“So Daddy Pays You?” Divorce, Money, and Emotions

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Kirsten was divorced and had primary custody of her eight-year-old son, Jack, who spent every other weekend with his father. One Friday evening when her ex-husband came to pick up their son, he handed Kirsten a piece of paper and said, "Here is your check."

Jack looked up at his mother and said, "Oh, so Daddy pays you?".

A divorce is more than the termination of a marriage. It’s a major financial event that can have repercussions for many years to come. There is no greater threat to your financial wellbeing than divorce. Unless you are very wealthy or extremely poor, both former spouses will see a decline in their lifestyle.

The money-related emotional repercussions can be significant, as well. During the marriage, Kristen had sacrificed working full time in her career to stay home and raise their son. After the divorce, she had to return to full-time employment. Her salary, plus the child support that her ex-husband paid conscientiously, were not enough to support the lifestyle the family had maintained during the marriage.

While not working wasn’t an option for Kristen, it presented a number of emotional challenges for her. She loved both her work and her son. She regretted not being as present in Jack's life as she had been as a stay-at-home parent. She resented that her current job was at a lower salary level than she would have reached without the years she had spent at home. She blamed herself for having become financially dependent on her husband, something she had feared from childhood and had promised herself she would never do.