Protecting Your Financial Future After Divorce


We often talk at here at the Divorce, Etc… Podcast about the importance of knowing your financial situation, being prepared, having access to your assets, and knowing what everything means, as well as working with someone who can help you get there.

The financial implications of divorce and how to protect your financial future is exactly what we’re talking about in today’s episode.


So let’s bring in today’s guest.

We are with Hazel Secco, the founder and CEO of Align Financial Solutions.

And like I said, the whole purpose of today’s podcast is to talk about the financial implications, protecting yourself and really knowing what you need to know.


Even if you don’t know that that’s what you need to know.

So welcome, Hazel.

Thank you.

Thank you, Jessica, for having me.

You’re welcome.

So I mean, I first want to start out like, you know, with all of your expertise in terms of working with people financially through divorce, what do you see as the major, most common concerns from your clients?


I mean it all comes down to am I going to have enough during retirement?

I think that’s the biggest thing and a lot of things come down to you know the income and the expenses.

Those are going to change.


So am I going to be able to sustain my lifestyle?

And did you think that that’s related more?

I mean, the retirement thing is huge.

I feel like whenever I’m talking to my friends, we look at like the generation before us and we’re like, how are we ever?


I mean it seems inconceivable now the idea that, you know, someone could retire at age 50 or 55, Like I feel like I’m going to be working till I’m 80, but when it’s a divorce, I wonder like is so, so the retirement thing for sure huge concern.



What do you feel like you’re hearing from your clients with regards to just getting divorced if they’re the non moneyed partner and being able to like pay their bills, support their kids, like pay for all of that stuff, even in life now for getting retirement?

Right, right.


No, I mean definitely just generally anything money related, those who are not necessarily doing the money portion in the marriage, they are scared and a lot of times like they don’t, they feel like they’re not making smart decisions or right decisions.


So that’s when most of the clients come to me and ask, you know, is there a way that I know for sure if I’m doing the right thing?

And that’s where some of that, like planning and strategy comes in.

But I think, like, it’s really important.


I mean, divorce, I always tell everyone, all the women that I work with, it’s just it’s a major life transition and people have hard time recognizing that.

Or maybe it’s just like a that time of the life where it’s like really hard to be nice to yourself.


So you just, like, kind of beat yourself up, but it’s really important to acknowledge that it is a major life transition.

I think it’s also hard sometimes because when you’re going through it, it’s like you’ve so many things piling on that you have to deal with.


And especially if you’re not the one who’s been doing the financial planning in your marriage, it’s like, like you said, like how do you know whether or not you’re doing the right thing?

But also how do you find the time to kind of learn that sort of stuff?

So what do you tell clients who are coming to you?

And they’re like, I I don’t, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing and beating themselves up about that.


Where do you even start?

That’s a good question.

I mean, everyone starts from like a different place, but I think just really knowing what you have is a good place to start.


I think you’re totally right.

I think that there are a lot of people out there who are like, I don’t know what I have and not only do they not know what they have, they don’t know where it is because they haven’t been doing it.

We’ve spoken to a lot of people.

Who are like?

I don’t know what I have.


I don’t know where it is and I’m afraid to ask because I’m afraid that by asking is going to like cause friction in the either the process or maybe their spouse doesn’t know that they’re thinking about possibly getting divorced and they’re trying to prepare themselves.


So any tips on like how to find out and locate things?

We always talk about the importance of knowing also like your passwords, like being able to log in.

Mm hmm.

But I know that some of us people are like, I don’t even know where to find that.



That’s a good question.

So I feel like it’s really important to I I mean you talk about it all the time like team of experts, team of professionals to go to during divorce or even like while contemplating divorce.

But it’s yeah, it is especially because like you know like like you said whether you’re like really smart and savvy with money or not.


Like women, like we take care like we are just made or we are kind of trained to take care of other people and we have no time to just go through everything to make the right decisions.

So it’s really, I feel like it’s really, really important to have someone that you really trust that you can just bounce ideas off.


Or like who can just take a look at your tax return and just refer back to it.

Like, what do I have?

I don’t even, I don’t even know.

And I mean, it’s just really hard, especially when you’re raising kids or, you know, a lot of different things happen.


And just like that’s not always in the front of our like priorities.

Yeah, especially when there’s a ton of moving parts, like you said.

So tell us so for people who are like, OK, I know I I acknowledge the fact that I need to be working with someone to help me do this.


Like what is the difference between a CDFA and a regular financial planner?

So CDFAS are, I think it’s more of a financial advisor who’s specialized in the divorce and financial implications of divorce specifically.


So you know like I am a CDFA but there is a two different CDFAS as well the CDFAS that are trained so that they can actually kind of help you split the asset during the process.


And see like I for me I got the CDFA designation to understand the divorce finances better to help my clients who has gone through the divorce.

So I focus on the retirement planning and the post divorce financial planning.


So CDF as are the like, like divorce finance experts, while the just normal regular financial advisor, they’re just kind of more, you know, generalist talking about financial planning, retirement planning, you know, anything related to personal finances.


What made you decide to focus on working with single women after divorce?

It’s so interesting.

