STEP TWO – Work out your Monthly Cash Flow:
This is never fun. You need to take the time to list out all of the money coming in and going out. Keep careful records for a month or two. You will discover where you are spending your money, and this will help you as you settle on future alimony and/or support payments.
STEP THREE – Make copies of ALL your important paperwork:
YES, all of it. This means you need to sort through your files, drawers and cabinets. You need to get organized, BIG TIME. This is not the time for documents to be misfiled. You will be surprised how therapeutic it can be take control and put your paperwork in order. If necessary, hire an organizer to help. THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL.
STEP FOUR – Talk to your Spouse:
Yes, this may be the hardest step of all. You need to decide how you will move forward and settle the division of assets and liabilities. Hopefully, the two of you can collaborate and reach an agreement on who is moving out and what will happen with the kids or pets, if you have either. Most often, you will need to involve a neutral third party in this step.
You may each need a lawyer, or perhaps a mediated process will work for you. Make a decision early on and stick with it. It is very rare for couples to settle matters without some outside guidance. Find what works for both of you and follow through with a plan. The lists that you made in steps one and two will go a LONG way towards helping you move through this final step smoothly.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER…throughout the steps outlined above:
Alimony and Support:
Going forward you may be the recipient of some monthly payments from your spouse or you may be paying him. Keep in mind that any money coming in will be eligible to help you qualify for a future mortgage. It is important to have these payments well documented and recorded on your monthly bank statements. If you are paying your spouse, make sure that these payments out are also well documented. Don’t worry, there are some lenders who will treat those payments fairly, and they will not prohibit you from “ever owning a home again!”
Most likely the title to your family home and your current mortgage are in joint names. If you are like most women going through a separation, you have probably laid awake many nights worrying about “what will happen to the house?” Don’t panic. You should sit down with a mortgage professional and run some numbers. With an estimate of your monthly cash flow (now and after the dust settles), your mortgage broker will be able to show you how much you can