The price of separation can be one of the largest hurdles couples face during a divorce. Figuring out how to afford the operation costs of two different households is no easy task. Once the “marital residence” becomes a misnomer, husbands and wives are staring at the same income levels, but twice the bills. Two electric bills, two mortgages or rents, two homes to furnish, clean and repair, and sometimes, two daycare providers.
This is particularly difficult in a lot of situations because the spouses did not consider the cost of running two households. Given that most are overcome with emotion and anxiety during separation, it comes as no surprise that they haven’t first poured over their bank accounts to create a feasible budget for their “new” life. This financial neglect is common even in cases where the almighty dollar was in fact the root cause of marital discord.
So, in case you happen to be reading this and you are thinking about separation (i.e. leaving the marital residence), and your departure is not emergent (i.e. you are not subject to imminent harm), here are a few tips to consider before you decide to go:
- Have a plan. Figure out where you are going. Perhaps the plan is renting an apartment in Richmond or Henrico. Fine. Or even retreating to your parents’ place, or a friend’s house in Chesterfield. Fine. Just have a plan. (Note: it would be advisable to ensure that your plan is not “temporary”, try not to find yourself in a position where you are saying something like this: “I’m going to Nancy’s and I’ll figure it out from there”).
- Review your assets. Look primarily at “cash-on-hand” (how much money you have immediate access to) and your net monthly income.
- Tally your expenses. What new expenses will you have (furniture, rent/mortgage, utilities)? What current expenses will you continue to incur (phone, insurance, car payment, mortgage)?
- Compare your cash and net income to your expenses. How long will your finances last? If the numbers aren’t comforting, consider modifying your plan.
- Talk to a family law attorney about your rights incident to separation. You may be entitled to request support from your spouse, among other things. They will also be able to advise you regarding the manner/method of your separation to help you protect your rights. Because separation is often hardest on children, discussing the situation with a family law attorney is particularly important if you have kids.