Pre-Divorce Finances, Part 1: Cancel joint credit accounts

If you’re considering divorce, you’re probably intimidated by cost. We’ve all heard horror stories about women ruined by divorce—but, with careful planning, you don’t have to be one of them. It’s true, divorce is difficult, but that’s no reason that you should stay in an unsatisfying, unfulfilling, or abusive relationship. As long as you take a little bit of time to plan for the months ahead, you should be able to find ways to make ends meet (without hanging him out to dry).

The first thing you should do is remove your name from or cancel any joint credit cards. If you need a credit card, open one up in your name and allow only one authorized user—yourself. That way, no matter what financial decisions the two of you make, no one beyond the actual purchaser is obligated. I’ve seen cases where hubby goes out and buys expensive things, thinking that wife will later be obligated to pay half. Usually, judges aren’t fooled by these tactics and can order that only one person is responsible for the debt—but that doesn’t mean that the credit card company can’t hold you responsible in the mean time. It’s not worth the fight, anyway. Let him be responsible for the things he buys on credit, and you should likewise be responsible for your purchases. Vindictive spending won’t help either of you, anyway.

Remember that judges have seen it all before, and they won’t be impressed by either of you making rash or impulsive decisions in an attempt to punish the other. Marital debt can be divided, but the judge has the authority to deem something you’ve purchased as your separate debt, too—so be careful. It’s far better to go ahead and separate your finances, so that you know ahead of time who will be responsible for what. It’s not smart to spend money assuming that the judge will just divide it.

Separating credit accounts can ultimately protect you both.

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