Financial steps to take when contemplating divorce.
Your marriage may be turbulent – but you may not be sure if you want to jump ship. Whatever the outcome may be – reconciliation, separation or divorce – there are steps to take in the interim.
Here’s your Pre-Divorce Financial Checklist
– Get a hold of financial records including tax returns, bank and credit card statements.
Find retirement and investment accounts, plus a life insurance policy. Make copies and put them in a secure place and on a flash drive for easy access. Gather information on loans, mortgage or rent, and other monthly expenses to get a full financial picture.
Scrutinize joint credit card statements to see if your spouse has been buying presents or spending marital money on a lover. Some spouses have been successful in getting these expenditures reimbursed during divorce proceedings.
If there seems to be chunks missing, then possibly your spouse has been liquidating assets or “giving” them to family and friends. After the divorce, these “gifts” would be returned to your ex-spouse.
During financial disclosure in divorce, a forensic accountant may be brought on board to investigate any financial discrepancies.
– Obtain a credit card in your name only. If you have one already, then remove your spouse as a signer on it, if she has that privilege.
Having a credit card in one’s name helps to build up a credit rating which is especially crucial once single again. Order a credit report to correct any mistakes, see what the number is, or if your spouse has caused it to take a nose dive for some reason.
If you find yourself in an emergency, then a credit card is invaluable. I could not have managed during the six weeks from when my husband left, until the interim support started, without it.
– Open a bank account in your name only to ensure that you have access to funds when the divorce commences.
I had not done this, so did not have any cash. I had to ask my mum for a hand-out. Joint accounts can temporarily be frozen during divorce, so you want to make sure to have a cash fund available.
– Set up direct payments from your joint banking account to utilities, mortgage lender, the phone company and other services so they get paid in case it is not frozen during proceedings. It makes life easier if one is not scrambling to pay these before interim support starts.
Since I had worked at our jointly owned business, I did not have an income stream to make these payments and received disconnection notices. If they had been automatically paid, this would not have happened.
– If you sense that a divorce is imminent, then cut down on expenses and tuck away the amount that you would have spent on lunches out, clothes etc.
Keep close tabs on bank accounts or investment balances, to make sure that your spouse does not withdraw a large amount and then immediately file for divorce. Some savvy women bought themselves gift cards to grocery stores and to other necessary places when feeling that their marriages might be ending soon.
– Some women had facelifts and breast implants done while still married right before heading for divorce.
A few furious husbands tried to get a partial reimbursement for these procedures, but were denied, since they were done while still married. I put off expensive dental work that I could have done during marriage. It was not covered, so I had a big bill for it when newly divorced.
A little pre-planning can make for a smoother divorce. One’s solicitor will appreciate having financial information right in the beginning of the proceedings.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce