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Monica Medina

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The Divorce Savings Plan

Posted: 09/27/11 07:32 PM ET

When I was a kid, growing up in the sixties, I remember how our local bank offered a Christmas Club savings account. You could deposit as little as $1 a week and by the end of the year, you'd have more than enough cash to buy gifts for everyone.

Some banks may still offer a Christmas savings account. But, if you ask me, it would have been nice if banks also offered a Divorce Club savings account. Imagine if my parents had had the foresight to start such an account for me when I was just seven, I would have had enough money to get divorced in style. I mean, a dollar a week, multiplied by 30 years, add in the two percent average interest rate, amortized, and well, I'm no financial whiz by any means, but that would have given me a tidy bundle.

I'm pretty sure that by the time my marriage hit the skids, I would have had enough funds to hire any one of the attorneys who represented Tiger Woods, Rupert Murdoch or even Mel Gibson, for at least a week. A friend had once suggested I hire an attorney that would go for the jugular. I assumed he meant my ex's jugular, but lawyers like that were certainly beyond my means. Yet, if I'd had a divorce savings account, I might have been able to afford one who could give my ex a slap on the wrist.

Divorce is pricey, and the meter starts running right out of the gate, the moment you decide to separate and live apart. It's enough to give the term, "separation anxiety," a whole new meaning. In fact, I happen to know at least one couple who decided to stay together, simply because they could not afford the hefty price tag of divorce.

For starters, in one fell swoop, you and your spouse go from paying the rent/mortgage on one home to paying for two, not to mention all the other costs associated with maintaining two households. And this is before you have even hire a lawyer! If you ask me, two of everything is over-the-top expensive.

Which is why my ex and I tried to do it on a shoestring. Instead of moving out, he moved across the hall. This didn't last long, though. It became too much for me when I overheard him planning a weekend getaway with the other woman. Which is when it hit me:

Unless you're six degrees from living on the streets, saving money isn't a good enough reason to live under the same roof with a spouse who no longer feels anything for you, not even a modicum of compassion.

The way I see it, if he had time to plan a romantic vacation, then he should have enough time to find a place to live. And, sure enough, 48 hours later, he did just that and began packing up his things.

To help with the costs of two households, I took a page from Kate and Allie. For those of you who don't recall, "Kate & Allie" was a popular sitcom during the 80's, about two divorced moms who moved into a New York brownstone together, with their kids in tow. Perhaps they did it in order to give each other much needed emotional support. I think they did it to save money. Either way, it was a smart idea.

With my ex now out of the house, I had to contend with the mortgage. I had a friend who was just separating from her husband, so I invited her and her children to move in. Between her three, and my two, we had a full house. Together, not only were we able to save money, but we could also commiserate, sharing our "war" stories, while taking turns watching each other's kids, when needed. And, at least once a week, we'd try to gather for a family meal.

We were a new kind of family. A Kate and Allie plus five, and for a year this proved to be an admirable solution. I was able to pay the mortgage, stress-free, while searching for a job. Meanwhile, living with me helped my friend save up enough to get a place of her own. And, once the house was sold, and the proceeds divvied up, I was able to move out and find a small place for me, and my kids. The divorce tab was running, but thanks to these actions, it was running at a much slower speed.

So, despite not having a divorce savings account, I made it through, with the help of a housemate. And, if you ask me, it was just what we both needed to get us through the high-cost of divorce.

 

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