I didn’t realize that I was even focusing on that specific demographics until I was in it.


It’s just I I’m it’s I grew up with I think it’s like a also like background upbringing.

Like I’m really good at conversing with kind of like a older generation.


I grew up with my grandmother and like she was a single woman, like widowed woman and my mom was divorced.

So I was like around single women and being an advocate for them a lot.

So I think it’s like the way I speak or I’m just more drawn to speak to them.


I don’t know what it is, but I really enjoy working with them and they get the most transformation out of our relationship as well, which is really important to me.

Yeah, totally important.

I’m just going to take pause for a brief moment here.

Have you?

Ever said this?


Oh my God, look at this bag.

I’ve never even used it, but I spent so much money on it or I have to deal with my closet.

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They’re so out of style.

What am I going to do with them?



Call the real real.

You basically have a closet full of money waiting to be put into your pocket.

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Yes, it’s true, and I can personally tell you that I have done this myself.


And recouped.

Thousands of dollars from clothing that I’m not wearing, bags and shoes that I’m not using.

It’s definitely worth it If you’re interested in consigning with the real real.

Just click the link in our show notes or in our link in bio on Instagram or Tiktok and fill out the form make.


Sure to add.


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When we were getting divorced from our exes, we being TH and I, we hope that someone could take us by the hand and make sure that we didn’t make any mistakes when it comes to the money or with our kids.


Dealing with our ex friends, dating all of the things so you’re in luck.

Just like building X experts for you, we also created a divorce rule book.

We share what we wish we knew back then so that you don’t make the same mistakes we did.

If you want your copy, all you have to do is visit


That’s E and it’s right there for you.

The link is also in the show notes.

You don’t know what you don’t know, but we do.

So Hazel, what do you consider as essential for team of divorce professionals?


Obviously the financial part of it huge.

Who else would you tell people that they need to be bringing in to be able to manage this?

Financial part and the mental health professional and obviously the legal professional I always, I mean legal professional like like we don’t really even talk about it because it’s just people already know it’s it is a legal process to end the marriage but the financial part and mental part is absolutely essential like not negotiable essential because I just I I like even to the people that’s not even going through the divorce.


I always talk about the financial Wellness the three prong where it’s like you need to have a balance between the mental health and the physical health and financial health and if any of them are shaky or not balanced the other one gets significantly impacted.


So I think you know those three things are really important while going through the life transitions.

Yeah, for sure.

And so with the three PRONGS I-1 conversation that TH and I have a lot when it comes to exactly what you said, like the emotional part of it is that a lot of people will be going to meet with their lawyers and they’re like verbally vomiting all of their emotional baggage happening during the divorce on to their attorneys.


Do you feel like as a financial professional you’re getting a lot of that from people coming in?

Yeah, definitely.

I mean also it’s like a little different because like finance money itself brings a lot of emotions to people too.

So like the the emotion that I’m getting, I’m getting those specific like money related anxiety or nervousness around money.


So yeah, it’s like a different type of emotion, but definitely it does come up a lot.

When like we were talking in the beginning kind of about, you know, just like the financial implications of divorce and sort of protecting your financial future.

Are there like two or three specific things or places that people should be focused on when it comes to that?


Like even if they want to kind of prepare themselves to go and have a meeting with a CDFA, what would you suggest would be like kind of their initial questions and the things that they should be delving into from the beginning?


I think being open minded is really important.

It’s really, really hard, especially when you’re like emotionally distraught but feel like it’s so important because some people can get, like, fixated in, like possessing the primary residence.


But like, is that sustainable?

Like, you could, yeah, you could have it.

You could have a buyout or you know, whatever option might be.

Like I feel like it’s sometimes emotionally reacting to those kind of things that you want to really have, but just having an open mind and kind of you know like having those like other voices kind of get absorbed into you to see if that even makes sense.


Long term kind of thinking.

I know it’s like it feels kind of like desperate and you know devastating to go through this life transition.

So it’s like you’re in it.

You’re too in the thick of it.

It’s like so hard to know but but I think having an open minded kind of you know be malleable and kind of listen to other voices to so that like you are able to make the best decision for yourself.


I think that that’s such a huge point and I feel like for everyone listening, like just take a moment to let that sink in.

Because I think you’re right.

Like you come into the situation, particularly with your divorce settlement, with specific ideas of what you think it’s going to look like in the end.


And often times that’s just a very uneducated story or version.

So then, so when you go in and you think that you’re the one who’s going to want to keep the house or whatever it is like I agree with you.

I think that you really do have to be very open minded to allow the possibility that that may not be the best choice for you and that’s a tough.


Pill to swallow, I think.


And so, yeah, I agree with you.

I think that and I had never really thought about it that way.

Like be open minded when it comes to the finances.

I feel like a lot of people go in there and they’re well, because they’re like, this is what I should be getting right?



I’ve done this and therefore I should get this.

And I feel like it just doesn’t always work out that way, and people aren’t always willing to accept the fact that there’s another way to maybe look at things.

Right, right.



Yeah, and So what do you what about, like, women who come to you?

Maybe they haven’t worked in their marriage and what kind of advice?

