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Fallout shelter: during divorce, women need to stay focused on long-term financial goals.

Researchers tell us the death of a spouse is the only life event more stressful than divorce. It's a sad and scary time, especially for women. But a financial adviser who is patient and thoughtful can do much to relieve the anxiety and build a devoted clientele.

Approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce. In its aftermath, women lead nearly 60% of single-parent families, with the average divorced mother being age 36 with three children. Women typically experience their first divorce at 29, and if they divorce again, they do so at age 38, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Women who find themselves in the midst of divorce tend to be confused and vulnerable; emotions can override reason and logic. Some women lack the knowledge and resources to make sound financial decisions. What's more, they will have reduced earning potential, fewer job opportunities and a greater need to begin saving for retirement.

Life insurance on their former spouses is a critical financial need. Even if he does not contribute significantly to daily expenses, the family likely is relying on him to help pay for college or serve as a financial stopgap in a crisis situation.

Divorced women may be confused about many aspects of their lives. In your role as an adviser, you should document and verify the information they give you. Their priorities may change daily and you may have to step outside your comfort zone to serve as more than a financial adviser. But try to keep them focused on the reason they are working with you in the first place--to help them reach their goals through carefully selected financial strategies.

Be On the Lookout

You want open communication with your clients, but anything they tell you can be made public in a court of law if you are required to testify. Make every client aware of this at the beginning of the relationship, regardless of marital status. Any time it appears she is about to tell you something she wouldn't want to become public knowledge, stop her and refer her to her attorney.

No divorce settlement is complete without a financial affidavit, which varies by state. This document lists all essential financial details for a couple, such as property, living expenses, debt and income, and it must be sworn, signed and notarized. Keep a few blank copies of your state's affidavit on hand; they often are available online. When divorce appears imminent, you can help your client gather the information.

To build a referral network, join organizations that support people who serve divorcing women. Look for a local chapter of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals, which supports collaborative solutions for marriage dissolution. Depending on your state, you may be able to join the state bar association. If not, you can still attend bar-sponsored seminars or continuing education related to family law. The National Business Institute is a good source of information about continuing education seminars.

Building this market requires time and patience, but it's a clientele that will always be grateful for the wise counsel you provide at a pivotal point in their lives.

Maggie Jensen is media relations consultant for Securian Financial Group Inc. of St. Paul, Minn. She can be reached at margaret.jensen@
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Comment:Fallout shelter: during divorce, women need to stay focused on long-term financial goals.(Life)
Author:Jensen, Maggie
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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