In my experience as a family law attorney, it seems that there are very few people who leave marriages of any length unscathed, but the financial impact is often more extreme for those who have been together for decades. Sometimes when one partner has always assumed the money management duties, the other is left in a difficult position and often a dangerous lack of awareness about how much they may own or owe. This can lead to an unfair divorce settlement, especially if one spouse has been hiding assets from the other.
Recent harder economic times have made this more difficult and maintaining separate households means both men and women will pay more to live often this is at a time when their earning years are waning. Many people have an adjustment period when the reality of the leaner lifestyle hits home.
About to exit an extended marriage? It's important to focus on gaining and maintaining financial stability. Here's how:
Employ a family law attorney, they will help you navigate the difficult area of property division to ensure that you come out with an equitable divorce settlement. Which may include spousal support and child support, if applicable. If you and your soon to be ex are on good terms, there are alternate ways to resolve your differences, such as mediation, to negotiate the division of your assets. But do let your attorney fight for what's rightfully yours. I've noticed that too many spouses "just want out" and are willing to take a fire-sale attitude to end the matter.
Create a "Now I'm single" budget. Many people who separate from a long-term marriage find it difficult to manage their finances afterward. To prevent overspending that leads to credit card debt, develop a realistic budget before the divorce is final. The longer you delay making the difficult changes, the longer your financial well-being may suffer.
Prepare for merged debt. If you owe money as a couple. Some of the repayment responsibility can fall into your lap, even if you didn't make the charges. However, if you end up with a disproportionate amount of the debt, you might also be awarded a greater share of the assets to compensate. Beware that not all liabilities will be shared. Student loans are paid by the student who incurred the debt. For secured debts, the debt follows the asset - you get to keep the house, you get the mortgage. Build all bill payments into your new budget.