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Why everyone should have financial literacy before divorce

In some marriages, the reality is that one spouse may often take the lead on family finances. Sometimes, this means the other spouse may know very little about the bigger financial picture of the marriage. Unfortunately, when a divorce becomes a possibility, these spouses may have a harder time being prepared for the proceedings and eventual outcome.

According to one financial specialist, women in particular may be at risk of thinking they are not able to manage the family finances, and thus, leave it to their husbands. This financial literacy that should be occurring when people are adolescents often never gets taught. When a divorce becomes inevitable, these women - or any man who may leave the finances to his wife - are forced to quickly learn all they can about their financial issues. Things that were often left to their spouse are now a reality to sort through.

Therefore, one columnist has urged those spouses to step up in their marriage and learn all about their finances before it is too late. Every married person should know things like how much they owe on their house and vacation home, how much their spouse makes including base salary, commission, bonuses, bank account information, retirement plans, credit cards, brokerage accounts and any other financial item. This important knowledge can help anyone who is facing a divorce and divorce legal issues. If each spouse knows exactly what's going on with the family's finances, they can feel like the partner they really are and can help avoid situations like hidden assets that can creep up, particularly in contentious divorces.

In addition, a legal professional skilled in family law can help with sorting out all the areas that will need to be addressed in the divorce. These may include property division, alimony, child support, visitation and other complicated issues. A skilled attorney can also bring in experts such as financial planners, realtors and psychologists to make sure the divorce is as fair to everyone as possible.

Many spouses in New Jersey do not have the financial literacy they need in order to feel like they have a good handle on their family's finances. When a divorce becomes inevitable it may be important for these spouses to know exactly where their family's finances stand. With this knowledge, they can make sure that the divorce proceedings are fair for everyone involved.

Source: Forbes, "Financial literacy: They key to every women's financial stability," Jeff Landers, March 6, 2014

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