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Protecting Your Financial Health During Divorce, with Kelly LaVallie

Presented by Wealthsimple

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

Are you in the midst of a divorce or considering a divorce? The road ahead will have its share of difficulty, but you and your spouse can have a more positive outcome depending on how you make key decisions.

Kelly LaVallie, CPA, CA, is a divorce accountant who helps clients navigate the financial implications of marriage breakdown, from understanding the family finances to negotiating and structuring the financial settlement.

Kelly is also the author of a book titled, Untying the Knot: Protecting Your Emotional and Financial Health During Divorce. She understands the financial and emotional toll of divorce, and she joins me to share some expert advice.

While most people going through a marital separation wish to see things resolved in a timely fashion, Kelly sees value in the length of time it takes for the divorce process to play itself out because of what you think you want in terms of your life and your finances the day after you leave the family home will change over the course of one or two years.

Kelly points out that the party that controls the family finances is at an advantage during a divorce. Professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, and bankers, help to balance out the imbalances.

Kelly cautions about who you decide to bring into your inner circle from a personal standpoint. Sometimes people who are too close to us find it difficult to provide that clear-minded support we need.

We also discuss the complexities of dealing with the division of property, namely the marital home. Kelly explains some of the factors that go into deciding what to do with the house you may have shared with your spouse for most of your adult life.

Do you prefer to invest in socially responsible companies? If so, our sponsor Wealthsimple will help you build a portfolio that focuses on low carbon, cleantech, human rights, and the environment. To get started with Socially Responsible Investing, head over to Wealthsimple today!

Episode Summary

  • There are emotional and financial aspects to getting a divorce
  • How long does the divorce process actually take?
  • As a single party, you can’t control the divorce timeline
  • Kelly explains her Be/Do/Have model
  • The reason people hesitate to get a lawyer involved
  • The party that controls the family finances is at an advantage during a divorce
  • Be cautious about who you bring into your advisory team
  • Be careful about your feelings about your assets
  • The ins and outs of dealing with the division of property, i.e. marital home

Read transcript

Even in the midst of a divorce or considering a divorce, the road ahead will have its share of difficulty, but you and your spouse can have a more positive income, depending how you make some key money decisions. My guest this week is a divorce accountant who understands the financial and emotional toll of divorce, and she joins me to share some expert advice. Kelly LaVallie is a divorce accountant who helps clients navigate the financial implications of marriage breakdown from understanding the family finances to negotiating and structuring the financial settlement. She’s also the author of the book titled, Untying the Knot – Protecting Your Emotional and Financial Health During Divorce. 


Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Do you prefer to invest in socially responsible companies? If so, our sponsor, Wealthsimple, will help you build a portfolio that focuses on low carbon, clean tech, human rights and the environment. To get started with socially responsible investing, head over to today. Now, let’s chat with Kelly… 


Tom: Hi, Kelly. Welcome to the Maple Money Show. 


Kelly: Thanks for having me. 


Tom: Thanks for being on. You recently wrote a book I found very interesting. For anyone looking at the title of this episode, even if you’re not going through a divorce or considering a divorce, I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting money tips from the book that can apply to anyone that’s just looking at how to value what they own. First of all, can you just explain why you wrote this book? 


Kelly: Sure. I have a divorce advisory practice. I’m a CPA and I help people divide their assets, essentially, when they get divorced. It’s a challenging situation no matter what. It’s personally challenging. And it’s somewhat complicated on the financial or business aspect of it, but I just observed a real need for some simple and understandable support while you’re going through that. I just wanted to do my part to hopefully reduce some of the suffering that comes along with the personal and financial aspect of getting divorced. 


Tom: I like that you broke the book down into emotional and financial. I’ve said on the podcast before, I think our emotions affect our finances a lot. It sort of leads to bad decisions. When you’re feeling tight with your finances, you’re not sure where things are, maybe don’t have a budget, you’re not in control of your spending, it kind of becomes a case where emotions actually make finances. I assume this applies within divorce as well? 


