Do you (or someone you know) know someone who is going through a divorce that needs a few financial preservation tips? I do!
Even though I have never had the unfortunate experience of a divorce, I have helped several of my clients through the financial transition from joint to individual finances. When couples go through a divorce, they are not only divorcing each other; they are also divorcing their finances as well. Financial Divorce can be just as, if not more, emotionally draining and frustrating. Depending on how amicable the separation is, may determine the ease or complexity of the separation of finances.
Regardless of where a person is in the separation, here are 5 quick tips about How to Divorce Finances through a Divorce.
Gather as many financial documents as possible. Financial statements and documents will be requested and may be required during the separation process. Here is a Divorce Financial Checklist of documents that may need to be gathered. Consult with a divorce attorney for all of the documents that will be asked for and required to remit to the court.
Separate Bank Accounts
Make sure to open separate individual savings and checking accounts. Don’t just open an account in desperation … rather; make sure to open up an account at a financial institution that is conducive to the financial needs and usage. Open an account with great customer service because they may be needed for assistance through the financial transition. Avoid accounts or financial institutions with excessive fees.
Update Direct Deposit
Don’t forget to update direct deposit or payroll deductions through the employer from the joint account to the new individual bank account(s) established. If the joint account is responsible for paying bills that may affect the credit reports, continue to make deposits just enough to pay those bills OR stop the bill payment or payroll deduction from that joint account and set it up in the individual account to maintain a positive credit history.
Do a “Clean Break” with Loans
Having joint debt is like having a child together. Regardless of the status of the relationship, both borrowers are equally responsible to pay the debt until it is paid in full despite what the judge or divorce decree says. So, first things first … get copies of all three credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union from www.annualcreditreport.com. The best way to preserve credit history during a divorce is to do a “Clean Break.” Identify all credit accounts, and then try to negotiate who will take on what debt. Once that is agreed upon, each should try to get an individual loan to pay of the joint loan. If either person does not qualify for an individual loan to do a “Clean Break,” try to agree that the other person will make timely payments on the joint loan. This is important because if the one person pays late or not at all, it will negatively affect the other person’s credit and ability to obtain the credit that may be needed after the divorce. This is especially critical with credit cards. Make sure to block the credit card lost/stolen and request a new card number to avoid future usage from the other part.
Don’t forget to update all financial documents! Update the beneficiary on your retirement savings account, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. Also, don’t forget to update the W-4 once the separation is final. During the divorce, many people forget to update this important information.
The best way to get through this tough situation is to try to think of the financial side as a business matter. However, if the separation is not amicable, it may be best to have the divorce attorneys to discuss and negotiate these and other matters.
It is also a good idea to work with a financial professional or counselor for guidance during the financial divorce. Best wishes and contact us for further assistance.
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