Divorce And Your Finances, Six Months Later

by David Bakke

I recently went through a divorce, and besides all of the psychological and emotional effects it will have on you, another piece of the pie not to be ignored is the financial fallout. In the first few months following my divorce, I was scared to death that this new elephant in my financial house (namely, a monthly child support check) might actually prevent me from paying my bills on time and staying out of debt. Well, I thought it might prove helpful to give you a glimpse of how I am doing six months after my divorce became final.

The Numbers

Depending on the logistics of your divorce, you should be able to count on a decrease in monthly bills. In my situation, my wife and son moved out and I remained in the house we used to all live in. I will give you a breakdown of what I have noticed as far as changes in my monthly finances. Even if you end up moving out and your wife/children stay in the original house, I’d imagine you could expect results similar to mine.

  • Utilities:  Just about across the board, they dropped about 30%. However, this wasn’t without a little adjusting on my part. Go through your house and unplug unused appliances (there are sure to be quite a few new ones now), re-set thermostats to conform to your work schedule, etc.
  • Food:  My monthly grocery bill dropped by about 60%. I went from feeding three mouths to feeding just one. Plus, having to buy for only my own diet (and my own likes, and dislikes) I’ve found that I am now throwing away much less food due to spoilage or non-use.
  • Take Home Pay:  My take home pay actually went up by about 15%. I am no longer carrying health/dental insurance for my wife, and after adjusting my filing status and withholdings, I am now taking home about 15 percent more money.
  • Tax Hit:  However, plan on a tax hit in the first year filing after your divorce is final. Unfortunately, I was an idiot and got divorced right at the end of 2010. Had I delayed it just slightly to get into 2011, I still could have filed as married (remember, the IRS considers your filing status for any particular year to be that of whatever your status was on the last day of that year). Going from filing as married to filing as single/head of household will more than likely put a dent in your tax refund.

Another note on child support. Unfortunately, in my state, the amount of child support is determined strictly on the income of myself and my now ex-wife. It has nothing to do with the actual money it took to raise my child. What I currently have to pay in child support far outweighs what I was paying to raise my son when he lived with me. That’s what scared me. However, with all the information above, I’d imagine that it works out to be a wash, if not a little bit in my favor.

The Psychological Aspect

Although this has nothing to do with money, I thought I’d mention a little about the psychological aspect of going through a divorce. In the beginning, it was devastating for me. Going from seeing my son every single day to a fraction of that was very tough to swallow. However, I will tell you that it gets better over time. What you need to focus on is making sure that the psychological toll on you child(ren) is minimized as much as possible. Remember,  you are much better equipped to deal with this stuff than they are. Put you own problems to the side and focus on your children. But, personally speaking, it does get easier over time.


I’ll be honest with you—although my divorce definitely had to happen and I am much better off because of it—divorce sucks! Especially when there are children involved. However, through a review of your living habits and not losing sight of ways to save on your every day bills, you can at least minimize the financial toll it can take on you.

Do you have any thoughts on divorce and your finances? Your comments and thoughts are appreciated below.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: