Avoiding Financial Pitfalls During Divorce

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 5:53pm by Site Administrator

By Eliza Morgan

Divorce is a devastating time in a person’s life.  Unfortunately, divorce can also wreak havoc on your finances and can leave you without a safety net during a vulnerable time.  But, some good advice can limit financial hardship, which is especially important during a time in your life when you may not be thinking clearly.  Keeping tabs on your finances and credit history can mean the difference between a fresh start and financial ruin.

When you decide it’s time to end your marriage, there are several things you can do immediately to safeguard your finances:

Establish Responsibility

Look at all your bank accounts, mortgage, credit cards, utility bills — everything.  Know who has personal responsibility for each account.  Even if you’ve already decided who gets your property, you still need to establish sole responsibility.

Dissolution

Dissolve ALL joint accounts (mortgage, credit, utility).  If your spouse has access to your account, he/she has access to your money/personal information.  However painful, be sure you do this together with all the proper paperwork in place so everything is legal.   You need to close these accounts and open individual accounts.  Divide any remaining funds evenly.

Sell the House

This is the best and simplest solution for shared real estate holdings.  It is also the most equitable because it enables you to split the proceeds.  You don’t know what the future can hold and if you’re name stays on the deed, you are responsible if anything happens to the house.

Documentation 

This is especially important as you begin divorce proceedings.  Make sure all financial arrangements are made and all paperwork processed and filed.  You may need this information in the future and it’s good to have it ready now and can be used in court.

After you’re divorced, you must be vigilant:

Watch that score

You should already be doing this every year but it’s especially important to monitor your credit score after your divorce.  Your credit score can drop after a divorce.  And, you’ll be able to monitor activity on your accounts to ensure there is no unauthorized activity.

Tell your creditors

To head them off before the collection calls start on accounts no longer yours, call your creditors and tell them you’re divorced.  This may take a while and it’s a good idea to notify them in writing as well as over the phone.

Divorce is a complex and emotionally-charged process.  It can be difficult to "play hardball" when you’re hurt but it’s imperative for your future financial health.  Amicable divorces happen when both partners come to the table prepared, reasonable and rational.
 


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