You’re in limbo.
If you and your husband or wife are separated, you may feel like you’re divorced, but you are actually very married. This means that you may be emotionally split from your spouse, and perhaps living in two separate locations, but your money is still likely very much intertwined.
And while managing your money may not be difficult if you and your soon-to-be ex each have your own careers and income and your finances were always kind of separate, it can be another story if you’ve been dependent on the other financially.
If you’re on the brink of separation, keep the following in mind.
Your money situation is about to change. You know your life is changing, but you may be tempted to keep as much of it as unchanged as possible, especially if you have children. But the sad fact is, you’re going to have to make financial sacrifices somewhere, says Aviva Pinto, a certified divorce financial analyst and a director at Bronfman Rothschild, a wealth management firm in New York City.
The biggest challenge she faces with her clients is “getting them to realize one divided by two doesn’t equal two. They all assume their lifestyle will remain unchanged even though they now have two households that need to be supported with the same pot of money.”
So if you can get into that mindset right away, that you and your soon-to-be ex will both be living on less, it may help you avoid having your spirit completely crushed later.
Preparing a budget now would be wise. And preferably do it together, especially if you’re currently living apart.
“Based on the new living arrangements, you both will need to decide who is paying for what and exactly how much you individually can afford monthly,” says Russell Luna, a certified divorce financial analyst and owner of Luna Financial Advisors in Denver, Colorado.
He also recommends you start making a budget for your life post-divorce. Because as you hash everything out with your spouse and the attorneys, you’ll need to know those little details.
Remember the golden rule. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then there’s the old joke, often attributed to the comic strip, “The Wizard of Id” – he who has the gold makes the rules.
Too often that can happen in a separation; the person who makes the most money figures that they’re entitled to call the shots. Especially if you aren’t too fond of your partner right now, you may want him or her to suffer financially. But remember karma: being mean is just as likely to come back and hurt you (not to mention any children in the equation).
Your job during a separation is “not just to divide. It’s to preserve responsibility. Your emotions can inform or derail that goal,” says Pamela McGinnis, a divorce consultant with the Glass Jacobson Financial Group in Owings Mills, Maryland.
She adds: “Wasting or hiding marital assets hurts your family and will likely cause for longer negotiations, court battles, higher legal fees, legal implications, higher debt or emotional baggage that will just weigh you down and stall your ability to move your life forward.”
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