Open Your Own Bank Account
No matter who decides to file for divorce, you are going to need money for legal fees, court costs, and living expense. It is a good idea to have an emergency fund available that will cover some of these costs. Once the divorce complaint and summons are served, there is something called an automatic restraining order on all assets. It’s just as alarming as it sounds and can tie your assets and ability to care for yourself into knots. It means that no money can be transferred, nor can property, stocks, or bonds be sold without express permission of the other party.
If you aren’t on speaking terms with your spouse prior to filing for divorce, you can imagine how difficult a financial transaction can become once a divorce is filed. It can also be expensive if you are reduced to communicating through lawyers. The good news is you are allowed to use the money for legal fees and for usual running of a business and living expenses.
If you don’t have your own bank account, I suggest opening up an account in a separate bank from where your joint account is held.
Do not fall into the trap of putting cash in a safe deposit box. First, it is now illegal to keep cash in those boxes and secondly, any safe deposit box and its contents have to be disclosed to your spouse during the information gathering process of the divorce.
Check Your Credit Report
Check your credit report. If you have joint accounts, what your spouse does is going to affect you. If he or she has been secretly running up debt, a lower credit score will give you a hint. CreditKarma.com will provide you free credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion.
Gather Your Financial Documents
You need to conduct a financial analysis of what you both own. Once your divorce is filed, both parties will be required by law to complete a financial statement and exchange bank account statements, tax returns, retirement account statements, W-2 statements and any loan applications that have been completed prior to the filing of the divorce.
The more information you have when you do meet with your attorney, the better prepared you both will be to negotiate a financial settlement.
If you suspect your spouse has been hiding assets or spending money secretly on purchases that have nothing to with the marriage, now is the time to become a detective. Keep an eye on credit account statements and bank balances. Look at your past tax returns.
Your marriage is a legal and binding contract, and like a company that does business with vendors and customers, there are financial rules, obligations, and safeguards to protect everyone – especially minor children. Treat your financial life as a business. Take out the emotion and be prepared to negotiate the deal that will lead to a new life of happiness.
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