We all know times are tough and going through a divorce is never easy.

Under the best of circumstances, divorce can take a toll on you financially. But now, more than ever, it is important to make decisions with a sound mind and not out of anger, for both you and your soon to be ex.

The good news is that there are smarter and better ways to deal with divorce in times of financial distress. 

It may not be what you want, but it may help keep you and your ex-spouse from drowning in debt.

 1. Work together.  I know; easier said than done, right? You hate each other's guts right now, but working together may ease the financial burden for both of you. Paint a financial picture of your current situation, and then a separate one for each of you. Keep in mind, running two households costs about 40% more that running one.  If you can't talk about this without poking each other's eyes out, consider asking an additional neutral party to be present-- a mediator, a financial advisor, your accountant, a marriage counselor, or even a mutually trusted friend.

2. Sever ties with caution.  If you have joint accounts, closing them may not be your best option. It may be difficult to re-open them on your own. In addition, closing lines of credit in good standing may negatively impact your credit. Instead, consider removing one of you from the account after divorce agreements have been met.

3. Pay down debt.  While you are living under one roof, there is no time like the present to pay down your debt. You are still "sharing" expenses, so use every penny you can to pay down outstanding debts, starting with the highest interest rate accounts first.

 4. Get insured.  Medical debt can be the most devastating of all debts and the most difficult to deal with. While you were married, you and your spouse may have been insured under one or the other's health insurance policy through an employer. The kids, if you have them, were probably covered under this same policy. When you become divorced, you will need your own coverage. The least expensive way to obtain coverage is through your employer. So, if you are the spouse without coverage make sure you apply as soon as you are able. During the transition most employers offer "COBRA" coverage. "COBRA" enables the uncovered spouse eligibility for continued coverage at slightly over the group cost for individual coverage. Most "COBRA" plans last about 36 months after a divorce.

5. Liquidating assets.  Your financial picture may be bleak as you enter divorce proceedings, but don't force yourself to make decisions you may regret. For example: You are in a home that is "upside down;" selling now may force both of you into a financial tailspin. Consider alternatives:  One party stays (with financial help from the other), re-financing, or renting. Taking money from your retirement comes with huge penalties both now and when you are faced with retirement. Use this as a last resort.

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Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor working in our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne. Suzanne writes for our Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs.  As a soon to be divorced single mom, Suzanne also writes for the Divorce, Debt, and Finances blog. Ask her questions, share your story or just follow Suzanne on her journey as she navigates dealing with divorce, debt, and finances. Suzanne is also very active on Twitter and manages two CareOne accounts: ADivorcedMom and Ask CareOne where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check.

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