If divorce is inevitable in your future, you are likely filled with many uncertainties. However, if you will not be dealing with child custody issues, your overwhelming concern may be money. This is understandable since the decisions made during your settlement will affect your life for many years. Spousal support, alimony and property division will determine how securely you enter your new, post-divorce world.
You may find the division of your assets to be the most challenging, especially if you have been married a significant length of time or if your spouse was the primary manager of your household finances. Taking a systematic approach to untangling your finances may put you in a better place as you walk away from your marriage.
Establishing financial stability
Even the most amicable divorce requires careful financial planning. Many spouses find themselves trying to rebuild their nest eggs, digging into their retirement or taking on additional jobs to support themselves following a divorce. To minimize the chances that you will have to struggle to make ends meet, you can follow the advice of divorce counselors who recommend gathering as much of your financial documentation as possible as soon as the rumblings of divorce begin. This includes information such as:
- Individual and joint bank accounts
- Credit cards you and your spouse shared
- Mortgage and deed information for all real property and valuable assets
- Details about the spending habits within your marriage
- Proof of any items you consider separate from marital assets, such as an inheritance or family business
- Proof of any large purchases your spouse makes during the divorce process
By the same token, you should refrain from unchecked spending since it may impact the final settlement. However, it will be important to begin separating your financial identity from your spouse’s as quickly as possible. You can do this by opening your own checking and savings accounts and by establishing your own credit history with an individual credit card or line of credit. You may also ask your spouse to remove his or her name from a joint account so that you can continue building credit with that card.
It will be important to monitor your credit score throughout the divorce and during the ensuing changes on your accounts. It is not out of the question for a creditor to make a mistake that could damage your score, and this is not what you need at such a time. Protecting your financial future is crucial, and there are other steps you may be able to take based on your personal circumstances. Your legal advisor will certainly have additional suggestions to guide you.