The first few months of the year have come to be known as “divorce season.” With the holidays over and a new year ahead, many people decide to make a change in their lives that they hope will be for the better.
Sometimes, couples arrive at this decision together. Often, however, one spouse makes the first move. Before announcing your intentions to your spouse, it is essential for your own protection to be financially prepared. This can take some time, so it’s best to start at least a few months before you break the news to your husband or wife.
One author who writes about money suggests some important things to do before telling your spouse that you want to call it quits. Depending on how co-mingled your finances are, some of these steps may be challenging. An attorney and/or financial advisor can offer guidance.
Put some cash away in an account that your spouse cannot access. It should be enough for you to live on for as long as a year. If that’s not possible without your spouse noticing, open a credit card with a zero percent or low introductory rate so that you have access to cash. Remember that during the divorce, you may not have any spousal support at all. You also need to consider legal fees.
If possible, try to remove your spouse’s name from at least one of your joint credit cards or accounts so that you have access to the funds after you split up. You may want to freeze any joint cards or accounts so that your spouse can’t rack up debt that you’re responsible or clean out the account. It’s often hard to take these last steps without the other spouse noticing, so it’s usually best to do this just before you announce your intention to divorce
These steps may seem unnecessary to people who think they know their spouse and believe that he or she would never do anything to harm them financially. However, you never know how someone is going to react to a request for a divorce. It’s better to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised than to find yourself with no money, particularly if your spouse earns significantly more than you do. A North Dakota family law attorney can advise you on the best ways to prepare for a divorce based on your unique situation.
Source: TIME Magazine, “The 3 Most Important Things to Do Before Announcing You Want a Divorce” Farnoosh Torabi, Jan. 13, 2015