What to Know When Filing for Divorce

By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D

Note: This is part 1 of a two-part article on what to consider when filing for divorce. Part 2 focused on paying spousal support, retaining a lawyer and gathering arsenal for your case. Click here to read.

Surviving divorce can be tricky. We offer real-life examples and divorce advice for men and fathers on how to handle your situation.

I will first say that filing for divorce is not an easy decision even if you feel it is the only option you have left. After 17 years of marriage, 12 of which were misery, it was still very hard for me. I did the right thing, but it was not easy!

With that said, you need to treat this as a business transaction not as an emotional one. Once your soon-to-be-ex hires a lawyer, it will be a like a business transaction for her! So, cross all T’s and dot all I’s. Don’t be greedy and take care of what your lawyer suggests. Don’t think like a pissed off husband. Think like a businessman!

Don’t Take Money

When you are preparing for your final days of marriage, before you hire your attorney you will want to “protect your assets.” One asset you might want to protect is your bank account. Please, please, please don’t take money out and try to “hide” your actions. Think about it:

The lawyer your ex-wife hires looks back 6 months and notices that $1,000-$2,000 was “withdrawn” every other Monday morning; that is a huge issue. Also, if you take out more than $5,000 total, that will be tracked down. Then they have reasonable suspicion to think you did other stuff. Does the word “cavity search” sound comfortable?

On the reverse side of things, be sure to track what your soon-to-be-ex is doing with the banks. Look for trends, look on credit cards for withdrawals and new purchases, look on debit cards for withdrawals at the bank, grocery store, etc.


Don’t Put Money in Sole Account

Even if you feel that taking half of the money out of the bank and putting it into “a sole and separate” account sounds like something you can defend in court, think again. The money that is mutual is mutual until otherwise decided by the courts and lawyers. Even if your wife takes money, don’t follow suit. If she hides or takes money for herself, that is arsenal for you! You can use that against her. Leave an e-mail thread or track the money for your lawyer.

I know it is your money and you know it is your money, but when you look like you are trying to hide, steal, hoard, or take money from your wife, it is just ammunition for your wife’s attorney.


Track the Money

What you should do is become a CPA for your own funds. If the IRS were to crawl up in your business, you should be ready. Track all withdrawals, deposits, money spent, etc. Have a record for every item that cost more than $500. That includes stuff you want! If you spend $2,500 at Macy’s, have the breakdown of what it was spent on. Not only for yourself but for your wife. That means you will need to ask, make calls, see receipts, etc. Don’t be foolish in your inquiries; just find out!

Don’t leave anything to chance. Keep it in a spreadsheet. Keep it organized and have it searchable. When asked for the info, you can produce it quickly. If there is something that your wife will not share or deliberately hides, document that.


Check What Credit Cards Your Wife Has

In the state where I live, along with most states, when you are married everything is shared. So, if your wife goes out to the local mall and gets 25 credit cards under the shared credit, you are responsible! Not only responsible for the bad credit if not paid off, but also for half the debt in the divorce! Not just credit card debt, but ANY debt.

In my case, I was the only person working for the past 10 years of marriage and I had to pay for half of her student loans! That is right, I paid for someone else’s student loans that did not even benefit me. I paid for all of her counseling, all of her inpatient time at the facility, all of her apartment, new furniture, etc.

Guess what? I got nothing in return! I asked for some reprieve, but got nothing. Instead, when I paid off my student loans in full, I was nearly charged by the court that I would have to pay her for half of the money spent on my loans during the 6 months before filing!


Note: This is part 1 of a two-part article on what to consider when filing for divorce. Part 2 focused on paying spousal support, retaining a lawyer and gathering arsenal for your case. Click here to read.

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