Protecting assets from divorce in lieu of a prenup

When it comes to divorce in the Charleston area, few things are more frustrating than knowing your assets are on the line. Now that the love is gone and the reality is that you and your partner no longer want to spend the rest of your lives together, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to minimize the havoc the separation is going to wreck on your finances. After all, there are joint debts, accounts and all sorts of investments and other assets in the mix. 

Even without a prenuptial contract in place, there are a few things you can do to protect your assets in a divorce. Here are a few pointers to consider. 

Start separating accounts 

Now is the time for you and your spouse to establish personal accounts. Close joint credit card and bank accounts and financial ventures. Pay down your debt. Divorce is one life event where you could still be on the hook for your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s debts after the dissolution of your marriage. 

Change tax filing status 

If you and your partner now live in separate places, update your tax filing status to “married but filing separately.” You may need to work out who is going to claim the kids and certain deductions on your returns beforehand. No matter what arrangements you both arrive at, be sure to report all income and deductions properly. Keep track of all the expenses you pay with personal funds and make copies of receipts. 

Gather financial documents 

To help facilitate the division of assets and ensure that nothing goes unreported/documented, start gathering copies of all financial, retirement, life insurance and inheritance documents of funds, property and assets that became you, your spouse’s or a joint asset on the date of your marriage up until the time of separation. Keep in mind that until the judge issues your divorce decree, any assets and funds you or your spouse acquire may become included in the settlement. To prevent unintended consequences, consult with a financial advisor and plan your current financial moves accordingly.