Kelly: I think it’s magnified. If you think about how money is emotional in the best of times, these are not the best of times. At the same time you’re working through a ton of change, loss and sadness you are also navigating this big business deal. I think when you’re going through that much change, a lot of people feel fear. And, frankly, it’s not going to improve your finances to get divorced. Facing that reality, that you’re cutting your family asset base in half typically and coping with increased expenses and maybe reduced productivity like less income, just compounds your fear. You’re having to navigate these two big things at the same time. You don’t have the luxury of working through the emotional part of it and then dealing with the business aspect of it. 


Tom: That’s a great point because if you don’t like your normal day-to-day finances and emotions, divorce will make both of those so much worse. 


Kelly: Absolutely. 


Tom: How do we handle this from an emotional standpoint? I know a lot of the first half of your book talks about blame and shame, which I could see a lot of people doing when they’re in that situation. 


Kelly: I don’t think that we can control our feelings. I think what we can do is move through them, hopefully. But we can manage our thinking and the way we think about our experiences does impact our feelings. And it impacts our behavior. We can choose our behavior. I think that being intentional about the way you think about what you’re going through and to be proactive in terms of choosing good behavior can improve the way you move through your divorce, your feelings about it, and definitely the way you handle the business side of it. In terms of the thinking piece, just like we wrap a lot of stories around money, we wrap a lot of stories around marriage and divorce. And the stories we tell ourselves around divorce, don’t serve to reduce our suffering—let me tell you, it’s, I’m a failure. I’m damaged goods. I made the wrong choice. Maybe my kids are going to be damaged. All of these things are not facts. They’re just stories we made up. And they deserve to be examined and debunked because they really do compound your suffering and potentially can keep you stuck for a terribly long time. The process of divorcing takes a horribly long time anyways. But the real tragedy is if you’re stuck in it for the rest of your life. I think we’ve probably all seen some people suffer with that. I do think the way you think about it can either help you move through it or keep you stuck. 


Tom: There’s a couple of things I want to touch on there. First of all, you mentioned divorce takes a long time. Is there a stat you might know about how long this takes on average? Is there are range? What are we looking at? 


Kelly: There isn’t good data in part because there are “marriage like” relationships too. Regardless of whether you’re legally married, you’re going through the same thing which has a lot of the same legal attributes and emotional attributes that aren’t captured. We don’t really often have a clear line of when the relationship ended. Even when you’re the one in it and it’s ending, you often don’t have a clear line. I work with more complex situations—more financially complex situations. I almost hesitate to tell my clients (when we begin working together), how long this potentially can take. But if my clients work through the process of gathering information, valuing their assets, negotiating and making all the decisions and then papering their final deal—if we get through all that in two years, I’m jubilant. I’m thinking we were really on track and didn’t drag our feet. I’m working with clients who are in year five. You can’t really control the pace as one party because it’s dependent on your ex. It’s dependent on the advisory team. You can do your best to keep things progressing, but you can’t really control the timeline yourself. When I started in divorce work, my goal was to help my clients get through this as fast as possible because it’s terrible, so let’s get it over with. I now feel like there is some value in the passage of time because what you think you want in terms of your life and your finances the day after you leave the family home or your partner leaves, it’s going to be very different a year later or two years later so there is some value in the fact that it takes a while to sort it out. 


Tom: Yeah, that makes sense. Again, trying to keep the emotions out of it. I assume those, hopefully, dissipate a bit over time depending on the direction things are going. 


Kelly: That’s true. The end of a relationship and divorcing is a bit of a breeding ground for bad behavior so, if you’re not intentional about it, I think the emotional temperature can continue to be high or even get higher as you move through the process. But there’s hope that things settle down within a year or two. 


Tom: The other thing I want to touch on, you mentioned how this can affect children. One part of your book I liked as a parent, divorce or not, you mentioned the BDO have model. I’ve been trying to do that with my kids more now without realizing it, necessarily. Just the idea of trying to help them and me reach goals instead of just kind of going through the tasks. I know in your book you tackle how you handled that differently and then change to that. 


