Waiting to Get Divorced in Virginia

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 by Katie Carter

Depending on your financial situation, you may find that it is advantageous for you to wait a little while to proceed with your divorce. As long as you aren’t in an abusive relationship or in a situation that would be otherwise hazardous to your health and well-being, you may reasonably decide to wait.

Why would you wait? Well, it can give you time to save up money and stockpile the things that you know you’ll need when you leave. If you take an extra $20-30 out of the bank every time you buy groceries or put gas in your car, you could end up with a nice little nest egg to help you pay your security deposit and first month’s rent at your new apartment (or to help pay the mortgage when he moves out). You can also buy the little things, like new towels and sheets, a little bit at a time so that you don’t end up without basic things you know you’ll need later.

You can also use the time to improve your career prospects, especially if you are afraid that you (1) won’t qualify for spousal support, (2) won’t qualify for as much spousal support as you need to live, or (3) won’t qualify for permanent spousal support. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place to help make ends meet—no matter what happens in your divorce. You may not want to go back to work, but it is often the best, easiest, and most gratifying way to make sure that you have enough income to survive.

Furthermore, if spousal support is an issue, after you’ve stayed in the marriage a little longer, you’ve (1) been married longer, and (2) been out of the workforce longer, and (3) been dependent on your husband’s income longer. All of these things help strengthen your argument for spousal support after the marriage.

It also means that you’ll have a larger share of your husband’s retirement (and, of course, if you’re working he’ll have a larger share of yours). In some cases, like where there’s a pension, a year or two can make a major difference in terms of your entitlements. For example, in a military case, if you qualify as a 20/20/20 spouse, you can keep your military benefits, like access to the commissary and even healthcare benefits. This can be a major motivating factor.

Keep in mind that I am speaking purely from a financial perspective. In many cases, a marriage is over, and neither of the parties can imagine staying together for any longer, no matter what the financial advantage may be. I am also not trying to suggest that you stay in an unsatisfying, abusive, or dangerous situation. However, I have seen situations where women do find that it is in their best interests to stay just a little while longer.