Sadly whether we like to admit it or not, Divorce is a growing part of societys day to day existence. More and more of us are getting divorced on a much more regular basis and some even seem to be making career moves out. Of course divorce is one of the subjects that we try to avoid when we embark on a relationship and indeed when we get married but sadly it is not a subject that at least 25% of us will avoid in our lives.
It we accept that divorce is possibly a potential outcome of a relationship breakdown then quite frankly we are duty bound to make sure that it is taken seriously. This means quite frankly, first and foremost, taking care of family issues and making them a priority especially if there are children involved. Remember folks, I don’t want to sound as if I’m being moralistic, far from it, but the children did not ask to get involved and quite frankly again, those who use their children as bargaining tools are beneath contempt. By all means haggle over the family real estate and bank account but leave the children out of it and make sure that they all well catered for.
However if you have any type of idea that a separation and divorce is headed in your direction, then there are certain things that you can practically do. Don’t feel guilty about taking these measures if you must. Messy breakups which lead to divorce can show the darker side of your partner.
1. Knowledge is power. Know where you and your spouse have bank accounts, life insurance policies, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, all other instruments of finance, and important documents such as social security cards, passports, birth and stock certificates, and the details of pension, 401 (k), and other employee benefits. Know the location of and have access to safe deposit boxes. Your county recorder of deeds can help you track down real estate and deeds.
If your marriage is just short of the ten-year mark, you may want to wait it out, if you can and if it’s safe. You’ll have more bargaining power in matters such as alimony, social security, pension benefits, and more. This is because courts tend to view marriages lasting at least ten years or more as longer term. Therefore, you may be eligible for a portion of your spouse’s pension and social security benefits (when you reach the age to claim these), and you may qualify for alimony. It’s all good reason to speak with an attorney before moving out.
2. Become a financial sleuth. Obtain statements and balances for bank accounts, plus copies of wills and trusts. Make duplicate copies of computer files-with financial data. The Social Security office can give you a current report of earning for both of you. Collect as many of your spouse’s pay stubs as possible. In some professions there are multiple pay checks. For instance, a police officer might receive separate payment for his court appearances. Or there could be bonuses or commissions accounted for on separate pay stubs. Most of this shows up on a W-2.
3. Safeguard heirlooms and liquid assets. Seek appraisals for artwork, antiques, and other collectibles. Take any sentimental or important objects to a friend’s house for safekeeping. Be certain that your name is recorded on the house deed or apartment lease. Do not stash cash in a safe deposit box; for pending litigation, boxes are sometimes sealed. Make sure you revoke any powers of attorney your spouse may have and ask brokerage firms to check for identification before your name is signed to anything.
4. Open a bank account in your name. It only takes one party to raid an account, and you don’t want to be left without any money. Certainly do not deposit any more of your own money into a joint account, even if you transfer that into your own name. Establish a new account for future deposits, preferably at another bank. This is where you can keep an emergency fund to live on and pay legal bills, at least until support is established. Don’t be surprised if a spouse petitions for joint accounts to be frozen, pending equitable distribution in a divorce. This is another reason to have your own access to funds.