There is some strategy for you to consider if your spouse asks you for a divorce. MSN discusses some things you could do immediately to protect your personal and financial interests. Obviously, it is difficult to focus on money when your marriage is ending, but you need to make sure that you reach a fair and equitable divorce settlement too.
A Few Good Moves
You wouldn’t end a business partnership without first determining that all assets were divided fairly. The same holds true for dissolving a marriage. Focus on the following things immediately if you learn that your spouse is planning to end your union.
Hire a good attorney
According to MSN, hiring a lawyer is crucial. Your goal: Find an experienced advocate who will put your personal and financial interests first. Never share the lawyer with your spouse. Make sure you feel comfortable with the attorney.
Get referrals for attorneys from your trusted friends, family members and business associates, but keep in mind you want a lawyer who specializes in family law and divorce, preferably someone board certified as a specialist by your state’s Bar Association, and who is very involved in the legal community.
Monitor your credit reports
Protect yourself by preventing your spouse from running up large or unnecessary bills at this time. For now, at least, you may be responsible for half of any joint expenses.
“You know your spouse better than anyone else. If you know they’re not trustworthy, or they have a gambling problem, or you both are in a lot of debt, that tells you there are financial warning signs.”
Monitoring your credit score and credit reports before, during and after a divorce will ensure that your credit is safe and that no one else is using your name to borrow.
The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. I’ve written about divorce before. In order to divorce in Florida, you need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the family court.
The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.
No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.
But there is some additional strategy to protect yourself.
Consider Closing joint accounts
To protect your credit rating, you may want to consider closing credit accounts that your spouse has access to. The idea is to prevent your spouse from incurring large debts before the divorce is final.
With joint credit cards, you are liable for any debts taken on by your spouse, says Sarah Carlson, a certified financial planner in Spokane, Washington.
If your spouse can’t pay the debts he or she runs up on your joint accounts, you may be held responsible.
Determine how much money you’re entitled to
When people divorce, many financial issues are tied to the size of the marital estate. To help you determine which assets you’ll be entitled to in a divorce, you’ll need to understand how much you and your spouse are worth, separately.
“For example, identification of an income-producing asset may be helpful for determination of child support and maintenance issues, while also affecting the division of the marital estate”.
Your job: Find out which assets are in your name and which belong to your spouse.
Protect your savings
It is easy to use up your cash quickly in a divorce. Safeguard your joint assets by asking your financial institutions to require two signatures for withdrawals.
“We generally don’t advise doing this with a regular joint checking account that is continuing to be used for household expenses, because that can become cumbersome. But we do advise dual signatures for any savings or investment accounts.”
Keep things as friendly as possible
Starting your divorce on an amicable note will make the proceedings easier and less time-consuming. From the beginning, work to keep things civil.
When you spend time bickering over minor issues, the only people who benefit are attorneys billing you by the hour.
“If ever there was a time to pick your battles, this is it. If you fight over every detail of your divorce, the fights will be never-ending, and that will impact your emotional state and your wallet.”
Talk with your children
The needs of children sometimes can be overlooked when parents divorce.
The best way to break the news of a divorce to children is for both parents to explain that their relationship is changing, making it clear that both parents love the children and the parents respect each other, says David T. Pisarra, a family law attorney in Santa Monica, California.
The Mayo Clinic advises parents to spend time explaining to children what is happening. Let them know that the separation isn’t their fault and that you will continue to care for them.
The MSN article is here.