No one who gets married expects that his or her marriage will eventually fail. The promise of forever is generally meant whole-heartedly. The sad fact is that a large percentage of marriages do exactly that. Fail, and often do so miserably. Roughly 30% - 40% of all marriages fail. The person you fell in love with and married could one day be a stranger or even an enemy in a divorce proceeding. One of the main contributors to inequitable divorces revolves around who controls the financial aspect of the marriage. The person who had not is at a serious disadvantage in a divorce proceeding. If you are in that position, then this advice is critical for you.
There are some simple and logical things that you can do to protect yourself if you think that your marriage is in imminent danger of failing. Following these tips can mean the difference between living comfortably after your divorce and suffering through years of financial and emotional hardship.
One of these is to keep the non-marital assets separate. Property you inherit, proceeds from personal injury or other legal awards, items that you owned prior to your marriage and gifts to you that are not considered gifts to the family are all things that are considered non-marital and are not part of the divorce process. If the assets are commingled or an asset is sold and the proceeds from that sale become marital assets, it is difficult, but possible to track a percentage of those proceeds and claim them as non-marital.
Establish your own credit. In many cases, one of the couple has had control of the finances and the other has become virtually invisible as far as credit is concerned. This is usually the woman in most instances. Either way it is important that you establish your own line of credit. The easiest way is to get a credit card in your own name and not linked to your spouse in any way. It is also important that your name be on all the household accounts and investments so that you can prove that they are all considered marital assets.
Review your financial holdings regularly so that when the time comes you will know what those assets are and how much they are worth. This includes assets that are in your spouses name only. Make and keep your own copies of the paperwork concerning these. Records can be lost or destroyed, sometimes intentionally.
If your divorce is imminent, close any joint accounts as soon as possible, such as credit accounts. You do not want to be held responsible for your spouse’s purchases or new charges, especially considering that they may be for legal fees for their own attorney. Usually a creditor will require the account be paid off before it can be closed. It is a good idea to close the joint bank accounts as well and keep good records of any money taken from them. If any proceeds are removed, keep a careful account of where the money is placed or how the proceeds are spent. Accurate records will be a big help in court later.
Lastly, hire an experienced Solicitor. Someone with experience in this branch of law will be there to help you avoid the mistakes others make. There are many to choose from so it is important that you ask important questions in order to choose one that is knowledgeable and right for you. Ask about their experience in family practice and specifically divorce. Ask the Solicitor to explain the legal issues as well as the legal process in your particular area.