“We will never get divorced” is what most couples getting married say or think on their wedding day. Unfortunately, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. Do not be blind to the possibility of divorce, and put yourself in a position of knowledge in case the awful day comes when divorce papers are served on your doorstep.
Often times in a marriage, one spouse takes charge of all the finances. In the event of divorce, the other spouse has no idea how to manage their finances, or even what finances they have. This leave that spouse at great risk for financial distress after a divorce. Having knowledge of your assets during marriage can make the whole divorce process a little less stressful. Follow the following three rules during marriage:
First, Familiarize Yourself with Financial Statements: Financial statements, tax forms and other important financial paperwork can be overwhelming, hard to organize, and even harder to understand, but it’s helpful to know how your household’s income is being spent. Even if you are not the “breadwinner”, you have the right to know where the money goes. If you find something suspicious or something you don’t understand, talk to a financial planner, lawyer or accountant. Additionally, make sure you make copies of all the financial information and keep it in a safe place. When you meet with your divorce lawyer, he/she will help you decide what information you will need for your settlement. It’s better to be over prepared than not.
Second, Establish Your Own Credit: If you have a shared credit account with your spouse, it is important to pay close attention to credit card statements, as one spouse may use a credit card more often than the other. If your spouse has poor credit, it may affect you, even after the divorce. If you are able, try to get your own credit card account before you divorce. While many stay-at-home, non-income earning spouses find it difficult to establish credit, The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act) made changes allowing non-working spouses the opportunity to set up their own line of credit. Additionally, it may be wise to set up your own bank account.
Third, Make Sure Your Name is On Everything You Own with Your Spouse: Depending on what you purchased together, if it is a valuable asset, make sure that your signature is on all the proper documents. This is written proof of ownership or part-ownership.
Divorce can be a financially, emotionally, and mentally exhausting process. Make it easier by having a good handle on your finances, even if you don’t make all the money. You should also call Quinn Law Associates, P.A. or another law firm to go over those documents should divorce ever come knocking on your doorstep.
Caleb R. Biesterveld
Quinn Law Associates, P.A.