Seminar to inform women of divorce in down economy

Wives are more likely than husbands to enter into a divorce ill-informed about personal finances and unprepared for life after marriage, according to some divorce experts.

Family law attorney Karen Rhyne of Michel & Rhyne in Newport Beach and Megan Stirrat, a certified divorce financial analyst for the Laguna Hills Merrill Lynch, plan to speak at "What Women Need to Know in a Down Economy," a free seminar from the Women's Institute for Financial Education.

The seminar is this Saturday at the Newport Beach Merrill Lynch on McArthur Boulevard and will discuss the legal, financial and personal elements of divorce.

"What I see most often is that the man is still managing the long-term investments, and the women is managing the day-to-day finances," Stirrat said. "There seems to be an information gap where the women does not know exactly what assets they own, what institutions hold the money, what type of accounts they have, and what the balances are."

Information presented at the seminar will not only help close that gap, but help women "think about what their new financial picture will look like when the divorce is final," she said.

National studies find that in the year following a divorce a woman's income can decrease up to 27 percent while a man's can increase 10 percent, according to

"There's less money available right now, so it's pretty rare for you to keep your lifestyle after divorce and it's expected today that you have to get a job," Rhyne said. "For some women, that's pretty shocking."

Divorce today is a "level playing field," said Rhyne. Strict enforcement of full disclosure laws can help wives, but they also mean that women no longer automatically get custody of the children or high spousal support.

All the more reason why women need to takes steps to inform themselves, she said.

Besides the educational element of the seminar, there is a physiological aspect as well, she said.

"It's nice for women to know that their not alone in a situation," Rhyne said. "That's as valuable as what I have to say."

If You Go

What: "What Women Need to Know in a Down Economy."

When: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Merrill Lynch at 4695 MacArthur Court, Suite 1500, Newport Beach

Cost: Free

RSVP: call (949) 859-2963

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