I know you can’t give specific financial advice to everybody listening, everyone’s situation, but there likely are people listening who haven’t worked and that’s their biggest concern.


They don’t actually have an active income coming in every month.

And So what kind of conversations would you have with clients like that?

Usually, unless there’s a huge sum of money that you are getting after the settlement, like right now how it’s structured, unfortunately you probably do need to think about going back to some sort of work, whether it’s like part time, full time.


It seems like, you know, it’s like almost they don’t, they never do some type of like a alimony forever like so that you don’t have to work.

So it’s something that like again, I think like it’s really, really hard because you’re not used to it and you have to, you know, face sort of like a new reality, new lifestyle.


But just having that open mindset and learning what’s potentially going to work the best instead of, you know, kind of like I’ll never do that or you know like I’ll like the kind of hard mindset like already decided those kind of things are going to make the, I think settlement or the negotiation part so much harder.


Which means a longer process which means a lot more expensive in the, you know like a legal fees without any like actual productive conversation necessarily.

So it’s like a just generally having an open conversation, willing to have an open mindset is like really crucial.


Do you have people come to you and are help and are asking for help to budget to actually?

Pay their.

Legal fees for the divorce, like they come in, it’s X amount.

They don’t necessarily know where the money is coming from, but they’re like, look, I’m paying my lawyer, whatever, $300.00 an hour and I, you know what’s been going on for this long?


How am I even going to make that work?

Yeah, it’s like it’s so surprising to me that, you know, like a lot of people come afterwards, like after legal process is already done or after things are already taken out.


So I don’t even get to do that part.

But a lot of people like the saddest thing is that you have to touch the signal significant amount of money out of your retirement account and pay taxes and pay penalty and then pay the attorney with that.


So it’s like your nest egg gets so much smaller after the fact.

So it’s it’s just that’s just like I don’t know, I feel really sad and like that’s something that I’m like really upset about that like like it’s it’s not only not efficient but it’s like hurting your financial projections and you know the long term financial future and it’s it’s really hard.


Well, is there, is there something that people should be doing?

Let’s say there’s someone listening who isn’t finished paying off their legal bills or is maybe just starting the process and thinking, yeah, what you’re saying is right, and I don’t want to have to end up taking it out of my retirement or paying the penalty on it later after the fact.


Like what would be a way, a strategy so that they don’t have to do that?

When you’re contemplating divorce, I would even say don’t like, like if you’re contributing to any retirement account, stop contributing into that and then build up your emergency savings.



That is a good strategy.

I hope everybody listening thought of that.

I mean, we should all have an emergency savings anyway, but that’s really smart like.

Stop diverting the funds into your 4O1K or whatever your retirement account is and put it into your rainy day emergency fund because you’re going to need access to that cash.


Right, right.

Shorter term basis, that’s really good.

I like that.

Thank you of.


One of the things that we had asked you before you came on was kind of like, what do you wish?

One thing that you would want the people to know And you would said to not try to make this major life transition alone, making sure that you have enough resources and professionals around you to share the burden.


So any suggestions on how to make sure that they do that, ’cause I feel like people might hone in on the make sure you have enough resources and they’ll be like I don’t have enough resources.

The the monetary, financial resources or are you referring to?

Well, I guess.

What did you mean?


Was it not monetary finance, just resources like advice, friends?

Yeah, I think that’s what it Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


As in, like, I think I was talking about everything like a mental health professional.


I feel like just don’t do it alone.

Like you don’t want to bounce ideas off of yourself when you’re going down the rabbit hole, for example, like coach or therapist or even both.

Like when you’re having this like hard time, I feel like you just need to have multiple people to bounce ideas off of and then just get like support from them.


So like, I mean the least you want to do is to have like a mental breakdown during this.

Like this is a crazy.


Right, right.

Like it’s it’s just really hard.


You gotta, you know, get all the friends and family members, don’t talk to them if they’re not on the same page and like, willing to support you.

This is the time that you really need all the people in the world that’s going to support you and give you positive energy.


I love that.

And by the way, ex experts, I mean that’s exactly what TH and I are here for to really because I mean we always say like sometimes it’s harder to talk to the people that you’re really close with than someone who’s like, you know removed objective party with no preconceived notion.


So you know, that’s exactly.

What we do?

Helping people get through it because we’re not.

We’re we.

Are in no judgement zone and really just here to kind of help people to take a step in the right direction, whatever that that decision is for them and best for their family.

So thank you for that.


Of course.

I mean, listen, the financial conversation I feel like can always go on and on it.

It is one of the absolute top concerns with people getting divorced.

We always say like it’s the money and the kids and how that’s going to be managed are usually the scariest parts for people.


So we appreciate you coming on and giving us all of this great insight.

And for everyone listening, if you enjoyed this episode of divorce etcetera with the ex experts today, then please help us out.

It only takes a minute to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast, and it actually helps us and other people like you that are dealing with divorce.


For more about Hazel and Align Financial services and all of the services that she offers, you can check out the show notes.

And of course, share this episode with anyone you know that can benefit from listening.

Have a great day.

Thank you.

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