Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll probably find that the money that supported one household is a bit stretched when it comes to supporting two.
So how much money will you need to live off? what do you need to think about in planning your future?
Where am I going to live?
The main things you need to work out are where you (and if applicable your children) are going to live and what you can afford given that you may not have the income that is coming in now.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
Can you could afford the mortgage/ rent on your current house on your own. Do you need to sell the house to split the equity between you? How much is it worth? Would there be mortgage penalties? Can you raise a mortgage on your own? Could your ex? How much would a new house cost? Will you have to move in order to afford somewhere suitable on a lower income? Could you sell some other assets in order to afford accommodation?
Don’t forget that your ex also needs to be able to afford to live. If you are parents, then even if one of you is main custodian of the children, the other parent will need room for the kids to come and visit/ sleep over.
What will I need for bills etc?
What money do you need over and above your accommodation costs? To answer this you need a good idea of how much you spend on utilities, phone, food etc. If you don’t know see our article on sorting out your finances here.
Think about what might be scaled back if you were to live in a smaller home or not supporting children full time. Other costs might go up e.g. childcare.
Will I need to go back to work?
If you’re not working at the moment, you may need to consider going back to work. Is this a possibility for you? If you are already at work, let payroll know you have separated as this may affect your tax code.
Will you be eligible for benefits? If you’re not sure Turn2Us is a charity that helps people find out what they might be entitled to. Check out www.turn2us.org.uk.
If you haven’t worked in a while, The National Careers Service can help you ease your way back in.
What changes to your lifestyle can you make?
If your income or joint income is now not enough to pay for the two of you to have the lifestyle you’re used to, then it’s time to work out where you can both cut some costs. This is a sad but normal part of the process. Two households are more expensive than one. One of you may have to consider renting a home rather than buying and it may be impossible to maintain the family home. Be reasonable about this. Both you and your ex deserve a fresh start and a decent roof over your heads and your children deserve a decent place to live in AND to visit.
No-one wants to feel like they’ve had a raw deal or are making too many concessions, so at this point you may need some help in negotiating. If either of you are digging your heels in, it might be time to consider a mediator, who can steer you through the difficult decisions ahead. You can find a mediator by going HERE.
Lucy Davis is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and a TV Producer. She divorced 6 years ago. She is a passionate advocate for exploring the potential for change and creativity that can result from the trauma of divorce.