Kelly: So B is, who are you, what are your values and who do you want to be? And then DO is just behavior and having what we think of as goals. I’ll say for myself, as a younger person, collectively and culturally, I am a goal addict. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But we sometimes start with the goal. In divorce, my goal is to get the best deal for myself, the best financial settlement. And that is what’s guiding of my DO, my behavior. Who I end up being in the process is like the cart behind the horse, right? It’s just an afterthought. I want the best settlement for myself. I’m going to do the things that I believe are going to get me there and who I end up being in the process is a byproduct. It’s hard for me to convince you that this is a like a backwards scenario, except from my own life experience and seeing clients go through a very difficult time. What I have observed is if you reverse the order and say, first and foremost, I am going to decide who I want to be in this—I’m in a terrible situation. My kids are at risk. I need some kind of guiding principle or I’m potentially going to go off the rails. It’s up to every person to decide who is it that you want to be? But if we put our mind to it I don’t think we want to be vindictive, vengeful, spiteful. That’s probably not what we would say, especially when we’re thinking about modeling for our kids. If we reverse the order and say, “I’m going to be someone that I’m proud of—that’s going to be a good example for my kids. I’m going to do the things that are in alignment with that person.” I’m not saying that your settlement becomes a byproduct, but I believe you actually get to a better outcome when you’re being intentional about who you want to be in the process. 


Tom: You mentioned the idea of a team earlier on. What does this look like when you’re going through a divorce? I assume a lawyer is involved. What’s this team look like and how do you make these decisions? 


Kelly: I hope a lawyer is involved. I think people hesitate to get lawyers involved because of our preconceived notion that it means it’s going to be a battle, especially in scenarios where there may be an imbalance of power in the relationship. Just speaking financially, finances are often an area where we divide and conquer in marriage. This is wonderful. It’s great. But what that means when you go through divorce is the party that controlled or managed the family finances, frankly, has an advantage when it comes to working through unraveling the finances when you’re divorcing. And so especially in that scenario, we need professionals to help us balance out that imbalance. And that is for the benefit of both parties, not just the person who is feeling a little untethered because they just lost their key financial adviser who was their spouse, but also for the person who was responsible for the family finances. What you both hope is that you can move through this process and negotiate an outcome. And if your ex isn’t in a spot where they can make decisions because they don’t feel informed or confident, you’re not going to be able to move through to get a negotiated outcome. So for the interests of both people, to move through the process, you need professional help to create this balance. Also, even if there isn’t an imbalance, most people don’t go through this that often. And it is a technical process so it’s governed by law and there are specific financial considerations that you don’t face every day. If you’re saying, “Well, we want to collaborate with one another. We don’t want to waste money on professional fees and we want to be fair,” first of all, if you asked 10 people what fair is, you will get 10 answers. Your desire to be fair with one another does not mean you’re going to always agree. I find it hard to imagine how you even determine what’s fair in the absence of understanding your legal rights and responsibilities. Because that is the basis on which we’re moving through the financial implications or the “business” of divorce. I believe the only way to arm yourself with that information is to meet with, connect with, and engage a family lawyer in your area. Of course, I have a conflict of interest, but I think if your situation is remotely, financially, complex, you need a financial advisor. That might be accountant that you’ve already been working with. But like I said, there are unique financial issues so I think it’s worth talking with a financial advisor who specializes in the area. To me, that third leg of the stool when it comes to your team is someone, whether it’s a professional, family member or friend who’s supporting you at a personal level. And part of that kind of support is so you can compartmentalize (for the time being) some of the emotional issues away from the business issues of what you’re going through. I do caution people in terms who you are going to bring into that kind of advisory team because your family and friends— anyone who’s been through this knows they all are having their own experience about your divorce. Sometimes when people are too close to us, it’s tough for them to provide us that clear-minded personal support. So choose wisely. 


Tom: When you say that, do you mean if you have a family or friend that is a lawyer or an accountant? Or do you just mean friend support? 


