Pre-Divorce Finances, Part 2: Use marital money to set priorities
Just because you’re thinking of getting a divorce doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to going broke, too. There are a lot of choices you can make at the outset that will protect your family’s finances now and in the future. Remember that you will likely have less after your divorce than you did before it—because the judge can only divide what you already have between the two of you, and that’s before you pay an attorney.
It’s a good idea to use joint money, before you separate, to make necessary repairs to your car and the home. If you have children, it’s not a bad idea to buy them some shoes or clothes to help see them through their next growth spurt. It’s better to do these things now than to argue about who will pay for what later on.
Remember, too, that it’s possible that the marital home will have to be put on the market, depending on your circumstances. Many separation agreements go into elaborate detail about how home repairs will be split among the parties to prepare the home for sale. In the event that you know of some repairs that will likely have to be completed prior to selling the home, it’s not a bad idea to move ahead with initiating these repairs while you still have access to the joint money. It’s in everyone’s best interest to take care of the assets now, rather than fight about them a few months down the road.
It may seem like a bad time to spend the extra money, but it will help make things run more smoothly once the process is underway. There will be fewer things to argue about, and you won’t find yourself totally strapped for cash if you need four new tires right after the entry of the final divorce decree. Judges like to enforce the status quo—so if you need to get braces on one of your kids, or if you’d like to go back to school, there’s really no time like the present. Set up your priorities so that the judge can see what needs to continue on after your divorce.