How to leave your husband

Though the impulse to flee immediately may be strong, patience and quiet financial planning will pay in the long run.

By MSN Money Dec 21, 2011 5:04PM

By MP Dunleavey

 

Your marriage is crumbling, and you know it. You dread staying another minute. How do you leave?

 

Slowly, carefully and counting every dime, says Violet Woodhouse, a divorce lawyer in Newport Beach, Calif.

 

"When the emotional drive to leave is so strong that you just want out, you need to step back," Woodhouse says. "You're not being rational at that point, and it can damage you financially."

 

Take the time -- two to six months -- to plan an exit strategy that will protect your financial security. Surviving divorce is misery enough; you don't want to suffer unnecessary financial hardship on top of it.

 

Beat the odds

Woodhouse remembers a client who came to her hoping to leave her husband immediately. "She wanted to file then and there," says Woodhouse, the author of "Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Decisions During Divorce."

 

"I told her that made no sense. She had two kids to think about. I said she had a lot more work to do."

 

Like Woodhouse's client, many women are so upset that it's difficult for them to make their financial well-being the priority it should be. That's one reason for this sobering statistic: After a divorce, a woman's standard of living is likely to drop by more than one-fourth -- 27% -- according to a landmark study in 1996 by Richard Peterson, then a sociologist at the Social Science Research Council in New York.

 

Other factors:

  • If you're one of the country's 5.4 million stay-at-home mothers, you face the additional hurdles of re-entering the work force, paying for child care and assuming other family expenses on your own.
  • Many women rely on their partners to run the money, so they lack basic financial skills, Woodhouse notes. "If the writing is on the wall and you haven't been involved in your financial life, you need to get involved now."
Prepare quietly

Here's what to do:

 

Keep it to yourself. In a pre-divorce situation, there is a fine line between deception and self-preservation. Though you may intend to leave, Woodhouse cautions against telling your spouse before you are prepared. "It would create a great deal of turmoil," she says.

 

Sneaky? Maybe, but the end of a marriage can easily turn into a financial and emotional train wreck if you're not careful. To leave on the best possible financial footing, with the lowest risk of sudden punitive action by your spouse, keep your plans to yourself until you are strong enough and secure enough to walk away.

 

If your decision is firm, your next step is to get the advice of a lawyer who specializes in divorce. A less expensive option: hiring a paralegal. (Also see divorce360.com's legal guide.)

 

Open a separate bank account. You will need to start saving whatever you can, as soon as you can. Any funds you take from a joint account, Woodhouse says, you must disclose later during the divorce process. Tapping a joint account "should be a last resort," says Woodhouse -- one that you take just before you leave.

 

Copy documents. Before you leave, make copies of every document you can find, from account statements to tax returns to mortgage documents to certificates of ownership to warranties on your appliances. "Do not attempt to determine a document's relevance or importance," Woodhouse says. "You don't know what might come in handy later."

 

You may even want to hire a professional to make a copy of the hard drive of your home computer and photograph certain personal belongings or valuables. These steps can help protect you if money goes missing during the settlement process.

 

Figure out your future finances

Karen Kerbaugh, an administrative assistant in Haltom City, Texas, got married in 1996, "and from almost the first month I realized I had made a grave mistake in marrying him," she says.

 

Although she wasn't deliberately planning to leave at first, in hindsight, she says, "I was subconsciously plotting my escape."

Here is Kerbaugh's hard-won advice, based on what she did and what she wishes she had done:

 

  • Create a detailed budget of your post-divorce life. What will your new expenses be? Where will you live, what will you drive, how much will child care cost? Where can you cut back? Although Kerbaugh made sure she could handle all the big expenses (rent, car payment, utilities), she says, "I didn't know the fine art of budgeting." Know how you will earn the income you need (more on that to come).
  • Establish a credit record apart from your spouse. If you don't have a credit card in your own name, now is the time to get one. Read "9 ways to build credit from scratch." Request a copy of your credit report; you are entitled to one free copy per year from each of the three credit bureaus at the government-run AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it carefully and fix any errors.
  • Muster support on the side. "While I didn't talk openly about the troubles we were having, my close friends and family knew enough about what was going on to be there for me when I needed it," Kerbaugh says. She ended up staying with a friend for a month after she left her husband.

