You’re beginning to consider seeking a divorce – or maybe you believe your spouse is. You don’t want to start the process over the holidays, but you believe it’s on the horizon for next year.
Even if you and your spouse are in therapy together and trying to work things out, it never hurts to be prepared in case you find yourself on your own. After all, you hope that a severe storm won’t destroy your house, but you have insurance in case it does. Some financial preparation – particularly if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement – is a type of insurance if you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways.
Make sure you know that financial assets you have
Since Texas is a community property state, you and your spouse could be ordered to split everything in half if you’re not able to negotiate your own property division agreement. Either way, it’s crucial to know what assets you and your spouse own – separately and together. If you’ve left the saving, investing and tax preparation to them, this is particularly key.
Start looking at bank and other account statements, credit card statements, tax returns and your spouse’s paychecks and other income information. This will be easier to access before you start talking to attorneys.
Get your own bank account and credit card
If you don’t already have an account and/or card in your name, it’s time to get them. However, it’s important to avoid commingling them with marital assets. Don’t transfer money from a joint account into an individual account or use your credit card to buy things for your home.
These will give you some financial independence and ensure that you have some resources if your spouse decides to start playing games with money.
Start documenting things
This doesn’t have to be related to finances. If there have been issues that may become relevant in the divorce, start documenting them. This can be particularly crucial if there’s an issue like alcohol or drug abuse that would make having shared custody of the kids risky.
If you do proceed to divorce – or even to the point where you seek legal guidance – the more information you have at your disposal, the better prepared you are to determine what you want from the divorce and to fight for it.