How do I protect myself financially from divorce?
If you are getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, it's imperative to act quickly to protect your assets and finances, especially if the break-up is not amicable.
The whole process can take months, and in some cases, years, especially if your spouse decides to drag their feet and delay things. There are a number of ways you can protect yourself financially during a divorce. These include:
- Freeze or close joint bank and credit card accounts
- Open a bank account in your own name
- Resolve any mortgage or rental payments
- Protect your rights to the marital home
- Do an inventory of your assets and debts
- Protect your pension
- Change your will
Freeze or close joint bank accounts
If you have joint accounts or loans with your spouse, ask the bank to change the way the account is set up so that both of you have to agree to any money being withdrawn.
If you do not want your spouse to go on a spending spree, you may wish to freeze the joint account.
This will prevent you from being partly responsible for large amounts of spending without your knowledge or consent. It's important to remember though, that to "un-freeze" an account, both parties have to agree to it. This could be a problem if your spouse doesn't want to cooperate.
Credit card accounts
If you have a second credit card on your credit card account which your spouse uses, you should contact the credit card company and ask them to block the card and remove your spouse from your account because you will be liable for any debt your spouse incurs on jointly held accounts. If you have a joint credit card account, you should try and pay off any debt and close the account.
Open a bank account in your own name
Open up a new bank account as soon as you can and transfer 50 percent of the available funds to the new account. Also, ensure that any income from your employment and any other sources that belong to you are amended to be deposited into your new account. This is also important so that you establish your own credit history, just in case you need to apply for your own mortgage, or if you need a loan in the future.
Resolve mortgage and rent payments
Mortgage lenders and landlords expect payments to be made regardless of your personal circumstances. You may want to move out of the marital home as soon as you can, but this could affect your claim to the home and you will still be responsible for half the mortgage payment, so it's better to stay put, if possible.
If you rent a property and both of your names are on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to arrange the tenancy in your name alone, or you may be able to transfer it to your ex-spouse.
Protect your rights to the marital home
If the marital home is owned solely in your spouse's name, you can register your interest to make sure it can't be sold or re-mortgaged without your knowledge. Also, if the property is in both of your names as "joint tenants" you may want to amend this to "tenants in common" so that you prevent your spouse from inheriting your share if you were to die before the divorce is finalised. The advantage of owning a property as tenants in common is that it allows each person to own an equal share and to control what happens to their share.
Do an inventory of your assets and debts
It makes sense to do this so that you know exactly what might be considered non-marital assets or things that belong to you, such as inheritances or gifts given specifically to one person. It's advisable not to transfer any assets before a divorce because the court may see this as an attempt to exclude them from your divorce settlement and may decide to divide other assets to compensate for any asset transfers.
With regard to any debts, it doesn't matter whose name is on the debt, if it was incurred for the joint benefit of you and your spouse, such as a family holiday, second home, or home improvements, you will both be responsible for this debt. However, if you can show that your spouse brought significant debt into the marriage, it is likely that they will be seen as solely responsible for that debt by the courts.
Protect your pension
As a pension is usually one of your biggest assets, the best way to protect it is to get expert advice and determine your pension's value before you got married. This may then be excluded from the divorce settlement if at all possible.
Change your Will
It is important to change your Will immediately to reflect the fact that you are going through a divorce. If you do not do this, your estate might be divided up differently from how you intend. This could jeopardise any inheritance you've planned for the rest of your family and mean that your family and any new partners aren't provided for.
How can GloverPriest help?
As the process of protecting your finances during a divorce settlement can be complex and a very stressful time for couples, it is important to get expert advice from an experienced solicitor.
Our team of specialised family law solicitors is here to provide you with support and advice on your divorce. Start your divorce online by completing this form
. Alternatively, call one of our experts on 0121 794 5814 for further advice or use our contact form to request a callback.