How to Adjust to a Single Income After Divorce

By Main Line Family Law Center


You’ve recently divorced. It’s likely been years or even decades since you’ve been on your own. Aside from the emotional adjustment that is life after divorce, it’s a drastic financial transition as well. You’re shifting from a dual-income household to a single-income household, which can be a huge lifestyle change.

On top of that, you may have incurred a lot of legal debt throughout the divorce process, or perhaps you now have alimony obligations. No matter what, adjusting to a single income after divorce is challenging. So where do you start?

Below are some crucial financial steps to take post-divorce to start living your life the way you want as soon as possible.

Reassess Your New Income

The first step you should take is to reevaluate your finances. Take a look at your individual salary, additional streams of income, and any other monthly debt payments.

If there’s not much leftover, or you can’t afford to sustain your current living situation, it could be time for a change. That could mean acquiring a part-time job for a supplemental income or considering an alternative living arrangement.

After all, the average cost of divorce can range from $4,100 for uncontested divorces to over $20,000 when taken to trial, meaning you may have a few new legal payments to take on post-divorce.

Decide if Keeping the House is Financially Feasible

With divorce comes the decision regarding what to do with the house – to let one spouse stay in the house or to sell it all together and split the profits. Your new single income may not make the cut for your existing mortgage payment, making it your only option to find a more affordable place to live.

The alternative to this is a buy-out option. In this case, both of you or a judge can decide that one spouse will stay in the house, and the in-house spouse will buy out the other’s share. If you’d like to stay, you need to be able to afford a buyout, so if that becomes a hefty payment, you may have to move on.

Find Affordable Housing  

For those with the proper credit scores to buy a home, you can make a fresh start in a home of your own without the memories associated with your old relationship. However, remember to stay on the lower end of your budget and to avoid spending the amount the bank approved you for.

For those with poor credit, renting may be a wiser option. Either way, you can speak with a real estate agent to discover more affordable neighborhoods in your desired area. Know that staying with family and friends temporarily is also a viable choice for those in-between houses or who want to build their savings for the time being.

Build Your Personal Credit

There are several ways divorce can impact your credit. Any financial ventures you took on as a couple will impact your credit score during your marriage and following your divorce.

If you still have joint accounts, your partner’s inability to make payments on debt will also affect your credit. In addition, you may have incurred legal debt throughout the divorce process, which can have a big impact on your credit.

Begin by tackling any debt you have and paying down those with the highest interest to repair your credit score after divorce. It will also be beneficial to separate your joint accounts and open new ones in your own name in order to build your personal credit

Practice Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle that might seem extreme, but there are a lot of concepts you can slowly integrate into your everyday life. To live a minimalist lifestyle, you only keep or acquire items that you really need.

While it usually incites a less expensive lifestyle, the main goal of minimalism is not to save money, rather to focus on things that serve a purpose and provide value to you. Not only can this lifestyle be more affordable, but it can also be a great way to cope with the stress of divorce and help you focus on the things that matter most to you, like your children or any other passions you have.

Living on a single income after years of marriage can be daunting, but with the right support and a bit of time and patience, you can rebuild your finances and your life independently.

Consider these tips and utilize our Divorce Support Network to start your new life on the right track.

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Topics: Get into Financial Shape