Splits & Scams: Divorce and your financial health

by Natalie MacLellan on January 15, 2010

in Fraud Prevention, In the News, Red Flags of Fraud

I try to follow themes in my blogging – this month was going to be all about new years resolutions and getting your finances in order. Budgeting. Saving. Financial planning. Then the Divorce Fair happened. Suddenly my writing and research made an unexpected turn. (For the record, I love when that happens.)

Tonight and tomorrow morning I will be exhibiting and presenting at the Divorce Fair – hosted by the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia. I’ve gotten a wide variety of reactions to this. Surprise, amusement, even disgust (mostly from those who refuse to accept the fact that approximately 40% of Canadian couples will divorce).

Divorce is a stressful and painful time. It is a highly emotional process. You may be heartbroken. You may be angry. Your finances are likely the list thing you’ll want to think about – but they may be among the most important issues to focus on. It is extremely important to plan for your divorce. This is the message behind the Divorce Fair.

When most people talk about divorce, aside from custody issues, money is usually top of mind. Who got what, how much, and why? The division of money and assets is a major sticking point in many divorce proceedings. How do you prepare yourself for this? There are a few simple tips:

  1. 1. Know what you own (and owe). Make a list of your bank accounts, investment accounts, property and other assets you and your spouse own.
  2. 2. Gather the paperwork. Make copies of your financial papers: account statements, tax assessments, mortgage contracts, insurance policies, etc.
  3. 3. Be prepared for the costs of the divorce itself. If you are considering a divorce, be prepared and stash money away now to cover lawyers fees, alternate living arrangements, and other costs that may come up.

The other and significantly less known financial risk associated with a divorce or separation is financial fraud. To understand the link, let me remind you of the stress and emotional upheaval that comes with the divorce process. You are struggling to adjust to new financial realities, and in many cases you are managing your finances on your own for the first time, and making decisions you’ve never had to make before.

Sadly, no one is more aware of this than a con artist.

Results from last year’s CSA Investor Index indicated that almost half (46%) of investment fraud attempts were made to people undergoing major lifestyle changes – which included job losses, the death of a loved one, and divorce or separation.

The key to avoiding fraud is to be aware of your vulnerability and know the warning signs. Before you invest, educate yourself on investing basics to make smarter, safer choices, and learn to recognize the red flags of fraud before you become a victim.

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