There were many reasons why, when my friend rang me to tell me she was getting divorced, I felt deeply saddened. Not only had the two people in question been close friends of mine for some years and had seemed very happy together. They also had three children ages 3, 7 and 11. It was a very difficult time indeed for all concerned.
In such situations, it can be hard to know what to say, what to do and how best to help. Thankfully, a friend of ours is a solicitor and she put together some helpful tips for both parties in a divorce case, which I will list here for those in a similar situation.
- Organise your financial records: Find all bank statements, credit agreements, mortgage agreements and other financial records. Take copies of these to keep in a trusted friend’s house or your parent’s house.
- Open a post office box: Open a post office box and arrange for your mail to be sent here. This means that any divorce-related correspondence will be for your eyes only.
- Set aside money for legal fees: If your partner controls the majority of funds, you may find that he or she cuts off the supply just as you need to start paying legal fees. So, starting to set aside money now to pay for the costly divorce process is a wise idea.
- Set up a new bank account and new savings account: Arrange for your income to be paid into your new bank account and transfer your half of any savings into a new savings account. Check with a solicitor first as to exactly what you can and can’t withdraw. Also remember to leave enough money in your joint account to continue to cover mortgage and living expenses whilst you still live in the same house.
- Open a new credit card: Setting up a new credit card in your own name is a sensible step to take towards establishing your own credit. In addition, a credit card may help to tide you over during the divorce process when you may not be able to access your other funds.
- Request a copy of your credit report: Obtaining a copy of your report as soon as possible gives you time to resolve any disputes before you are divorced. It will also enable to check that your spouse is not dissipating marital assets or charging presents for a new partner onto joint credit accounts.
- Inventory all your own property: Making a financial inventory of your own property will help you to feel more in control of the situation. This includes any houses or cars you owned prior to the marriage, gifts from third parties before the marriage and your engagement ring.
These points were enough to help my friend to start to regain control of her life. Two years on, she had found a new partner and is now in a much happier place.