I don’t think I’ll ever stop appreciating the fact that I had an amicable divorce. There were few fights about anything once we made the decision to split. If only the rest of the marriage had been like that.
Contentious or not, when you’re going through a divorce, you must keep a close watch on your finances. Probably the best piece of advice is to meet with a financial planner who can help you address all the relevant issues.
Here are some quick tips:
- Get your financial relationship separated as soon as you know the marriage is ending: Obviously, you want to do this in a hurry if your divorce is messy. But even if it’s not, you need to figure out how to live on one income, and the best way to do that is to jump in with both feet. Get your own checking account. Take a look at how much money comes in and goes out. Make a new budget for yourself.
- Joint brokerage accounts should be frozen until you can figure out who gets what: You don’t need to do this if you trust one another. My ex and I didn’t have to take this step. But if you’re worried that your husband might sell off your portfolio and make off with the cash, you should contact your financial advisor promptly.
- If you have joint accounts or property, keep records of how much you spend: Know whose name is on the titles of houses and cars. This can turn into an adventure if you don’t handle it right: A little more than a year after my ex and I split up, my car broke down. The engine was shot. It wasn’t salvageable. I made plans to donate the car to the Salvation Army, but before I could do that, I had to track down my ex, who had moved to a different state, because both of our names were still on the title. Again, I’m fortunate we handled things amicably. If we hadn’t, our joint property and assets could have been frozen until the divorce was settled.
- Change the beneficiaries on insurance policies or 401(k) plans or other retirement accounts: This is another one of those things that can slip through the cracks unless you’re paying attention. Your financial advisor can be a lot of help with these issues because he or she most likely has a checklist of such points to address with divorcing couples.
Click the following for entire directory of resource articles on mananging your finances before and after divorce.