Is There a Divorce in Your Future? How a Divorce Financial Planner Can Help You

February 7, 2012

Whenever I read the statistics on divorce in the U.S. , I still find the numbers of failed marriages quite astounding. Although recent studies show that somedivorce marriages seem to be holding together better than in prior decades, the fact is that 50% of first marriages still end in divorce. For second marriages and third marriages the divorce rates are 67% and 74% respectively.  -With statistics like these, it’s likely that one or several of our own family members has been (or will be) divorced.

Divorce often presents a set of extremely difficult challenges for divorcing couples, their children and extended families. While dealing with strong emotions and often very painful family adjustments, there is always the ‘money part’ of  the divorce. For my readers who are not aware, there is professional help available for you when it comes to working through the financial aspects of divorce. There are financial specialists called Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™s who are trained to help you and your attorney with the financials of divorce.

What Does a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ Do?   

Money woman photo Certified Divorce Financial Analysts™ are trained to advocate for both men and women. Our main goal is to help our client to achieve an equitable financial settlement –equitable meaning fair, not necessarily equal. Because the financial aspects of a divorce can be complex, we play a role in helping our clients and their attorneys through the financial issues related to divorce.

Common Divorce Settlement Mistakes an Expert Can Help You to Avoid 

There are many potential pitfalls when working on a settlement proposal. Some common mistakes include:

  • Negotiating to keep the home when the client can’t afford
  • Not understanding the capital gains taxes on the sale of the marital home or how the sale might impact both parties 
  • Not looking at the long-term impacts of proposed settlements
  • Thinking that retirement assets have the same value as an equal dollar amount of non-retirement assets

Jane Nowak CFP CDFAJane Nowak   is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst ™ at Kring Financial Management in Atlanta, GA.  Jane is a Retirement Specialist and Divorce Financial Analyst who provides financial planning for clients in their prime. 

 She has recently had articles published or has been quoted in articles that have appeared online at the NASDAQ, Yahoo Finance,, Smart Money Chicks, Fox Business News,, U.S. News &World Report, Financial Planning Association (FPA) and Equifax Personal Finance blog web sites.  

Securities offered by Triad Advisors, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC


Just Scratching the Surface -Divorce and Social Security

October 11, 2011

For those of you who are divorced, you may have some Social Security eligibility options that you don’t even know about. Everyone’s case is different. But, in this article, I have touched on some of the most general eligibility rules for those of you who are divorced.

Please read the footnotes too. There are lots of potential disqualifying events. 

Can I claim Social Security benefits based on my ex-spouse’s earnings? 

In many cases, if all 5 requirements below are met, a divorced party can qualify as a dependent for Social Security purposes. As a dependent, you may be entitled to 50 percent[1] of your former spouse’s benefits. 

So,  if your former spouse has reached full retirement age and he/she is still alive, to qualify for one-half of your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, all of the following conditions must be met: 

  1. Your ex-spouse is now entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  2. You and your ex-spouse had been married for at least 10 years before the divorce became final
  3. You are not currently married
  4. You are age 62 [2]or older
  5. You aren’t entitled to collect a retirement or disability benefit based on a PIA[3] that equals (or exceeds) one-half of your ex-spouse’s PIA 

Example: Assume John has retired and collects $1000 per month in Social Security benefits. If he was married to Jean for at least 10 years before he divorces her, Jean can collect $500/month (one-half of John’s benefit) when she reaches age 65. Note that Jean will have the option to take the Social Security benefits she earned in her own name. Of course, she’ll choose the higher figure. 

What if one or both of us has remarried?  

If your ex-spouse gets remarried and you don’t, your Social Security entitlement will be unaffected. If your ex-spouse is married to a second spouse for at least 10 years and then they get a divorce, you and that second spouse will each be entitled to collect an amount equal to one-half of the former spouse’s benefits (assuming that you each meet the requirements set forth above).

If you’re the one who remarries, you would then look to your current spouse’s PIA in computing your dependent Social Security benefit. However, if you worked for a sufficient period of time, you may be entitled to a larger benefit amount computed based on your own earnings record.[4] 

I know that many of you may think that understanding Social Security eligibility is easy. But, if the number of footnotes for this short article is any clue, you’ve already guessed that determining Social Security eligibility is neither easy nor straightforward. There are many qualifying events and specific guidelines that will be used to determine eligibility including: the age of recipients,  the number of  years you were married, number of years you’ve been divorced, if there are children, the ages of the children, if the ‘wage earner’ is alive or deceased etc. 

So, always check directly with the Social Security Administration to see what benefits you may be entitled to. And, take the time to understand the advantages and disadvantages (penalties) of each option that you may have.

 Jane Nowak is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ specializing in , Women’s Retirement,  Financial Planning for Women and AT&T Retirement Plans. Located in the Smyrna, Marietta, Vinings area of Atlanta, GA, Jane’s goal is to educate and help her clients to take control of their daily finances so they can fully fund their retirement dreams and needs. Jane has recently been quoted in articles or published  on-line at the: NASDAQ, Yahoo Finance,, Smart Money Chicks, Fox Business News,, U.S. News and World Report and Financial Planning Association (FPA) websites. She can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter as @MoneyGal2020.

