Do you want to be free of your spouse’s financial burden? Whether you are planning on getting back together or are preparing for a divorce, creating a financial separation from your ex-married life can be stressful.
Children, the Homefront, mutual debts, lawyers’ fees, and creating a new budget are all part of financial management in marriage. As with any separation, the more civil you and your spouse can be, the smoother your dividing of assets will go.
There is no easy way to separate from your spouse, but there is a way to make the process much more manageable. Don’t put you or your spouse into debt over your separation. Here are six ideas to keep in mind when splitting finances during separation.
1. Get It in Writing
You may have trusted your partner in your married life, but financial management in marriage and during separation are two horses of a different color. If you want to ensure that you can become financially independent from your spouse, you must:
- Create a new budget
- Make a fair division of accrued items, such as furniture, appliances, and electronics
- Close your shared accounts as soon as possible
- File for legal separation
- Divide your assets
- Get everything in writing
Many couples may choose to try and discuss any subjects of alimony, childcare, and selling off shared assets without a lawyer. Remember that any debt your spouse incurs post-separation will have an effect on your credit report.
The civil method will only work when cooler heads prevail.
2. Living in the Family Home
Until you are legally separated, it is important to establish a new budget. You may come to a civil agreement with your ex on who should pay what after your separation.
All property acquired during your marriage is usually considered marital property by law. This means that you are both responsible for paying for your home, even if you are separated.
Perhaps you will decide that the partner who remains in the marital home should be responsible for paying the monthly bills, or the spouse who keeps the car should take care of the car payments and insurance.
3. Selling the Marital Home
When a couple separates, it is common for one or both of partners to want one person to remain in the family home for the benefit of the children. Believing that this will give their children more stability, couples may take on more debt than they can handle on a single income.
If you cannot come to terms on sharing the financial responsibility for the mortgage, taxes, and other bills, it may be in your best interest to sell the home and split the profits.
Understand that keeping the marital home after separation may not be possible.
4. Handle Credit Card Debts
So long as you are married, all financial institutions will regard your debts as “shared.” This makes it important to civilly discuss splitting finances in marriage separation. You must decide how much of your debts are joint and which are individually incurred.
For example, a mortgage would be a shared debt that you would both pay into, but student loans and personal credit card debt may be taken on individually. Splitting finances would be wise, and consolidate your credit cards so that you can close any shared accounts as quickly as possible.
5. Get a Lawyer to Draw Up an Agreement
During your married life you made decisions together, so you may desire to make your financial management in marriage separation as civil as possible. Not wanting to involve lawyers is an admirable goal, but it is not always the wisest one.
For example, in the event that one spouse becomes disgruntled by the separation and begins to overspend on any finances that are still in a shared account or stops paying the mortgage or monthly bills, your financial institution will look to you to cover the payments.
So long as you are still legally married, this unfortunate debt incurred by your ex will fall to you. It may be wise in this case to bring a lawyer into the mix to create clear, legal lines of financial responsibility for you and your ex.
6. Your Children
Splitting finances during a separation gets more complicated when there are children involved. Things will go a lot more smoothly if you and your partner can come to a civil agreement about sharing custody of the children and both providing financially for them. Loving parents will calmly discuss the roles and responsibilities of each spouse regarding the children post-separation. Always consider the best interest of your children first.
The cost of daily living should be taken into account when you are deciding on a budget for the children. Rent, groceries, clothing, school supplies, and field-trip outings should all be financial aspects that both parents are responsible for.
Do your children have health concerns that require consistent health care? Outside of creating a healthcare budget in case of childcare emergencies, you should also contact your health insurance provider and discuss your separation and the effect it will have on your child’s plan. If neither parent can afford health care, there may be some benefits offered by the government for “single-parent” households.
Do they have extracurricular activities that require checks or consistent finances? Perhaps they are in an expensive private school, take lessons of some sort, or maybe you and your spouse agreed to help finance their continued education. These are all things to keep in mind when deciding on a shared budget for your children.
When you are separating from your married life, it can be difficult to decide on a new post-marriage budget. After all, financial management in marriage is difficult on a good day. Throw divorce or separation into the mix and you’ll be in for a head-spinning conversation. Strive to focus on the essentials: your house, your debts, your children, and getting independent and you’ll be off to a good start.
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.