Divorce, Debt, and Finances

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7 Things You Should do Before Asking For a Divorce

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Planning for your divorce is important.

7 Things You Should do Before Asking For a DivorceAfter spending years with someone else, parts of your life become entwined with your significant other-- finances, belongings, and children, not to mention your self.

That being said, when you know it's time to part ways for whatever reason, you should begin planning to protect yourself from losing things that are rightfully yours and falling into a financial black hole.

There are several steps you can take to ensure that you get what is important to you along with some peace of mind.

Below are 7 things you should take care of before you ask for a divorce:

  1. Withdraw your money from the bank.  While this is a smart move to make, don't irrationally drain your accounts. Take half of the money in any savings accounts, open your own individual account, and don't spend any of it until the final division is determined. Leave a joint checking account alone, as most likely this is used to pay household bills; withdrawing funds may cause checks to bounce or late payments to accrue on accounts, sending you and your soon-to-be-ex in a financial tailspin. 
  2. Cancel or reduce credit card limits.  This practice is to reduce future liability.  You never know how the other person will act after being told a divorce is looming. Some people, out of hurt and anger and often without much thought, go out and spend like there is no tomorrow. High balances on credit cards must be paid back one way or another. So, to protect yourself and the angry spouse from financial ruin, either close the accounts or reduce the spending limit. You can let your spouse know that things are tight and the family needs to cut back, so they are aware of the closed or reduced accounts. 
  3. Take treasured items to a "safe house."  Throughout the years we all collect treasures that are keepsakes we would be devastated to lose. Your family heirlooms, pictures, jewelry, high school yearbooks, coin collection, or even pictures your children drew for you are all items you would hate to lose in your soon-to-be-ex's bonfire he may be inclined to put them in. So as the time nears you may want to transfer these items to a safe place; your friend's house, your parent's house, or maybe even a storage facility.
  4. Don't make any unnecessary major purchases. Resist the urge to "treat" yourself to expensive major purchases, like new cars, flat screen TVs, motorcycles, or expensive jewelry. When you finally do make the split you may not have the luxury of affording these items any longer, which could lead to late payments, repossession of the goods, and a major hit to your credit. Not only may you find the items unaffordable, your soon-to-be-ex may show the judge your purchases and say you can afford this and all the other expenses.
  5. Stay in your home.  Obviously if the situation is abusive or unbearable you should leave. If at all possible though, stay in the home-doing this can strengthen your stand on custody and possibly your personal or marital property. Since the laws vary from state to state, talk to your attorney before making the decision to leave.
  6. Start saving money.  Wait awhile before filing for divorce, and start saving money if the situation lends itself. Saving money will enable you to afford a security deposit and first month's rent when the time comes to move out. Consider saving enough for a few months worth of household expenses.  
  7. Build up your own credit.  If you don't have credit cards in your own name, now is the time to get some. You may need credit as you venture out onto your own and be unable to obtain any based on your own situation and income. Start using the cards instead of cash and pay the balances in full each month. Use your credit wisely and don't use more than you can afford to pay or you will get yourself in trouble.

Divorce is hard enough as it is, but planning can help alleviate some of the stress. Doing your due diligence ahead of time can keep you from becoming overwhelmed and stressed when the time to say "I want a divorce" comes.

 More from Divorce, Debt & Finances:

Sharing Your Kids for the Holidays

The Ins & Outs of Insurance after a Divorce

Beat the Divorce Blues

Things You Should do Before Asking for a DivorceSuzanne 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.  Follow Suzanne on Twitter where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check with her ADivorcedMom and AskCareOne accounts.

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  • Bringing up financial issues with your spouse or significant other is never easy. In many relationships, couples differ when it comes to finances.

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