Research indicates that it takes 30% more income to maintain two households. That places many divorcing families in an economic bind. If one spouse has been an unemployed stay-at-home child caretaker, that spouse will have to seek gainful employment. Even with child support and some spousal support, the lifestyle will be reduced. There are many practical problems that will immediately surface and should be addressed and resolved by both parents working together. Depending on the ages of the children, there will be child care costs if they are under the age of 13. If you have older children, there will be costs for extra-curricular activities, increased automobile insurance for teen drivers, college costs and when they get married, wedding costs. Children tend to cost more the older they get.
Because you will have to have separate policies, other expenses that increase will be medical insurance and automobile insurance. If you each own a home, homeowners insurance, taxes and home upkeep will now be “times two.” Often, couples with whom we mediate, discover that there is not enough to go around. The parent who has primary custody will have the lion’s share of the expenses. A single parent with two teenage boys will find the grocery bill skyrocketing. Teenage boys eat non-stop and as much as a grown man. Trust us, we have been there.
We can’t help you invent more money, but we can help you shake the money tree before and while you are divorcing. Here are our best suggestions.
- Slowly get rid of all credit card debt before you file for divorce
- Double down on house payments so there will be more equity rather than less
- Begin to build a “rainy day fund” to be touched only in times of extreme emergency
- Begin to build a slush fund to handle unexpected expenses such as new tires, a valve job or a senior trip for your child
- If you are not working, get a job. You will have to anyway. If you want to further your education, explore online courses that will allow you to take one course at a time at night. A job, school and kids. Sounds like too much, but thousands have done it
- Begin to plan for a career. Not a job, a career that will support you comfortably. Get education, training, whatever you need
- Consider how you will finalize the divorce. We think mediation is most cost effective, will help you preserve the family and with the brief consultation of attorneys, will both protect you and save you money
- Through all this, keep an attitude of caring about and protecting both of you while you both think about protecting the children