Going from a two-income household to a single-income home is one of the big post-divorce challenges. Even more so if you have children, their expenses following a divorce tend to be greater when managing your own household and child support does not necessarily cover many of the regular and customary expenses for your children. Fortunately, sharing custody can help.
Before you set your heart on gaining sole custody of your children or accept your spouse’s offer to take them on weekends only, consider how limiting that will be for you. The more time you spend looking after your kids, the less time you have to generate earnings and increase your income potential. It is especially important if you are a woman because, as a recent study shows, divorce hits female finances hardest of all:
- The household income for women drops 40% on average following divorce, but men’s only drops 25%.
- Men regain their pre-divorce household income in five years, but women are still only at three-quarters of theirs after five years
There are several possible reasons for the difference. First, women tend to take the greater share of custody, leaving them less time to work. Second, women often earn less for doing the same job as a man. While some companies have taken steps to change this, the gender pay gap is still a significant issue.
Courts are frequently increasing shared physical custody
Once upon a time, people would have looked at you in horror if you suggested a father received an equal amount of time with the kids when you divorce. However, the traditional custody norms are shifting, and many judges now realize that raising kids is not limited to their Mother, but instead recognize that in certain situations an equal shared physical custodial schedule is in the best interest of the children.
Having enough time to build wealth is key to progressing after a divorce. Gaining greater financial independence can also improve the quality of your co-parenting relationship as grievances as it may help increase that spouse’s independence and self-confidence.