Financially Preparing for Divorce

Meg's situation isn't a good one, and she needs Dave's help in preparing for the next step.

QUESTION: Meg in Michigan says her marriage is heading toward divorce. She went through some of her husband’s things and thinks she found illegal drugs, and he was angry that she went through his private stuff. He has also changed a lot since they got married and refuses to go to counseling with her. She wants to know how to financially prepare herself. What does Dave suggest?

Dave's ANSWER: You are not trying to create unity at this stage of the game. What you are trying to do is protect yourself. You can’t do both at the same time. I would not say that it is wise for you to financially create unity for you right now until you have a husband who is willing to participate in the healing of your house and marriage.

Financially, you have to prepare for divorce right now and begin those steps. He is not coming to the table. If you told me that you guys are in counseling after having a rough spot, but you are turning the corner and both of you are doing everything the counselor says to do, then I would encourage you to move financially toward unity because your marriage is heading toward unity.

Right now your marriage is unraveling. I’m sorry if that sounds brutal. The deal is this: Marriage counselors, as well as a friend of mine who does divorce recovery, tell us that divorce turns a marriage into a business transaction. That means now you have to start looking at accounts and say what happens to the accounts with your name on them and his name on them. You also figure out what happens with the house.

You don’t put money into his account because you can’t keep up with what’s going on. You are going to separate your accounts and separate your debts and you are going to start moving financially toward separation.

You need to start thinking about getting an apartment or if you stay in the house. Find out if you make enough to pay those bills. Start thinking like a single person, financially. Then if that gives you financial strength and some peace, that gives you a better position to negotiate him returning to the marriage table to work through this together.

But if you are in weakness and disarray, it will be very hard to be strong enough to convince him that you are going to leave if this doesn’t get better. You need to see the marriage counselor by yourself as well.

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