If you and your spouse have separated in contemplation of divorce, it’s prudent to take stock of many areas in your life. The financial decisions you make are especially important at this time, in order to protect yourself and the future you hope to have. Separation of assets is critical to your situation.
Whether you have already decided to divorce or continue to weigh your options, you may opt to take a range of actions involving your bank accounts, credit cards and investments. This could prevent your spouse from causing you financial harm during the divorce process.
Evaluate your financial health
While working through the emotions and turmoil of separation or divorce, it can feel overwhelming to set aside time and energy to address your finances. However, you will benefit from having an up-to-date awareness of your assets and debts when it’s time to make decisions about the future.
When contemplating separation of assets you should evaluate your financial health.
- Make a list of your financial assets: Create a list of all your bank accounts, investment accounts, property and other major assets. Include joint assets and those assigned solely to you or your spouse. Gather documentation related to all these accounts.
- Track and record your expenses: Prepare to have your finances analyzed throughout divorce proceedings by keeping a record of your expenses. Make a list of your monthly bills, as well as child care, pet costs and day-to-day expenses such as groceries and household items.
- Don’t take on new debts: While you might be tempted to go on vacation or buy a new car, don’t make any major purchases and definitely don’t enlarge your debt at this time. Unusual or large spending during separation and divorce may be damaging to your legal case.
- Timing matters in financial separation: The divorce process is lengthy and finances can change quickly, so keep a journal of milestones. Any time a financial decision is executed before the divorce process moves forward, make a note of the date. It can be helpful later in establishing a timeline.
Separate your accounts before divorce
Regardless of where you’re at in the separation and divorce process, it’s never too early to complete separation of assets.
Though some assets such as your home may have to be divided by a judge, you can set up separate accounts for your day-to-day banking, cell phone provider and more.
Read our past blog post on, ‘How Retirement Accounts Get Divided During a Divorce.‘
- Sever joint accounts: Sharing a bank account with your spouse means they have access to your funds, so you may consider establishing your own account where you can safely manage your money. To avoid legal problems later, you should continue accessing your funds as normal, and you must continue contributing your portion to household expenses. Remember, spending outside of normal living expenses prior to or during the divorce may, in certain situations, be dissipation of the marital estate.
- Consider utility, cell phone bills: Is the electric bill under your name? Do you share a cell phone plan? Who holds the title to your car? Depending on your answers to questions such as these, you may decide to cancel services or establish your own accounts.
- Communicate your plans: Your desire to protect your financial future is normal and acceptable, so there’s no reason to hide your actions. If the situation is manageable, talk with your spouse about the changes you’re making. Discuss how you’ll manage mutual expenses during the separation. Keep your own interests in the forefront, but remember that cooperation is key to permanently resolving these matters.
Seek Outside Support
Contact Sterk Family Law Group if you would like to file for legal separation or are contemplating divorce. Our legal team will evaluate your unique situation and partner with you to create a plan to help you move forward.
Our experienced family law attorneys also assist with guardianship issues.