If you're a woman and you get divorced, you may not be prepared for how it will affect you financially.
According to the information gleaned from the recent study, these are the biggest financial surprises women experienced during and after their divorces:
1. They have more debt than they expected
Many women were unprepared for the amount of marital debt that had to be divided -- or the monthly payments that came with it. Debts included home loans and car payments, credit card bills, home equity loans or credit lines, loans against retirement plans and 401(k) plans and their student loans.
2. Support payments are smaller
Spousal support is far from a "given" these days. When it is granted, it is usually very temporary. Child support is also often far less than many women expect to receive.
3. They have to find a job fairly quickly
The low financial support payments that women receive lead directly to their next shock -- heading back to work. Women who don't have small children at home may not be particularly surprised. Those who expected to spend the next few years raising the kids, however, may be unprepared for their new reality.
4. They're facing some staggering new costs
Women who don't have full-time jobs with benefits are quickly finding out that they may not be able to afford health care. If a woman's spouse has the health insurance coverage, the kids will keep it after the divorce -- but she won't.
5. They can't afford the home they live in
Keeping the marital home is often a dream that quickly dissipates once the financial reality of the payments and the cost of upkeep kick in -- and that's before they have to buy out their spouse's equity (if there is any).
Younger women actually fared worse in the study than older women. Only 38 percent of women over the age of 55 were shocked by the financial changes -- but almost half of younger women were. This indicates that women need to do more to take control of their financial education and futures long before divorce is a real possibility.
Once a divorce is on your horizon, it may be wise to consider a consultation with a financial planner in addition to your attorney.