When my husband and I made the difficult decision to divorce, we had a relatively easy time deciding all of the things that go into dissolving a marriage. We are filing our own divorce paperwork and not using attorneys. We agreed on child custody on our own. And we decided that my husband would stay in our home until the housing market improves and we can sell the house. Meanwhile, I moved into a studio apartment nearby.
Separating hasn’t been particularly stressful. Figuring out how to separate our income is another story. My husband and I are both freelance writers and we don’t have the security of an every-other-week direct deposit that we can depend on. We can have a dry month where neither of us is bringing in a lot of money and we can have months where one person makes more than the other and contributes more to the monthly bills.
But how does that work when you divorce? At the time that I moved out, I was bringing in more money than my ex. So, I paid the security deposit and other first-time costs associated with moving into a new place. And although I now have to pay rent, parking and utilities in my new apartment, I am still helping out with the bills at the house as well. I can’t just move out and immediately saddle my husband with all the bills that we accumulated together while married.
We have one kid in college and a little one in private school. So of course we’ll both contribute equally to the education of both of our children.
But then there’s health insurance. As freelancers, we have to pay for own health care. The price? It’s a whopping $1500 per month for our family. Right now, I am bringing in enough money on my own to start a new plan for just myself and our daughter. But how do I just leave my ex uninsured until he’s able to afford his own policy? I just can’t do that.
My separation from Darren has been nothing but amicable and we have been supportive of each other during this entire process. And I know for a fact that if Darren were making more money than me right now, he would continue to pay for my health care and other costs until I could afford it on my own.
I know we can’t continue having our accounts intertwined this way. At some point, I should be responsible for my living and health care expenses and Darren should be responsible for his own. But when does that happen? What if Darren’s current economic dry spell continues for months? At what point do I stop contributing to the household I’m leaving behind?
And what if we can’t sell the house? Does Darren have to carry the heavier financial burden of maintaining a home indefinitely? What about the other debts we incurred when we were married?
I honestly don’t understand how couples that have been together for fifteen years ever manage to separate their finances.
Darren and I continue to see our marriage counselor. Even though we’re divorcing, it’s really helpful to talk about the transition with a neutral party. Even if we’re not a couple, we have two children and two families we’re both happily attached to forever.
Honestly, the only thing that makes me nervous is the money matters. Money never got in the way of our marriage. How do I make sure it won't get in the way of our (friendly) divorce?