Kelly: I was talking about friend support, this sort of legal, financial and personal elements of support. I do think there might be a temptation to engage a friend to get some initial advice about the direction you want to go which could be valuable. But when you’re working through the business aspect of the divorce, you’re really trying to recalibrate your boundaries, right? You’re trying to deal with that in a pragmatic way. So anything that you can do to beef up your boundaries is going to help you. And if your lawyer or financial advisor is a friend, that’s going to be more challenging. So just tread carefully. 


Tom: Yeah, especially if you’ve been in a marriage together, chances are that friend is connected to both sides. They might be your friend, but they’ve met the other person so it would probably be much more personal that way. 


Kelly: Absolutely. Whether they love them or hate them, it’s going to reduce your boundaries. 


Tom: Yeah, exactly. One of the group of terms I’ve seen that sound a little too similar and might be confusing is mediation, arbitration and litigation. What are the differences here? What are these options actually about? 


Kelly: Mediation can take many forms. Essentially, it’s just involving a third party to try and help the two of you find an agreement. That third party doesn’t have the authority to make decisions. So you and your ex are still making the decisions and the mediator’s only interest is to try and help you find if there’s an overlap where you can get a deal done. That can look like a million different ways. It can look like a family friend sitting down with you at your formal dining room table. It can look like an unbiased professional working directly with the two of you. My favorite is an unbiased professional—an expert in the field working with you and your ex (or soon to be ex) and your respective legal and financial professionals. When you’re in mediation, the mediator is unbiased. There’s a range of outcomes when you’re working to finalize your settlement. The mediators interest is to help you find the overlap. Like I said, there is an imbalance of power because of access to information, control of assets, experience when it comes to finances in particular so you need the support of a biased team to advise you about this process. That’s mediation. The key thing about mediation is you’re still the decision maker. You’re not giving up authority to make a decision to this third party. Arbitration and litigation are similar in that you are handing over the authority to someone else to make the decisions. Arbitration actually can look a lot like mediation. You’re not in a courtroom. You’re sitting, hopefully, with your own lawyer and financial advisor, and you’re creating your case to an unbiased third party who sometimes will try and help you reach agreement. There’s mediation which can end in arbitration if you can’t reach an agreement. Or you’re just saying, “Look, we can’t sort this out on our own. We have given up. We have tried to negotiate. We’ve tried mediation and we just can’t reach an agreement without help.” A third party, then we’ll impose a judgment like a judge. The nice thing (especially during the pandemic) for some people, litigation wasn’t an option. The courts were either closed or so backlogged so arbitration gave people some flexibility to actually get a deal done. Litigation is just any time you involve the court. It’s not necessarily like we’re going to trial. Very few people end up going to trial because the outcome is super uncertain, especially in family law—especially when it comes to complicated financial situations. It’s incredibly time-consuming and expensive. So most people are in alignment and really would rather not go to trial. But litigation is more than that. It’s any time you get to a brick wall or a logjam in the process and need the court to help you get unstuck. That can be right from the beginning where, for some reason, just getting disclosure can be challenging. I think it’s because it’s one of the first things you do and everyone’s reeling and who wants to go dig through all the paperwork? And people think, if I disclose, I’m at a disadvantage. Everyone tends to come to their senses because you have to go through financial disclosure to get this done. But sometimes, frankly, you need the court to nudge people along. I totally encourage all my clients—litigation is not our starting point. We do not want to go to trial. But the fact that you have that tool in the kit, it’s not terrible. 


Tom: All three of these sound maybe further down the path in getting a decision. Is there a fourth option where maybe you have lawyers and they’re actually able to come to an agreement together? Or does it almost always kind of end up in one of these three final states? 


