Perhaps you and your spouse had a discussion when you started your family about who would stay home and raise the kids. Maybe you have elderly parents or grandparents that require regular care throughout the day. Or it’s possible that one of you simply makes enough money that the other doesn’t need to work. Regardless of how you ended up a stay-at-home spouse, it can be a real challenge to be the financially dependent one when it comes to a divorce.
That’s why today we’re going to take a look at some of the critical steps you need to start taking – and soon – if you’re a stay-at-home spouse with an impending divorce on the horizon.
1. Documents, Documents, Documents
Being able to secure any and all relevant documentation is a huge step toward protecting your rights when it comes to divorce. Any paperwork, records, and legal agreements – particularly those relating to your joint and/or separate finances – are likely to play a big role in the settlement process. Documentation you’ll want to gather up will definitely include:
- Tax returns from previous years (and W-2s or 1099s if applicable)
- Income statements from any monies earned
- Bank and credit card statements
- Insurance policies
- Loan and mortgage details
- Investment accounts
Once you start assembling these documents, make sure you have a safe place to store them. A trusted friend or family member, or a safe deposit box at the bank (that only you have access to) are great options.
2. Create a New Budget
Let’s face it – even when we’re happily married and secure financially, we have a tendency to spend above and beyond our means. Credit cards, personal loans, home equity lines of credit… we borrow against ourselves to purchase things we couldn’t normally afford.
When divorce is on the table, overspending should come to a screeching halt. It’s critical that you sit down and come up with a new budget that tackles the necessities first – and then stashes away as much extra as possible so that you’re on solid footing if something doesn’t go as planned. Cutting frivolous spending and boosting your savings will go a long way toward making sure you end up safe and secure in the future.
3. Plan to Return to Work
It may not be easy to make plans if you end up getting blindsided with a separation/divorce – but as soon as you know there’s trouble in paradise, it’s important that you start making plans to take care of yourself. Updating your resume and asking around with friends and family can be a great opportunity to dust the cobwebs off your business attire, and can help set you up for success in the long run.
4. Get Yourself Organized
It’s all too common to find yourself swept up in the emotional trauma of a failed relationship, but when push comes to shove, the only way to move forward is to look ahead. Putting together a plan of what your life is going to look like post-divorce can be a big help when it comes to securing your own future – and can definitely aid in coping with the idea that you’re starting out on your own again.