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When Divorce Happens to Your Beautiful Life: Strategies for Legacy & Wealth Preservation

When Divorce Happens to Your Beautiful Life:  Strategies for Legacy & Wealth Preservation
MBL Editors

When Divorce Happens to Your Beautiful Life:  Strategies for Legacy & Wealth Preservation
By Nicole Valentine, Esq.

When you live long enough, you learn that storms will come.  For some, the storm appears in your health.  For others, the storm appears in your marriage.  And the list of life altering experiences can go on and on.  If a rocky marriage and subsequent divorce is on your road traveled, one can attest to the financial blasts and bursts that can wipe you out.  When my marriage was failing and falling, my finances were also on Code Red and I moved Heaven and Earth (with the help of dear friends and family) to recover my assets and financial future. I am a lawyer turned entrepreneur and on top of these storms, I also worked to sustain and grow my business and dream. I offer these strategies and tips for the woman, who although may be losing a partner, is determined to preserve the part of her beautiful life that gives her security, freedom, independence and confidence.

Going through a divorce is emotional with a capital E.  Remember the character Bernadette in Terry McMillan’s novel Waiting to Exhale? In the movie depiction of McMillan’s novel, Bernadette played by Angela Bassett was so mad that she set her husband’s luxury car on fire and destroyed or sold most of his things (ie. golf clubs, expensive watches, clothes, etc.) at a yard sale at a deep deep discount. A rewrite of this scene that considers good financial decision-making would definitely include Bernadette taking photos of the items and selling them on eBay.

Now let me begin with my disclaimer.  I am a lawyer and I would never advocate for the destruction or sale of someone else’s property without their consent.  I would offer that when it comes to items of value that you don’t ever want to see again (ie. wedding rings, wedding dress, etc.) think about ways to realize that value in a constructive and legal manner.  Before following any of this advice, please consult with an attorney to make sure you can sell or dispose of assets prior to a final divorce.  In some states, if you have begun the divorce process, you may not sell assets before a financial settlement has been agreed upon with your spouse.  If your divorce is amicable, you and your spouse may consider working on your financial turnaround together.

So, here’s my list of things to consider when your ship seems to be sinking.  You have the power to:


Statistics Pie Chart

1.  Organize and Analyze.  Take inventory of all of your personal assets.  I recommend creating a spreadsheet that includes your stocks and bonds, cash in the bank, life, health and other insurance policies, residential and vacation property, automobiles, original art collection, jewelry, furniture, special clothing and coats, fine china and silverware, technology and media equipment and any other items that are personal and valuable to you.  Also make a list of all of your debt in the form of credit cards, mortgages and personal IOU’s.  Decipher whether the items are jointly owned or individually owned.  Decide whether you want to keep, sell or donate the items.  Make a note of the estimated value and retrieve any receipts establishing the original purchase price.

2.  Be Resourceful.  After I took inventory, I realized I needed more income.  I solved this by renting my home for a short period of time in the summer months.  I joined the websites AirBNB, Sabbatical Homes and Home Away and the offers came pouring in.  I stayed in the extra bedroom of a dear friend and took on short-term temporary assignments found on CraigsList to supplement my business income.  If you need to move back home with your parents or relatives, do it. The upside is precious time with family. Your resources can also go into the family pot. If your parents don’t charge you rent, invest in household upgrades or gift them a vacation to show your appreciation.  Now being resourceful is not for anyone with a big Ego.  It is a for the person who knows that this critical mission requires sacrifice, humility and practicality to win.

3.  Be Creative.  It pains me to see the amount of money wasted during divorce disputes.  Just imagine redistributing the thousands and thousands of dollars in divorce expenses to create a 529 educational savings plan for your children. Just think of the money that can be contributed to worthy charities, non profits and church initiatives.  Note to the reader that I don’t have children and there are a host of ways to be creative in taking care of yourself and your dependents prior to a divorce settlement.  Perhaps that’s a Part 2 to this article.  Since it’s hard to be creative when you’re mad, focus on objectifying the situation and dreaming up a marital exit that is mature, collaborative and respectful of the financial life both parties worked so hard to build.

4.  Share.  When you share, others share.  Tell people you trust about the storms in your life.  You will find a hand full of living angels.  In my most vulnerable state, I opened up to close friends about my struggles; something I don’t often do.  Their response was beyond anything I could imagine.  There was an outpouring of support.  They gave me exactly what I needed –  Encouragement, Experience, Empathy and Financial Help.

5.  Reframe.  How can a divorce and accompanying financial challenge be positive?  I bear witness to the positive things that resulted from my experience.  I learned that all storms are temporary.  They don’t last always.  I learned that you will find blessings where you are planted.  And I was reminded that all things are God’s.  He has the power to give you back more than you lost.  God will do the heavy lifting in the atmosphere while you’re doing your part.

Every tool and skill that you deploy to turn your finances around are now in your permanent kit to apply to your personal and professional life.  Unfortunately, the divorce rates in America are such that you will experience or you will know someone who has experienced a divorce and a financial setback.  Because I’m an optimist and spend my professional life solving problems and creating opportunities, I spent every day of my storm focused on the What and the How.  What can I do to make sure my second life is more amazing than my first?  And how can I build a new foundation that withstands the next storm?

My Beautiful Life.  It’s victorious, courageous and grateful.

With Love,


Nicole Valentine, Esq.  is the Founder and President of Synergy Business Development, Inc., a Strategic Consulting Firm focused on growing businesses through partnerships, mergers, acquisitions and global and national expansions.

More about her company can be found at

She is beautifully single and based in New York.