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How to separate your finances before filing for divorce

Divorce can be emotionally overwhelming and complex. You may be focused on still trying to make the marriage work or getting out as quickly as possible. You may worry about the future of any children you have with your spouse. These things are important, but you also need to remember your financial security to avoid making mistakes that will affect you and your family in the long term. Get started by separating your finances before filing for divorce.

Gather financial records and information

First, you need to be aware of all accounts in your name. Get organized by making copies of financial documents and gathering account information. Some records you should remember to include are tax returns, trusts, investments and vehicle titles. Keep the files in a safe place.

Open your own bank account

If you don't already have one, open your own bank account and start setting aside money. Avoid draining your joint account, as it can make you look bad in court and you may be required to reimburse the money. Save enough to pay bills until your divorce is final and any alimony and/or child support goes into effect.

Remove your or your spouse's name from accounts and bills

Next you need to separate your bills and accounts, such as:

  • Utilities
  • Joint credit cards
  • Joint bank accounts
  • Mortgage
  • Car loan
  • Memberships

Depending on your circumstances, you can either remove your name from the account and set up your own, or you can remove your spouse's name. It's important to take this step before a divorce because some things, such as credit cards, can be easier to obtain while you're still married.

Purchase your own insurance plans

Don't go without insurance. Even if your spouse allows you to stay on his or her insurance plans, it's better to get your own if you want to separate your finances. It's also wise preparation in case your situation changes and an emergency happens. The last thing you want to add to your life is more financial stress from unexpected medical bills or a car accident.

Consult with an attorney

Managing finances in a divorce can be complicated, especially when high assets are involved. Use the help of an experienced family law attorney. A qualified lawyer can assist you in determining marital versus separate assets and property division under California Community Property laws. If you aren't financially stable, don't let that deter you from seeking legal help. You may be able to recover attorney fees from your spouse so you aren't left to navigate a divorce by yourself.

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