You want to divorce your spouse. There’s no longer room for discussion or compromise. The marriage is over. Perhaps your spouse was unfaithful or subjected you to physical and emotional abuse. Regardless of the reason, you know it’s done.
Your instinct is probably to file for divorce as soon as possible. While acting quickly is important in many situations — especially if abuse has occurred, meaning you need to put your safety first — it is often wise to slow down and really plan for the future.
What changes loom ahead of you after the divorce? How do you plan to move forward on your own? What challenges do you expect, and how can you prepare for them? Financial speaking, here are some important steps you may want to take.
Get your own credit cards
You may not want to rely on the joint credit card account you have used for years. What if your spouse cancels it? If you just moved out and the card stops working, how will you meet your needs? You could apply for your own card while you’re still a couple, ensuring you have access to a line of credit. Some even recommend canceling the joint accounts yourself to make sure your spouse does not spend your money.
Get your financial documents together
Gather up those income tax statements and payroll stubs. Find your statements from your retirement account and any investment portfolios. Get records of any transactions, from credit card payments to bank deposits. Print out copies of everything, such as bank statements, even when starting your own bank account. You must know what your family’s financial picture looks like. Gather as much evidence as you can in case your spouse is less than truthful.
Start thinking about a new budget
Take a look at what you earn per month and start adding up expenses. You’ll likely need a new place to live. Do you need a new car? What does it cost to pay all of the utilities yourself? Creating a budget not only helps you plan for the future, but it gives you an idea of what you’ll likely need for child support, alimony and the like.
The key is to prepare as thoroughly as possible. Make sure you know all of the divorce legal options you have.