What to Do If You Can’t Afford to Leave Your Spouse

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on January 10, 2012

in Couples and Money


When you and your spouse both know that your marriage just isn’t going to work and you want a divorce, you might end up staying married because neither of you can really afford to leave.

Many people who want to file for divorce realize that they simply can’t afford to end their marriage when they want to. The cost of actually filing the divorce and then building a new life from scratch can be pricey, not to mention emotionally overwhelming and stressful. For practical reasons, sometimes staying married is just a better financial choice for the short term.

Still, there are some things you can do to get on your feet and finally end the marriage.

Calculate the Value of Your Assets

Once the divorce goes through, you’ll need to divide up your shared assets and may need to sell the home. So in the meantime, create a long list of all shared assets and how much you think these are currently valued at to get a ballpark estimate. Are there any items that you would sell off for cash? What items would you need to have your spouse’s permission to sell or have? Take a good look at all of your assets to determine how much you would realistically own after the divorce.

Review Your Expenses

Forecast your expenses as if you were living without your spouse. How much would you be spending on the mortgage or rent, groceries, and other household expenses? Would you be responsible for paying child support or would you be taking on the costs of raising a child solo? Create a list of all expenses as if you were now living on your own. This will give you an accurate idea of exactly how much you need to get by and how much you would need to earn to support yourself and any children.

Start Searching for a Better Job

If you’re currently employed full-time, apply for other jobs with the same company so that you could earn a higher salary. If that’s not a possibility in the near future, consider branching out and going on a job hunt. You might be able to find a better job that could support your new life and make the entire divorce process less financially stressful. Lining up a new job – or even just starting to work if you’d been a stay at home spouse – could be just what you need to make some much-needed life changes and set things in motion to end your marriage.

Seek Counseling

If you honestly can’t see yourself separating from your spouse within the next year, seek out counseling to get a better handle on your situation and find a way to make it work temporarily. For example, what do you do about sleeping arrangements: separate bedrooms or stay in the same bed? And what about the thorny issue of other people? If one of you has had an affair, or has suggested a desire to date others, how will you both handle that if you’re still living together? Even though both of you might have already had the discussion of getting a divorce, having to live together and maintain your current lifestyle (or a new, agreed-upon one) can be stressful.

Find a counselor who can help you manage day-to-day communications with your spouse and help you make some improvements to your current lifestyle. You can learn healthy coping strategies and even work with the counselor to create a plan for the divorce when you can afford it.

And who knows? Counseling may even help you to better recognize what you have and to avoid divorce altogether. But before you go into counseling, just be sure that you’re in agreement as to what the purpose is for those counseling sessions. You don’t want one of you secretly hoping for a reconciliation, while the other party is simply trying to get coping strategies to help them survive until as long as necessary before he or she can escape the relationship.

 

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