Can You Afford to Get a Divorce?

The decision that a marriage isn't working and that it's time to part ways is only one thing you need to consider when contemplating this major life change. While you may no longer want to be Mr. and Mrs., you may find that separating is not all that easy once you do the math.

Economic strain is one of the leading causes of stress in a marriage, but separating can lead to even more financial pressure. It is more expensive to run two households instead of one, and dropping property values in many parts of the country mean that a separating couple may owe more on their home than what it's worth.

Take a Good Look at Your Financial Situation Before Divorce

If you are contemplating divorce, you need to be prepared for a dramatic change in your lifestyle. Now is not the time to take on more financial responsibilities or to incur more debt. Instead, look for ways to live more simply since money is going to be tight.

During the time when the marital relationship is winding down, you will want to shut down or limit access to joint accounts. You will want to make sure that your spouse cannot run up jointly-held credit cards or lines of credit. If your name is on the account and your ex defaults on payments, declares bankruptcy, or becomes disabled, creditors may be looking to you to pay the debt. Open up a separate credit card account in your name only.

Make Divorce More Affordable

Going through a divorce is not going to be easy, but there are some things you can do to keep the cost of ending your marriage down. If you and your ex are able to keep your interactions civil, it may mean that you can resolve issues like dividing marital property, child custody, and visitation without having to spend a lot of money on legal fees.

Keep in mind that the longer the divorce takes to resolve, the more expensive the process will be. Going to court to have a judge make a ruling about your divorce at a hearing should be considered a last resort, since you will be paying for your lawyer's preparation time as well as his or her attendance on the day.

In a situation where you and your spouse can stay reasonably civil with each other and you are considering a divorce, gather information about all of your assets and debt so that you know where you stand. It may be helpful to meet with a financial advisor who has experience working with clients who are going through a divorce. The advisor will be able to provide helpful advice about tax implications of ending your marriage.

Before you make a final decision about ending your marriage, consider whether you can afford to get a divorce. If abuse is an issue in your relationship, you will need to take steps to ensure your safety and deal with the financial aspects of the divorce later.