How to Protect Your Money During a Divorce: 13 Steps that Will Save You a LotSaving Money
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Getting divorced can be expensive. Not only do you have to pay an attorney thousands of dollars, you’ll also lose a lot in your divorce.
You’ve heard enough horror stories about divorce to last you a lifetime. Here are some cold hard facts that will teach you how to protect your money during a divorce.
That house you’ve worked for all your life? You’ll probably have to sell it. Or, even worse, just give it to your spouse.
You know how you’ve worked your whole life to build up your 401K? Well, you can kiss it goodbye. Not only do you have to give your spouse half, but you’ll have to use the rest to pay her off in the divorce.
The truth is, divorce isn’t always fair. Usually, one party ends up with nothing while the other spouse laughs all the way to the bank. So, here are 13 steps you can take to avoid being taken to the cleaners in your divorce!
1. Protect Any Money You Brought into the Marriage
Believe it or not, most people who get married do not have a prenup. They’re in love and they don’t think about things like this. But you have to protect the assets you bring into the marriage.
As cold as it may sound, you have to think ahead and plan on how to protect your money during a divorce.
You have to track your finances. Whether you’ve been married for 6 months or 6 years, it’s never too late to do this. Check out an online finance tracking tool that can make this easy for you.
You can check the balances on your accounts all the way back to the date of your wedding.
Take the time to document what assets you had prior to the marriage. This will prevent your spouse from being able to take them from you in the divorce.
You’ve heard that, when it comes to marriage, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours? Not true!
Some of the assets that you don’t have to split in the divorce include:
- Property you brought into the marriage
- Awards from lawsuits
- Contributions to retirement accounts prior to marriage
- Real estate you owned prior to marriage
Make sure you meet with a financial planner to protect your non-marital assets. If you wait until it’s too late, you’ll end up giving half of this property (or more) to your spouse.
2. Keep Separate Credit Cards
It’s a good idea to keep separate credit cards. Sure, you and your spouse will have some joint cards. But you need to keep at least one or two in just your name.
If you have our own credit cards, you’ll have a way to pay for things while the divorce is pending. Your money is going to be tied up for months or years when you get divorced. A credit card will come in handy when you need to pay for things like groceries and gas.
If you don’t have a separate credit card yet, get one! You’d be surprised at how hard it’s going to be to pay your bills while your divorce is pending.
Before you apply for a card, check out your credit score. You want to know where you stand before you start applying for cards.
Make sure you apply for a card that gives you cash back. You might we well earn miles and cash back while you’re racking up a balance on your credit card.
3. How to Hide Money During a Divorce – Keep a Separate Account!
You’d be surprised to find out that most spouses keep separate bank accounts.
Even the happiest of couples like to save for a rainy day.
And when you file for divorce, it’s pouring! You’ll need this bit of cash to get you by during your divorce. This is how it is best to think how to protect your money during a divorce.
It’s a good idea to keep a separate account during the marriage. This allows you to put aside a little bit of money in case of emergencies. It also helps you hide some of your cash from your spouse.
You can even keep a few separate investment accounts. If you don’t know how to do this, that’s okay. You can check out online sites that teach you everything you need to know about smart investing.
Keeping separate accounts is a win-win. You get to stash some money aside and earn interest while you do it!
4. Freeze All Joint Accounts as Soon as You File for Divorce
One of the most important things you can do is freeze all your joint accounts the minute you know you’re filing for divorce. What happens a lot if as soon as you file, your spouse cleans out your accounts.
If your spouse spends (or takes) all the money in your account, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. You’d end up paying more in attorney fees tracking this money down.
The smart thing to do is to freeze all your bank accounts immediately. If you have a separate account with some money stashed away, you can use this to pay your personal bills while the divorce is pending.
You should also call and negotiate minimum payments on all your credit cards and loans.
This is not the time to be paying extra on these debts. You have no idea who will get stuck with these debts in the divorce. You don’t want to pay down a balance that you may not even owe.
Learn how to do negotiate your debts online. It’s cheaper than paying your attorney to do it. And it’s something you’ll be able to do on your own.
5. Know Your Spouse’s Finances
Make sure you know what assets your spouse has. In this day and age, most people have pensions and retirement accounts. You need to find out what your spouse has.
When you have to divide assets in your divorce, you’ll need to disclose all of your own investments. Your spouse is supposed to as well. But you never know how honest they’ll be,
Do your homework. Ask your spouse what their retirement plans are. Check out their stock portfolio. See where the two of you stand.
You don’t want to have to pay a forensic accountant to do all this. It’ll cost you thousands of dollars. This is money you could keep in your pocket.
6. Fight Alimony
A lot of people think you’ll have to pay alimony if you get divorced. This isn’t true. There are ways to avoid paying alimony.
With traditional alimony, you’ll have to pay your spouse a certain amount of money every month after the divorce. You may have to pay it for years. Some states even allow for permanent alimony!
There are ways to avoid alimony. Offer your spouse a piece of real estate in lieu of alimony. Or cash out some stocks and bonds to pay her off.
