There was an excellent article in Forbes last month in which a "divorce financial strategist" offered six important tips to women facing divorce that I found to be very compelling, especially for women that are at a disadvantage economically and financially with their husbands.
6 Hot Tips for Women Facing Divorce
In brief, those tips were as follows:
- Take inventory of all financial documents and records. These documents play an important role in a divorce proceeding, so it is good to make a copy of everything and keep them in a secure location (not in your home or in a place accessible by your husband).
- Start getting the money together to cover the fees and costs of the divorce. A common tactic is to cut off funds from the other spouse to put them at an economic disadvantage in litigating the divorce. Be proactive and get the funds into a separate account only you control.
- Open new accounts only in your name. This goes with the previous tip and is very important. Use a different bank and make sure only you have access to the money.
- Get a copy of your credit report. Have a clear idea of the debts of the marriage and actively monitor what is going on. Is your husband dissipating assets or spending money on his new girlfriend?
- Open a post office box. You want to be sure you are communicating securely with your divorce team, and not have your husband reading your mail.
- Change your will, living will, etc. New Jersey does not allow you to disinherit your spouse, so your husband will get something if you die prior to the divorce going through, but why let him get everything? This also includes changing beneficiaries on life insurance policies, IRAs, etc. The living will is also important, as you may well not want your spouse making treatment decisions for you.
These are good points, but I would add a seventh: Consult with a bankruptcy attorney. Many divorces come about because of financial problems, and a colleague of mine once flippantly commented that every divorce is good for two bankruptcies.
Why is #7 "See a Bankruptcy Lawyer"?
The issue of how to resolve marital debt is often a sticky one in divorce. Many times one spouse will get the marital home in return for the other paying off the marital debt.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how many people have come to me because creditors are suing them due to the ex-spouse's failure to pay (or filing bankruptcy themselves). You still owe the money to the creditor, no matter what a divorce judge says.
If you have a large amount of debt, you should discuss a possible bankruptcy filing with your divorce attorney as a part of your overall strategy and contact me for a free consultation. No one wants to file bankruptcy, but it might make for a cleaner break from your spouse in a divorce.