For those contemplating divorce, the motivations for the decision and emotions attached to the action may vary. While it’s natural for people to experience a range of feelings when considering dissolution, it’s also important to keep assets in mind before separating from a spouse.
Establishing control of a credit rating or personal savings account may not be among the first tasks you might seek to complete before filing papers; however, this type of long-term planning is required for creating financial independence. You will find that these three steps can solidify your financial standing before making the shift in marital status:
- Assemble relevant documentation
You can use home mortgages and car titles to determine outstanding debt and ownership. Your retirement and banking accounts, insurance policies, and other stock portfolios provide a snapshot of the assets that may be divided. Credit card statements you share with your spouse may identify secretive purchases made that support claims made during divorce proceedings. All of these documents should be secured away from home and in a safe deposit box that is not shared with your spouse.
- Set up individual accounts
You should consider creating a personal savings account in a bank that is not affiliated with the joint account you opened with your spouse. Even if the funds deposited are not excessive, they can be protected from unauthorized withdrawals from a spouse who is not listed on the account.
You should also apply for an individual credit card. Doing so establishes a credit history even if the credit extended is only a moderate sum. Paying off a small, monthly balance in a timely fashion will allow you to qualify for better rates on loans for cars or property. While these purchases may not be on your radar right now, you will probably need to apply for a lease of an apartment or car in the future. Accessing loans at a low rate will help you save money down the road.
- Assess and freeze credit score
Request a copy of the credit report from these three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Federal law requires these bureaus to release one report for free annually. Reviewing your score can help you unearth accounts that may have been opened in your name without your permission.
After you have evaluated your credit score and have established personal accounts, you can protect your privacy from unauthorized credit reviews by freezing your credit score.
Fulfilling these tasks will take time and diligence; however, completing them will help you take a step towards establishing independence and promoting financial security. Investing your efforts will be rewarded with a high rate of return.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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