Is retirement possible, post-divorce?

Can I support myself, after being a stay-at-home mom?

There’s some TV show, where people who have just fallen into a ton of money—from, say, a big inheritance or even winning the lottery—go about spending all their newfound cash.

What does this have to do with divorce? With you? And with the topic of transitioning into the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for years?

Trust me, I’ll connect these dots.

On this show, I’ll often see someone go and use all their newfound cash to buy a new house. Or pay off their existing one.

It drives me nuts.

As a financial advisor (I’m a CPA, not to mention also a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional), I can see sooo much better ways to manage that windfall.

Just like a divorce settlement.

The new you

After years spent at home, raising the kids, many newly-divorced women find themselves confronting the prospect of re-entering the workforce.

This is not often fun. It can be daunting. And it always feels forced on them. Few leap into it with relish.

Which gets to spousal maintenance. Unless you’re in your seventies, there’s virtually no such thing as “lifetime spousal maintenance.” You’ll either have to be an income earner again, or have enough assets to generate the income you need.

This gets back to the TV show. Too many women regard the spousal maintenance (a.k.a. “alimony”) as a windfall, as a way to ignore the future when—cold-water alert—it won’t be there anymore.

My job: Help you make a smooth and seamless transition. You were married. Now you’re not. You were a stay-at-home mom. But now the kids are grown, or almost out the door. You have a settlement and spousal maintenance, but the former is finite, and the latter is going away, eventually.

This isn’t a cause for panic. It’s a cause for planning.

Career 2.0

I won’t sugar-coat this. You likely won’t be able to get everything you want. But I also guarantee that you can get some, often many, of the things you want. It’s all in the planning—which I help you with.

I help you determine and rank your priorities. Typical dialogue in my office:

Divorcing woman: “I think it’s good that my kids continue in this expensive private school.”

Me: “Will you feel the same way when you need to move in with them when they’re adults? And will they?”

Thus the trade-offs (which are many), and the career options (which are also many).

Know that you needn’t dive into the deep end of the career pool. True, some women will go back and, say, earn their Master’s degree. But others will just require some brush-up training to resume a career they’d had, pre-kids. (A great site: The Mom Project, is “a digital talent marketplace and community that connects professionally accomplished women with world-class companies.”) Others will, say, get into teaching: In Arizona, all you need is the degree, and the work schedule meshes perfectly with that of your kids.

And since the spousal maintenance starts big and then diminishes, you only need to begin with supplemental income, which will eventually go up as the other goes down. See?