Financial Advice

Guard your credit.

Each marital financial situation is different, and you will need to evaluate yours carefully. If you fear that your spouse will run up joint credit cards or otherwise incur debt, discuss with you attorney whether it is appropriate to have the accounts frozen or canceled. If the accounts are in your name, but you've had a card issued to your spouse, you will still be liable for any charges he or she makes.

Keep in mind that you don't want to provoke animosity, yet you also want to avoid risk of damaged credit and undue financial strain. Excessive credit card debts can destroy your finances. Once your divorce is finalized, you'll want to close all your joint accounts and notify each creditor in writing. You can then reapply for your own accounts if you want to. Get a copy of your credit report three months after your divorce is final and check it carefully. If you still see joint accounts, write the credit-reporting agency about correcting errors along with anything else that may need updating or investigation.

Once you move out, also remove your name from any utility bills.

Don't leave your home until your attorney advises you to.

Leaving your home too soon can have major repercussions. Your expenses immediately go up because now you'll have to maintain another home. Also, it's harder to guard your financial interest in the marital property, and other claims to it.

Once you're out of your apartment or house, you may not be able to regain access, and you lose some control over the property division aspect of your case. If your personal property is still there, you might not be able to get it for a long time, or you may never get it back.

From the standpoint of custody of your children, leaving home may be regarded as abandonment, and can severely damage your opportunity to win custody of your children.

Certainly there are circumstances in which is advisable to leave, such as if you are a victim of domestic violence. Yet even in this case, it may be a better strategy to get an order of protection, requiring your spouse to leave instead. Each case needs to be evaluated individually.

Require payments towards your children's education now.

Educational expenses are among the largest financial obligations parents have to sustain. Your children's education is too important to be subject to a future "promise to pay." Your settlement agreement should include specific allocations for education, with contributions beginning immediately, to avoid disagreements that may arise later due to changed circumstances or poor planning.

It may be best to explore the use of different types of accounts to accumulate these funds, such as a trust formed with the express purpose of providing for your children's education. These accounts can be managed by a designated third party under specific instructions to handle the account in a preplanned way, thus minimizing the chance of future conflict between you and your ex. However, trusts can be complicated, and you should speak to your attorney about a referral to an estate-planning practitioner who can advise you.

In a case involving educational costs, McAdams law acted on behalf of a husband who owned a house and earned a large salary. His wife had a smaller salary, but owned valuable properties. The firm negotiated an arrangement in which the parties divided ownership of their properties, and reached an equitable agreement for the payment of their son's training and educational expenses. Although there were still outstanding issues to be resolved, the settlement ensured the child's education.