Divorcing with Children

If you have children and decide to move out of the marital home, you need to consider the cost of having two homes. In the beginning of your divorce, you and/or your spouse will be faced with many extra living expenses which will make it difficult to live the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

Let’s take a look at an example...

James, a father of two, has decided to leave his wife and move into an apartment. He has also decided his children are to remain with his soon-to-be ex-wife. James now must pay for all expenses associated with his new apartment combined with a monthly support amount (spousal and child support). He must also consider the cost of moving. This includes first and last month’s rent, moving expenses, time off of work to move, utility hookup fees, and rental storage. However, the cost of moving is negligible in comparison to the total cost over time.

To put this scenario into a clearer financial picture, let’s assume James’ salary is approximately $50,000 per year. Before the divorce, James’ bring home pay after taxes was approximately $36,000 per year ($3,000 per month). But after the divorce, James is ordered to pay spousal and child support in the amount of $1500 per month ($18,000 per year).

In some cases, the assets are completely obliterated in legal fees. If this were the case for James, he would be starting over financially. Instead of owning a home with a take-home pay of $3000 per month, he is now forced to live in an apartment with half of his original take-home pay. With this situation, it will take a number of years before James is able to get back on his feet financially again.

Since James has children, he will need to have a room for them. Instead of living in a studio or one bedroom apartment, he will need at least a two-bedroom apartment. If James is like most fathers, he will only be able to see his children four days out of the month (every other weekend). The remaining 24 days out of the month the children’s room will not be in use.

On the contrary, James’ soon-to-be ex-wife will be trying to maintain the past standard of living for the children and herself on half of the monthly income that once was available. If his soon-to-be ex-wife decided to get a job or increase her hours at an existing job, the expenses of child care will easily offset the additional income earned.

Some individuals move into a relative’s home, with a friend, or a hotel. If you have a girl/boyfriend it is advised not to move in with them. The knowledge of you having a romantic involvement during the divorce is like putting gasoline on a fire. Spouses become very hostile when they discover the presence of another. This is an emotional time. Try not to add additional emotions to an already turbulent situation. If you are dating someone, keep it as discrete as possible. Even a year after the split, you should consider keeping your personal life incognito.

Another cost most spouses do not see is the total financial burden over a lifetime. This includes child support until the age of 18 or the age of majority is reached and spousal support up to the age of retirement. For example, let’s say you were married at age 20 and divorced at age 31. You are now considered a long-term marriage (over 10 years). Let’s also say your spouse does not remarry. This means you could be faced with paying support for another 34 years. If the support amount were $1,000 per month, your overall payment would be $408,000. This figure does not include any increases in the award.

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