Everyone’s circumstances are different but she has some advice that proved useful for her.
She had a joint mortgage, joint bank accounts and two young children to look after. Keeping the house meant that at least her children had stability and continuity but meant that she would have to keep paying the mortgage.
I asked how she managed to deal with the emotional upheaval, the sense of betrayal and loss AND manage to deal with the financial fallout.
She said it was tough but it gave her a badly needed sense of empowerment when she sat herself down and forced herself to face a budgeting exercise to look at her income and outgoings.
When she realised that the mortgage was going to be tough to meet, she didn’t hesitate to call the lender and negotiate a period of grace until the financial settlement was finalised.
When her estranged husband decided to cancel all the direct debits against their joint account she worked hard to reset them and realised in the process that he was trying to prove that she couldn’t do without him. On the contrary, while her world was coming to an end and everything felt surreal and almost as if it weren’t happening to her she struggled to face up to her responsibilities and found that she had an inner strength. As she grew in her confidence about her own ability to cope, his power over her diminished.
She got the property valued. She spoke to the mortgage lender. She spoke to the bank. She studied her bank accounts. She budgeted her income and she looked for a long term resolution to the problem, in her case, of working and also managing her children.
There is help available from the state and through tax credits. Some employers pay for childcare. You can negotiate flexible working hours with an employer which can help enormously with managing the ‘sick’ calls from school and ensures that you have a greater possibility of quality time with the children.
She discovered that she could fix her mortgage rate so that she knew what her outgoings on debt would be over a period of time.
Most importantly, she discovered that the more organised she was, the more in control she was.
She looked to the CSA website to understand what her husband’s maintenance obligations were to her and the children.
She emphatically recommends mediation to sort out the finances when a relationship is breaking down on the basis that pride and irritation can be very expensive when being worked through the legal system.
She says that if she hadn’t realised that taking control was the most important and practical thing that she could do, she is in no doubt that money would have been used to manipulate and bully her. She also realised that by not talking about her situation, internalising it because she felt she had failed, and was ashamed that the marriage had broken down, then she would have taken away his power over her much sooner than she managed. She recommends that being honest with friends and the people you trust, makes you more emotionally independent and less open to manipulation by an estranged spouse.
Her hurt was magnified by the hurt felt on behalf of her children. She feels that in most instances the mother is the default position and managing the children without a traditional support system is one of the hardest things alongside having to negotiate financial security.
There are other pressures too such as feeling the pressure of providing the same things for your children on a single salary to match what others are providing for theirs on a joint salary. This is difficult and something to be avoided.
But she came through it all and, some years later, she wants to reassure any woman going through it now, that there is light at the end of the tunnel; that they shouldn’t be afraid to face the difficult tasks and that facing them brings strength and self-confidence and empowerment. The best form of therapy in her opinion.
I really hope this helps you too.
"It’s ten years on for my amazing, compassionate and caring friend and now she counts herself as a strong and independent person. She should be proud of her achievements and so will you be in the future"