5 Actions to Take Before the “D” Word is Mentioned
Once the word “divorce” is mentioned between spouses a new threat level has been breached. It is a spirit crushing, trust breaking term that should be avoided at all costs. It has even been said that once the word “divorce” is used, the spouse you have known is gone. In my experience, I have found this to be a very accurate statement.
If your relationship is on the brink, I encourage you now - no matter how much you could never imagine divorce actually happening - to break through the denial and take some precautions that may make your life much easier later on:
Gather financial data while you still have access to files and online accounts. Bank accounts, investment statements, credit cards, etc. This includes current balances as well as the transaction history for at least the last three years. If you can download into a spreadsheet that would even work better. Make sure to dig for copies of documents such as wills, tax returns, life insurance policies, employee benefit handbooks and pay stubs. If your spouse is self-employed search for any financial information related to the business. These items have a way of disappearing.
Consult with an attorney. This is a hard step, but you need to be educated about your rights and responsibilities as well as the best course of action to take if the word is said. For example you may want to take the kids and run to your mom’s, but it’s very possible that your attorney will tell you that’s a very bad idea. You do not want to make any innocent mistakes that may have big consequences later on. This is especially important if you think there may be a third party involved. An attorney may suggest taking actions such as hiring a private investigator or signs to look out for. Advice from a good attorney now, could be invaluable if circumstances change.
Meet with a CDFA®. What will happen if a divorce does come? A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst professional can help answer your financial questions. Can I afford to keep the house? Will my kids be provided for? How much will I need to live if forced to choose divorce? We can put a plan in place that will project how the decisions you make today might affect your financial future.
Have some money set aside that only you have access to. I think the first command my ex was given by his attorney was to cut off my money to force me into a settlement. Fortunately, I had already consulted an attorney, so this wasn’t a surprise. I was still hurt because honestly, I did not think he would do it, but was glad I had made arrangements to access some cash before I was cut off completely. It also could be that your spouse moves out and stops paying bills. Whatever the situation, a nest egg will help protect your credit and give you more options. It’s always stressful to run up credit cards or borrow money from family members.
Set up an email account to be used just for the divorce. You have probably logged into your email from every device in your house at some point or another. I encourage you to set up a new email with a different password than your usual, that you can use to communicate with your divorce team. There were times I was trying to focus on work, and didn’t want to be distracted by emails pertaining to my divorce that I might receive during the day. This way I could feel sure I was the only person that had access to those messages and could also more easily choose to read things that may make me “emotional” (more like infuriated) when I was at home by myself.