As many Nevada residents may be aware, divorce can bring out the worst in people. Spouses who were controlling during marriage may become true bullies in divorce, with an aim of winning during settlement negotiations instead of reaching a fair outcome. Even when divorces seem fairly amicable on the surface, it is not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to hide assets, and this is especially true in divorces that involve more significant assets.
In order to avoid being slighted by such a spouse, it is important to remain on the lookout for red flags and to prepare to protect your finances.
As soon as you learn that you are headed toward divorce, there are a number of steps that you can take to prepare for what may come--whether you suspect your ex-to-be of squirreling away funds or not.
- Start making copies. Make copies of recent financial statements and set these in a safe place, away from your spouse. These documents should show exactly what was in your accounts--credit accounts, retirement accounts, stock portfolios, etc.--near the time of your separation. You may also choose to monitor these accounts to learn whether your spouse is burning through or hiding marital assets.
- Consider closing joint accounts. If you suspect your spouse of trying to bully you financially, you may want to close your joint accounts, or at least stop using them.
- Open new accounts, and store some cash. If you do not have any accounts in your own name, establish them. This is an opportunity to build credit as well as begin to make your own financial preparations. It is also important to have access to money of your own.
- Set your emotions aside. This might be the most difficult step, as divorce is very emotionally exhaustive. However, in order to protect your short- and long-term interests, it is wise to go into a divorce with a clear and logical mindset. During the property and asset division process, it can be wise to think of it as the division of a business partnership rather than a relationship. Of course, there is still a time and place to address emotional concerns, but it is important to try to focus on your legal and financial rights during the divorce proceedings.
These are just a few steps to take in order to go into a divorce on solid footing. It can also be wise to seek legal counsel early, especially if you are the lower-income spouse. In some cases, it may be possible to ask a judge to award living expenses and attorney's fees early on in the process.
Source: USA Today, "Protect your finances while divorcing a bully," Elizabeth MacBride, June 23, 2013