If you believe that an impending divorce will be a messy affair, or if the fighting has already started, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself. Divorces take a severe financial toll on both parties, and it's best to be prepared. By ensuring access to financial resources during the divorce, you can ensure that your rights—and your money—are protected.
Open Your Own Accounts
If you and your spouse share a savings account, withdraw a portion and deposit it in a different account, under your name, at another bank. Open a new checking account with the same method. If your spouse discovers what you're doing, expect it to make divorce negotiations more difficult. Withdrawing an "unreasonable" amount of money can mean that you may get less favorable terms during the property settlement phase—and in most cases, attorneys decide what's "unreasonable".
Close Joint Accounts
The next step is to close credit card accounts and lines of credit that are held jointly. If an account cannot be closed because of a debt that can't be paid, notify the creditor to explain that you're divorcing and you shouldn't be held responsible for debts incurred above the current balance. You'll need your own credit to have a financially stable life after divorce, and it can take time to build a credit history if you haven't had one.
Protect Your Personal Property
If you are worried that your spouse may try to steal or destroy your property, find a place to hide it. A safe deposit box, a friend's home, a file cabinet in your office, or any other place that's inaccessible to your spouse will do. If your property is stolen or damaged, you might be able to sue for destruction of private property or for theft, and your lawyer can use proof of the other spouse's destructive actions as leverage during negotiations or the divorce trial.
Protect Community Property
If a spouse is vengeful and angry about the divorce, they may try to spend or use up assets rather than let you have part of them in the divorce. If this is a concern for you, call an attorney to find out what you can do to protect joint assets. For instance, the lawyer may recommend that you not keep a substantial balance in your bank account, or they may advise that you file a restraining order and seek an injunction barring the other spouse from using the asset.
Find Sources of Ready Cash
Protecting your rights during a divorce takes a significant amount of money. If you think your divorce will be acrimonious, start finding financial resources right away. Such resources can include mutual funds, bonds, stocks, savings accounts, withdrawals from retirement funds and second mortgages. Talk to a lawyer, such as Kolker Law Offices PC, and a financial adviser about the legal and tax consequences of selling mutual funds and stocks to fund a divorce case.