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Protecting your finances from a hostile spouse during divorce

Getting a divorce always comes with financial consequences. No matter how amicable your split is, you will need to negotiate property division, support payments and living on a single income. But your finances are more at risk if the end of your marriage is full of resentment and anger. 

Breaking up with a hostile spouse may mean he or she will go after your money more aggressively. If you have concerns about this happening, there are certain steps you should take to safeguard your wealth and assets.

Close shared accounts and open your own individual accounts

You want to stop using any shared accounts as soon as possible. Freezing or shutting down shared accounts will help you avoid responsibility for any spending sprees by your spouse. Be sure to inform your spouse about closing any accounts. Additionally, starting accounts in only your name will help you establish or re-establish a strong, individual financial history. 

Protect valuable items

If you are worried about your spouse stealing, damaging or destroying any of your personal property, you need to find a safe storage place. Some potential places to stash important pieces of property include a safe-deposit box, a file cabinet in your office or the household of a trustworthy family member or friend. 

Identify sources of money

Asserting your rights and safeguarding your interests in a hostile divorce requires funding. If you think your divorce may be a nasty split, begin identifying any financial resources you have to cover the costs. This may include a savings account, stock, bond or loan from a family member. 

Prepare to divide retirement accounts

Your retirement fund may be one of your most significant marital assets. You should familiarize yourself with what your retirement plan is worth. Additionally, you will need to figure out how to divide your plan. Certain plans, such as 401(k)s, require a special court order called a QDRO in order to avoid withdrawal penalties and tax liabilities.

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