One of the best ways to protect yourself financially in a divorce, is to sign a prenuptial agreement when you get married. Now no one anticipates getting divorced during the wonderful time of engagement leading up to the wedding.
However, if you’re someone who’s bringing a large chunk of money to the marriage through either self made wealth, inheritance from your family or trust funds and you want to protect that if things go wrong then a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married is a safe route to follow.
The prenuptial agreement declares in advance the distribution of your assets in the case of divorce rather than leaving it to the decision of the courts where you could lose a large part of your wealth.
Whilst this may seem extreme for soon to be married couples, if one partner is bringing very little money and one is bringing a lot of money, then there is a strong case to try and protect yourself.
A prenup agreement can cover properties in your name, savings in bank accounts, stocks and shares, inheritance, pensions, income and future income and also business investments.
Many people think that prenups are limited to the rich and famous, but they are an effective way to protect anyone from losing their own money to an economically weaker spouse.
Anything can make a marriage break down and even though you may think you know everything about your spouse, there could be instances where they’re only doing it to become financially more stable in their life.
Unfortunately, this is a bitter way to look at marriage but if worked hard in your life, saved wisely and looked after your money then it would seem unfair for someone who has not been so financially smart to take a large share of what you’ve worked hard for.
If you don’t sign a prenup, then there are other routes to follow to protect yourself financially when going through a divorce.
As soon as you’ve agreed to separate and begin filing for divorce, you should identify all your assets whether that be together or separately and clarify what is rightly yours, for example, if you bought the family car then you’ll have proof that it’s in your name so they can’t take it from you.
Find as much financial documentation as you possibly can including tax reports, bank statements, brokerage statements and anything that involves money that you have individually or shared together.
Your name being on documents for financial accounts will prove that you are entitled to a sum of those amounts, so if your partner tries to change the password for those accounts so you can’t access them then you legally prove that you are entitled to the money.
Contact your bank, credit and loan companies if you have joint accounts and explain to them what has happened.
They’ll be able to change how money is withdrawn from the account so you both have to agree each time someone tries, this will prevent your ex partner from taking all of the money that it is in the accounts.
You should also divert your salary into a new or different account that you don’t share with your partner so you don’t have to argue about you taking this money out of the joint account.
Get in touch with your mortgage provider and tell them what has happened, if you have a joint mortgage then you’re both entirely responsible for the whole mortgage so if your partner can’t keep up with their payments even though you can then that will cause problems for you as well.
Contact your ex spouse and inform them that you plan on cancelling the joint credit cards you have, as if they manage to rack up a huge amount on theirs in the time before you’re divorced, it’ll be both your responsibility to pay it back.
If you have an existing debit on the credit cards then try to come to an agreement to pay it all off so you can then cancel the cards.
You’ll also want to make sure to get a copy of your credit report and monitor all activity from the day you decide to separate to make sure your own credit score does not get affected by any spending they do.
Go around your home and video everything you own on video showing inside cupboards or pulling out important items so they can be seen in the video.
You should also make sure the date will be visible when the video is viewed and this will be important if items from your marital home go missing and you suspect your ex spouse has taken them.
Get a good attorney. A divorce can be expensive when you consider all the legal fees involved, especially if the process gets complicated.
A good attorney will be able to help you get the best deal from the divorce and also guide you to having the best case by making sure you have all the documents and evidence to prove what is yours.
An attorney will know exactly what you’re entitled to and will be able to avoid you getting a bad bargain from the settlement.
It’s also recommended to get a financial advisor if you can, especially if you were the person in the marriage who didn’t handle all the money or assets.
They’ll be able guide you to how much everything you own is worth so you don’t come out with less money than you should.
One important thing to always do in a separation or divorce is to save as much money as possible as you want to make sure that all your legal fees are covered and you’re not left out of pocket if the divorce settlement doesn’t go your way.