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How do I prepare, and what steps can I take, for divorce when my spouse controls all of the money and access to the information?

Joann North

Answered By

Jamie M. Lima, MBA, CFP, CDFA

Founder at Allegiant Divorce Solutions

jamie@allegiantds.com

Question:

How do I prepare, and what steps can I take, for divorce when my spouse controls all of the money and access to the information?

Answer:

This is a great question that I receive at least once a week. I’ve started compiling some ideas and steps you can take, most of which are legal steps, but some are financial and even psychological, so here they are.

Also, please keep in mind that specific legal advice may vary depending on your jurisdiction, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and obligations. Here are, off the top of my head, general steps you can consider:

Consult with an Attorney: Seek legal advice from an attorney who specializes in family law. They can help you understand your rights, explain the divorce process, and guide you through the necessary steps.

Gather Important Documents: Start collecting important financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, property deeds, investment statements, and any other relevant records. If possible, make copies or take pictures of these documents.

Establish Your Own Financial Identity: Open a bank account in your name, and consider getting a credit card if you don’t have one. This will help you establish your own financial identity.

Educate Yourself on Finances:  Take the time to educate yourself about your family’s finances. This includes understanding your income, expenses, assets, and debts. Knowledge about your financial situation is crucial during divorce proceedings.

Secure Your Personal Information: Change passwords for your personal accounts, email, and social media to protect your privacy. Consider securing sensitive information to prevent unauthorized access.

Build a Support System: Seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist. Going through a divorce can be emotionally challenging, and having a support system can provide stability.

Consider Your Living Situation: If possible, think about where you will live during the divorce process. It may be necessary to find alternative housing arrangements, and your attorney can provide guidance on this.

Explore Legal Avenues: Your attorney can help you explore legal avenues to gain access to financial resources during the divorce proceedings, such as requesting temporary spousal support or a court order for access to financial information.

File for Temporary Orders: In some jurisdictions, you can file for temporary orders that provide guidelines for financial matters, child custody, and other important issues during the divorce process.

Stay Calm and Document Everything: Keep a record of all communications with your spouse, especially those related to finances. Document any attempts you make to access financial information and any responses received.

Remember, consulting with a family law attorney (and having a good Certified Divorce Financial Consultant® in your corner is crucial to ensure you navigate the divorce process effectively and protect your interests.