As a divorce lawyer, I see how financial issues and secrets can lead to trust issues and separation. Even in cases where there is another reason for the separation, like infidelity, at the end of the day, many divorcing couples often have the same fights about money.
Many of my clients are women, and have often either left financial issues up to their husbands or their husbands are secretive about finances. If you want to have a conversation with your spouse about finances without causing a fight, here are my suggestions:
Do your homework ahead of time.
o If you want to talk about life insurance, know the difference between term versus whole life
o Maybe even talk to an accountant, or a trusted friend who’s savvy about investments
Provide a reason for having the conversation.
o Don’t make it sound like a trust issue, or an issue with how they spend money
o Rather a good conversation starter can come from: I’m concerned about what would happen to me and the kids if something were to happen to you; I need to know what assets we have so that I would know what to do
o Or, now that we’re getting older I’m concerned about retirement. I’d like to know what we’re doing to plan for that. Is there anything I can do to help?
Women need to speak clearly to men.
o Don’t beat around the bush, whine, or accuse
o Be clear about what you want to know otherwise a man will be left wondering what the conversation is all about
o Leave out accusations such as you’re being secretive about finances, or bring up the big screen TV he bought last month
Suggestions for ways to speak clearly and get good financial information from your spouse.
o I need to know where you keep important documents
o I’d like to know what type of life insurance you have through your employment
o Or how do you track your investments? Is that something we can look at together?
Use programs to help track spending and investments that you both have access to such as:
Before moving to the Roanoke Valley, Nanda Davis was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor, in Washington, D.C., she graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University school of law in 2012. During law school she worked at the law school’s domestic relations clinic, helping individuals who could not afford attorneys get uncontested divorces. Nanda is the Second Vice President of the Salem Roanoke County Bar Association, and Vice President of the Roanoke chapter of the Virginia Women Attorney’s Association.