One of the most daunting aspects of the divorce process is figuring out how to divide up your assets and debts, and ultimately make the transition from one joint-income to two single-income households. It can be a complicated process, to be sure. But if you take a few steps to evaluate and look after your finances prior to and during divorce, you can start your new single life in good financial health.

First, you should become familiar with your current financial situation. This is especially true if your spouse manages the household finances. Hopefully, your spouse will help you with this, but if your marriage has become contentious, you may need to look at tax filings, bank records and other financial documents to get the information that you need.

Second, you should close the joint accounts that you share with your spouse. Not only will establishing your own credit cards and other accounts help to build your individual credit, but it will also protect you from having to pay any debt your spouse racks up before your divorce is finalized. It is also a good idea to monitor your credit score closely during this time to ensure that your spouse doesn’t open any new accounts in your name.

Finally, make sure to keep a level head during your divorce, especially where money is involved. While it may be tempting to stall the divorce process to get revenge on your spouse, doing so can make it much more contentious and, ultimately, expensive.

And when your divorce is finalized, take what you have learned during the divorce process and apply it to your single life. Look at your new financial situation, make a realistic budget and stick to it. You are on your own now, and it is up to you to control and protect your financial health. 

Source: ABC News, “How to Protect Your Finances in a Divorce,” AJ Smith, March 31, 2014