Divorce can be emotionally freeing for women, but it can also be financially devastating. Women, far more than men, face a stark plummet in their standard of living after divorce. That is why, if you are considering divorce, you must start planning right now for your post-divorce life. One of the most important questions you’ll need to answer is how much money will you need to survive and thrive.
Get Ready for the Transition
Not all women face a lower of standard of living as a result of divorce. However, in her book, The Divorce Revolution, author Lenore Weitzman found that an average woman faces a 73% loss in her standard of living after divorce, while the average ex-husband is likely to enjoy a 42% boost in his standard of living! This significant disparity can be explained by the fact that many men are still the breadwinners in their households and that women still overwhelmingly receive primary custody of children.
If these numbers make you nervous, that’s a good thing. We don’t mean to scare you away from divorce, but we do want you to be fully prepared for what comes next.
How Much Will You Need After Divorce?
You do not have to face a 73% loss in your standard of living, especially if you come into your divorce knowing how much you need to maintain your current standard of living. If you have time to plan for your divorce, start adding up all of your living costs. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Should I keep the house or should I move into a cheaper home or consider renting?
- How much will I likely spend on groceries after my divorce?
- How much will I spend on utilities?
- How much are my current payments for things such as my car loan, car insurance, health insurance, retirement savings, etc?
- How much do I need to have saved for unexpected expenses?
- Do I plan on asking for shared or full custody of the children? How much will it cost to care for them?
Try to be as realistic as possible when recording your expenses. While certain bills, such as your grocery costs, may be a little lower without your husband in the picture, you may be surprised at how expensive your life will be even without him. This is especially true if you were relying on him for health insurance and retirement savings. These may be new costs that you have to add to your budget.
Use Your Budget as a Negotiating Stepping Stone
Use your research to create a realistic budget of the expenses you’ll face once you are on your own. Consider adding 10% on top as a cushion for little unknown expenses that always pop up. This is the amount you’ll have to earn after divorce on your own to support yourself. If your current income does not cover the amount, you’ll either have to find ways to lower your costs (perhaps by moving to a less expensive home), or you’ll have to try to negotiate a divorce settlement with your husband that can make up the difference.
If you aren’t sure how you will afford your post-divorce life, now is the time to speak with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. A CDFA can help you determine a more reasonable budget or help you figure out what to negotiate for in the divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can also be a big help!
Not sure where to start with your divorce planning? That’s what the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop is for. We bring together divorce experts, including divorce attorneys and financial consultants, to help you prepare for your divorce.