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Studies show that in the first year after divorce, the wife’s standard of living may drop almost 27 percent while the husband’s may increase by as much as 10 percent.
Many factors combine to lower women’s standard of living after divorce. Expenses will begin to mushroom as soon as the divorce process starts.
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View your attorney as a paid professional rather than a friend or confidante. Women tend to be supportive and sensitive to the needs of others, to build bridges, and to “make nice.” These tendencies often get in our way during divorce. You have to insist on getting what you need and deserve. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to take care of yourself financially. Use this time of upheaval to start taking control of your life.
When your grief is overwhelming, go home or to a friend’s house, not to your attorney, who is billing you at his normal hourly rate. Even if you hope that you will eventually be able to reconcile with your ex, don’t bend over backwards to make it happen. Vow never to worry in the dark—if you can’t sleep, turn on the light, pick up a pencil and paper, and write down your worries.
Listen to your attorney, but make your own decisions. During divorce, prepare yourself mentally for the worst that can happen. If your ex remarries within two weeks, moves to Tahiti, and/or refuses to pay any support? Divorce is an excellent time to get some career counseling at the local job center, university, or community college. Divorce can be very complicated, so don’t try to do it all yourself.
This is your divorce—so take control of the process! Plan for the worst so what actually happens will seem easy by comparison. Prepare for the expense of tuition and books while you get your career on track. Hire an attorney who can give you excellent advice—even if he or she isn’t the most inexpensive.
Think about Social Security: If you’ve been married nine years, you might want to stick out the last year, so you can collect on your ex’s earnings record.
Inventory safe deposit boxes; track down bank and brokerage accounts; review pay stubs, retirement plans, and insurance policies. Don’t ignore the hidden tax costs of divorce in making these decisions.