After the Divorce: A New, Financially Sound You

The divorce is final and the settlement is done. If mistakes have been made, they are in the past, and nothing short of going back to court is going to change them. It is time to move forward. The average length of marriage for those that end in divorce is eight years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In that amount of time, a lot of financial and personal decisions have been made. Now it is time to make new decisions.

Become Your Own Person

During your marriage, you identified yourself as half of a couple. Now it is time to redefine yourself as a unique, single human being. For women (and some men), one way of doing this is by changing names. If you are going back to a pre-marriage name, there are some things to consider. If you are a woman with children, you may end up with a different name than your kids. Though this is not a significant legal issue, it can be a source of emotional barriers. Make certain your children understand that the name change is no reflection on the love you have for them.

Pay Your Own Way

Even if you always maintained a separate bank account, there was a commingling of funds and a safety net present. You've always had a partner to share the bills with, and now you are on your own. Both your spending and your savings are solely up to you. If you're not already, learn the basics of budgeting, debt repayment and financial planning. Visit DaveRamsey.com or a similar site for comprehensive financial advice.

Hope for the Best

Maintenance and child support are important sources of revenue. How you deal with them can affect your financial reality. Take a look at the divorce settlement and see which spouse is responsible for the taxes on this money. Depending on the settlement, the money may be taxable, according to the IRS. If you do not want to pay taxes on it then make it into a nontaxable retirement fund.

…But Plan for the Worst

You are not married any more. You have no say over your spouse’s work and spending habits, and you may not always be able to depend on spousal support. Spousal support (also known as maintenance) can be changed depending on different factors. An injury that you knew nothing about could mean that your check will never arrive. Career changes and business losses can also affect the amount of support you get. All of these ultimately require a visit to the judge but, in the meantime, you are going without. To the best of your ability, moving on means standing on your own two feet and depending on no one but yourself.