Almost half of all divorcing women in Ohio and across the U.S. encounter unpleasant financial surprises during divorce proceedings, according to a new study. Divorce experts back up the study’s findings, saying they frequently work with women who are caught off guard by financial issues when negotiating their divorce settlements.

For the study, which was conducted by Worthy, 1,785 women going through different stages of divorce were polled about financial issues. The women were either in the beginning stages of divorce, in the middle of a divorce or already divorced. Around 22 percent of the study participants were age 55 or older. Of that group, most had already completed the divorce process. The study found that 46 percent of the participants encountered nasty financial surprises during the divorce.

According to experts, examples of divorce financial surprises include being unaware of marital debt and unexpectedly having to return to the workforce. Other common surprises include thinking child support and/or spousal support payments would be larger than they were, wrongfully assuming rights to the marital home and being shocked by the cost of health care insurance. To avoid such surprises, experts advise women to familiarize themselves with the family finances before beginning divorce settlement negotiations.

A wife contemplating divorce could help her situation by contacting a family law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney could carefully review the details of the case and provide essential guidance before, during and after the divorce. Legal counsel could also work to negotiate favorable agreements on asset division, spousal support, child support, child custody and other important divorce legal agreements. If any agreements need to be modified at a later date, the lawyer could file the necessary documents with the family court.