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Preparing Financially for Divorce

Money, Bills, and Debts

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If Your Spouse is the Primary Breadwinner

If you believe your spouse will stop paying the bills once you file for divorce, you can ask the court to make an order for temporary support that will require him or her to give you money for the bills. However, it may take some time to get the order in place. Therefore, you may need to do some advance planning before filing for divorce. You should try to plan for a way to pay your bills for several months. This could be by borrowing from friends or relatives, establishing a credit card in your own name, or withdrawing some money from a joint account and depositing it in an account in your own name. You should use this money to pay bills and for necessities and keep track of how you use it. You also may want to delay telling your spouse about the divorce until after the mortgage or rent has been paid for the month.

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Joint Credit Cards and Bank Accounts

Some spouses withdraw more than their share from a joint bank account and by run up credit card expenses on joint accounts. The better route is to discuss in advance how to separate accounts and handle credit cards. You may decide to close the joint bank accounts and split the cash in them. If you think that approach is unwise in your situation, then you could withdraw half of the money from the joint account and use it to open an account in your name.

Close your joint credit card accounts and obtain a credit card in your own name. Any debt on the joint card can be transferred to the individual cards. Alternatively, you can tell your credit card company that no new charges can be made on the joint card. Watch your credit report to make sure that your spouse does not obtain a new joint card (or apply for a joint loan).

Ask creditors to close any joint accounts and provide you with written confirmation. Try to reopen these as individual accounts. If your ex-spouse handles a joint account irresponsibly, your credit record may suffer.

Freeze all your joint investment accounts so cash cannot be withdrawn and loans cannot be placed against them. Obtain statements for all the accounts.

A Clear Knowledge of the Family Finances

If your spouse managed all the finances, you may not have a complete picture of your joint financial health. You may wonder if your spouse is hiding money, property or debt from you.

As part of the divorce process, you and your spouse will be required to participate in financial disclosure. Financial disclosure means that you and your spouse must reveal to each other all of your assets and liabilities. Your attorney will review your spouse's disclosure for completeness. If your case warrants, your attorney can employ additional methods to obtain financial information. Your attorney can question your spouse under oath in a deposition, subpoena financial records directly from your spouse's employer or financial institutions, and even hire a forensic accountant to look into your spouse's finances.

Ready to Get Started?

We can help. We can guide you through the consultation process starting with a scheduled call back from a member of our intake team. If you would prefer to speak directly and confidently with an attorney, a paid hour consultation is also available. To arrange a meeting, contact us today.