The early months of separation can be financially challenging for just about any family. Even if you and your ex have good incomes, living separately can be significantly more costly than living together.
As you’re working out your division of assets and support agreements, you may find yourself strapped financially for the first time in years. If your spouse was the one who handled the family finances, doing it on your own can create an added level of stress.
Be aware of your children’s stress around money
If you have children, it’s important to minimize the amount of stress they feel about the family finances. Even if they’re too young to understand what you’re worried about, your kids know how to read you and can sense that something is wrong.
How much you tell them will depend on their age and level of understanding. If you don’t say anything, they may assume the worst – like they might end up homeless or be sent to an orphanage.
It’s important to provide reassurance that while you need to be on a stricter budget for a while, you can make it work. You can tell them how to do their part by making do with fewer gifts this holiday season, keeping the same sneakers for a bit longer and helping you fix meals at home instead of getting takeout so much.
Don’t put the blame on your co-parent (“Your dad would rather spend money on his new car than on child support” or “Your mom insists on keeping the house, so I’m stuck in this tiny apartment”), no matter how much you feel they’re responsible for your money problems.
Take steps to minimize your own financial stress
An important way to minimize stress for your children around money is to take steps to minimize it for yourself. Work out a budget based on your current income and expenses. This will likely change when the divorce becomes final, if you sell your home or as other things change as you settle into your new life.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends or maybe a therapist to help you get through this time. You may find it worthwhile to consult with a financial advisor.
Finally, your family law attorney can help you work to seek a settlement that will help you and your children move on comfortably.