What is legal separation?
If your marriage doesn’t work out, separation might be the next logical step. Separating from your spouse can be a very messy situation full of anger, regret, arguments and a cluster of heartbroken emotions. It’s a part of human nature not being able to think correctly during traumatic events. But to be calm and composed during these times is very important.
During times like these, you should not be afraid to get help; seek advice from a marriage counselor or hire a lawyer and handle things like an adult. Dealing with finances after marriage can lead to arguments and broken dishes. So, it’s advised to sort out your divorce and finances and handle your money correctly so that you don’t end up becoming broke and lonely at the same time. Don’t let your financial responsibility during separation be a burden on you.
Read on to find how to handle finances and money and how to protect yourself financially in a separation!
Here’s a divorce financial checklist-
1. Know all your assets
It’s crucial for you to understand your belonging, what you hold rights to and what you both have as a couple. Having separate finances before divorce is not a common practice and when the divorce suddenly happens you can find yourself with insufficient knowledge about your own finances. You need a clear understanding of your assets and financial responsibility during separation.
Assets also include what you need and want and what you should lawfully demand. Learn the laws on financial separation and the division of assets according to your state and don’t be shy to seek professional help if you don’t or can’t understand anything.
Knowing your assets and financial responsibility during separation helps you prepare yourself for life after separation or divorce and you’ll find yourself in a good state once all the mess is over.
If you are wondering, ‘does legal separation protect me financially?’ then, yes knowledge and preparation can save you an expensive legal battle and also helps you keep the assets that really belong to you exclusively.
2. Get to know marital finances
If divorce discussions have been ongoing for a couple of months, then you should keep yourself in the loop and know where your husband or wife is spending, what they’re earning and how they’re investing money. Avoid the situation where you are left entirely clueless, or your spouse has hidden away finances from you. Keep a close check on your spouse’s assets and financial responsibility during separation.
3. Know child custody policy
If there is a child involved in the separation, then you should sit down and have a detailed discussion about your child’s future and plans. Some essential questions such as coordination of visitation rights, which parent the child should stay with and how much child support payment is required (depending on your state) should be answered and dealt with accordingly.
This way you can write down a plan for your kids and deal with their needs accordingly during such an emotionally heavy time. Make sure you have planned for child support financial responsibility during separation.
4. Close all joint accounts
This is the most crucial step and must be taken care of because if your spouse has any debts, you will be held responsible for it until and unless there is a legal agreement stating differently. You need to take care of this financial responsibility during separation so that it does not become a permanent burden.
This termination of joint accounts and financial responsibility during separation helps protect you from post-divorce financial liabilities and is an essential step. You should also change online passwords for social media accounts, emails and your Apple, Android IDs, etc. Don’t forget to keep track of where your money is and whose money is in the said joint accounts.
Get credit cards in your name as soon as you can so that you can be a strong independent on your own.
5. Establish a new budget
Establishing a new budget for couples with no children can be very easy for some. You both have to be responsible for splitting the bills and taking care of your needs for food and clothes.
The problem arises when there are children or if a spouse doesn’t earn. In cases like these, you must understand that you and your children can’t enjoy your lifestyle like before and you will find it hard to maintain the status quo. So, plan a budget.
6. Don’t overspend
This can be one of the tough decisions for you to make because when you’re on your own, you might be tempted to travel and afford expensive luxuries to take your mind off things, but you shouldn’t! Don’t add on more financial responsibility during separation.
This isn’t the time to waste money because if your separation leads to divorce, then there might be a problem; in such cases, you can be accused of dissipating assets and get in trouble.
7. Pay joint account debts
Even though you are separated keep in mind that your debt is still married. It’s better to pay your debt for any joint accounts you might have with your spouse as soon as possible. Get rid of debts and financial responsibility during separation that you were paying for together with your partner.
Check your credit details for your accounts, handle them properly, and have your joint accounts closed as soon as you can. Manage your legally separate finances in marriage strategically before your spouse can take advantage of such a situation.
8. Point out the date of separation
Every state has a different meaning of the date of separation, for some, it might be the day when one spouse lets the other one know they are filing for divorce or it can be the date when your partner moves out. However, this date is significant because it helps in dividing the properties and income.
Anything that you might have before the date of separation will be divided, but anything you inquire after the time of separation will not be shared.
Handling your financials and money during separation is an essential step and shouldn’t be forgotten amidst the chaos and arguments. It’s a crucial step for you to take to have a good start in life after the separation. For couples who can’t handle any decision without shouting, it’s advised to get a divorce mediator or an arbitrator to have a less messy financial settlement.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.