Getting a divorce is an enormous upheaval in anyone’s life and with enormous upheavals usually come big bills. Try to keep in mind the following Do’s and Don’ts even if you really can’t think at all during this tumultuous time.
DO: make a list of all expenses on a monthly and yearly basis for you and for you children to make sure you can live comfortably after the divorce
DO: Try to think about future expenses for the children like college visits, braces or activities because it will be hard to renegotiate your decree later.
DO: Make sure ALL children’s expenses are considered no matter whose house the child is in. “Isn’t it funny, Junior always needs new shoes when he arrives at my house?” Don’t get sucked into doing all the buying.
DO: consider retirement and how this changes how you are saving for retirement.
DO: have a financial professional help you with your new life financial plan to make sure you can live on the financial proceeds outlined in the decree.
DO: make sure you have the support you need. If you need therapy or even more babysitting time, set aside funds each month to do it. There will be other expenses that can be cut.
DO: get a separate credit card in just your name and stop charging any joint cards to make sure you separate your expenses and are not on the hook for any of your former spouse’s expenses.
DO: get a separate checking account and have your paycheck deposited in it as long as you are in compliance with any agreements you’ve already made.
DON’T: just take whatever deal is offered. Make sure you think ahead about what financial resources you might need and negotiate for them now before you sign the decree.
DON’T: – this can be difficult – purposefully try to spend your former spouse into bankruptcy. It’s rarely one-sided. It will usually ruin you, too.
DON’T: buy a home right away if you move to a new area. Live there for a year at least and get to know the area. Many people buy too soon and then have to sell.
DON’T: rely on taking your ex-spouse to court for a lot of things if possible. It’s unbelievably expensive, try to solve the issue in your initial decree.
DON’T: forget you need to update your will. Think about whether the child’s other parent is the right guardian.
DON’T: forget your spouse might need life insurance with you as the beneficiary if he/she is paying you alimony and/or child support.
DON’T: give up your rights to spousal retirement or other assets until you’ve seen a financial planner and know that you are doing the right thing for your future.
DON’T worry. You will get back on your feet financially even if life does not look the same. Get help figuring out what you need and what your new life will look like BEFORE THE DECREE IS SIGNED to make sure you get everything you need, if possible. Attorneys are usually not experts on finance. Get a financial planner professional to help.
Even though this time is full of turmoil and changes, you will get through this period and find your new normal.