The good news is you can learn to do this online. You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to do this. That would defeat the purpose! You’re trying to save money not spend it.
7. Change Your Car Insurance Plan
If you know you’re getting divorced, there’s no need to play the nice guy. Sure, you don’t want to do anything that will hurt your family. But you don’t need to be a welcome mat either.
One of the things most spouses forget to do when they file for divorce is change their car insurance plans.
Why should you pay for your spouse’s car insurance if you’re getting divorced? There’s no reason to wait to do this until after the divorce.
Even though it may not seem like a lot, an extra hundred dollars a month adds up. If your divorce takes a year or two, we’re talking about thousands of dollars.
If you’re not sure what insurance plan is best for you, go online and do your research. There are some great online tools that will help you find the plan that offers the protection you need without charging you an arm and a leg.
8. Plan for Your Kids’ Education
College is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Like it or not, in most states, you are required to pay for college for your kids.
When you get divorced, your separation agreement is going to include college tuition. Even if your kids are small, one day, you will be expected to help cover the costs of their schooling.
One way to avoid paying more later is to create a trust for your kid’s education now. Not only are there tax benefits to doing this, but it also helps you hide money during a divorce.
Another way to do this is to get your student loans paid off so you can take loans out for them later. There are some great student loan programs you should check out. You could get a payoff now and avoid years of interest.
For example, if you owe $50K in student loans, why not use your marital assets to pay them off? Isn’t that better than paying them off later? This is how you hide money from your spouse during a divorce.
There is nothing wrong with paying your student loans off early. If you can smell that you’re headed for divorce highway, don’t waste any time. Get them paid off or refinanced now.
9. How to Protect Your 401K
When you get divorced, you’re going to be forced to liquidate a lot of your assets. If you have IRAs and stocks, expect to liquidate them.
You’ll need to find ways to split your assets with your spouse. You also want to have options for paying your spouse off rather than pay alimony the rest of your life.
It’s a good idea to look into this now so you’re not blindsided later on. You want to know where you stand when it comes to your investments.
You also may want to consider moving your retirement money around. Call and talk to someone about this today. Don’t wait until after you file because it may be too late.
There are also some investments that allow you to liquidate your assets for quick cash. There are some great sites out there that can help you do this. Check them out now, while you still have time to make some changes.
Your spouse’s lawyer is going to get an accounting of all your stocks and investments. She’ll do that as soon as she files. You need to get all your ducks in a row before this happens!
10. Don’t Start Any Major Home Improvement Projects
One big mistake people make is starting a home improvement project right before their divorce. For some reason, they think if they give their spouse the kitchen of their dreams, it’ll save their marriage.
Why take on a huge expense when you know you’re going to get divorced? That makes no sense. Any debt you take on during the marriage is going to have to be paid back. And, like it or not, the spouse who earns more will probably have to pay the lion’s share of this debt back.
If you decide to some small projects around the home, be smart about it. Make sure you’re earning cash back or rewards when you go shopping.
There are some programs out there that can earn you back tons of money when you shop. Join one now so you can start earning some points right away.
When you earn this cash back and rewards, save them to use when you’re on your own. Why share them with your spouse if you’re getting divorced?
11. Sell Some of Your Stuff
If may sound cold, but you should sell some of your belongings. Why hold onto things that have sentimental value? If your marriage is over, there’s no reason to look back.
During your divorce or even right after it’s final, you can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars selling stuff online. No, you won’t get the full price you paid for them, but who cares?
One man’s trash is another man’s treasures. Why not make some extra money? Sell things you have no need for after the divorce.
Check out some great sites to sell your junk online. You can kill two birds with one stone: rid your house of junk and make a few extra bucks!
12. Change Your Cell Phone Plan
No offense to your spouse, but there’s no reason to keep your old cell phone plan. You were probably paying for your spouse’s phone. Why continue to pay her bill once you know you’re getting a divorce?
As soon as you know you’re getting a divorce, it’s time to change your cell phone plan. There’s no reason why you should continue to pay for someone else’s phone.
There’s another reason why you should change your plan. Now that you’re going to be single, there’s no reason why your ex should have access to your phone records.
If you have a feeling your divorce is going to get ugly, change cell phones as soon as possible. If you and your spouse are on the same plan, she can access your cell phone records at any time. You don’t need her reading your texts. It’s none of her business.
13. Make Extra Money Where You Can
Divorce is very expensive. You want to save as much money as you can. You may have to start all over once your divorce is over.
One great way to do this is to find a way to make some extra money on the side. You’d be surprised at how many different ways there are to do this.
Go online and check out all the different creative and fun ways you can make extra income. It’ll really come in handy when you’re trying to pay off your legal fees!
How to Hide Money from Spouse During a Divorce
The bottom line is that if you’re getting divorced, it’s going to cost you. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost you as much as you may think.
There are ways to legally hide money from your spouse during a divorce. Review the tips in this article and put them into play.
They say that divorce is one of the most devastating things you’ll ever go through. And while we can’t help you protect your emotional well-being, we can certainly help protect your financial well-being.
Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.