Ending a marriage is expensive -- and the financial consequences can continue long after the divorce is final.
Is it even possible to get through a divorce without throwing your entire financial life into chaos?
Yes. More people do it than you probably realize, because financial horror stories make for better retelling than calm, steady decision-making in the midst of a crisis. If you want to get through your divorce with a minimum of financial distress, here's how to do it:
1. Don't listen to your friends and family.
Talk to your therapist, financial adviser and attorney about your situation when you need advice -- not your friends and family members. A lot of people offer advice to others based on incomplete information, emotional reactions and outdated facts. You need calm, rational advice that takes in the bigger picture.
2. Be fair to your spouse.
This may be the biggest thing you can do if you want to get through a divorce with a minimal amount of fighting -- and less fighting equals less expense! No matter what's happened in the marriage, treat your spouse the way that you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed. Offer fair support, if it's warranted. Be honest about all financial holdings -- that saves time and money later. Be willing to divide marital property reasonably.
3. Close old accounts and open new ones.
You need to stop accruing debt and gathering assets with your spouse as soon as you know a divorce is imminent. Close out joint credit card and bank accounts and get new ones in your name only. That way, there's no question about what still needs to be divided up in the divorce.
4. Put yourself on a budget.
Retail therapy is out. Financial responsibility and health requires a budget. No matter how excited you are at the idea that you don't have to compromise with anyone else over what to buy and when, this isn't the time to indulge -- otherwise, you may end up saddles with a lot of debt just as you're starting over.
If you can step back from the emotional issues clouding your life right now, you'll get through your divorce as quickly and quietly as possible. It won't be much of a story to tell -- but you'll probably be much more secure going into the future.
Source: USA Today, "Getting a divorce? Here are 20 tips for maintaining financial sanity," Josh Smith, May 30, 2018