Embracing financial empowerment after divorce

By Kathy Rumleski, Contributor

In part two of a four-part series, Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend explores strategies to help newly single people get a handle on their finances.

Following a marriage breakup, getting your financial affairs in order is one of the biggest challenges a single person will face, says Toronto family lawyer and divorce recovery coach Leanne Townsend.

“Often in a relationship, one person is primarily responsible for handling the finances. If you’re not used to doing it and suddenly you must, that can be a real strain, she tells

Townsend says the starting point for newly divorced people is to recognize that the money coming in will be reduced.

“A couple with two incomes will obviously have much more money coming in than a single person, and the reality is you won’t have as much purchasing power.”

Townsend, a partner with Brauti Thorning LLP, offers a five-week divorce recovery coaching program and says it can be tough to maintain a lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to as a married person.

“Both parties will take a hit financially,” she says.

In some cases, spousal support can help to keep up — to a degree — some of the lifestyle they’ve become used to, Townsend says.

“The issue when considering spousal support is need and means,” she says, adding one person must be able to demonstrate a need for support and the other must have the means to provide it.

For example, one spouse may not have been working during the marriage while the other did, and used his or income to support the household expenses.

The partner who is employed or has the higher income has the means to provide support, Townsend explains.

“But if that person lost their job, had a reduced income or went bankrupt, they wouldn’t necessarily have the means,” she says.

The length of a couple’s relationship, their ages, offspring and lifestyle are all considerations when calculating support, Townsend says.

“If you’ve been living an affluent lifestyle, you’re not going to be expected to live as a pauper when you divorce,” she says.

Townsend says following a breakup, women sometimes feel vulnerable, particularly if they stayed at home to look after children and now have to navigate the maze of finding gainful employment. They can also be hesitant to earn a significant income or to step into their financial power, and her coaching program can help energize them, she says.

“Coaching can really help people feel more confident. We look at her skills and capabilities and her value as an employee to help her earn what she should be earning,” Townsend says.

She encourages women to be bolder in asking for what they’re entitled to.

“Sometimes emotions take over and they walk away from what they deserve for fear someone may not like them or become angry at them for asking,” Townsend says.

“People may need coaching support to move forward in this area. They shouldn’t feel guilty or be anxious.”

Having a coach in your corner as a support may be the extra boost needed to regain confidence, Townsend says.

Getting one’s financial house in order following a divorce begins with setting a budget, she says.

“For most of us, it’s not something we look forward to doing. However, everyone benefits from a budget and understanding their inflow and outflow of cash. Coaches can also hold accountable those who procrastinate in this area,” Townsend says.

She suggests all women should have their own credit card and not just a supplemental card on someone else’s account because when it comes time to borrow money “women may find they haven’t built up an adequate credit rating.”

Townsend’s coaching program has an in-depth module that deals with finances.

“I can also provide further coaching if someone needs it.” There’s nothing more empowering than being able to support yourself, she says.

Click here to read part one, where Townsend provides tips and strategies for those looking to re-enter the workforce following a divorce.

Stay tuned for part three in the series, where Townsend will discuss strategies for rebuilding your social network.

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