6 Ways to Protect Your Money in a Divorce

Do you know how to protect your money in a divorce?

Nowadays, it is not surprising at all to see people who have been married for 30 years getting divorced. Actually, the statistics say that the divorce rate among couples over 50 has kept increasing since 1990 (from 8.7% of all divorces, it is now 36%!). This is why you might be interested in knowing more about how to protect your money in a divorce.

Getting divorced is not easy, and it can be even more complicated when you divorce after years of saving and investing together. In this case, no one wants to lose money, and this is why it is important to know what to do about it.

So, do you know how to protect your money in a divorce? Read on and learn everything you need to know about it.

protect your money in a divorce
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1. Get ready to share retirement accounts

We know that you have your name on the IRA or 401(k), but that doesn’t mean by any means that it is all yours. This is not how things are going, and generally, these funds will be considered “marital property.”

Because of this, all that you and your spouse have in these accounts is subject to negotiation. We know that you want to protect your money in a divorce, and this is truly the case when you can do this, but you will need to share the retirement accounts with the former spouse.

There is a legal instrument known as a QDRO that will oversee the final split of 401(k), 403(b), and pensions. Later on, the divorce decree will deal with the cutting up of IRAs.

One thing to remember is to update the beneficiaries on your retirement account because we think you don’t want your ex-spouse to get your assets.

2. An experienced divorce attorney will make a difference

When you want to protect your money in a divorce, you can help yourself through this process by hiring an experienced attorney. They will be there for you in collaborative divorce litigation or mediation, and you will be sure they are doing a great job. Another important aspect is to find an attorney who also matches your personality, and you get along.

It is much better to get into a negotiation with your spouse than let the court decide, because with this approach, things will feel like they have been resolved in a more just way.

If you don’t know where to start looking for an attorney, you can try getting recommendations from family and close friends. This is the simplest way to find someone experienced and also get some reviews about them.

Another thing would be to go on the internet and check out websites like the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers at aaml.org or DivorceNet.com. Here you can find anything you might be looking for, as well as individual information for every state. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney can really help you protect your money in a divorce.

3. Be prepared to sort out mortgage and rent payments

Landlords and mortgage companies don’t care what happens in your life. They will want their money no matter your personal situation, and after all, you have signed a contract, so you have to pay according to it.

In the case of a divorce, you might decide that you can no longer stay in the same place and that you will want to go to another place. This is fine; you can do that, but it can hurt your claim to the home. Also, you will still have to pay half of the mortgage payment.

So, when you want to protect your money in a divorce, you and your partner can decide to sell the house and split the money. Sure, you can also decide who will keep the home, but the first option can be more financially wise.

4. Have some accounts in your name only

This is incredibly important in case you want to protect your money in a divorce in the long run. It is not a good idea to have only joint accounts. Having your own account can help you have your own credit history, which can help you get credit and mortgages more easily.

If you plan to divorce, it may be a good idea to close or freeze any joint accounts because, in this way, you can protect yourself from any shopping sprees made by your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

So as soon as possible, start opening an account in your name only. You never know when you will need a mortgage or a car loan. Better be prepared!

5. Equitable distribution vs. community property

There is something that happens before you and your spouse go separate ways: you will need to divide up your marital assets, such as savings, real estate, retirement savings, or investment accounts. This is why you should know how to protect your money in a divorce. You probably want everything to be fair, and this is why being aware of similar things is essential.

If you live on community property, everything you and your spouse gain during the marriage will be split roughly 50/50. But if you have assets before marriage, those are only yours and are not the subject of this law. The community property states are Washington, California, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

On the other hand, if you reside in an equitable distribution state (the rest of the states that are not listed above), the court will divide your assets in a manner that they consider fair, and many times this might not benefit you at all. Which spouse receives what depends on their general needs and specific circumstances.

If you don’t manage to agree with your spouse about how the assets will be divided, you can hire a mediator. They will be an objective third party that has the required experience to decide what is equitable. You can try working with an expert in family law or a retired judge.

protect your money in a divorce
Photo by Thx4Stock team from shutterstock.com

6. Make an inventory of all debts and assets

This is a big one, and you should take care of it in case you want to protect your money in a divorce. Get the help of an attorney and take inventory of all assets and debts. This means you will need to analyze all of the joint and individually owned accounts and see where your money is going.

Be sure to have copies of credit card accounts, loans, past tax returns, equity lines, and business debts. But besides all of this, do not forget about the “nonmarital assets.” You should also take care of them and have them in mind.

These are the assets that are acquired before marriage, under special conditions, and are considered to belong to only one spouse. For example, if you had properties before the marriage or if you inherited or received something as a gift, these are yours only.

What do you think about these simple rules? Do you think they can help you protect your money in a divorce? Tell us more in the comments!

If you want to learn more about this topic, this read might interest you: Divorce, Simply Stated (2nd Edition): How to Achieve More, Worry Less and Save Money in Your Divorce

You should also read: 7 Important Tax Documents To Never Throw Away


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