Step Three: Prepare A Post-Divorce Budget
This is the fun part! This is where you get to determine what you will have to live on once you're divorced. You're aware of what it takes to run the household now. What you need to know is what your living costs will be after the divorce. Some women experience a major drop in income after divorce. It's best that you prepare yourself by building a budget now instead of being hit over the head with bills you can't pay.
You'll have to estimate some expenses but it is important that you have some idea of what you will need to survive in your new life. It is also important because it will influence how you negotiate your divorce settlement. You need to know what you'll need financially in order to evaluate your settlement options or what you may ask for should your case go to court.
Step Four: Establish Your Own Credit
If you don't have any credit in your name, you should establish some now. You can do this by obtaining a credit card but remember — you want a card that's in your name only. Many women find that after divorce, they have a hard time purchasing a home or car because they have spent years sharing credit with their spouse. All that credit you've had over the years with your spouse is helpful to him, but once you're a single woman, you will get very little "credit" for keep those payments up.
Once you have a credit card in your name, use is sparingly and make sure you're able to pay it off each month. The goal is to establish a good credit score, not to run up a bunch of debt. This is done by using credit cards only to the degree that you are able to pay off monthly.
In Step Two, I discussed obtaining copies of financial documents. If you did that, you now have to figure out what to do with them. It isn't uncommon, after learning there is an impending divorce, for a spouse to raid financial accounts. Sometimes it's done out of anger, sometimes on the advice of an adversarial attorney.
You want to protect yourself financially and keep your spouse from being able to clean out any joint accounts you have together. If you fear your spouse might do such a thing, you can protect yourself by opening accounts in your name alone, removing half the funds from the joint accounts and depositing them into your new accounts.
Do not hide the fact that you have done this and do not spend the money foolishly. Document every penny you spend so that you can have an accounting for it during settlement negotiations or in court.
If you have savings accounts, money market accounts, or any type investment accounts and you fear your spouse will tamper with those, you should consider having the accounts frozen. You should, of course, discuss with your attorney any action you plan to take regarding joint financial accounts.