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Divorce and finances: How Virginia spouses can avoid pitfalls

When you file for divorce in a Virginia court, you no doubt understand that your life is going to go through some significant changes, especially if you have children. While getting divorced doesn't necessarily mean you'll be in for a tough time down the line, most people do encounter numerous challenges as they leave a marriage behind and adapt to new lifestyles.

One of the most common areas that pose obstacles to people during and after divorce proceedings is finances. There are definitely ways to make sure divorce doesn't drain your wallet. There are also things you can do to prevent a financial downfall as you move on in life. If you're dealing with a particular legal problem, such as a spouse who is trying to hide assets, it's good to have support resources lined up so you can rectify the issue as swiftly and painlessly as possible.

Bank accounts are a good place to start

If you've been married for several years or more, you and your soon-to-be ex likely have at least one or more jointly owned bank accounts. One of the first things you can do to avoid financial problems in divorce is to separate yourself financially from your spouse. The following list provides ideas on how to do that: 

  • Close joint accounts and open separate ones.
  • Establish your own line of credit. Get your own accounts because the last thing you need is your spouse adding debt to your current balance before finalizing your divorce.
  • Keep a close watch over expenses and elective spending habits.
  • If you've never been the type of person to work from a budget, now is a good time to try it. Many cell phone apps make budgeting easy and convenient.
  • Know what assets you own and what your current liabilities are. If your spouse has also handled finances in your home, you'll want to learn as much as you can about your financial status before heading to court.

If you've been a stay-at-home parent and do not currently earn an income, either from home or outside the home, it's a good idea to start brainstorming ideas for future employment. Especially if you're going to be entering litigation regarding child custody, the court will want to review your earning potential before making decisions about child support.

One step at a time

Divorce isn't easy, but it doesn't have to end your financial stability or happiness in life. If you organize your financial documents, track spending and expenditures, and start creating your own financial identity, you can avoid falling into a pitfall that leaves you struggling even after you've achieved a settlement.

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