No matter which side of the fence you are on in your divorce, it is psychologically
challenging and emotionally draining. As such, these are the most important
reasons why you should prep your financial situation before you file for
your divorce. Please note that we’re not suggesting that you do
anything illegal, unethical, or something that will be a detriment to
your children. These are just a few simple steps that can help make your
life a bit easier during and after the divorce.
Copy your financial records. Gather and copy all financial documentation that has your name on it,
including bank account information, mortgage information, credit card
statements, Wills, Trusts, and 401K information. Keep the copy in a secured
place, such as a safe deposit box or even at a friend’s house.
Start setting aside funds for the divorce process. Normally, this is only an issue when one spouse has complete control over
all of the finances. Oftentimes when this is the case, the controlling
spouse will cut off all finances from the other, trying to force them
to sign whatever decree is presented in front of them and trying to prevent
hiring proper representation. Set up your own account, secure the funds you need, and keep it separate
from your spouse.
Open separate bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Once you know a divorce is imminent, it’s time to set up your own,
non-joint bank account and/or credit cards if you don’t have on
already. This way, once your joint accounts are divided, you will already
have a separate account set up for the deposit. Having your own account
will also help you establish proper credit. Our office advises clients
to open their separate account at a different financial institution (different
company, not branch) until the divorce is complete. Many joint account
agreements provide that, should your spouse overdraft the joint account,
the bank can look to funds in your separate account to cover the shortfall.
Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor it
By watching your credit report, you’ll know if your spouse is trying
to ruin your credit with obscene charges, if your spouse is buying gifts
for another boyfriend/girlfriend, or if your spouse is distributing joint
funds/assets in other ways.
Open a post office box. Once you have opened new accounts, hired an attorney, etc., you will want
to ensure that you actually receive any mail from these institutions as
well as keeping them confidential from your spouse. A post office box
is easy to set up, convenient, and 100% secure from your spouse.
Talk with a lawyer about changing your beneficiaries and power of attorney
designations. Depending on the timing and jurisdiction of your case, you may want to
consider making some changes, however, it is often not proper to do so.
You should talk to a lawyer before making any such changes.
Many of these suggestions may seem petty and prone to worsen your divorce,
but trust us, they will help ease your already traumatic divorce process
and avoid problems prior to starting the divorce process that can be very
expensive to deal with during the divorce process. Be aware, though, that
many jurisdictions have Standing Orders that go into effect upon the filing
of a divorce petition and prevent some of these activities. If a divorce
has already been filed, or if you are unsure of its status, you should
talk with a good family lawyer in your area before doing anything.