The judgement or settlement you receive in your divorce can mean the difference between stepping into your new life with relative security and struggling for years to make ends meet. Your actions before and during your divorce can greatly affect that outcome, and it is important to make careful and wise decisions based on solid information and advice.
Beginning with the first moments after you decide you are divorcing your spouse or your spouse announces intentions to divorce, you can take steps to protect your financial future. It will be important to surround yourself with those who will support you and offer objective advice based on experience. This may include friends who struggled through their own divorces as well as North Carolina legal and financial professionals.
How much is there?
It may be an enormous struggle to achieve a fair and equitable division of marital assets if you do not have a firm grasp on what those assets are. If you have distanced yourself from the bank accounts, investments and spending in your family, now is the time to take a crash course on your own finances. Some of the most important numbers you should learn include the following:
- Your spouse's income
- The value of your home
- The balances and monthly payments on your mortgage, car loans, credit cards and other debts
- Your credit score
- The amount of money in your joint savings and checking accounts
- The value of any investments, including retirement accounts
This is not the time to push aside unopened envelopes that come in the mail. These may include statements for credit cards you did not know your spouse had, past due notices or statements from accounts you did not know existed.
Make your own way
You will need to know how much money it takes to survive on your own. Create a budget that includes routine expenses like food, car repairs, medication and even entertainment. These can be based on the standard of life you have now, but you may expect to have to tighten your spending for a while after your divorce.
Opening a credit card and bank account in your own name will help you get through the tough times as well as help you establish your own financial identity. If you are able to stash a little money for your expenses, including your legal fees, be sure to keep careful records so your spouse cannot accuse you of hiding assets. Your attorney can advise you on the best ways to achieve your financial goals and avoid a prolonged struggle after the judge signs your divorce order.