For many couples, marriage is a wonderful, beautiful partnership. But for others, marriage turns out to be a nightmare. The reality is that about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If your wife decides she wants a divorce, there are some things you need to do to make sure you are protecting yourself. The divorce process is not much fun, so you will want to get through it as quickly as possible. However, you really need to take the time to proceed with your divorce in a smart way.

The discussion below will give you some steps to take to ensure that you are protecting yourself and your financial future throughout your divorce process.

Marital and Nonmarital Assets

Whether marriages are long or short, some assets (such as cars, houses, and cash) have been accumulated throughout the life of the relationship. Most people also come into the marriage with their own assets. Part of the divorce process involves deciding how to split these assets up.

Here is what you need to do with the assets before everything is decided upon in a court: Separate out all of your nonmarital assets, and make sure to establish a paper trail for those assets.

It is especially important to secure any valuable personal property in a safe place. When divorce proceedings are taking place, valuables have a tendency to go missing. So it is a good idea to safeguard against that occurrence. The last step is making a detailed list of all of your marital assets. Better yet, photograph all the contents in your home:

Nonmarital assets that existed before or during the marriage (depending on the specific conditions)

  • Inherited property
  • Money from a personal injury
  • Specific things owned before the marriage
  • Gifts (that were specified as only belonging to one spouse, not both people)

Marital assets (acquired during the marriage)

  • Cash
  • Houses
  • Bonds
  • Stocks
  • Insurance
  • Cars
  • Pensions
  • Increases in the value of any premarital assets during the marriage

Financial Protection and Planning

Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in people. Your wife could potentially ruin you financially if she wants to.

Therefore, you need to keep a close eye on all of your financial accounts. Make a list of all of your accounts, including joint and personal. Regularly check the accounts, and watch for any large withdrawals or strange activity.

You may also want to gather all account numbers and passwords that you you have shared with her, either jointly or individually. You will feel really stupid if this information is no longer accessible, or suddenly disappears.

When possible, it is a good idea to close any joint accounts that you and your spouse share. This action will protect you if she tries to move all of the money into her personal accounts. It will also protect you if she runs up large amounts of debt that could wreck your credit.

Speaking of credit, it is extremely important for everything to be in your name now. You need to make sure your credit is in the best shape possible. So if you do not really have much in the way of credit because you have been just relying on hers, take whatever time you have left to start establishing your own credit history, and keep it in good standing.

Also, do not spend a lot of money during this time. Do your best to save as much as you can.

Legal Protection

Two words to start out this section: Lawyer up! Having a lawyer to represent you during a divorce is a great way to protect yourself. You want to look for one that has good experience with divorce. Once you have found one, ask your lawyer for additional steps you can take that will help protect you and prepare you for life after the divorce.

If you have children with your spouse, you will definitely want to ask for advice about what to do in terms of custody proceedings. You and your lawyer will be doing a lot of communicating in different ways. Make sure that you protect all of your communications going back and forth. Go to a post office, establish your own P.O. box, and set up your own email account with a secure password that your spouse would not know.

It is very important that you do not sign anything without hearing from your lawyer first. You need to understand that there are some things that your lawyer cannot undo once you sign an agreement about them.

So you do not need to create a conflict about signing anything. Just politely say that you may sign it, but not until your lawyer reads it over. Then make sure that your lawyer reads it, and do everything that he or she advises you to.

Remember that the document your spouse gave you was probably prepared by the other party’s lawyer. So it is something that you cannot take lightly.

Parental Rights and Custody

When it comes to your children being involved in a divorce process, you also want to make sure that you are protecting your parental rights. What you do during your divorce process could affect the custody decision that the court makes. First off, try to stay in the family home with the children. If you leave the home too early, it could damage your reputation as a parent.

Obviously, it may be hard for you and your spouse to remain in the same home. If this is the case, you can consider time-sharing. In other words, you will share the family home with your wife. Then the children get to have time with both of their parents. It is equally important that you try to keep her from leaving with the children, if that is what she is trying to do.

You need to understand your rights and assert them. When it comes to custody of the children, your rights are equal to hers. If she wants to leave, you can agree to let her go, but insist that the children stay in the home. Suggesting the idea of time-sharing” idea could be a good solution to this problem, so feel free to bring it up to her.

Consider Your Timing

It might seem a little weird, but you should consider the timing of your divorce. If you time it incorrectly, you may end up cheating yourself out of some financial benefits.

One important thing to know is that 10 years of marriage can make a big difference. You will want to educate yourself on all the timing laws for your location, as they could vary from state to state. But regarding social security income, you should be entitled to some of your spouse’s benefits if you have been married for 10 years or longer.

So if you are getting close to the 10-year mark, you should try to stall the process long enough to make it past that, so that you can secure the financial benefits that you are entitled to.

Domestic Violence Issues

Hopefully, things do not get physical between you and your spouse when there are arguments or disagreements. But sometimes, abuse does occur.

If you should have a fight that turns into domestic violence, you need to call the police. By calling the authorities, you are establishing a record, which will provide you with evidence to help you with your court proceedings during the divorce.

It is even more important to report any occurrences of domestic violence that involve the children. You will have paperwork to submit to the court when the custody hearings take place. Remember to control your emotions, and treat your divorce as a business negotiation that you have to win.

Conclusion

We wish there was no reason to read this article. But since there is, we hope that you can feel a little more comfortable, now that you know what to do next. Divorce can be scary when there is so much you do not know.

These steps are meant to help you know what things you can do to ensure that you come out of your relationship in the best shape possible. Protecting yourself with steps like these will make sure that your new beginning is the best it can be.

The more organized you are during the divorce process, the better off you will be. And if you secure a lawyer, you will have a personal advisor by your side. A certified divorce financial analyst (CDF) can help you with your organization, and answer all of your questions, which will undoubtedly come up along the way.

Divorce is not an ideal situation, and it is not easy. However, you can protect yourself against some very bad outcomes if you just take the necessary steps. So take a deep breath, and get started with the process of protecting yourself during your divorce and preparing for your life after it is over.