In the middle of a discussion about what you are cooking for dinner your husband blurts out “I want a divorce.” Wow. Unexpected. Turns out, while you were focusing on planning your daughter’s birthday party and a fundraising project for the P.T.O., your husband cleaned out the bank account and rented a townhouse. He hands you divorce papers and tells you his moving out tomorrow.
If this were you, would you be prepared?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know what is going on in our bank accounts? Even if it is your spouse’s “job” to pay the bills and balance the checkbook, you should be generally aware of the activity in your bank accounts and any sudden changes in withdrawals or deposit behavior. Consider installing an app on your phone so that you can monitor your bank accounts more frequently.
- Do I know how much we owe? It is important to know what credit cards you and your spouse use, which of those cards are tied to your credit, and the state of your mortgage and any home equity lines of credit. In particular, find out as much as you can about any lines of credit secured by your home. Has your spouse been tapping into it behind your back? It is also good to know if there is more that can be borrowed on the line. If you are concerned that your spouse is using it behind your back, contact the bank and tell them you want to freeze the line. On the flip side, the line could serve as access to temporary cash you need in the event your spouse leaves you high and dry.
- Do I have access to cash and credit separate from my spouse? If your spouse were to leave you suddenly, would have access to funds to pay the bills in the short term and hire a lawyer? Order you credit report to make sure you aware of all of the credit associated with your social security number. If you do not have much credit history, now would be a good time to open a credit card and establish credit.
- Do I have a support system in place? Sometimes we drift away from the people who care about us most because we put all of our energy into our children, our jobs and other stressors in our lives. If and when the time comes that your are divorcing, having a support system in place will be invaluable.
Hopefully, you will never have to face a sudden, unexpected divorce.
However, it cannot hurt to be more aware of your situation. If any of these questions scared you, do something about it. The more awareness you have, the more prepared you will be.