After you have your paperwork sorted (household income, expenses, receipts, banking and credit card statements, loans, etc.) you can prepare for the next step.
It’s still early in the process, so stay abreast of the situation and refrain from any big financial decisions. You may feel pressured to grab anything you can, but don’t act hastily.
The divorce proceedings will determine all of your major financial changes, so it’s best to wait before doing this yourself.
If you make adjustments to your will, life beneficiaries, retirement accounts, and the likes, it can put you in jeopardy. Making these changes prior to the divorce not only reflects negatively on you, the judge may in turn award your spouse. So play the part of the peaceful and accommodating spouse that does no wrong.
In some cases, changing your beneficiaries without the blessing of the court could be grounds for criminal contempt charges. So what’s your best option? Wait. Just wait. Have patience in the process; we know it’s not easy. Rearranging all of your accounts makes a mess for all parties involved. (Always talk to your attorney before attempting this move.)
Because separating joint finances is a messy business, it’s important to have your information organized and ready. This process will depend on your state laws. Some states treat income, assets and debts as if they’re all inseparable. Emptying those accounts, or even spending more than usual in the months before your divorce can hurt you more than help you.
So what do you do? Be transparent. Use your accounts normally and (try to) agree with your spouse on how to make the process as inexpensive and cordial as possible. You may want a legal separation in court so that you both know how much money is available at a fair stipend until the divorce is finalized.