Some people just do not see a divorce coming. While many couples spend years in counseling and make every attempt to work out their differences prior to separation and divorce, some people simply walk away without warning. A partner may have even been preparing to leave the marriage for quite a while. If you are blindsided by divorce, you might find that your finances have changed without your knowledge and you are being left with far less than your fair share. If you do not want this to happen to you, you can take these steps to protect yourself and your financial future.
Protect your assets and your future
Maintain a separate bank account — Keep an emergency stash in case you need to travel, hire a divorce attorney or rent an apartment.
Establish a line of credit — Apply for a credit card in your own name, even if you never use it.
Find a source of income — Get a part-time job or start a small business you can operate from your home.
Create a postmarital agreement — If you came to the marriage with your own assets or property, the terms of distribution should be in writing and must be witnessed and signed by both of you.
Make copies of financial documents — While you are still married and have access to this information, copy all records (such as tax returns, bank statements and retirement plans) and put them in a safe place.
Get legal advice — If you are uncertain of the status of some of your holdings, speak to an attorney.
You might want to make the first move
If you notice that your spouse is acting in a furtive manner, including diverting funds to a separate account, removing financial documents from the home or acting cagey about meetings, take a step back and evaluate the situation. If you suspect your spouse is planning to divorce you, seek the advice of an attorney. You might be advised to file first. At that point, your joint assets are frozen, so you might spare yourself from more extensive financial loss.
In an ideal situation, you can take measures to protect yourself and never need to take them further.