You instinctively know when a relationship has reached the end of its natural life and if you are married, this means that you could be heading for a divorce.
Even in amicable circumstances, agreeing a finance divorce settlement can be a stressful and extremely challenging situation, so the best thing to do is often to be prepared and brace yourself for what lies ahead.
Time for rational thinking
There is a fair chance that your emotions will be in turmoil and more often than not, the decision to file for divorce will be motivated by negative feelings towards your spouse.
If you have clearly decided that the relationship has ended and you want to go your separate ways, it is actually a good time for some rational thinking and to clear your head of these negative thoughts for a moment.
Being too hasty in filing for divorce can sometimes have consequences that are difficult to resolve once the process has begun, so it is far better to plan you move and take some professional advice before you push the button and get things started.
Get good legal advice
Most of us don’t have any previous experience of divorce proceedings to recall so it is very much a case of heading into uncertain territory and that is when mistakes can be made.
The best starting point when even considering the prospect of getting divorced is to get some good legal advice from a professional who knows how the law works and can provide you with valuable advice on what you should and just as importantly, shouldn’t do.
You ideally want to choose a law firm with specific experience in family law matters and even if you take a collaborative and fairly amicable approach to legal separation with your partner, it is still often best policy to appoint someone who can resolve things properly.
Even if you can reach an agreement and don’t need to argue your case in court, it is still advisable to get good legal advice.
Many couples share their finances and this means that you may well have a joint bank account and also a joint credit card.
This will obviously need to be untangled if you are ending the relationship.
If you have a joint credit card, you will not normally be able to close the account until the balance has been paid off in full, so you will both continue to be responsible for the charges and interest due until this happens.
What you can do in the meantime is contact the card company and ask them to close the account to future purchases, so that the current balance remains the same, other than attracting interest.
Once you settle your finances, you can apply for another credit card in your own name. For tangible assets such as a real-estate property, it is the best option to have an agreement who would remain as the owner. Signing a quitclaim deed form is recommended to transfer ownership either to the spouse or other family member.
Joint bank account
Joint bank accounts are always a worry when it comes to divorce proceedings, but you have to be very careful how you deal with this situation.
It would not normally be a smart move to empty the bank account as a precautionary measure as this may well be a moved that a court might take a dim view of further down the line.
As with this issue and other matters related to starting divorce proceedings, think before you act, and brace yourself for the process by getting some good advice.
Grace Riley is a divorce lawyer’s assistant and is currently studying for her own degree. As well as the practicalities she also offers clients as much emotional support as she can. She writes articles to reach a wider audience online, her articles appearing on relationship, women’s lifestyle and personal finance blogs.