If your relationship is beyond the point of repair and you are trying to decide whether or not a divorce is an option please consider the following before you file for divorce.
It will help you understand more clearly what you are facing financially once there is a divorce and whether you are financially ready to go down that road. This isn’t to convince you to stay in a bad marriage, just to think clearly before jumping into divorce which can be a financial cesspool.
Financial things to Consider before filing for divorce:
1. Will You Be Able to Count on Your Ex?
This is an important question to ask if you have children. Unless you are independently wealthy your finances will fluctuate between doing great to barely getting by once you are divorced and on your own. If you will be the custodial parent those “barely getting by” times can be hard to navigate if you don’t have an ex who is willing to help with the expense of raising your children.
He/she will pay child support but, there will be times when child support doesn’t cover all the expenses. Do your children have a mother/father who will step up to the plate and contribute when you are unable to make ends meet? If not, don’t file for a divorce until you know, without a doubt that divorce does not mean financial hardship for you and your children.
2. Can You Get Credit?
If you’ve been a stay at home mother for years you may find you have trouble getting a line of credit in your name alone once you divorce. The ability to get a credit card or bank loan is one way to get through those “barely getting by” times in life. Before filing for divorce apply for a credit card in your name alone and build a good credit standing. You will be glad you covered that base when financial hardship occurs post-divorce.
3. Financially Speaking, Is This The Right Time to Divorce?
If you’ve been a stay-at-home mother or homemaker on a long-term basis timing is important when thinking about filing for divorce. Most states will consider spousal support if the marriage has been a long-term marriage, some won’t. This is usually ten or more years. If you’ve been married for eight and one-half years you will want to consider not filing until after you hit that ten-year mark.
If you’ve not worked for years the Social Security Administration has rules that allow ex-spouses of long-term marriages to draw from their spouse’s social security upon retirement. Unless you are in an abusive relationship, your best bet is to cool your heels and hang in there until you reach the ten-year milestone that will afford you the possibility of rehabilitative alimony and social security benefits.
4. When You Can’t Stay Any Longer:
If you are living in an abusive marriage or the conflict is too high to consider staying a moment longer, a legal separation can protect you while not bringing a legal end to the marriage. You can live separately and protect your financial interests by drawing up a legal separation agreement that suspends the marriage while you take time to prepare for the inevitable.
If you decide to separate instead of divorce I encourage you to take steps that will protect you once you are divorced. You should close all joint credit accounts while separated. You should also consider having both spouses’ name on any joint asset accounts so that both spouses have to sign before assets are used during the period of separation.