Divorce statistics remain high across the nation and Minnesota is no exception. In some families a pattern of dealing emerges in which one spouse primarily handles finances. There is nothing wrong with having a designated family bookkeeper, but if one spouse remains in the dark regarding financial matters, it can put him or her at a disadvantage if a marital breakup takes place. There are a few simple steps that can help anyone protect themselves and their finances in the event of divorce.

While not applicable to every couple, a first step for some is removing the imbalance regarding knowledge of family assets and money management. Understanding where money comes from and is spent is part of a healthy family dynamic, and is critical in the event of divorce. Another important step if to maintain an individual bank account. This makes it easier to save and access funds that may be needed for emergency living expenses and legal fees in the event of separation and acrimony. Keeping track of marital debt is also important. Getting a copy of both spouse’s credit report before filing for divorce can help identify debt and sometimes reveals unknown charge accounts. Prior to filing for divorce, joint debt should be paid down as much as possible and joint credit accounts closed.

Understanding the value of investment and retirement accounts is very important if an equitable asset division is the goal. All real property holdings should be listed. Valuable personal property should be protected and, if at risk, placed in secure storage. Assets should not be sold until direction from a court is received. A spouse considering divorce should get a post office box and have banking and legal correspondence sent there to allow confidential communications.

Deciding to end a marriage is usually difficult. Strategically planning an exit is sometimes a critical component of leaving a marriage. Consulting a qualified divorce attorney may provide guidance and peace of mind for this challenging process.