I talk with women facing divorce on a daily basis and the emotions they are dealing with are all over the board. But one thing in common is that almost all of them feel overwhelmed! The impact on your life is tremendous, which makes it difficult for you to know where to even begin. To help get things underway and to start feeling more in control, I suggest you take the following critical steps:
You should immediately start gathering all of your financial records. Having all the information together and organized will save you time and money. We have a financial packet form that will assist you in identifying key documents that you’ll need. Do not keep these records in your home. Bring copies to a secure location or to your attorney
Opening your own post office box will ensure that your mail will remain secure in the box until you open it. As most correspondence with your attorney will be by email, it is also important to establish a new email address with a secure password known only by you.
Often even affluent women cannot access funds to move ahead with their divorce because their husband controls all access to the family funds. While there are remedies for this, you need to keep in mind that things often take much longer and cost much more than anticipated, so plan accordingly.
You should immediately set up a bank account at a different bank. Do not lock-up your money in any time accounts because you may need access to your money on short notice.
Having a credit card in your name will help you establish your own credit. Also, credit cards may help with day-to-day living expenses when some of your other funds may be frozen or unavailable. Do this before any divorce proceedings start, especially if you are not working or if your income is substantially less than your husband’s as you may not be able to get sufficient credit based on your own income.
You don’t want your soon-to-be ex-husband making medical decisions on your behalf or inheriting your assets should you die before your divorce is final. You may need to redo your will again after the divorce when you can legally remove him completely, but the extra expense is worth it.
If your husband isn’t aware of your plans for divorce, you should contact your insurance or brokerage company to make sure they will not automatically send him notifications. You don’t want to alert him before you are ready. Many 401K plans will not remove a spouse as a beneficiary without their written consent.
You should take an inventory of all of your personal property. Unfortunately, things often disappear once the divorce process starts, so take digital photographs and/or videos of everything and be sure to include a date stamp.
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