A common question divorcing spouses ask themselves is, “What will happen to me?” Often, this question expresses their fear and concern over their financial future as much as their personal loss. It is not unusual for newly divorced spouses to struggle financially, and what you do before and during property division may make a profound difference in your success after the divorce.
Whether you are the primary earner in the family, a stay-at-home parent or an equal earner, you are about to have your assets divided between you and your spouse. You may be losing some of the income you depended on to manage the household. Your savings or retirement may diminish. It is time to take steps now to ensure you will land on your feet.
Kentucky divorce laws say that spouses divide marital assets equitably. Marital assets include any money or valuables acquired while you were married, unless you had a prenuptial agreement. Therefore, if one of you earned an income but the other did not, that income is likely marital property, and any financial accounts probably belong to both of you. However, it is important that you begin to separate your financial identity from your spouse. You can do that by taking these actions:
- Paying off as much joint debt as possible before the divorce, including the mortgage
- Closing any credit accounts you share with your spouse
- Obtaining a copy of both of your credit reports so you have full knowledge of your circumstances
- Inventorying and protecting any valuables
- Getting a post office box to protect your privacy
- Taking half the money – and no more – from any shared accounts or investments
- Opening your own checking and savings accounts
Make sure your spouse is aware that you have taken money to start your own accounts. You will need to keep a careful accounting of the money you place in these accounts and how you use it since those assets are still jointly owned. You do not want your spouse to accuse you of hiding assets or dissipating martial funds.
If you evaluate your expenses and assets, you may find that your current income will not support you after the divorce. This is the time to gain some marketable skills or to increase your earning potential. Child support and alimony will not be enough to carry you through indefinitely.
You may also find that an experienced attorney can provide you with the support and resources that may help you establish some security for your future. Taking your questions and concerns to a legal advocate is a wise step.