 Securities offered through Triad Advisors, Inc. Member, FINRA/SIPC



[1] Note: That this entitlement doesn’t reduce your ex-spouse’s benefits by one-half; rather, this merely establishes the amount of money you may collect. For basic information about the Social Security program and for detailed treatment of Social Security rules, see Social Security.

[2] Note: If you’re age 62 or older and you’ve been divorced for at least two years, you can receive Social Security benefits immediately (based on your former spouse’s earnings) regardless of whether that spouse has chosen to retire or has submitted an application for Social Security benefits. This, of course, is assuming that the other four requirements listed above have been satisfied. However, if you choose to receive benefits at age 62 instead of your normal retirement age, the benefit that you would have received at your normal retirement age will be reduced by at least 25 percent (assuming you don’t have a dependent child who’s entitled to benefits on the deceased spouse’s Social Security record). In other words, if you choose to receive reduced benefits at age 62, you will not be entitled to collect full benefits when you reach your full retirement age.  Jane’s comment: Be aware of the penalty!

[3] The “primary insurance amount” (PIA) is the benefit (before rounding down to next lower whole dollar) a person would receive if he/she elects to begin receiving retirement benefits at his/her normal retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.

[4] Portions of this text were excerpted from material provided by Forfield Advisor

5 Harsh Financial Statistics: Women Need to Plan Ahead

January 12, 2011


Harsh statistics should propel women to plan ahead – Chicago Sun-Times

Ouch! Once again Terry Savage delivers a swift kick to women by reminding us about the harsh financial realities that we face throughout our lives. For those of you who haven’t already heard some of these statistics, they are both worrisome and worth repeating:

  • In 2009, women represented 39 percent of bankruptcy filings
  • Women live  between five and six years longer  than men
  • Women make up 75 percent of the elderly poor today
  • 80 percent of women living in poverty were not poor before their husbands died
  • Median pension benefit for men was $9,600 vs. just $4,800 per year for women (mid 1990’s data)

I know that  it is both daunting and frightening to consider our financial futures in light of these statistics. But, we will not improve our future financial situations by burying our heads in the sand and ignoring facts and probabilities.

So what can you do now?

If single or head of household:

  • Save  -Everyone can figure out how to put a little money aside.
  • Begin saving now/today
  • Begin small and save more as time goes on
  • Only buy what you can afford to pay for ‘in full’ at the end of the month
  • Pay off credit cards in full every month
  • When you swipe, keep a log of your debit card spending
  • Write a monthly budget and stick to it
  • Write a financial plan and review it every 6 months

If married:

  • Save  -You should have an personal savings account.
  • Begin saving now/today
  • Begin small and save more as time goes on
  • Participate and understand your retirement plan
  • Participate and understand your financial plan
  • Make sure spending levels in retirement will support the spouse who lives longer

Like it or not, most women at one time or another, will be likely have the sole responsibility for our financial futures. Take action now by saving and participating in the financial planning.

Jane Nowak is a Financial Planner with Kring Financial Management located in Atlanta, Ga. Jane’s practice focuses on Women’s Retirement Planning and Financial Planning for Women. Her articles have been published on line at NASDAQ, Financial Planning Association and,  Follow Jane on Twitter at:

Money Isn’t The Culprit In Most Divorces -Or is it?

October 26, 2010

Are Money Problems Still #1?   

I don’t know if it is time to debunk the myth or to embrace it as fact, that couples continue to divorce solely because of money problems. For many years, money was cited as the #1 reason for divorce in America. Recently, money problems are no longer said to be the #1 reason for divorce. However, money issues do still appear in the ‘top 5’ reasons for divorce in America.

No matter where money issues stand as reasons for divorce, there are two things that every couple can do to improve their success when facing their money problems as a unit.

Communicate in Appropriate Doses

Regardless of who you read or talk to I believe that honest communication is the key to heading off and handling money problems in a relationship. Like many women, I am of the notion that communication is key. Often, our men think that we communicate too much. So, if that is the case for you too, plan to have your financial conversations in small doses. Tailor the length of discussions to suit the less communicative spouse. But, do make sure that you have comprehensive talks about finances.

Use Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relationship – Give Up the ‘Blame Game’

When serious money issues enter the relationship picture, band together to solve your problems together. Yes, that’s right. Refocus yourselves on solving the problems and not engaging in the ‘blame game’.

Playing the ‘blame game’ puts the focus on making your partner wrong and you right. This will only serve to corrode and cause resentment in your relationship. 

Working together to resolve money issues will make you both stronger and more confident in your problem solving capabilities as a couple.

Money is just one of the areas that can definitely cause strife in a relationship. No matter what the financial issue, don’t be afraid to talk and to find common ground. If you can’t work it out, seek professional help.

 If you married with a commitment for the long-term, don’t let money issues drive you apart. Skills learned and earned when solving difficult problems will help to hold you together in the  ‘for better or for worse’ times that you will no doubt face together. 

Jane Nowak is a Financial Planner with Kring Financial Management in Atlanta, Ga. Jane’s practice focuses on Women’s Retirement Planning and Financial Planning for Women. Her articles have been published on-line at NASDAQ, Financial Planning Association , and Follow Jane on Twitter at:


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