Kelly: Absolutely, we don’t start with mediation, arbitration or litigate. We start with negotiation. And in the very early days, some of that happens between the people. When you’re starting to navigate the end of the relationship, you are negotiating with one and another about how this is going to look, right? What are we going to do with the kids? Are you moving out or am I? Where are you going to go? How are we going to pay your rent if you’re going to rent an apartment while we sort it out? Right away, you have been negotiating, personally. Then at some point, you involve lawyers to help you through the more complicated parts of this negotiation where neither of you actually know. For example, “Hey, we need to figure out what assets are part of the shared pie and what assets are excluded. What do we know? So we need a lawyer or lawyers to help us figure out issues like that.” And in my opinion, you want the lawyers to be talking with one another and collaborating together because they’re your representative to continue the negotiation. One of the things I encourage people when they’re thinking about who to engage as their lawyer, you want someone who is going to actively engage in negotiation. Someone who isn’t just going to say, “Let’s go directly to mediation, arbitration or litigation.” You need someone who’s comfortable with that negotiation process, which most of them are. 


Tom: I would hope so. They’re used to dealing with the other side and not just going straight to court. You mentioned this early negotiation. What does that look like when you’re right there? How do you deal with things like joint accounts? You’ve got the one house and maybe you’ve only have one car. When we talk about keeping emotions and finances at a simmered level, both of these things sound like they could be maybe even tougher than the early portion of this whole process. 


Kelly: I think there’s two phases of the negotiation—or two big elements that you need to navigate. The first is, what are we going to do in the immediate term in our divorcing phase? That’s its own negotiation. Who’s going to drive the car? Am I moving out or are you and how are we going to pay groceries? And what is that going to look like? I think that it might be tempting for some either to leave it as status quo… “We’re going to keep everything is that same as possible when it comes to the finances. Our paychecks are going to continue to go into the joint account and we’re just going to continue to spend…” For some people, which feels comfortable. For others, the idea of severing every connection immediately, feels more comfortable. And unfortunately, there is some middle ground here where we have to begin the process of separating, but it’s not going to be instantaneous. Because from this period, from separation to getting a final deal done, what each of you do (financially speaking) continues to affect the other. That means you can’t just say, “We’re separated. I’m going to go and live my life and you live yours. I’m going to rent a luxury apartment or sell the house…” You’re still in lockstep together. That time is really challenging just when it comes to the short-term. I do encourage people to really embrace it. This is just short-term. I think people get worried about if they’re setting the tone for their final settlement—that this is what the rest of their life is going to look like. I think you really need to make sure you have a lawyer involved so that you don’t do something in this time period that does set the tone, legally speaking. This is a short-term issue, and the key is to make sure you don’t jeopardize your combined finances—that you don’t let go of all your borrowing capacity and tell your bank that you hate your ex and the banker wants to shut down the joint line of credit. So, preserve your combined finances, because in this divorcing phase, they’re still combined, right? Preserve your relationship with your banker. Don’t enter into any major transactions in this time and make sure both of you have financial security. If you’re the person that controls the family assets, don’t use that, to control your ex, even though that might be tempting. It will derail the process. And if you’re the person that hasn’t had access to finances, you really need to champion yourself. It might mean getting some help in the short-term from friends and family. Or it might mean using your professionals to ensure that you have sufficient control over your finances and can manage this process. The negotiation of the final settlement, you take a breath. It’s a simple process, actually. The first step is, what are our shared assets? That sounds easy. And for some people it is. But depending on your jurisdiction, some of the assets that you think of as part of the “family pie” might be excluded. You might get to keep them. Your ex might get to keep them if they came into the relationship with those assets or if they were inheritances or gifts, depending on where you live. That’s the first thing. And you need professional help (I believe) to determine that. The next step is, what do I want to keep? What will my ex keep? What will we sell, if anything, and just split the proceeds? And what will we continue to share? Which gives me heart palpitations, right? Tread carefully around continuing to share assets. But sometimes it’s the right thing to do. Let’s say have some penny stock or something and you don’t know what it’s worth. You’re better off sharing it, waiting to see what happens with the value and dividing proceeds down the road. There are occasions where sharing makes sense but that can be a tricky step—this whole idea of what am I keeping and what am I giving up to my ex? Because these aren’t just numbers. People have a personal connection to their assets so that can be a difficult negotiation. Say, for example, both people want the cottage. Then, to the extent that we’re not selling it or sharing it, what’s the stuff worth? Because you have to buy your ex out of there interest in what you’re keeping and vice versa. Each of those steps are key steps around that asset division and have these challenging things to work through. That’s what I mean when I say negotiation because on the issue of excluded property, or the issue of what am I going to keep and what am I going to give up, or the issue of what are those things worth—there’s a lot of subjectivity there. 


