It’s been more than a decade since my husband became my “wasband.” No regrets there. But as a mother of two, it took me years to recover financially from our divorce.

Experts are predicting a surge in divorces brought on by the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and spouses being quarantined together. According to some news reports, searches for divorce-related information have increased more than 30% since March and legal websites report that sales of templated legal separation forms have already spiked 34%.

Women should tread carefully and be particularly savvy at this time. A 2018 study in the journal Demography found that that while both women and men are hurt economically by divorce, men recover more quickly. “Women have disproportionate losses in household income and assets and increases in their risk of poverty and single parenting,” the study concluded. For men, divorce is an economic pothole; for women, it can be a cliff.

Even if the pandemic has only solidified your determination to break free, you may want to take a few deep breaths and seriously count the cost.

Make sure it’s not just the Covid talking. Lockdown restrictions have made for a very trying time. Many families are facing economic uncertainty. Many are wrestling with child care, distance learning and all the other responsibilities that have been heaped upon parents — and disproportionately mothers. Bottom line: Things are not normal right now and nothing during this time should be used as an indicator of the rest of your life. It may just be time for some virtual therapy — as a couple or an individual. That is, if you are not the victim of any physical or emotional abuse.

For others who are seriously contemplating a divorce, here’s some advice on how to prepare.

If you haven’t been sharing the money matters of the household, get a better understanding of your marital finances. Learn about all the bank accounts and other assets, and get copies of recent tax returns. Make sure you have assets in your name, including cash reserves and at least one credit card.

Financially preparing for the end of your marriage means painting a realistic picture of your future. Ask yourself what your housing situation will look like. Can you afford the mortgage on your own, or should you start looking at apartments? If you have kids, what school districts can you afford? Develop a budget, and leave extra room for late child-support payments, emergency home or car repairs, and, especially now, medical costs. If you are the higher wage earner in your home, brace yourself for the possibility of paying your ex-husband spousal support — a tough realization for many women.

For higher-earning women, there are a few reasons the pandemic’s economic climate may work in your favor. A high wage-earner who has taken a pay cut or is facing job insecurity may be able to reduce the amount of support a spouse could get, thereby benefiting from divorcing while finances are less stable and income is deflated, notes Jacqueline Newman, the managing partner of  the divorce law firm Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP in New York City.

“Generally speaking, the higher-earning spouse wants to file for divorce when the stock market is down and income levels are down because there is less to distribute and support packages can be lower,” says Newman, who is also the author of “The New Rules Of Divorce.” In the same vein, she says, the lower-earning spouse “wants to file when the stock market is high and income levels are higher because there is more to distribute and support packages could be higher.”

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