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How to Protect Yourself as the Breadwinning Spouse

Financial PlanningDivorce can be financially difficult for both parties, particularly in today’s economy. If you are the breadwinning spouse, you may face special difficultieswhich include but are not limited to the following:

  • Your spouse doesn’t (or refuses to) work, so you may be looking at higher amounts of spousal support and child support.
  • Your name is tied to all of the marital debts because your spouse doesn’t have good credit.
  • You’re stuck paying everything: a mortgage, two car payments, and massive credit card debt that is more than you can afford.
  • Your spouse recklessly increases your debt, and only you are held responsible.
  • Your spouse has requested pendente lite support and attorney’s fees to help him or her carry on the divorce lawsuit.

Unfortunately, these are examples of some of the pitfalls that come with being the breadwinning spouse. Here are four tips to help protect yourself before, during and after the divorce process:

  1. Do not tie yourself to more debt than you can handle, even if you expect your spouse to help pay. A court may order that your spouse be required to contribute to the marital debts, but he or she may still default, and your credit will still suffer.
  2. If you know your spouse is financially irresponsible, cut of his or her ability to increase the debt in your name as soon as possible. If he or she needs money, pay that money to your spouse in advance.
  3. If you regularly encourage your spouse to work, put it in writing. Also, keep track of any old paystubs and tax returns evidencing former income to him or her.
  4. Seek pendente lite relief in the form of contribution toward marital debts. You may be required to pay support, but you can ask that your spouse use that support to pay his or her car payment, credit card payments, etc.

For more information, see Spousal Support in Virginia.

The divorce attorneys at Livesay & Myers are experienced in handling the financial difficulties of the divorce process. If you are facing a divorce in Northern Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.