Divorce can be a long, complicated process. One in which you want to be fully prepared for before you file for a divorce, or make the decision to divorce. In a previous article I touched on the emotional and financial realities of divorce for women.
We know that women fair better than men emotionally but men trump women when it comes to recovering from divorce financially. With that knowledge it only makes sense that a woman do all she can BEFORE divorce to insure that she is as financially stable AFTER divorce as possible.
The following questions are important to consider when you are considering divorce. Try your best to answer honestly questions that are applicable to your situation.
1. Do you have adequate money saved that would support yourself and/or your children after the divorce, especially in the first few years when money can be extra tight?
2. Do you have home furnishings, a car, and other possessions you will need after the divorce, or will you need to purchase them?
3. Have you paid off your debt as much as possible? How much debt will be assigned to you after the divorce?
4. Who will count the children as withholding exemptions for income tax purposes? Often, the exemption is alternated yearly between mother and father.
5. Do you have adequate education or training necessary to provide for your children and yourself after the divorce? If not, how will you get that education or training?
6. Will you need and can you afford childcare if you have to go to work full time after the divorce?
7. Will your work provide healthcare benefits for yourself and your children? Will your spouse’s work cover health benefits for your children if they don’t live with him/her?
8. Does your work provide pension/retirement plans or can you invest for retirement as an individual?
9. If you don’t have all the things you will need to provide for yourself and your children after the divorce, how long will it take you to get them, and how will you get them?
10. Is it possible that you and your ex-spouse could set up college savings funds for your children, so they will not be disadvantaged by the divorce, but still receive help with college?
11. It is difficult to maintain your financial lifestyle after divorce. What are some things that you could give up to save money?
12. There are many other smaller family expenses that we sometimes forget about, such as lessons for piano, ballet, karate, etc., extra-curricular school activity fees (e.g., sports, choir, etc.), summer camp, scouting, and many more. How would you cover these kinds of more minor expenses (but important expenses for your children)?
Now that you’ve taken a close look at your finances, what do you think the possible financial implications of divorce will be for you? Are you concerned, are you optimistic? I suggest you take time and write down what steps you need to take that will lessen the financial burden before taking any steps toward divorce.
A few suggests you may find helpful:
- Close any joint banking accounts.
- Open accounts in your name alone and start having any income deposited there.
- Close all joint credit card accounts by paying the balance down.
- Refinance any property that is held jointly into the name of the spouse who will take possession of the property post-divorce.
- If you have no income, re-enter the work-force and start rebuilding a career.
The negative emotional aspects of divorce are easier to navigate if there are no financial hardships to deal with. I do realize that there are situations where financial control is taken out of your hands and that the legal system does not always work in the favor of everyone who enters into the Family Court System. The more prepared you are, the less likely this will happen to you.