Financial concerns are one of the biggest reasons people put off filing for divorce. Even spouses who get along during separation have difficulty determining who should pay for what—and many do not take the proper steps to establish their own credit and protect themselves from incurring further debts.
Steps to Take to Separate Marital Finances Before Divorce
The longer a couple has been together, the more their finances become intertwined. Before assets, debts, or support payments can be assigned to spouses, each spouse must establish his or her own financial identity by:
- Requesting a free credit report. Consumers can request one free credit report each year that shows all of their outstanding accounts, a list of debts, and a credit score. This document will allow you to see which accounts need to be closed and which debts should be separated, as well as establish whether a spouse has taken on additional obligations in the other spouse’s name during divorce proceedings.
- Opening a bank account in your name only. If you do not have a personal checking or savings account, you should open one and use it for all of your personal expenditures going forward. You may also wish to get a new credit card in your name to help build your own credit.
- Freezing joint accounts. All joint bank accounts and credit cards should be closed or at least suspended until the divorce is final. This will prevent either spouse from racking up debts out of spite or in an attempt to split costs before separation.
- Make a preliminary agreement for dividing marital debts. Most divorcing spouses want to pay off as much shared debt as possible, since an outstanding shared debt can still affect an ex-spouse’s credit score after a divorce is final. If not all shared debts can be paid using joint assets, you and your spouse should have a clear agreement about who is responsible for which payment.
Once you have taken the first steps, you should seek the advice of a Rhode Island divorce attorney to make sure the division of marital assets is fair to you. Our family law attorneys can examine your tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, real estate holdings, and other shared property to ensure you start your new life from a strong financial position. Contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum via our online contact form to learn more.