I am 41, have been separated from my ex for almost two years, and was supposed to be in my own house by now. But I am still living in the spare bedroom of the house my ex and I bought together years ago. I have always earned less than my ex and when we had kids together, my role shifted to that of the stay at home parent because it seemed to make more financial sense for me to drop my career than to pay for day care for three kids.
I became the default parent who kept a schedule flexible enough to take care of babies, chaperone field trips, and run errands. My job in the home was valuable, but it didn’t come with a paycheck. When I was a stay at home parent, my earning potential decreased and I became fully dependent on my ex for money and health insurance. The decision to end my marriage meant I also had to remove these layers of security. I am excited to carve my own path, but becoming financially independent after a divorce — even an amicable one — is terrifying and, thanks to the pandemic, is starting to feel impossible.
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