Follow the money in divorce

Ending a marriage can upset many parts of your life, especially your finances. You should take several precautions from when you seriously begin to think about divorce until after the decree is issued to protect your finances and your rights.

First, document any conversations you have about divorce. Change all the passwords for your e-mail, social media, and financial accounts. Passwords should not have anything to do with anything that your spouse can guess or identify.

Have your name removed from any joint credit card accounts you have with your soon-to-be ex. Inform credit bureau about your divorce and place a fraud alert on your credit reports if you believe your spouse may try to open new accounts under your name. But continue to timely pay your debts.

Collect and review your tax returns to learn about all income sources you had as a couple. This information is important for seeking spousal support. If you are unfamiliar with these documents, review them with an accountant or financial advisor who does not perform services for your spouse.

You should also collect other important financial information. Obtain documents for bank accounts, mortgage, credit cards, retirement, and investment accounts.

You must consider which assets are important to you and your financial security. Having priorities and avoiding the temptation to fight over every issue can help prevent wasted time, stress, and costs.

Mediation may be used as dispute resolution. In this confidential process, an independent and trained mediator helps the spouses negotiate a settlement.

Before settlement negotiations and proceedings, consider who will pay your health insurance, payment of the children’s college tuition and whether pensions will be allocated. Decide whether you want to bear the cost of keeping the family house and paying its mortgage, upkeep, insurance, and taxes.

After your divorce, you must follow a new budget based on your changed financial circumstances. Create a 6-month cash reserve fund for unexpected expenses.

Open new individual accounts, refinance your house in your name and close any joint accounts. Check your credit scores.

Update your personal insurance coverage. Also, remove your spouse as a beneficiary on insurance policies, retirement accounts and annuities. Your will, trusts, power of attorney and health care directives should also be updated.

An attorney can help you consider options that meet your needs. An attorney may also help protect your rights.

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