One of the most stressful parts of a divorce is figuring out the bills and banking. Emotions run high and all of your energy is devoted to surviving the process. You and your family’s future could very much depend on the outcome of the next few months. This is why it’s so important to think ahead. Mentally prepare for any instability that this separation may bring to your finances.
Your main objective should be to stay level-headed and calm. Make sure that nobody does anything without thinking it through– and most importantly– avoid debt.
Settling your bills is an immediate concern through your separation. If possible, keep everything as is. If you know the bills are being paid and you are not going into debt, then agree with your spouse to leave it alone.
Try to keep the banking arrangements the same as well. Changing this immediately after separation can be problematic and won’t ease tensions. Altering bank arrangements without agreement is usually seen as an aggressive move – and can often result in expensive lawyers brought in.
If the relationship is no longer cordial, you need be extra careful of your next actions. If one of you has moved out and there are more expenses to be paid, the situation becomes more delicate. Do as much as you can by agreement, so that neither of you feels threatened and try to keep things as stable as possible.
If you’re like most families, money is tight after divorce. You may have even been budgeting before separating– and now you may have to budget for two households instead of one. Both partners will need to be very careful with expenditures. It is important to discuss this, and to agree (if possible) on anything that is unusual. For example, please don’t move into a fancy apartment after separating. This could take a heavy toll on your finances as well as further dampening the relationship.
If you think that your partner is going to run up a debt on a credit card, then you may have to take urgent steps with your bank or credit card company. Try to agree on everything first. If there is an argument about debt, then lawyers are likely to be involved– which is not where you want to start this process.
Related: Debt: You Need To Take Back Control.
In conclusion, stay calm and don’t make hasty decisions. Go over your finances and bills to see that your expenditures are stable. Leave everything in place for the time being, even your bank account if possible. (Avoid having to bring in lawyers!) If new expenses arise, work together to come to an agreement. Be very careful and aware of credit card purchases. Think through your finances for the coming year and adjust your wallet accordingly.
Remember, many people have gone through the exact same experience. Keep your head up and keep moving forward.
If you need help with organizing your financial documents, you can get a copy of our FREE Divorce Financial Documents Checklist.