Lately I’ve been focusing on disentangling myself financially from my STBX. It’s a necessary step in the process of separating our lives, but I didn’t realize just how complicated it would be. You don’t realize how very intertwined your money is until you try functioning on your own financially. I’ll outline several categories that you should pay attention to when separating your finances and a few tips/observations I’ve learned along the way.
No two situations will be exactly the same, so take my list as a jumping off point and look at the particulars of your specific situation. Your finances may be more complex or simpler than mine. Also, I’ll add more to the list as I think of it.
Categories/Areas to Address:
- Credit Cards
- Checking & Savings Accounts
- Automatic Payments (credit card/Paypal/bank account)
- Direct Deposit for Paychecks
- Insurance (house, car, life, etc.)
- Taxes (property, income, etc.)
- Retirement Accounts
- Shared Expenses vs. Personal Expenses
- Have patience and give yourself time. Your finances didn’t become fully integrated overnight and it’s going to take time to separate them. Be patient and recognize that you can’t/won’t want to tackle everything at once. It might be helpful to make a list of all of the financial accounts, etc. that you need to work on and put them in order of importance.
- Discuss your finances with your STBX. This can become a very sensitive and/or volatile topic, but you need to keep communication open. Don’t drain a joint account and be surprised when your husband/wife goes off on you. Treat one another fairly and with respect, trying to make things as equitable as possible for both of you.
- Look at your finances as dispassionately as possible. Divorce usually involves some very strong emotions, but those emotions become a liability when they inform your financial decisions. Just because you’re pissed off at your mate, it doesn’t give you the right to take all their money or try to screw them over financially. Look at your assets as a tool that will help you and your STBX get established in your new lives. The point is to use it fairly to help you both begin a new, stable lifestyle.
- Don’t give away your fair share of the assets. Sometimes you will be tempted to just give up or give in when it comes to money matters. Maybe you’re hurting so badly emotionally that you want the whole divorce process to be over as quickly as possible. This can lead you to give the lion’s share of your joint assets to your spouse so that you can be done and move on. However, if you haven’t planned and prepared your finances, you’re going to have a really tough time making a new start. (Consult your state’s laws about joint and personal property and assets.)
- If you applied for credit and qualified under your spouse’s income, you may need to apply for your own (credit card/loan, etc.). I found out that we couldn’t simply transfer one of our credit cards to my name because we had applied for it based on my STBX’s income at an old job, and I was simply listed as an authorized user. If you’re a woman who stayed at home or your husband brought in more income, it can be a challenge to try and establish your own credit history to qualify for a personal credit card or loan. Make sure to ask what you need to do to qualify.
Wishing you patience as you figure out your finances,