These days, nearly half of all marriages will end in divorce.
Over the last century, the marriage rate has declined, which accounts for the fall in divorce rates you can see in the chart below.
However, the proportion of marriages ending in divorce is on the rise.
When planning your finances before, during, or directly after a divorce, it is essential to keep a cool head and stay rational when planning for the future.
The following tips will help you stay on your feet and financially secure following a divorce.
1. Don’t try to get everything
It is not uncommon for divorce to be a very emotionally fraught process.
However, it is essential to step back and try to look at the situation rationally.
Instead of being vengeful or spiteful and trying to take all you can from your former partner, don’t try to “get everything”.
The cost of trying to take everything will likely be more than it’s worth.
The key to divorce is negotiation, not spite.
You must accept from the beginning that you will most likely not get everything you want, everything you deserve, or even what is fair.
It comes out to chance sometimes when negotiating a divorce, but staying calm will help you be a better negotiator.
2. Treat yo’self
To a good lawyer, that is.
Finding a good divorce lawyer is essential.
Now is not the time to skimp on a cheap lawyer since you will lose out far more in the settlement than you saved on the lawyer.
Some lawyers are simply better than others, and usually, they know it- hence why they charge steeper rates.
Now, more than ever, it’s essential to find a good one you can trust and bite the bullet when it comes to financing it.
3. Potential alternatives to litigation
Especially if you feel you cannot afford a divorce lawyer, consider some potential alternatives to litigation whenever possible.
Try to keep your divorce amicable enough to stay connected to your ex-partner as friends.
If you can work through the divorce without negotiating through a lawyer, it will be much cheaper, less stressful, and less emotionally taxing.
If needed, look into a mediated divorce.
This means hiring a third party, not a lawyer, to help talk through the issues in your divorce without resorting to lawsuits.
You may not “win” as much as you would with a lawyer, but since it is not as much of a commitment, you will be less likely to walk away feeling screwed.
Mediated divorces are much more likely than litigated divorces to feel fair when they are settled.
4. Organize documents
Get all your financial documents together before you even consider budgeting for your divorce.
Make sure you have dependable accounts set up in your own name.
Make copies of all important financial documents before you file for divorce, so that they can not be unfairly withheld or hidden from you.
Forbes has a good Financial Preparation Checklist for future divorcees.
Keep extra copies in a safe deposit box or with a trusted relative.
This avoids the lengthy and expensive process of getting extra copies later.
5. Organize your budget
Now is the time to totally rework your budget for post-divorce life.
You will need to factor in new utilities and rent costs, groceries, as well as any new bills, like an independent phone or car payment.
Don’t forget to include changed childcare, debt repayment, or other costs.
Also make sure to include any costs you will incur during the divorce, such as for lawyers, temporary housing, or other costs.
Many people often forget to incorporate refinancing costs for current debt, record deed fees, hourly legal costs, and the costs of eating out and rent depending on if they are moving to a new part of town.
6. Organize everything you possibly can!
Make sure you have a place to stay after divorce and will not be put in the awkward position of having to continue living with your ex-partner.
Make sure you will have access to a car, a phone, and other necessary things for daily life.
Start new accounts at banks neither you nor your spouse have been with before to avoid the risk of accidentally setting up a joint bank account.
It is worthwhile to consider the time of the year you get divorced- waiting until after you file your taxes can spare you some awkward conversation.
Likewise, you may want to wait until you or your spouse gets your year-end bonuses in order to count that as marital property during settlement.
7. Get your independent credit score up
Request an independent (not joint!) credit check.
If you have low credit score, take some steps to get yourself in better financial health, including starting a credit card in your own name, using it and paying it off each month for a few months.
Just because you and your spouse have great credit together, individually your credit may not be so strong.
This is essential, especially when trying to rent from a new landlord or purchasing your own independent car.
Some employers also look at individual credit scores, so this could impact a potential new job score.
Your credit report is essential for managing household finances or getting a new loan.
8. Put off major financial decisions until after your divorce
When getting a divorce, it is important not to make other big financial decisions at the same time: the divorce itself is a major financial decision, like it or not.
That is, unfortunately, the way our country works: the spousal pair is also a financial unit in today’s economy.
It is easy to want to sell your house and move across the country.
However, the best course of action is to take a few months on your own to figure out who you are and what you truly want to do on your own.
Making big financial decisions while in an emotional mindset can lead to making irreversible, poor decisions.Click to tweet
Your heart can always rebind, but if you throw away all your money on a new sports car to reaffirm your confidence, your bank account might never bounce back.
9. Potentially seek out counseling
It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on therapy during an already costly divorce.
However, even though your financial health can impact a lot of different areas of your life, your mental and emotional health is more important than anything.
Going to a few therapy sessions over the course of your divorce can be extremely helpful emotionally: Sometimes, friends or family can be overly critical and give too much advice, even though their hearts are in the right places.
Therapists are paid to be helpful in an uncritical way.
You will leave your therapy session in a more positive, relaxed mindset.
This will enable you to make the best decisions possible, and end up saving you financial stress in the long run because you will be prevented from making rash economic decisions.
Other self-care strategies such as meditation, yoga, and exercise, as well as good nutrition, can help you keep your mind and body feeling helpful in times of stress.
Regardless of how your divorce is turning out financially, your own mental health is something you have the power to keep positive and healthy.
In times of turmoil, make sure your mind and body are resilient, and everything else will fall into place afterwards.