Going through a divorce is a traumatic experience for all parties involved. Holding onto your sanity during this challenging time is a daunting task, but there are steps you can take to lessen the impact. This is especially true when it comes to your finances. So, here are ten tips to consider if you want to protect your financial future.
1. Lawyer Up
Talk to an attorney immediately. Even in the most peaceful separations, ex-spouses find their bank accounts taking a hit. An experienced divorce attorney in New Orleans recommends finding legal representation the moment divorce is on the table to save your finances during the process.
2. Check Your Credit
Credit card companies and websites like creditkarma.com allow you to check your credit score whenever you want. If you don’t have access to either, Equifax and Transunion allow three free credit reports each year.
Checking your scores now identifies where you stand, which accounts are jointly held with your spouse, and how your soon-to-be ex could damage your score. This allows you to close up any loose financial ends necessary while preparing for the worst.
3. Close Joint Accounts
Once your joint accounts are identified, switch them over to your name as fast as possible. Cutting off your spouse’s access to your money is vital during this time. They hold the potential to run up a bill or fail to make payments, which could severely damage your financial future.
4. Open New Accounts
Some individuals may not have a credit card or an account in their name. It isn’t uncommon for couples to share all of their accounts, but that reality is coming to an end. If you don’t have any individual accounts, now is the time to open them.
5. Start Tracking All of Your Money
Take the time to sit down and write out each account you have and what money is in them. You need to know if these equities are tampered with by your ex, as well as what’s rightfully yours. That includes:
- Real estate purchases
- Insurance policies
- Brokerage accounts
- Tax returns
- Bank accounts
- and Property (everything from jewelry to furniture)
6. Consider Child Support
While you hopefully receive shared custody of your child or children, that isn’t always how divorces pan out. Stay positive, but prepare for the worst and discuss child support with a family law attorney. You can find plenty of free consultations to help you understand how this could affect you financially.
7. Titles and Deeds
If you and your spouse own any property, then there’s a title or deed attached to it. Every married couple should have both their names on these documents in case of a spouse’s death, but now is the time to ensure this is the case if you hope to gain any cash during your settlement.
8. Update Your Will
You might not have one written out just yet, but you need to take your spouse out of the will if you do. Change beneficiaries as well to avoid letting them walk away with your assets, too.
9. Create a Budget
Keep in mind that you’re losing roughly half of the income you relied on. Even in the worst cases, some money will still leave with your spouse. Re-plan your monthly budget to reflect this change and ensure you’re set for the future.
10. Stay Educated
The more you learn about divorce proceedings, the better. An attorney can help you understand how future legal proceedings will happen but meeting them halfway is an excellent idea. Sites like Nolo or Divorcenet are exceptional resources.