Although times are changing, more often than not, it is the woman in a married relationship who has less grasp on the finances. Women going through a divorce not only have to worry about the emotional aspect of the failed marriage, but uncertainty around money. There legal and financial issues that need to be addressed as part of the divorce proceedings and things that every woman — or man — should be aware of. For this post, we’ll look at the common scenario whereby the husband took care of the finances.
During divorce there are many things to consider. Emotion, and children are two big considerations which we won’t cover here. In terms of finance, there is the house, the businesses, savings, pensions, mortgages and loans, and perhaps, the possibility that your husband has hidden assets.
The following are five financial tips to help you through during this tumultuous time.
Collect all financial documents
List all financial arrangements you are aware of and gather all financial documents. One of the best times to do this is during the year end when annual statements of accounts are prepared and sometimes sent to your home. Most of these mails come from banks, credit card institutions, and brokerages. As soon as you can, photocopy these documents and secure them either by entrusting them to your closest relative or by keeping them in a safety deposit box.
Assess your credit report
Start by getting copies of your credit reports — there are a number of online providers who can do this for you. Check and correct any wrong information. As you go through this divorce, you cannot afford to jeopardize your access to credit products in the future — sorting out your credit file should be done ASAP. If you and your husband share credit cards, start paying more attention and take note of his credit transactions (if adultery is on the cards, check transactions against a calendar whilst things are fresh in your mind).
Consider what you need in your divorce team
A professional team that includes a financial planner, a divorce attorney, and a therapist our counsellor is ideal, but not always affordable in the short term. Nowadays, divorce procedures are much more complex than before so, especially if you feel your divorce may be contested (your spouse does not agree with what you put forward) you need to have a group that will take care most of the financial and legal aspects for you.
Open new financial accounts under your name
Very soon, you will be a single woman soon and thus, you’ll need to have your own credit cards and bank accounts in the future. Starting now will make this a lot easier. Open new accounts under your name. Consult with a lawyer and prepare to remove your name from joint accounts. You have rights and your lawyer can explain these to you and the best timings.
Watch out for hidden assets
When divorce is on the cards and the process kicks in, the tendency for husbands is to hide income and assets. These acts are illegal, unethical, and underhanded. They will be severely frowned upon by the courts. Take note of any financial institutions that your husband deals with, especially those you do not have access to. Take note of his close friends and associates who may agree to conspire with your husband in hiding assets.
Ask your lawyer on the specific signs that indicate that your husband might be hiding some of your assets. You can also run to government agencies as you hunt for information. Go to the tax bureaus and assessor’s offices, the band indexes office, the county deed office, and the UCC office. These agencies can give a wealth of information about your husband’s financial transactions if you are suspicious about his activity.
Hopefully your divorce will progress with relative ease and #5 will not be a concern. Meanwhile, take on boar the first 4 tips and be sure to get your finances in order.