Researchers estimate that up to 50% of first marriages in the United States will end in divorce. For second and subsequent marriages, the divorce rate only increases. Why so many divorces in the 21st century?
Experts agree that the spike in divorce has much to do with women being more economically independent than in previous generations, and of course the fact that divorce is socially acceptable and not stigmatized like it used to be. Despite the fact that divorce is "normal" these days, still millions of unhappy spouses put divorce off because of financial reasons.
Breadwinners are often afraid of having to pay spousal and/or child support and giving up half of their retirement savings, while homemakers are afraid that after a long hiatus from work, they'll have difficulty finding a good job. All too often, spouses remain in an unsatisfying marriage for years because they're afraid of how a divorce would affect them financially.
Contemplating divorce? Follow this advice.
If you are very unhappy in your marriage, you should not let money get in the way of happiness. While you will have to reorganize your life and either go back to work or find ways to increase your income, it'll be worth it in the short and long-term.
If you want to file for divorce, follow these tips:
- If you're not working, don't rely on spousal support because it's not guaranteed. Instead, start thinking about how you're going to become financially independent.
- If you're probably going to be ordered to pay child and/or spousal support, it's time to start thinking of how you can cut back on expenses while increasing your income.
- Whatever your situation, you want to think about your post-divorce budget. Do you need to buy a less-expensive car? Do you need to downsize into a smaller home? Should you seek a promotion now, or get a higher-paying job?
- If your job skills are out-of-date because you've been raising children, think of what you need to do to get them current. Should you go back to school or get a college degree online so you can increase your job prospects?
- Start finding ways now to cut back on your expenses and live within your means.
- If you're not already, start saving 10% of your income. Make it a habit.
- Focus on paying off debt – make that one of your biggest goals.
- Close all joint credit cards with your spouse or put them in one spouse's name alone. If you don't, you can be "on the hook" for your spouse's debt.
- Consider what to do with the house. Usually, it makes the most sense to sell it and split the proceeds with your spouse. This way, you make a clean break.
- Be mindful of your credit throughout your divorce. If you don't know how certain decisions will impact your credit, ask your divorce attorney about it.
If you are considering divorce, the best thing you can do is speak with a seasoned family law attorney who will answer your questions and give you the expert guidance you need.