Safeguarding your finances when ending a long-term marriage

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2024 | Divorce |

If you are going through a marital breakup, you’re likely aware that it is one of the most difficult experiences you will ever face in your lifetime. Just as no two marriages are the same, divorce can look different for every couple in Illinois. However, one thing that nearly all divorces have in common is that they can be very expensive. The divorce process basically involves untangling two people’s lives, so saying the process can get messy is an understatement.  

With divorce, the more things to unravel and divide, the more it will cost. If a couple had a relatively short marriage with no children and few assets, their divorce may be less expensive. Yet, that scenario is more of an exception rather than the norm. If you are ending a years-long marriage, here are a few ways you can safeguard your finances. 

Know what you have 

When divorce becomes inevitable, one of the first things to do is to find out what assets and how much money you and your partner have. Even if you don’t think you are wealthy, you may have more assets than you realize. Find out the balances of savings plans, retirement plans, investments and credit cards. 

Separate bank accounts 

If you do not have your own savings or checking accounts, or have joint accounts, start working with your spouse as soon as possible to separate these accounts. If you put all your money in a joint account, there’s always a risk that your spouse could withdraw it. If you are worried your partner may retaliate when you tell them you want separate accounts, you could withdraw half the money and put it into an individual account. But be sure to notify your spouse about what you’ve done. 

Create an emergency fund 

If you don’t already have a savings account, it is a good idea to create one to use as an emergency fund or rainy-day fund that only you can access. The divorce process can be full of surprises, and there’s no way to know what the future holds. Having access to funds in case of an emergency can be a lifesaver.  

Never hide money or assets 

As tempting as it may be, never attempt to hide money or assets amid divorce. This can result in an escalation of the situation, which will only lead to more legal fees and loss of credibility. Take steps to preserve your assets and income, but be open and transparent about the financial moves you are making. 

Avoid litigation if possible 

Ending a marriage is an emotional and often frustrating experience, and you may feel the urge to fight it out in court with your soon-to-be ex to “get back” at them. However, going to court is one of the most expensive and time-consuming ways to get divorced. Consider alternatives, such as mediation. The mediation process is far less expensive than litigation, and it will give both of you more freedom to resolve your issues. 

Ending your marriage will bring big changes to most areas of your life, especially financially. Financial challenges are inevitable during divorce, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to have long-term economic stability. Regardless of the situation, there’s a lot at stake when ending a marriage. Obtaining knowledgeable insight could help you support yourself and rebuild your life after your divorce is final.