Surviving on One Income After Separation

Posted by Laura Robbins, Esq. on March 14, 2012 

Separation from a partner can be financially devastating. This is the case whether or not you have children, and whether or not you were married.

Financially, both partners must usually adjust to surviving on one income rather than two. Rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and vehicles need to be paid for with substantially less money available. Budgeting to pay all of your necessary expenses can seem impossible.

However, surviving this financial burden is possible. You should know what kind of assistance is available to help you while you adjust to your current situation:

1.       Support: If you were married, or if you have children with your ex-partner, you can look into trying to collect child support, spousal support, or alimony. The number for Centre County Domestic Relations, which handles the majority of support issues, is 814-355-6741. You can also consult with an attorney regarding these issues before filing, so that you know what you may or may not be entitled to, and also find out if you have a good case.

Paying Support: Having to pay child support, spousal support, or alimony can be a financial devastation upon financial devastation. Not only are you as the payer of support limited by one income, but you also must pay out extra cash from one income for the support of others. In this case, it is important for you to fully bring to the Court’s attention your financial circumstances. For example, support can be adjusted down due to health care premiums, outstanding loans, or other special financial obligations. By allowing the Court to know and understand your financial circumstances, you may be able to obtain a support figure that you can better afford. Additionally, your ex-partner may agree to lower your support obligation if he/she is aware of your financial situation and feels you cannot survive on your lowered income. 

2.       Public Assistance: If you visit the website for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare at, you can discover what types of public benefits may be available to you. As an example, it is important to note that there are different income restrictions for food stamps and cash assistance. To learn more about your eligibility, you may want to visit the Department of Public Welfare’s ‘frequently asked questions’ section, which can be found at

3.       Living on a Budget: Finding ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on items such as groceries, clothing, or toiletries can go a long way. If you have not done so already, you may want to check out “Clothes Mentor”, located on Atherton Street, for used women’s clothing. They even offer professional attire on a budget. Their number is (814) 234-1923.

Additionally, checking out the local Goodwill ((814) 237-8006) or Saint Vincent’s store ((814) 867-3131) can be a great way to save money on needed items. Buying in bulk at the grocery store and clipping coupons is helpful as well. If you have good credit, you may want to try to obtain a credit card that gives you cash back on items purchased. Some credit cards even offer 3% cash back for all gas purchases. Given today’s gas prices, that amounts to a savings of nearly 12 cents off of each gallon.

Hopefully these tips help you in preparing for one income. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

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