If your facing a divorce then you are facing the division of all that has been acquired during the marriage. This may even include your income and can lead to financial instability. In extreme cases, even bankruptcy. Below are some helpful tips to help you be prepared for the financial trouble of divorce. As always each case is different so this should not be taken as legal advice. Contact us for a free case evaluation to see which tips apply to your situation.
Advise your spouse that you are doing it and if there are balances remaining on those credit cards make arrangements so the credit cards cannot be used to incur additional debt in your name.
Make only the minimum payments. Try not to get behind, but until it is determined who will be responsible for the debt or for what portion of the debt, minimum payments only should be made.
Whether this is done by agreement or by simply going to the bank and withdrawing one half of the balance, do so immediately. Advise your spouse that you have done this. If your spouse has liquidated any accounts in whole, preventing you from gaining a one half share see an attorney immediately, so that an accounting can be made and the funds will not be spent.
These will include copies of your most recent mortgage statements, pension plan values, and credit card statements, etc.
Do not allow your spouse to hide or leave with joint financial records such as federal, state and local income tax forms. Make sure that you have copies of all of these documents.
Personal papers include things such as your birth certificate, military discharge, social security records, etc. Don’t take the risk that these items will be “lost” during the divorce. Secure them in a safe location such as a safety deposit box.
Make a list of all items that have been acquired during the marriage including furniture, knick-knacks, tools, outdoor items, etc. If you anticipate any underhanded behavior on the part of your spouse it may be best to photograph these items.
These items are separate property and the court cannot give them to your spouse. Collect the evidence showing that these items were gifts to you with either receipts or statements from the individuals giving them to you.
If this is possible stop it immediately. There is no further reason to contribute to an asset, which may be subject to division. In addition, while your divorce is pending you may require an additional cash flow by freeing up these contributions.
While it may be necessary to provide for living expenses and other day-to-day needs, the creation of debt after separation of the parties or after a divorce action is filed may be assigned exclusively to the person who created the debt.
You have as much right to reside in the marital home as your spouse. If you are the income earner and leave the marital residence you may be required to continue to pay for the marital residence along with your new living arrangements. If you are not the income earner of the household and you leave, you may find yourself in a situation that could last weeks or months before receiving court order support. Obviously, if the situation has become unbearable or there is violence in the household leave immediately, but if neither of these are present then you could be jeopardizing your financial position by leaving the marital house.
If your spouse has left the home you are perfectly entitled to change the locks in order to attempt to prevent them from removing marital property. However, be advised they have as much legal right to be in the home as you do and they may call a locksmith or even break the window. If your spouse has left the home in excess of thirty (30) days you are entitled to a restraining order for exclusive use of the home. See an attorney under those circumstances immediately.
You are about to have your finances significantly change. You should consult with an attorney to determine levels of support that you will receive or have to pay and then you should examine this along with your income to determine where changes need to be made. You should have a temporary budget in mind, but also be thinking towards the future when the divorce is over so that you are well prepared to begin your new life financially secure.
During the divorce the court will issue temporary orders that may order child or spousal support or both. Whether you are receiving this or have to pay it, your financial circumstances are going to change. If you are in need of these orders it could take as long as eight (8) weeks to receive them, depending on how quickly you get with an attorney. If you are going to be subject to paying under these orders it is going to cut into your financial resources significantly. Prepare for the immediate couple of months after the filing of divorce accordingly.
Statements by a spouse such as “your entitled to nothing” or “I am going to take everything” are meaningless. Your spouse is not a divorce attorney. Before acting on any financial threats, consult with a lawyer.
Even if the two of you are in basic agreement about the division of your marital property do not sign off on accounts, cancellation of debts or general written agreements until you have consulted with an attorney. Signing agreements prior to the initiation of proceedings could later lead to financial disaster.
A professional divorce lawyer can assist you with these and other means of securing your financial future. If you would like a free case evaluation covering support levels and financial matters Contact us.
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