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Protecting Your Finances in Separation or Divorce - Virginia Law Specific

Proactive Steps to Take in Contemplation of Separation or Divorce

I. Financial Record-keeping

Begin to assemble and make copies of the following:

  • Tax Returns from last 5 years
  • List of personal property over $350 and any appraisals
  • Pay Stubs
  • Bank Accounts
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Resumes
  • Wills
  • Real Estate info, including deeds
  • Stocks, IRAs, Pension Accounts, 401(k) accounts, etc.

II. Take an Inventory of Household Items

  • Electronic Equipment
  • Collectibles
  • Keepsakes

Make a list of the valuable things in your home, and note which ones you will want at separation

III. Your Credit

Obtain a credit report before you separate. Try to clear up any deficiencies or problems that may have been caused by you. This is also a good idea in case the other spouse starts to rack up debt after separation. It is a good idea to open up credit in your name only, if you haven't already done so. You must protect against the idea that your spouse is going to go on a shopping spree while you are still married.

IV. Budget

Make a detailed listing of everything you spend or make in 30 days. You will need this for any income and expense reports.

V. Start Separating Your Finances

Open a checking account in your name only. Start separating your finances. Begin closing joint banking accounts. Most joint checking accounts can be closed by just one spouse (unless it is a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, contact your bank for more information). If closing the joint accounts will not work, withdraw a fair amount (half) and place it in your own account.

VI. Confidential Communications

If you are opening a checking account or have hired a lawyer, you may wish to rent a PO Box so as not to tip off your spouse. Also, you may wish to obtain another e-mail address used only for the purpose of communicating confidentially with your attorney. Keep this account password protected at all times.


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