1. Yours, Mine and Ours
I can speak from experience when I say, everyone should have a “yours, mine and ours” account when it comes to money. By no means should you hide money or avoid financial responsibility, but each of you should have your own account, plus a joint account.
In the event of a death, sudden accident or divorce, you will still have instant access to your money. This prevents any type of confusion about who gets what (which can happen once lawyers and banks get involved) until everything is sorted out.
2. Update Yourself
If you don’t handle the household finances, now is the time to have a money talk with your spouse, and update yourself. No one likes to be taken for a ride and have an “I didn’t see that coming” moment.
Look over the bank statements, insurance policies and other important financial documents to update yourself. It will make any unexpected situations less stressful if you have control over this part of your life.
3. Stay in Contact with Your Network
Your network of friends, families and co-workers are your best assets right now. They can give you emotional support as well as financial support. They can use their resources to help you find a new place live or a new job.
Keep an updated contact list handy, so you can refer to it quickly. It’s also a good idea to update your resume. During this transitional time in your life, you never know what to expect and it’s important to be prepared.
Depending on your state’s laws (and if you had a prenup), whatever you acquired during the marriage or partnership is joint property. During the duration of the relationship, many couples take out joint mortgages and car loans. Once you both decide to end things, you need to separate any joint property, like loans or credit cards.
In the case of a mortgage you will likely have to sell the property or refinance it into your partner’s name. You should also check your credit report and remove your significant other from your account. That way, their credit decisions won’t affect you in the future and vice versa.
5. Keep a Paper Trail
Some days, my ex and I were fine talking calmly and sorting through our business, other days we were yelling and threatening. In the event you and your ex can’t discuss anything in a calm fashion, you need to have proof of your decisions.
Sending emails or text messages back and forth, is much better than a verbal agreement. You’ll need a paper trail, in case something bad happens or you’re wrongly accused. This also applies to any transactions with creditors or joint accounts where you are separating your finances.
6. Treat It Like a Business
Whether you’re breaking up with your roommate or going through a divorce, the best way to protect yourself is to treat all your decisions like a business. Stay calm, remove your emotions and try to create a well thought out plan.