Divorce is always hard to deal with emotionally, but it can be tough on your finances as well. You will probably be rather overwhelmed by what you are feeling and unsure about what the future holds for you away from your marriage. But it’s important that you do not ignore the financial consequences of splitting up, even at this stage.
Five tips to minimise damage to your finances if you’re getting divorced
Here are some things to consider in the early stages of divorce:
1. Talk to your husband or civil partner
Do talk to your husband about why you want a divorce before they hear from your lawyer.
- Don’t let the first they know about it be when the solicitor’s letter lands on the doormat.
- Don’t worry about how you’ll get through the process at this stage. Take one step at a time.
2. Try not to raise the emotional temperature
Do be careful about doing anything in retaliation; you may be angry and upset; you may even want your husband or civil partner to suffer, but in the context of divorce proceedings it’s unlikely to get you very far.
3. Don’t rush to freeze bank or credit card accounts
If you’re married to someone who spends money without thinking of the consequences or if your divorce is acrimonious before it’s even started, you might want to take steps to freeze any joint accounts you have or to close down credit cards if you’re the main cardholder and your husband/civil partner has a secondary card.
- In other cases it’s worth considering but it’s better if you can agree this between you. Also, be aware that while one of you can freeze a joint account, it normally needs both of you to agree to unfreeze it. So without your husband’s agreement you may not be able to access money in the account once it’s been frozen.
- If you’re worried that your partner is about to run up debts, talk to your bank or lender or, if necessary, to your solicitor.
4. Do keep an eye on your joint bank accounts and loans
It’s definitely worth informing the bank and your mortgage lender about your change of circumstances.
- Make sure that any joint debts you have are paid as each of you is responsible for the full amount and not just half. The bank can – and often will – go after whichever person it wants to.
5. Try not to make any debt problems worse
If you have money problems before you get divorced, these are likely to be made worse by the split.
- Don’t ignore them. Talk to the companies you owe money to as soon as you can. Debt counsellors tell me that many of the people who come to them for help do so because their marriage or long-term relationship has broken down.
- Often, the person who drives the divorce is more prepared to make the necessary financial sacrifices than the other, as they can see that there’s a ‘trade-off’. What is very hard is for you to see your standard of living suffering if you’re not in control of the divorce process because the divorce wasn’t your idea.
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