For those not involved, divorce may be seen as an impromptu decision. For couples getting divorced, however, this is not usually the case. A spouse contemplating divorce has likely thought about it for months or even years, as the breakdown of a marriage is a slow but steady process.
Divorce affects every single person in the family, including the primary breadwinner. The primary breadwinner can lose a great deal of their estate, be mandated to pay maintenance to their ex-spouse, and even lose contact with their children after the divorce.
If you are the primary breadwinner in your family and are thinking about divorcing your spouse, take several issues into consideration and plan accordingly before filing for divorce.
1. Gather financial documents.
To get a clearer picture of your financial standing, gather together all your financial documents. You will be required to fully disclose your financial status, which means you will need to provide information on all bank accounts, stocks and bonds, your income, and any real estate you own. Make copies of all relevant documents before you even bring up the subject of divorce with your spouse.
2. Open your own bank account.
If you and your spouse share a joint account, it’s time to open up your own and start depositing your income there—regardless of whether your spouse has a tendency to try to take your money. It’s better to be safe than sorry. On a similar note, start opening credit cards in your own name.
3. Regulate your spouse’s credit card spending.
Do you have a credit card extension for your spouse? While some people recommend cancelling that second credit card to keep your spouse from damaging your credit, doing so may make the divorce proceedings much more hostile. Instead, consider setting a reasonable spending limit on the card instead of canceling it completely. That way, your spouse still has some room to make payments for household expenses and groceries.
4. Prepare financially.
As the primary breadwinner, you will need to make financial preparations for the impending divorce. Apart from having to pay for your lawyer and everything that comes with getting divorced, you will likely also need to keep paying for the mortgage or lease of your marital home. If you opt to leave the marital home, you will need to pay for your new place, as well as the cost of furnishing it.
5. Secure all online accounts.
Depending on how vindictive you think your spouse is going to be, you may want to play it safe and change the passwords of all your online accounts—especially for credit cards and bank accounts. Remember—your spouse already knows your birthdate and mother’s maiden name. He or she might even know your passwords!
6. Revise your legal documents.
Your spouse is likely named as your beneficiary in your will, life insurance policy, and other legal documents. Revise these as soon as you can or risk your spouse receiving everything you have even if you are divorced.
7. Be an involved parent.
Though you are divorcing your spouse, you are certainly not divorcing your children. Your ex-spouse may claim that you are a minimally involved parent, and so be proactive with your children’s daily routines. Help them with their homework, attend school activities, make them dinner, and essentially become as equally involved as your spouse.
A little bit of planning can go a long way in terms of saving you thousands of dollars, safeguarding your relationship with your children, and making this transition out of your marriage more bearable.