Divorce proceedings force women to become independent. Although divorce is never easy, it’s especially difficult, from a financial point of view, for those who grew accustomed to their spouse handling all, or a majority of, the household finances. Although women in the midst of a divorce are undoubtedly swamped by all sorts of important decisions that need to be made quickly, focusing some time and attention on setting themselves up for financial survival in the face of their impending singledom is well worth it. Hang in there ladies, and here’s a few things you can do to start securing yourself some peace of mind when it comes to your money:
Put your papers in order
First and foremost, gather up all financial records you can find – tax returns, credit card bills, bank account statements, mortgage information, payroll stubs, wills, trusts, insurance policies, etc. – and make photocopies of every single document. Keep your copies stored in a safe place outside the home, such as at a friend or relative’s house or in a safe deposit box to which you are the only key holder. It’s also wise to rent a P.O. box to have your mail rerouted to in order to keep any correspondence between you and your lawyers confidential. Be sure you get new insurace for you vehicle. There are a lot of places you can get cheap car insurance.
Establish your own line of credit
As soon as you can, apply for a credit card in your own name and discontinue use of any joint credit accounts. It’s imperative that you begin establishing your creditworthiness as a single woman. Having a good credit score, and being eligible to borrow money at choice rates, will be helpful when it comes to financial decisions such as buying a new home or car. Obtain a copy of your credit report to see where you stand and keep an eye on it. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report a year. Open up savings and checking accounts at a bank that is not used by your spouse and use them to house your own funds. Also, be sure to change your beneficiary to someone other than your husband on your IRA’s and insurance policies.
Set aside funds for your legal fees
This is particularly important if your spouse is the one who controls the family funds. If so, don’t rely on having access to that money when it comes to hiring lawyers to represent you during the divorce. You must be proactive by securing funds for your legal fees so that you can hire the best possible legal team to represent you.
Taking the above steps as quickly as possible will result in you feeling more in control, and thus more capable, of making well-reasoned decisions throughout all of the stress and chaos a divorce inevitably incites. Your main goal should be to pull through the proceedings with all of your assets safeguarded and a sound financial plan for your future firmly in place.
Jason Collazo is a Columbia University student whose interests include economics, personal finance, and marketing. This combination of studies helps the writer shine a unique perspective on the U.S. economy, consumer trends, and business competitiveness. He currently writes about business finance and technology for Forbes and regularly contributes to Business Insider. Aside from being a writer, Jason is also a member of Columbia’s NCAA Varsity Diving Team.