 

Not so long ago, the only way to handle legal matters, such as a divorce, was with the help of a lawyer. But now there are cheaper options.

Make sure to budget for savings, retirement and possibly your child's college plan, says Galia Gichon, a financial planner in New York and the author of "My Money Matters."

 

"In a settlement, you're entitled to half the retirement accounts, but many women forget that they must continue saving -- or they don't realize that they aren't saving enough," Gichon says.

 

Aim for 10% or more of your gross pay. If that's too high, save whatever you can.

Where will your money come from?
 

Try not to borrow. Divorce is expensive, not just because of lawyer fees and court costs but also because the price of starting a new life is often higher than you think.

 

"You have to think through where you're going to get the money," Woodhouse says.

Most women who leave a spouse or partner end up borrowing from friends or family, using credit cards or tapping into savings or some other asset.

 

Though borrowing from someone you know is probably cheaper than using a credit card, it's still debt. It's preferable to use savings, if you can -- again, your own, not joint assets. (Woodhouse says to avoid cashing in investments because of tax complications.)

 

Boost your income. Once you establish how much you need to live, decide whether you can earn enough to cover it. This is especially important if you've spent a year or more out of the work force, Woodhouse says, or if you have to find a new job.

 

Daphne, a reader on the Women in Red message boards, advises taking any classes you need, sprucing up your résumé and buying a new suit or briefcase before you leave so that you pay for these things from joint funds.

 

Woodhouse recommends sending out feelers to see how much your skills fetch in the market today or at another company. "You have to be realistic," she says.

 

Don't count on alimony. Should you factor alimony or child support into your potential income stream? Going by the odds alone, that's a dicey proposition and may be more so given the economy. "You have to assess your risk," Woodhouse says. "Look at who you're married to, how reliable they are, what their attitude is. Then decide whether you can count on them giving you any money."

 

If you're the primary breadwinner, you could be the one paying alimony.

 

Don't give up

Last, as daunting, time-consuming, convoluted and unappealing this preparation may seem, it's worth it, Kerbaugh says.

"If you take the same determination that you were once willing to expend on your failed relationship and apply it to living by yourself," she says, "you will succeed."

 

Reposted from an article updated May 26, 2009

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8Comments
Dec 5, 2013 8:06PM
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Interesting and useful article. Thank you for the things to think about. I have been married for 31 years and realized about 8 years ago when I stopped drinking that the only real thing we had in common was that we were "drinking buddies". I have spoken with him many times over these last 8 years and finally realize he has put his drinking above our marriage. I'm almost 60 and refuse to be like his mother was with his father (who he is just like as he ages). She was a church mouse while his dad just did whatever he darned well pleased with nary a word from her. That is where my husband has been trying to put me. I keep reminding him I'm not his "mother" and won't go into my senior years like she did. Therefore, I am talking with some church friends about a rental. I hate leaving my house but he refuses to leave, yet after I leave him alone here and he loses his maid, it won't be long before he is gone and I'll be back in my house. sigh...what a wasted 30 years. Oh the regrets. Those of you reading this, do not think they will change. THEY DON'T!! You just learn to live with it. And let me tell you, that's NOT living!
Dec 5, 2013 8:11PM
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Forgot to mention that he drinks EVERY night after work. Either on the job or at the bar, but doesn't drag in until 2 to 6 hours after he gets off work! Then if I say anything it's a big fight, so I have been trained to just keep my mouth shut (just like his mom was with his dad). Then when he gets home, he sits on the back porch and drinks until bedtime or drinks with the neighbor until the wee hours of the morning. I have found him passed out on the sidewalk next to the house at 3 am, on the back porch, in the front yard. But until HE admits he has a problem, there is nothing more I can do. Wish me luck and please pray for me. I only have a part time job and only make 180 a week, so I pretty much HAVE to take a rental from a friend who will cut me a break.
Aug 6, 2014 10:28PM
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HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK!!! i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to Prophet ogul for bringing back my husband who left i and the kids for almost two months. i am very much grateful to Prophet ogul. I pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to help more people having similar problem like mine. for help you can reach him on his email address: doctorogul@gmail.com he is very powerful and can solve any kind of problem below.
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Aug 6, 2014 10:28PM
avatar

HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK!!! i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to Prophet ogul for bringing back my husband who left i and the kids for almost two months. i am very much grateful to Prophet ogul. I pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to help more people having similar problem like mine. for help you can reach him on
his email address: doctorogul@gmail.com he is very powerful and can solve any kind of problem below.
Do you want your ex lover back?
Do you want to get pregnant?
Do you want your husband to appreciate you?
Do you want to be famous or rich?
Do you want to be a celebrity?
Do you your business to grow excessively?
Do you want to be honorably good academically?
Do you need a job?
Do you need a husband?
Do you have problem in your marriage life?
Contact doctorogul@gmail.com today for speed help:

Aug 12, 2014 10:44AM
avatar
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Jul 13, 2014 5:29PM
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my husband dumped me 9(nine) months ago after I accused him of seeing another girl. I wanted him back in my life but he refused to have any contact with me. He changed his mobile number, blocked me from sending him mails and even on facebook. I was so confused and lost concentration that made me lose my job, it was disastrous. I kept seeing on several blogs how a spell caster keeps helping people get their ex back and I contacted this spell caster called DR OYAKHILOMEN for help, he assured me in 48hours that my ex will return to me, and to my greatest surprise my ex called me for the first time since we broke up. I am so happy that my love is back again, we are now happier than ever and I have gotten a job far better than my previous one, once again thank you DR OYAKHILOMEN , you are truly gifted and powerful. Email this wonderful man on  oyakhilomenspiritualhome@gmail.com. He is the only answer to your problems. He can be of great help and I will not stop publishing his name for the good work he did for me . again his email address is oyakhilomenspiritualhome@gmail.com


Mar 10, 2014 7:54PM
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My Name is Marry campbell, From United Kingdom. I wish to share my testimonies with the general public about what this man called aluda has just done for me , this man has just brought back my lost Ex husband to me with his great spell, I was married to this man called MICHEAL we were together for a long time and we loved our self’s but when I was unable to give him a child for 2 years he left me and told me he can’t continue anymore then I was now looking for ways to get him back until a friend of mine told me about this man and gave his contact email
then you won’t believe this when I contacted this man on my problems he prepared this spell cast and bring my lost husband back, and after a month I miss my month and go for a test and the result stated am pregnant am happy today am a mother of a baby girl, thank you once again the great uwa for what you have done for me.Contact him on his private email if you are out there passing through any of this problems listed below:

1) If you want your ex back.
(2) if you always have bad dreams.
(3) You want to be promoted in your office.
(4) You want women/men to run after you.
(5) If you want a child.
(6) You want to be rich.
(7) You want to tie your husband/wife to be
yours forever.
(8) If you need financial assistance.

Nov 9, 2013 10:29PM
avatar
i just want to share my testimony here.. i was married for 12 years to my husband and all of a sudden, another woman came into the life of my husband.. he started hailing me and he was abusive..but i still loved him with all my heart and wanted him at all cost…then he filed for divorce..my whole life was turning apart and i didn't know what to do..he moved out of the house and abandoned me and my 3 kids.. so someone told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back and introduced me to a spell caster called ashra so i decided to try it reluctantly..although i didn't believe in all those things… then when he cast the spell, after 3 days that he told me, my husband came back and was pleading..he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn't believe it.. anyways we are back together now and we are happy..in case anyone needs this man help, his email address ashraspellhome@yahoo.com  his spells is for a better life


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