While divorce can be highly emotional, it’s also – at its practical core – a legal process. The decisions you make can affect you and your family for years to come in this regard.
Aside from decisions around parenting time (if you have children), most of the decisions and agreements in your divorce will involve your finances. It’s crucial to take steps to protect your financial future as early as possible – even before you’ve begun the divorce process (unless you were blindsided by your spouse).
Getting your own bank account
Whether you’re concerned about your soon-to-be ex playing games with your shared money or not, it’s smart to start separating your finances. Some financial professionals advise taking half of the money in any joint bank accounts and moving it to an account solely in your name. If you do that, be sure that your income goes into your account.
Of course, this can wreak havoc on the family finances if you do this without any communication with your spouse about how you’ll divide shared expenses. It can also be viewed as “messing with” the marital estate if you make this move without communicating first. As a result, it’s best to consult with your legal team before making these moves unless there’s a chance your spouse will drain your shared bank accounts immediately.
Keep a close eye on your credit report
Protecting your credit is even more important than protecting your savings. It’s wise to get a copy of your credit report from the three major credit monitoring companies so that you have a full picture of your credit rating and any debt products (credit cards, loans and so forth) with your name on them. Keep an eye on these reports throughout the divorce and after as you and your spouse negotiate how share debts will be paid off.
It’s also often recommended that divorcing spouses pay off and close shared credit cards and then get at least one new one in your name only. As long as both of your names are on a credit card account, you’re both responsible for it. Credit card companies don’t care what the status of your marriage is.
Create a post-divorce budget
Even though a lot of things are still up in the air, and will be at least until the divorce is settled, you need to know what your expenses will be once you’re living on your own. This will help you determine your strategy for dividing assets and debts with your spouse as well as what, if any, support you may need to seek.
These are just a few ways to help protect your financial future as you divorce. By seeking sound legal guidance as soon as possible, you can better start mapping out what you want that future to look like and how to turn your visions into reality.