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How should couples financially plan for divorce during the pandemic?

by | Aug 28, 2020 | Finances And Divorce |

As you know by now, the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the economy. Unemployment numbers are still staggering, even with a partial recovery from this past spring’s record highs. For parents that are still working, child care remains a concern. Workers have to balance responsibilities to their kids as well as their jobs, and there’s certainly no guarantee that kids will be able to return or remain in schools.

For people who are getting divorced, there’s additional stress that the pandemic brings the already-stressful occasion. As a general rule, when you’re figuring out your post-divorce finances, you need about 30 percent more income to maintain the same standard of living you had while married. You no longer share rent or mortgage experiences, utilities, or grocery expenses, and those things add up.

One of the most important pieces of advice we dispense for all divorcing clients is to make a budget. You need to know what you’re spending money on as well as how much money you’re bringing in each month. You also need to ask yourself the challenging question of what’s a need vs. what’s a want.

One option might be to meet with a financial advisor during this time, to address two factors that can be happening simultaneously. There’s certainly a financial impact for people who have lost jobs or seen downturns in income. But there’s also a psychological impact. Families dealing with the stress of both the pandemic and divorce could certainly use advice to help with financial matters.

If you’re divorcing collaboratively, of course, you have the option of bringing in a financial neutral who assesses assets and debts, and can play an advisory role in helping the divorcing couple navigate their post-divorce finances. But even if you don’t have that kind of divorce, involving a financial advisor in your planning is something you should do if you can.

For people who need to make more money — and for those who wish they had the option of working from home but can’t — this might be the time to plan to get more education. If you are eligible for spousal maintenance — and this article we created last year goes into it — this would be a good time to make the transition to the type of job you’ll need. (Both men and women can be eligible for spousal maintenance, by the way.)

It’s important to keep in mind that even in this very challenging year, it’s possible to get through your divorce with a solid financial plan that keeps you on a good footing. It might involve some difficult evaluation and assessment of where you are, but the divorce process can also help you get to where you need to be financially as well as emotionally.