This post is sponsored by Haven Life
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I’m handling my recent separation from Matt and what kind of decisions and changes I’ve had to make personally, professionally and financially. The truth is, it’s challenging and there are many things to consider and plan for, some of which we’d rather keep private.
You might have seen on social media, but I worked with an online life insurance agency called Haven Life, to share my story and talk about some of the financial and long-term planning decisions I’ve had to make since my separation. Life insurance is a big part of my financial security plan for Mazen, so it seemed like a perfect place to share some financial decisions I’ve had to consider. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I thought you all would be interested to see some of the things I’ve had to take into consideration.
Here is what I’ve had to consider:
Enrichment activities: Our son is in preschool and attends lots of camps in the summer, so we’re figuring out how best to pay for these expenses. Moreover, as he gets older he’ll likely join sports teams, play a musical instrument or have other enrichment activities that we’ll each need to budget for.
Health insurance: Since we’ve both been self-employed for years, we have private insurance that covers the three of us together. While that will probably stay in place for the short term, Matt will be starting a new job and will likely be able to join a group plan there. If it makes sense, we’ll transfer our son’s insurance under him as well. I will likely keep my own individual health insurance policy.
Budgeting and Long-Term Planning: Speaking of budgeting, since separating both of us are adjusting to new financial plans. We now have two households and different expenses to the ones we had when we lived under the same roof. For some categories, like groceries, consumables such as toilet paper, and dining out, the cost has gone down with one less person in the house. However, since our incomes are now split, the ratio of income to expenses has gone up too. Saving for retirement and keeping emergency funds up have remained a priority for me and now I have to think about what these goals are for me as a single mom and mother.
Life insurance: We both purchased 20-year term life insurance policies when we found out that we were going to have a baby. We likely won’t need to make any changes here, since the term goes until our son is in college, and by then, he will be mostly independent. Even though we are ending our marriage, having life insurance for the father of my child is still important to me to ensure my son’s financial security. Should something happen to one of us, we have confidence that the other would be financially protected well enough to continue taking care of our son, since ultimately he is the most important thing in both of our lives. If you don’t have term life insurance, it’s very affordable and you should at least find out if you need it.
Saving for college: Just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we don’t have the same goals for Mazen. We’ll need to soon figure out the best plan for both of us to contribute to our son’s 529 college savings program. Another question we’re asking ourselves is whether, if we earn different salaries, should we still contribute equally to everything for our son or should we base our contributions on a percentage of income?
Separations are sensitive subjects, and we’re doing the best we can to make decisions big and small, as practically and as amicably as we can – especially because the most important person in this mix is our son. And, I think we’re off to a good start. I’d love to hear if any of you have any insight into these financial decisions from either personal experience or enlightening situations that you may have come across.
Thanks to Haven Life for sponsoring this post.
All good things to think about. To be honest, I have never been nor want to be this situation, so I cant speak from experience. An approach I’ve seen that I thought made sense is to do a priority map with Matt. Here are the priorities we have for Mazen that need financial commitment: College, preschool, braces (if need be), sports or music participation, travels to see family, private school, clothes, etc. Sit down and rank them from most important to you to least important. You may rank braces higher than Matt. He may rank travel to see KK higher. Work together to reevaluate and rank the priorities annually. I think it helps alleviate some of the stressful conversations down the road. Say he needs $4000 braces – It might mean that one of you pays for braces and the other covers college and sports that year or it might mean no braces if it is a low priority.
And finally, I know this is a long way down the road and I am honestly not insinuating anything, but if you or Matt remarry at any point, please consider a prenup to protect Mazen. Laws are different in each state, but sometimes they leave everything to the spouse and nothing to the child. I’ve seen the spouse take everything and provide little to nothing for the step child or they assume the other parent (your ex-spouse) will provide for the child financially.
Great suggestions – thanks!
Oh I forgot, update your will and share it with Matt and your parents. I’m pretty sure in Virginia custody immediately shifts to the non-custodial parent, but check the law. Our will is written that if we die, some of the life insurance is to be used to pay for the kids to visit their grandparents, aunts and uncles, a huge chuck is to be saved for college and a large portion to pay for raising our kids who will go to my sister. She would have 5 boys if it came down to it (3 are mine and 2 are hers) so the grocery bill will be very very high (plus wine!).
