and commitments. Romantic relationships begin with excitement and promise and when a relationship fails, we experience profound disappointment, stress, and grief.

As we grieve the loss of the future we once envisaged, it is hard to think that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones, but thankfully they do.

I tried very hard to get my marriage back on track, as it was very important to me and to our family unit. However, it wasn’t to be and I eventually had to recognise this and move forward.

I already knew of the Five Stages of Grief as we have many widowed clients, but I was not prepared for them in divorce. There is Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance and one doesn’t move smoothly from one stage to the other. There was no beginning, middle or end for each stage and most stages I visited several times – sometimes I still do.

About 25% of people who divorce are now over 50. In fact, this is becoming so common that it has been coined the “Silver or Grey Divorce” where pensions in particular become a bigger consideration of the divorce process. As a financial planner, I have had the privilege of offering financial guidance to many facing divorce after 50 and I have found the following factors to be key in surviving and ultimately thriving after a divorce.

1. The person you married is not the same person you are divorcing. Don’t assume that the person who took care of you during the marriage is going to apply the same love and care in the divorce. Many people say they don’t recognise the person they are divorcing – they have changed and are now looking to their own future not necessarily yours.

2. Prioritise your own long term financial security above all else. The primary caregiver often chooses to keep the family house for the sake of the children, so they take the home equity in exchange for liquid retirement assets or re-mortgage the house and buy out their ex-spouse, which leaves them with a larger mortgage payment or a longer term. It is understandable that you want to minimize the upheaval for the kids, but all houses need maintenance and are an illiquid asset. Instead, consider selling the marital house and downsizing to a smaller place that you can afford comfortably. The children will adapt.

3. Sort out the finances as soon as possible. The Magenta Divorce Toolkit can help with this. A clear understanding of what you both own BEFORE seeking legal advice will smooth the divorce process. Coming to a financial agreement quickly (before friends and family offer their often conflicting and confusing “advice”) can avoid resentment and discomfort in the future. If you cannot agree on how property is to be divided, the courts will ultimately impose an agreement, at your expense. For this reason, it is better to agree how property and debt should be divided. Financial mediation should be sought if serious disagreements are encountered but only as a last resort should divorcing couples consider having their lawyers battle each other in court.

4. Life goes on! Unfortunately, life doesn't stop just because we are hurting. Despite the grief, there will be jobs that need doing and bills that need paying. There may also be any number of extraordinary tasks that must be accomplished during the transition from married to single person (such as finding somewhere to live, changing schools, etc.) which add to the general stress. Creating a list of such necessary jobs can help to reduce their stressful impact on our life.

5. Knowledge is Power! There is nothing wrong with doing your own research or seeking advice. But, remember that, ultimately, this is your life and your future. It is your right and your responsibility to take ownership of your divorce decisions.

6. Take some time to think of your next steps. Most people wish they had taken a little time to themselves, to reflect on what to do next. Many people say they were so drained by the time the divorce came that they weren’t thinking straight. Take some time to re-evaluate your life and career to get you back on your feet. Think of your “bucket list,” wish list, hobbies, and prior career for direction on how to move forward.

When you strip away the heart-ache of splitting from your spouse, divorce is just a business transaction: dividing assets and debts and moving on. That’s not to minimise your decades-long marriage, but it’s absolutely critical to keep emotions at bay when dealing with the business side of things.

It is natural to want to “get back at” our spouse, but arguments and tit-for-tat bickering only prolong stress and ensure a future of bitterness. Nobody wins in a divorce and you must make your decisions from a clear-headed and rational place – you may need to make some big compromises and give up material things. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of time, money, and emotional energy – assets that are put to better use in your post-divorce life.

The Future

So now it is time to start putting your life back together and looking to the future. I started by recognising that my marriage wasn’t a failure - it just ran its course. Good things did result (for instance my children and my business) and more good things are in store now that other doors have opened.

We can help you to plan your next steps and the path you want to travel, and help you to come through your divorce a stronger, more insightful, happier person, ready to enjoy whatever comes next.

Julie Lord is CEO of Magenta Financial Planning and is always happy to provide basic financial information to help people to get a better handle on their finances and the possible solutions available to them to improve their future security and happiness.

t: 01656 760670

​w: www.magentafp.com 

Magenta Financial Planning is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.