Are you about to go through a divorce? No matter whether you or your spouse is filing the paperwork, many things are about to change. One of the most important things you can do right now is to protect your own finances as much as possible. And for most divorcing spouses, this includes starting a new checking account.
A new checking account gives you a better ability to protect your earnings going forward as well as to start managing things on your own. But before you head to the bank, follow these few dos and don'ts for success.
Do Open a New Account
First, if you don't already have a checking account in your name only, go get one as soon as possible. Most banks offer a free checking account package with basic features and very little fuss. You should switch to handling most of your own — not shared — expenses through this account.
Don't Hide the Account
One of the worst things you can do during divorce proceedings is to appear to be hiding assets. While this account is your own, the money in it could be considered a marital asset, so declare it to your attorney and in your financial paperwork with the court.
Do Change Direct Deposit
If you use direct deposit, have your paycheck deposited into this new, free account. If you still need to do things in older joint accounts, move money manually into those accounts in amounts specifically designed to satisfy that need. Whether or not you trust your spouse not to misuse money, be proactive in protecting your earnings.
Don't Keep Records at Home
While the account should never be a secret from legal matters, it should be respected as your private account. Do not have statements sent to a shared home. Keep all bank records in a well-protected online banking portal or a location off-site from your home.
Do Tighten Your Budget
Many divorcing spouses find that their finances are very challenging for a while. This means you do well to tighten the belt a little bit right now. Opt for the free bank account rather than one with options you don't need. Reduce unnecessary automatic subscriptions. Create a budget you can live on within your own income alone. Use the bank's resources to help manage your own income and controllable expenses. Preparation will help you weather things successfully.
Starting a free checking account and managing it in preparation for a change in your marital status can help you in a variety of ways. It may not seem like a huge step, but it will set you on the path to a better outcome. Start by learning about the bank options in your area today.