Tom: One of the things that I really liked in the book, when you talk about buying your ex out of certain things, is the idea that you have to basically pay 50 percent for it, again. I thought that was a good way of looking at things. Even now, if someone wanted to look at an item in their home, would they be willing to buy that back again? And then you can start to weigh whether you actually want that item. Divorce aside, that’s an interesting way to look at it. Similar to the advice, if the value of a stock went down, would you still buy it as a deciding factor? This sounds similar where you could declutter and maybe get some money by selling items just in regular life. It seems like you could start looking at your items any time and deciding if you would actually pay half the price for that? 


Kelly: Absolutely. We don’t go through our life thinking about how we own half our stuff when we’re in a relationship. I was telling you the order of events—what are the family assets? What am I going to keep and give up? What are these things worth? I do think this idea of what am I going to keep, you have to revisit and stay flexible when you know what it will cost you because I hope you wouldn’t decide to buy something before you know the price. If you feel very connected to the family home and all this changes—feeling so stressful, but really want to keep it, that’s kind of like the beginning stage in terms of your thought for your final settlement. Then the appraisal comes in and it’s $1 million more than you thought it was worth. You have to really think, what does that mean for your financial future? It’s like there is this line in the sand and you’re going to decide what you’re going to buy and what you’re going to sell to your ex, right? The half that you’re going to buy and sell. You want to understand where this asset is at in its cycle of value. Are we in a down market? Am I buying the low or buying high? I do think it’s absolutely appropriate and reasonable to consider your feelings about your assets. But I want people to understand what that is costing them, and to stay open to the idea that maybe I can achieve the same stability that I want for my family in a way that doesn’t have such a negative financial consequence. 


Tom: Say an asset did come back and it’s high like that million plus example. What if both sides say they don’t want it? Is the only option to sell it and live with what it sells at? Or is this something that kind of ends up in litigation where someone just gets forced to keep it? How does that work? 


Kelly: The standard approach when you’re valuing assets that one of you are going to keep, is you jointly engage a professional to appraise it. What happens when the outcome is unacceptable, sure, someone might be prepared to sell it. Let’s say that it comes in really high. Both parties would be prepared to sell at that number, but no one wants to buy at that number. Yes, of course, you could sell it but there is often a disconnect between appraised value and what you could realize on the market. If I want to keep the family home and the appraisal is high, so I can’t, and we go to sell it and it sells far less than appraisal—that’s not an efficient outcome, right? You aren’t bound (unless you agreed upon it) to live with the appraisal. It’s something that’s used to form the negotiation. But what people are actually prepared to pay, each of you… What are you prepared to pay? What is your ex prepared to sell at? Or vice versa? That’s an equally important aspect of the negotiation. Who really wants it? If you get an appraisal and think it’s reasonable. You both want the property. Who’s willing to pay more? I encourage people to use professional appraisals and valuations as a tool, but not as gospel to the deal. 


Tom: Say you have all these assets and at best you’re looking at two years which is a good length of time—say this drags on four years, five years. The value of that asset could change if it’s stocks, a business, a diamond ring, do you go back and relook at that? To me, that sounds like it could just be adding additional time and expense, but maybe it makes sense in certain situations? 


