You’ve come to the realization that you have to get a divorce, but you know you can’t afford to move out.
If you’re wondering how you can afford to live on your own after divorce, then this article is for you.
In this article, I’ll share some helpful resources that’ll help you plan your life after divorce.
To make sure that I give you the most helpful information I can, I consulted with some divorce experts (a psychologist, a divorce coach, and a divorce financial advisor) to share their knowledge.
Keep reading to learn what they said.
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How To Afford To Live On Your Own After A Divorce
Get free or low-cost legal services
The first thing you want to do when planning a divorce is to get some legal advice.
Chances are If you can’t afford to live on your own after divorce, then you probably can’t afford a lawyer either. If this is the case then getting some free legal advice might help you get the divorce process started.
Contact your state’s bar association and ask about free or low-cost legal services in your area. They will direct you to lawyers who do pro bono work or your local legal aid society.
A lawyer will give you advice on things you may be entitled to in your divorce.
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Have a solid divorce plan
Before you go through with filing for divorce, you need to have a clear plan of action.
You have to figure out where you will live after the divorce. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’ll have to find a job before you leave your spouse.
See my post on how to afford a divorce as a stay-at-home mom for a list of helpful resources.
You also have to have a plan for child care if you’re working. If you move out without making a solid plan, it’ll be very hard to afford to live on your own after the divorce.
A divorce coach might be able to help you make a good action plan so that you will be able to afford to live on your own after the divorce.
Before you decide on divorce, you should consider talking to a couple’s therapist.
A therapist can provide a third point of view on your situation. They can also provide strategies to help you and your partner work out your issues if it’s something that can be fixed.
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Gather up all your financial information
If you’ve tried therapy and you still decide to go through with a divorce, then you need to gather up your family’s financial information.
Mary Salisbury, a certified divorce financial analyst said “You need to get documentation on the last 3 years of the bank accounts, the retirement accounts (401K, IRAs), tax returns, and any other assets. You should also get the car VINs, find out about loan balances, get credit reports and the mortgage balance”
Even though it may take a lot of sneaking around to get some of these documents, failure to do so may be detrimental.
If you don’t get these documents now, You’ll end up paying expensive attorney fees to force your ex to disclose this information after your divorce.
Find out if you’re eligible for spousal support
Spousal support is money paid to you by your spouse after a divorce.
If you’re eligible, it could be the boost you need to afford to live on your own after a divorce.
Each state has its own rules in determining who is eligible for spousal support so make sure you consult with an attorney.
In general, the spouse who makes more money will be the one to pay out spousal support.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, the court may favor you. They’ll consider the contribution you made to your family over the years, as well as the potential wages you lost from staying home.
See my article on ways to afford a divorce as a stay-at-home mom, for more details. In that article, I spoke with 5 divorce lawyers from different states to get their opinions.
Find out if you’re eligible for child support
In general, if you have kids under the age of 18, then you may be eligible for child support. Of course, there are many variables to consider.
How child custody is split between the two of you may affect the amount of support you get. Only a lawyer licensed in your state can advise you correctly on your child support options.
Getting monthly child support payments will help you live on your own after your divorce.
Save money ASAP
Make sure you have as much cash as possible before you file for divorce. When you go grocery shopping, get cash back and save it.
Sell some things you no longer need to get extra cash. The most popular places to sell used items online are eBay and Facebook marketplace. Having as much cash as possible will help make the transition into living on your own easier.
Set a strict budget
Having a strict budget will help you keep your spending under control. The less you spend, the more money you’ll save.
Staying on a budget will help you prepare to live on your own after a divorce.
Take furniture with you when you move out
Take all the furnishings you need from your current home so you don’t have to go out to buy new ones.
Ms. Salisbury, a divorce financial analyst said “Your existing furnishings are practically of no value in divorce”. If this is the case, leaving good furnishings behind would be a shame. Especially since you have no money to buy new ones.
Build your job skills
If you’re a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t worked in a while, now will be the time to build work experience.
You can do so by volunteering in a field that you see yourself working in when you get a job. For example, if you want to work in healthcare, It would not make sense to volunteer in a soup kitchen. Instead, you should volunteer in a nursing home or hospital.
Another way to build your job skills is to take a certificate course online. You can also do a certificate course at a college. My favorite platforms for online certificate courses are Skillshare and Coursera. Skillshare has everything from graphic design to animation.
The Department of Labor will grant you free access to Coursera if you qualify. Check out their site on how to sign up.
Prepare yourself to be a single parent
Living on your own after divorce takes some getting used to. For years, you’ve depended on your partner for support. They’ve also shared household and child-rearing duties.
Now that you’re going to be a single parent, all of those duties will fall on you entirely. So now is the time to start learning how to be a single parent.
