How Do I Protect Myself Financially in a Divorce?
Dividing your assets during a divorce can be a harrowing experience, especially if your split is acrimonious and one or both spouses are out for revenge.
You need to protect yourself and your children, if you have any, during this process. A critical part of this is making sure your finances are protected as well.
The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that can cost you your home, savings, or retirement. Until your divorce is finalised, follow these three tips to keep your money safe. If you don’t, you may find paying for the next stage of your life to be a struggle.
Don’t Blow Your Budget
Now is not the time to reach into your joint checking account to splurge on a vacation, no matter how badly you need it. It’s okay to use your joint account for the usual expenses, but keep in mind every financial move you make is going to be under scrutiny. If a judge gets the impression you are trying to take more than your share, it could come back to haunt you later.
One big expense you’ll have that is out of the ordinary is a divorce lawyer. Your soon-to-be ex will have one, too. If your divorce is amicable, you may be able to come to an agreement about how much is fair for you to each take out of your accounts to use for this purpose.
If you are at each other’s throats and you can’t agree on anything, filing for a legal separation may be the best option. This would force you to come to an agreement about how you are allowed to use your money until your divorce is finalised.
It’s okay to use your joint account for the usual expenses, but keep in mind every financial move you make is going to be under scrutiny.
Know the Value of Your Assets
You and your ex need to evaluate and clarify your assets to make sure you know what they are and how much they are worth. This could include any of these types of property and investments:
- Your home
- Your bank accounts
- Any stocks or bonds
- Your pensions
- Your life insurance policies
- Any vacation homes
- The furnishings in your home
- The artwork you’ve collected
- Your appliances
- Your vehicles
- Any recreational vehicles
- Your boats
- Any small businesses you own
Once you’ve identified all of your assets, you’ll need to identify what belongs to you, what belongs to your ex, and what belongs to both of you. If you can’t agree how to divide the assets that belong to you both, this may be decided during mediation or negotiations in court.
Get an Attorney and a Financial Advisor
You may be considering skipping hiring an attorney because you are still on reasonably friendly terms and you believe you can handle negotiations yourselves. Divorce laws are complicated, and they differ from state to state, so it pays to follow the advice of specialist attorneys.
An attorney can also make the divorce proceedings quicker and take some of the stress and burden off of you. You can let them handle the paperwork, negotiations, and anything else that is taking up so much of your time that you have no energy left for self-care.
A financial advisor is also critical during this time, especially if you aren’t very financially savvy or you have valuable assets. If your spouse has been handling most of the bills, you may not understand enough about your expenses to be sure you walk away with enough to start over.
Even if you and your ex agree on most things and you agree this is for the best, divorce can still be an emotional time. Having impartial professionals on your side who can speak in your best interest can make this process much easier for you both.