Kelly: I think it’s one of the dysfunctional elements of the business side of divorce. When you value something, it depends on your jurisdiction. But there are some problems with the length of time it takes to move through this process. For example, you get appraisals. They inform the negotiation. You’re working through that process and a year and a half goes by. A business valuation is a good example because business valuations, especially if you have more than one company—just the process of doing the valuation takes a long time. The process of your professionals analyzing the implications of that and then negotiating is a really long time. From the determination of value—how is the company doing? What’s the property worth? Getting the experts opinion. Negotiating—what does that mean for our deal? Then getting the deal done. The value could be wildly different but you have to accept some of that dysfunction, frankly, or you’ll literally be stuck in it forever because it’s just a circle… “Okay, let’s get updated information,” but now we’re resetting and going through the whole process again. I think the timing, evaluation of assets and appraisal of assets and the timing of that and using those numbers to inform an outcome that could be two years later is a dysfunction of the system. The issue of still impacting one another is often kind of like two camps when you go through a marriage breakdown, “I’m going to spend like a drunken sailor because I’m devastated and I know I’m spending half of their money,” or you’re totally scared and you’re not going to spend anything. It’s another dysfunction. Sometimes you’ll see people racing to outspend one another. It’s another dysfunction. And yes, technically speaking, you could do a settling up, but it often doesn’t happen because are we really going to go through and analyze all of our spending transactions and financial decisions for the last two years? Because that’s going to take a year and then we’ll have another year to do. You know what I mean? So yeah, I definitely don’t want people making decisions without information, right? You do need to have appraisals and have valuations and understand what your ex is spending. What are you spending and what do you need? There’s a fine balance between saying this has to be good enough, because if I invest more time getting better evidence or more timely evidence, I will never get this done. 


Tom: If everybody’s survived this process, when you get to the end and you’ve got your separation, your divorce, what does it look like from there? How does this look from a financial perspective compared to what you were used to previously? 


Kelly: Yeah, you know that line, I want to have the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed to? I think that is one of those lines that does not serve people. It keeps you stuck. You’re not going to have the lifestyle to which you became accustomed because that was based on a relationship that’s now over. The people I see transition successfully say, “That was my past. Marriage and divorce was my past. I now have this opportunity to create something new going forward. It’s not going to look the same. It’s going to be better and worse. It’s going to be new. I want to take what I’ve learned and apply that so that it’s more resonant.” For pretty much everybody, it’s a financial setback. Even if it’s just emotionally, a financial setback because you lived in the house and didn’t really think about how it was only half yours, it will likely feel different. Especially if you haven’t re-partnered. Now you have access to truly your own asset base, which represents half of the shared asset base. I think what’s great—what I’ve witnessed for people who maybe were not the individual who managed the family finances, there’s this empowering change where they are now taking control of this huge area of their life. In the early days it can be terrifying and overwhelming. But what happens is you realize, I can do this! It really is an empowering experience to take control of such a huge aspect of your life. I believe that if you can change your perspective from looking back at your marriage, at your divorce, to looking forward, you can absolutely rebuild financially, maybe take more control and feel more empowered in that area of your life. I think it can be a super positive, powerful thing if you can change that perspective from looking back to looking forward. 


Tom: Exactly. If you’re going to go through this whole divorce process, hopefully, you already expect a positive outcome in some form. And yes, it may not be your net worth total that improves, but you’re looking for positive aspects somewhere on the other side. 


Kelly: Absolutely. 


Tom: Thanks for going through all this. Can you let people know where they can find your book and where they can find you online? 


Kelly: Absolutely. My website is and there’s links to buy my book there. The book is also on all of the online retailers. You can reach out to me to through my website if you want to get in touch and talk about your particular marriage breakdown situation. 


Tom: Perfect. Thanks for being on the show. 


Kelly: Thanks for having me. 


Thank you, Kelly, for the helpful tips on navigating your way through a marriage breakdown. It’s easy to see the benefits of hiring a team of professionals to help along the way. You can find the show notes for this episode at If you have a moment, head over to our YouTube channel and subscribe there as we’ll be getting back to releasing never-before-seen content, soon. Either search for Maple Money or go to and subscribe today. Thanks, as always, for listening. I look forward to seeing back here next week when we’ll be chatting with Gordon Stein about how to increase your cash flow with a few simple recipes. See you next week.

The process of divorce takes a horribly long time. The real tragedy is if you’re stuck in it for the rest of your life. I do believe the way you think about it can either help you move through it or keep you stuck. - Kelly LaVallie Click to Tweet