You can do this by talking to other single parents to see what their day-to-day is like.
Beverly Price who is a divorce coach states that “It’s important to create a co-parenting plan that outlines how the children will be cared for, what adult behavior is acceptable, and how parental responsibilities will be divided. Cohabitation is an especially confusing time for children, so a clear conversation with the children, that they can understand, to explain the situation is critical.
You and your partner can talk about what it would look like if you both had partial custody of the kids. Make a list of what your day would consist of as a single parent.
You can practice by having one partner be responsible for the kids three days of the week, while the other partner is “off duty”.
For the next three days, the second partner will take over. On day 7, you can do things as a whole family again. This approach will help your children get used to the idea of their parents living apart.
Build your support system
Every parent needs a support system. It’s especially important if you’re a single parent.
One way to build your support system is to join a divorce support group in your area.
If there isn’t one, you can start a Facebook group. I’m sure there are a lot of single mothers who would be happy to join.
Family and friends can also be a huge source of support during this time. If you can’t afford to live on your own after a divorce, your family might be able to take you in.
They can even provide you with free babysitting so that you can go back to work.
Sign up for government assistance
There is a lot of government assistance for people who can’t afford to live on their own after a divorce.
Medicaid is a program that provides you with health insurance as long as you qualify. You can also sign up for affordable housing, so you can have a place to move into after getting divorced.
If you can’t afford a babysitter, your state can provide you with a childcare voucher. If your kid is 4 years old then they will qualify for the pre-k for all program.
You can also qualify for food stamps, TANF, WIC, and other programs for low-income families. Make sure to check your state for all programs you may be eligible for.
Seek out a family shelter if you become homeless
If you believe that you may become homeless at a moment’s notice, then contact your local family shelter. They can arrange for you and your kids to get temporary housing while you sort out your financial situation.
If domestic abuse is involved, then contact your local domestic violence shelter. They’ll help you and your kids leave your abusive marriage safely.
Remember that abuse can take on many forms. Types of abuse include financial, verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.
Check out signs of financial abuse and how to overcome it to see if you’re a victim.
Share the same space with your ex – this is called nesting
If you really can’t afford to live alone after divorce, then you should consider an unconventional solution.
One solution is to share the same space with your ex after divorce. This approach is called nesting. Ilyssa Panitz, a divorce expert explains it best.
According to Ms. Panitz, one way to nest is to do a “timeshare” in your home.
“Say week #1 is Parent-A’s allocated time to be with the children. That means Parent B goes somewhere else. Some couples rent a small apartment for this very reason. While Parent-A is with the kids, Parent B goes to the apartment. After the week is up you switch. Parent B comes back to the marital residence and Parent-A goes to the other place. The kids get to remain in the house at all times”
Nest by splitting your home in half
Another way to nest is to split the space you already own.
Ms. Panitz says depending on the size of the home, you can designate assigned areas for each parent.
For instance, if the house has a finished basement (i.e full bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping area) Parent-A could live down there, while Parent-B can live in the remainder of the house.
She goes on to say that when it comes to dividing the space, make sure it is equal for both sides. Being fair can alleviate unnecessary fighting.
If you are going to choose this arrangement, I highly suggest both sides draw up an agreement with their lawyers, so everyone understands and follows the rules.
One benefit of nesting is that It may be cheaper to share the rent than to move out on your own and pay full price for rent.
Another benefit is that it provides stability for the children. They won’t have to deal with going from one home to another multiple times a month.
They will be able to grow up in a familiar environment, with the same friends, school, and family members they’re used to.
Change your mindset about getting a divorce
In order to “nest” together and share the same space as I suggested above, you’ll need to have a mindset shift. Getting a divorce doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship with your ex-husband.
Dr. Suzanne Vickberg has been living in the same house with her ex-husband, their kids, and his current wife. Their marriage ended 13 years ago.
She says “my ex is not my enemy and his new wife is not a threat. They are both my allies, and my lucky kids have three involved parents who love them. She has always been respectful of the fact that I was their mom first. And I have welcomed her into our family”.
If your marriage ended amicably, then nesting may be a great option. Especially if you can’t afford to live on your own after the divorce.
Final Thoughts On How To Afford To Live On Your Own After Divorce
When you’re going through a divorce, there’s so much that’s unknown. No matter how scared you are, You need to make sure you have a solid financial plan before moving forward.
Don’t just pack up and leave the home you share with your spouse. It can make it difficult during the divorce process. Hire a lawyer that can help you understand all the things you’re entitled to in the divorce.
Don’t forget to focus on self-care during this time. It’s easy to let the stress of divorce get to us. Consider therapy for you and your children during this time. It’ll make sure you always present the best of yourself to your children.
I hope this article has given you some tips on how you can live on your own after a divorce