How to Stay on the Right Side of the Law Financially When Going Through a Divorce

When it comes to divorce, one of the trickiest parts of your life to separate from your former spouse is your finances. While you may never be able to make a clean break in regards to custody matters, you can usually fully gain independence when it comes to your financial life. The key is doing so legally. The following can help you understand how this is done.

Shared Property Assets

Shared assets like your home, vehicles, and similar pieces of property must be divided in a manner that the court has determined as fair. Depending on your state, you're soon to be former spouse may legally hold an asset with you jointly even if your name is the only one on the title or deed. For this reason, it is vital that you consult with a divorce attorney before selling or transferring ownership of any such property. If there is any property that you and your ex hold together, you have options for making a clean break. These include buying out your ex's share of the asset, selling the asset (with your ex's permission) and splitting the proceeds, or having the court legally grant you full ownership of the asset.

Joint Bank Accounts

You can not simply remove your ex's name from a joint account or empty the account and call it done. This can be perceived as theft, which leaves you legally liable for the amount. A better option is for both you and your ex to visit the bank together and close the joint account. Then, split the amount in an equitable manner so you can both open up your own individual accounts. Due to the nature of divorce, it is best to do this only under the advice of a lawyer so they can guide you in a manner where your ex cannot try to say they split the money under duress or similar.


Debt is treated similarly as an asset in divorce, meaning that both you and your ex can both be held liable for the amount. This may even apply to debts that do not have your name on them if the court determines that you also benefited from the debt. (For example, if the home is only in your ex's name but you lived there until the divorce.) Of course, this also means that the court may determine that your ex is partially liable for debts only in your name.

For any debt you plan to keep only in your name, such as a credit card, contact the creditor ASAP and have the account put only in your name so your ex cannot create more debt on the account. It is also best to pay off any joint debts as quickly as possible so you can have a full financial break from your ex.

Consult with a divorce lawyer before making any final financial moves.