Divorce can be a time of economic uncertainty. It’s hard to know how the courts will handle your property and even harder to predict how your spouse will react to the news of your filing.
Some people are calm and respectful during a divorce, while others become very angry. By the time you know how your spouse will react to the news of the divorce filing, it will be too late for you to take any measures to protect yourself or set yourself up for an easier transition.
There are three financial moves that you can make before you file that will help make it easier for you to get a fair divorce and to support yourself independently.
1) Open a credit card only in your name
Couples often share everything, from the checking account where they direct deposit their paychecks to the retirement savings for their golden years. Sometimes, if one spouse has better credit, all of the lines of credit the family uses will be in their name. Other times, they are will be joint accounts.
Although you may be able to start using a new credit card within hours of applying, it is usually smart to start taking small steps to establish your financial independence weeks before you file.
2) Create a thorough inventory of physical assets and accounts
Whether you hope to negotiate with your ex for a collaborative divorce without much litigation or you expect that a judge will have to settle many of the major issues, you can’t ask for fair solutions without truly understanding the economic circumstances of your household.
The division of your property can only be fair when you have an accurate inventory of all of your assets. Spouses sometimes attempt to hide certain property or diminish its value when preparing for a divorce, so creating an inventory and establishing values on your own to be a smart step.
3) Get copies of your important financial paperwork
A judge won’t know how to vote on issues in your divorce if they can’t review your household financial circumstances. You want to secure copies of paycheck stubs, federal and state tax returns, account statements and any other documents that outline income or expenses paid with household assets.
Some spouses will destroy, hide or otherwise withhold such documents during divorce in an attempt to undermine their ex’s filing or prevent them from claiming the full value of the marital estate. Planning ahead can make it easier for you to achieve fairness in your divorce, but even if you aren’t the one to file, you can push for a reasonable outcome with the right support.