You and your spouse made an agreement when you had that all-important discussion prior to saying “I do.”
You both felt it was best that you stay home with the children once they came. You were on the same page – the old-fashioned version of marriage was the one you wanted, with the husband bringing home the bacon, and you running to perfection the home and the family.
Indeed, this is what your life looked like, years later. Beautiful house, dinner on the table when the Mister got home after his workday, and lovely children. It was all wonderful.
Until your husband asked you for a divorce.
If you are a stay at home mom and/or a housewife, you are among the most vulnerable people when it comes to divorce.
Because of this, the first thing you must do when your husband has decided on divorce is to retain legal representation.
Your husband may try and convince you that you can work everything out between the both of you, no need for lawyers, that will just reduce your assets, etc. Do not listen to him. You need a professional to guide you through this difficult period.
Along with the sadness that your marriage has ended, you will be feeling fear.
Your fears may include
- Will you be able to stay in your house?
- The social stigma of being divorced
- Being single and re-entering the dating market
- How to raise the children as a single parent
- The logistics of child custody
- Your husband’s new partner, if there is one, and her role in your children’s life
- Getting a job and supporting yourself
- Saving for retirement
- How to learn to take over all the things your husband did
Your husband must continue to support you during this period
Your spouse must continue paying the home mortgage, the bills and expenses.
There is no need to run out right away and get a job. But you should start planning on resuming a professional life, because like it or not, your lifestyle as a housewife is likely to be over once the divorce is finalized.
This is especially true if you have a college or advanced degree and chose not to use it because you and your then-true love had made the decision for you to stay home.
If you do not have a college degree and your employability is in question, you are likely to be entitled to more spousal support since your attractiveness on the job market is not as great as someone with a college degree.
Educate yourself on finances
Have you left all the bill-paying, banking, and household accounting to your husband?
Now’s the time to start digging.
You will want to get your hands all financial records, including assets as well as debts. Check your husband’s physical and electronic files for letters, emails, texts, photographs, mortgage and home deed documents, automobile registration, non-retirement account statements, retirement account statements, tax returns and supporting documents, monthly bills, and credit card statements.
Hopefully, your name is on all these accounts, so you can access them online and see what your monetary situation looks like.
Not on the accounts? Bad news. Your husband could move money out of them to hide assets so that when decisions will be made by the judge ruling on your divorce, you could end up with very little since most of the assets will have been stashed away in your husband’s secret bank accounts.
What are your financial priorities?
When it comes time to talk about a settlement, you will want to have in your mind a list of priorities, because some wheeling and dealing is going to happen. Your priorities might include-
- Staying in the house
- Spousal alimony as well as child support
- Money for the children’s education, including private school and college funds
- Rights to any military or other pensions your husband may be receiving
- Heirlooms, jewelry, any valuables you acquired during the marriage such as artwork
Start building your credit score
If you were a housewife, it is possible that you do not have a credit rating, since any loans would have been taken out in your husband’s name. This will make things difficult when you go to rent an apartment or home or buy a car as a newly-single person.
So get going on establishing credit in your own name.
Start small, by obtaining a credit card in your own name. Something that gets you on record as a good credit risk. Use this to pay for your groceries, buy gas, etc and be sure to pay off the balance in full each month.
This will show any future lenders that you are financially responsible.
Envision the life you want to lead
You thought you had a perfect life, and then it was shattered. Guess what? You can have another perfect life, but this one will look different.
How do you want the next chapter to read?
Think about how you will meet your financial obligations and where you will live, if you must give up the house. It may not look like it right now, but many things will change for the better.
Certainly, many things will be more challenging. Take a few moments each day to breath and envision what sort of life you want to lead when you are no longer married. This process helps you mentally prepare for this new stage in your life, and the challenges and successes that are waiting for you.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.