Women & Money: Divorce

      According to a Census Bureau report, the divorce rate is down from peaks in the late 1980's and 1990's. Still 10% of marriages still fail during the first five years and 25% fall apart before the 10th anniversary. But among people ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled over the past two decades.

      Something like 2.8 million men and women go through the emotional and financial trauma of a divorce each year. Women, unfortunately, most often come out financially the worst in a divorce. Many women see their standard of living drop by one-third with a divorce. Money and financial blogger Julia Anderson joined us with advice for women whether they're happily married or on the verge of a breakup.

      So how can women financially protect themselves? Here are a few tips from Julia:

      1. Keep a savings account in your own name. Everyone should have cash for emergencies. We all need to be saving money for a rainy day. A divorce may turn out to be that rainy day.

      2. Establish your own credit. Have credit cards in your own name. Pay them promptly every month. Keep a clean credit score.

      3. Keep good financial records. Married or divorcing we need to be tracking our finances for tax purposes and financial planning. Bank accounts, investment accounts, 401(k) funds. Make sure you've got good files on all these items. In a divorce, good records are essential to working out a settlement.

      4. Figure out your net worth. Figure your net worth by adding up your assetssavings accounts, cars, houses, retirement funds, investments. Then add up your total debt obligations. Subtract the debt from the assets and you get your net worth. This is a good way to know where you really stand as a couple. In case you divorce in a community property state like Washington, all assets and all debt are shared equally.

      5. Speaking strictly from the financial side of advice to women is to stay married, if at all possible. Be engaged with your spouse on money issues, retirement planning, credit card debt, savings and investing.

      Julia stresses, "If your husband takes the lead on financial management issues; you need to still stay active in your financial life together. You should ask questions and if you don't understand something, ask the question, again."

      For more information on money issues, visit Julia's blog.