Credit card bills are rolling in from the holiday season, and you’re seeing the impact, once again, of your spouse’s overspending. If you’ve been living with a spendthrift for quite some time and are considering a divorce, you likely have legitimate concerns about your future financial well-being.
Disputes over money are among the chief reasons why couples get divorced. You may be worried about being saddled with overwhelming debt, caused mainly by your spouse’s behavior, making it more difficult to survive on your income alone. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Inventory accounts and assets
Once a divorce becomes likely, gathering all the financial information for you and your spouse is crucial. That means bank accounts, credit card statements, loans, life insurance policies, wills and trusts, investments, retirement plans and any other assets you share.
Terminate joint accounts
Once divorce is imminent, it’s a good idea to close all joint accounts, which can limit your spouse’s spending. You can also lower their credit limit if they are secondary credit card holders. Creating separate accounts provides a detailed ledger of each spouse’s spending habits.
Set a separation date
The day you and your spouse stop living as a couple is crucial for a variety of reasons. It is the date typically used for valuing marital assets and determining whether a debt is considered separate or marital. It also starts the countdown toward your divorce being finalized. You can set a separation date even if you continue to live under the same roof.
Document and report concerns to your lawyer
Once a divorce is in the works, protections are in place to keep spouses from dissipating marital assets. If you believe your spouse’s spending habits are excessive, document those concerns and tell your attorney. Experienced lawyers can take steps to help protect marital assets to ensure that you receive an equitable share.