Your spouse has just asked for a divorce. Now what? Whether tension has been brewing between you for a while or the announcement came as a shock, you are likely dealing with many emotions and urgent questions. Difficult as it may be, it is important to try to set aside your emotions and think clearly about the next critical steps.
Far too many spouses make the mistake of wanting to get the messiness of a divorce over with so they can get back on their feet and move forward. However, failing to deal with the messiness in a calm and organized manner may make it quite difficult to move forward with any confidence or success.
What should I do now?
The first year or two after a divorce is a time of adjustment, on a personal as well as a financial level. The more focus you put into protecting your wealth in the weeks and months before and during the divorce, the better your chance of avoiding the kind of financial struggle many newly divorced partners experience even when they have come from comfortable or wealthy marriages.
Some ways to be proactive include the following:
- Keeping a close eye on your credit score: It may take only one or two vengeful or reckless decisions from your spouse to ruin your credit.
- Closing your joint credit accounts: This can minimize the chances that your spouse will go on a spending spree and leave you with the debt.
- Guarding your savings: You may want to ask your financial institution to require both your signatures for withdrawals from any investments or savings accounts.
- Planning for asset division: Inventory which assets are yours individually and which you own jointly with your spouse.
- Calculating your fair share: You will need a clear picture of all sources of your spouse’s income, the value of your joint assets, and a tally of your debts, bills and expenses to determine how you will fare during asset division.
If these steps seem overwhelming, you may want to enlist the services of a skilled attorney who can guide you through the process. It is important to find a legal professional who is willing to support your goals, whether it means fighting through litigation or working things out through peaceful negotiations. In fact, many who counsel divorcing couples recommend having your own legal advocate as early in the process as possible to ensure the protection of your rights and pursual of your best interests.