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Advocating For You

Do not dig a bigger hole before divorce

Finances should be on your mind when you are making decisions to end your marriage. When you start thinking about divorce, you should begin protecting yourself and avoid doing anything that can have financial consequences later.

First, do not sign anything before the divorce. After the divorce is final, you could be liable for any debt that they incur which could be as expensive as real estate or a vehicle purchased for your ex-spouse’s sole use. You should also seek professional legal and possibly financial advice before any documents are signed.

Next, you should inventory any assets that you own. Otherwise, this information may be unavailable when you try to negotiate or litigate a fair property division.

Place emphasis on documents concerning large or high value assets. These include home and mortgage information, credit card and bank statements, retirement plans and vehicle registration and loans. Make copies of all these and other documents showing joint or single ownership and title.

It is also important that you make copies of your tax returns. This will help show what your spouse earns. Like other documents, obtaining this information may become difficult once the divorce process begins.

You should also discuss with your attorney whether you may take half of the money from a joint bank account and open your own account. Court orders and other grounds may prevent this, however.

When leaving your house for the last time, you should also take anything you want to keep unless it will cause a serious fight or if it clearly belongs to your spouse. Take a video of any desired property left in the house so you have proof that it existed. Otherwise, your spouse may claim that it is lost.

Once you begin thinking about divorce, you should seek legal advice. An attorney can help you review documents and take appropriate steps to assure that your rights are protected.