I agree with Cat’s comment about the remarry part. I have several investment, insurance and savings accounts and have different people named as beneficiary on each one but that it benefits my son and is for his care. The only one that doesn’t specify that is one policy that my husband is the beneficiary on that would cover the expenses associated with my death and our mutual debt (house mostly). I would also recommend long term disability insurance at least for Matt but potentially you too. Because there is not a second income, if one of you is not able to work, that is huge. Good luck
I literally hate to see you go through this. Been reading for a few years now and it makes me so sad.
This truly breaks my heart. Wishing all three of you the absolute best!
Congrats on becoming an aunt! Maybe you and the new baby will share a birthday!!!!!!
WHAT?! Guess I need to take a trip over to the “twenties” and get caught up!
I am with Heather—–but I also know there’s a man for you around the corner and that will feel good.
Lots of healing energy, beautiful and brilliant blogger.
I surely hope my husband and I never have to face this, but I really admire your honest and strength through it all. Thinking of you as you wade through this new life phase. 🙂
I have read and enjoyed your blog for years. I was shocked and saddened about your separation, and I wish all of you the very best. I applaud your strength and maturity in dealing with this life changing situation . If I had any advice, it would be to continue to work with Matt as a team where Mazen is concerned, which I sense is what you are doing. Biggest regret of my divorce was that we both acted on our emotions rather than thinking of the children.
It’s good to hear you are both working amicably to resolve your finances and I don’t know if you are planning to stay in your house, but I just gave my daughter some advice while house hunting – a stellar public school system should not be your priority. There are G and T programs and lotteries into charter schools. And if absolutely necessary, private. Your happiness in your neighborhood is paramount.
big HUGS. I have no clue or help in financial areas. I have always been a one income fam with Dan providing. You are an amazing girl and a sweet momma. Most of all Mazen is SO LOVED and that my friend is most important and you are doing A ++!!!
I’ve been reading your blog for years. I’m in school and hadn’t checked in in a while and I was shocked to read about your separation. I got divorced last year – no separation, just over. We have 2 children together and a lot of the financial details for them are negotiated into our divorce settlement agreement. The biggest things that I can think of off the top of my head are medical bills, insurance, and activity planning. I know things differ by state, but where I live the separation of medical bills is in proportion to the income of the two parents. I’m in school right now so my income is very small compared to my ex-husbands. He makes 85% of our combined income, therefore he is required to pay 85% of all medical bills. When I am done with school and am employed again we will re-do child support and that will change. For medical insurance, it was a no-brainer to go with his because I pay for my own and he has great benefits (inexpensive too!) through his company. That all gets taken into account and credited to him when child support is calculated, so I don’t even have to worry about the budget there. And then for activities/enrichment, it’s really up to you. We put into our agreement that if the activity is mutually agreed upon then we split it 50/50.
I will say this, if you do decide to get a divorce, PLEASE use a lawyer. Our divorce was very civil and amicable, but having a lawyer in my corner to guide me was a huge help. The best thing you can do right now is make sure you are civil with Matt and put Mazen first. I keep hearing horror stories from my friends about how messy their divorce is, how hard it is for the kids, etc. Mine is actually pretty easy. He’s a great dad, he wants time with them, and we have good communication about all things kids related. We’ve had a free hiccups, but it’s really minor in the grand scheme of things. Lean on your family for help and support when you need it. I know you all are very close, as I am with my family. They have been my rock through all of this and we are closer than ever before. xoxo
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My parents divorced when I was 8 and my mother maintained a term life insurance policy on my father all of these years.He is a heavy smoker and not that healthy, and she wanted to be sure we could bury him without being burdened, especially when we were young. It’s been 30 years now and my siblings and I took over payments for it once we were working. I’m sure it was hard for her to pay for that while raising 5 children alone, but as adults we appreciate that we will have the money to bury him without causing difficulty for our own growing families.