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Preparing for the Financial Impact of Divorce

So, you’re getting a divorce. You have a lot to deal with, emotionally and probably legally too.

There will also be significant financial impact. Maybe this divorce was your idea or maybe not. The fact is, living separately costs more than living with your spouse.

  • Housing Costs
    Two homes, with utilities and maintenance, cost more than one, at least if both, or even one person still has the same standard of living
  • Childcare
    If a stay-at-home parent goes back to work, childcare is needed. Arrangements with family that worked before may go by the wayside.
  • Health Care and Benefits
    If your spouse’s employer provided benefits for you, soon after the divorce you are no longer covered. New coverage is an additional expense.
  • Vacations and Leisure
    That vacation house at the beach that you rented on two incomes may be harder to swing on just one. Same with club dues, boats, or even just a tank of gas for a day trip.

Then, there are immediate expenses, like counseling and legal costs, and replacing household items that suddenly are not yours, from televisions to pots and pans.

What can you do about this?

First, consult your attorney. Fair or not, your current situation can impact legal decisions that will affect you for a long time. But you can begin to think about your options. Here are some “what-ifs.”

What if I am the main bread winner and my spouse is not employed or only makes a little?

  • You may be supporting your former spouse for some time. Sometimes, people in your situation become angry and disheartened. What is the point of working only to give much of it away? Keep a cool head. If children are involved, they need your support. If you ever want to regain your former standard of living, then quitting your job in anger is probably not the best strategy. Try and use this time to live simply, reassess your life and consider options. Over time, you may find that your career progresses and what you have to spend to support others is no longer such a significant portion. Or, you may decide to gradually redirect your efforts to a business of your own. In any case, don’t hurt yourself just to spite your ex.

What if I have depended on my spouse to support me financially?

  • You may be scared. How will you feed yourself or your children or pay the bills? For you, I can’t stress enough that you should speak with your attorney before doing anything, since having an income may impact any support award. Of course, if you have the potential to earn more than your spouse could pay you, then that puts a different twist on things. In either situation, think about what you would like to do now and in the long term. What is your experience? Who can help you? Explore your options.

What if my spouse and I were a double income couple earning about the same?

  • Your situation may be easier to deal with than others, but you will still find that your household income is less. As with the situations described above, now is the time to protect your career and professional reputation by not doing anything rash. Think about your long-term plans, how you can cut expenses and how you can increase your income.

Regardless of your situation, there is a solution. As with any life change, your best bet is to confront your fears and make a plan to move ahead.


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