Nobody wants to plan for a divorce, but it is vital to protect yourself in the event it happens. Should a divorce be on the horizon, it is important to follow this advice to put yourself in a stronger financial position and shield your relationship with loved ones.
Collect all of your financial records and deliver copies to your parents or a trusted friend. Also consider keeping them in a safety deposit box that your spouse can’t access. Having all of your records handy will save you time and money as you won’t have to reprint financial documents that your spouse may later try to hide.
It is important to open a new checking and savings account at a bank that is separate from all other joint accounts. Be sure to keep enough money in your new checking account to pay for two months of living expenses and put the rest in an interest-bearing savings account. During your divorce, you will likely need quick access to money to pay a bill or make a down payment, so it is vital not to lock-up your money.
Having a credit card in your name will help you establish your own credit, which will be essential in getting a loan, an apartment, a vehicle or a cell phone. You also may need a credit card to help with day-to-day living expenses during the divorce, since some of your other funds may be frozen or otherwise inaccessible. It is best to secure a new credit card prior to filing for divorce--especially if you are not working--because you may not be able to get sufficient credit on your own. Be aware that the charges you put on the credit card will likely be your personal responsibility
Opening your own P.O. Box will ensure that your mail is delivered to a secure place, only accessible by you, the key holder. This also will allow you to receive confidential mail from your divorce professionals, as well as your new credit card and bank statements. You will have peace of mind knowing that you do not have to run home to beat your spouse to the mailbox and to your confidential mail.
Understanding your credit scores will allow you to see where you stand and to resolve any disputes quickly. It is possible that your spouse may begin charging gifts for someone he/she is dating or squandering items purchased on joint credit cards. You should consider signing up for a credit monitoring service, which will notify you anytime there is an application for credit or a delinquent account.
As harsh as it sounds, your pregnancy can stall divorce proceedings, should you decide to get divorced. In fact, judges will not allow a divorce until paternity of the child (through genetic tests) is proven to create a custody and placement plan for the child. If you are pregnant, you may have to wait at least 9 months until your divorce is finalized.
While you should open a new credit card in your name to assist with day-to-day living expenses, be responsible and do not incur any large debt, such as a new car note or lavish purchases on credit. If you do pursue a divorce, you will need money to set up a new household and pay your bills prior to the dissolution of your marriage and division of assets. To successfully decrease your stress regarding money, be mindful of taking on any new debt.
When it comes to separation and divorce, children experience the same level of emotions and stress as adults, but they don’t have the life experience to handle it. Don’t make your children suffer or choose to live with the other parent because you are sharing too much or taking the separation out on them. Do not speak negatively about your spouse in front of your children or make them choose between parents.
When exploring options for legal representation, consider a collaborative divorce. This can provide the help of professionals--attorneys, financial advisors and therapists--to divide property and manage emotional stress. Collaborative divorce is more cooperative and less adversarial than traditional divorce.
If you eventually decide to get a divorce, you will be required to give the court a detailed account of all assets, debts and liabilities. If you are hiding an asset, it will likely be discovered, and the court can order you to return items based on marital property. Consequently, if you are concerned about your personal property, take inventory, as well as photographs and/or videos of everything, and include a date stamp.
Divorce can be very stressful. If you are separated--or considering a trial separation--these tips will provide immediate and tangible action items that you can tackle today, while also helping to steer you from unsuspecting pitfalls that can lead to a difficult divorce process.
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