Getting a divorce can be scary for anyone, but for a stay-at-home mom who relies financially on her spouse, it’s even scarier. Knowledge is the antidote to fear and knowing which steps you should take as a stay-at-home mom going through a divorce can make the process a lot less frightening. Consider taking these 7 helpful steps to calm the fears of stay-at-home moms facing divorce and secure your post-divorce future.
1. Organize your financial documents.
If you are not the one who normally pays the bills or files taxes in the household, you may not even know where any of this information is. You’ll need to fill out a Financial Affidavit during the divorce, so gaining access to documents like bank statements, previous tax returns, and the household bills prior to filing is one of the most important steps you can take towards making this process easier.
2. Secure money to pay for legal fees.
While the lesser-earning spouse can request for the higher-earning spouse to pay their legal fees, it’s not always a guarantee. It’s a good idea to secure the funds to pay for your legal fees prior to filing, by either gaining access to the joint bank account, applying for a zero or low-interest rate credit card, or setting up a payment plan with your legal team. If your ex is ordered to pay any of your legal fees in the divorce Settlement, you can use that towards paying off the credit card or payment plan or even put it in savings.
3. Plan out your new household budget.
While most divorce settlements are made on the basis of continuing the standard of living for both parties during the marriage, that can be difficult to do going from one household to two. Once you determine how much child support and spousal maintenance you’ll be receiving (if any), sit down and make a budget that includes all of your household expenses. Even minor things like gas and prescription co-pays should be included because those expenses can really add up when you’re on a limited budget. Seek the advice of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) if you aren’t sure how to prepare a budget. Apps and websites like Mint and PocketGuard are also excellent resources.
4. Know your limits.
Once you have your budget prepared, stick to it. This may be a challenge at first, especially if you are used to living a lavish lifestyle pre-divorce, but sticking to your budget will help you avoid having creditors breathing down your neck. Also, don’t be afraid to downsize. If you really want to keep the marital home but know it doesn’t fit within your budget, take this opportunity to move on to something new. A fresh start is often a great way to move forward in your healing process, and not having to stress about a big mortgage payment won’t hurt either!
5. Stay on top of your credit.
This ties into budgeting and knowing your limits. A good credit score will help you secure things like a new home or a new car on your own. Without your ex’s finances, it may be difficult for you to achieve these things without a good credit score until you start earning more income. Many credit card companies provide a free credit score rating with your monthly statement. You can also look up your credit score on a number of reputable websites, but consult with your financial advisor first to see if these “soft hits” will negatively impact your score.
6. Get ready to work.
Unless you are receiving a large amount of money from child support and maintenance, it’s going to be difficult for you to financially support your household without a job. Even a part-time job can be beneficial for divorced mothers. Consider working from home as a customer service representative or writer. There are also plenty of jobs that work around school schedules if your children are school-aged. Lunch monitors, teacher’s aides, retail and restaurant establishments, and doctor’s offices are just a few of the opportunities out there. The transition from being a stay-at-home married mom to a divorced working mom is not an easy one at first. Although, making your own money can be a really rewarding experience.
7. Surround yourself with the right support system.
The right support system is crucial to your post-divorce financial success. A competent team during your divorce, including attorneys, mediators, divorce coaches, and CDFA’s, can make your post-divorce life a lot easier on you. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to interview several possibilities before you settle on the right fit for your team. In the long run, you’ll be happy you invested the time and effort into this process.
While stay-at-home moms have different challenges they face during a divorce, they aren’t insurmountable with the right support system and knowledge. Remember to take things one step at a time and know that you can overcome these challenges and thrive.